Friday, November 7, 2014

I've Become Part of the Problem

I have been known to make mistakes on my taxes. The feds and the state send me corrections to my taxes, usually in their favor. They show me where I made my errors, much like a school teacher.

So, this year, I was pleased when the city of Philadelphia put up a self-calculating tax form. All I had to do was copy numbers from my schedule C – total income and total profit.  The form calculated the rest.  I paid the city what it said I owed.  I thought I was done.

Yesterday, I got a letter.  Underpayment $29. Plus late fee and penalty.  Pay $32.87 by November 11, or the bill will go up.

No explanation.  No copy of my tax forms with corrections.  Just a bill.

And since they calculated the tax in the first place, it seems to me that if there is an error, they made it.   Yes, I did double check their math and I did calculate the same tax. It is unlikely that they and I would make the same mistake, if there is one.  So, I doubt there was an error. I suspect that the city wants more money and they know if they send every small business in the city a bill for a small enough amount that we’ll all pay it and not try to fight them.

I feel dishonest paying that bill.  I’ve become part of the problem – I no longer fight for my ideals if they cost $32.87.


  1. Since it is a city tax, doesn't that mean that there is an office somewhere with a human being in it to whom you can appeal?

  2. Alison, I did that a few years ago when they wanted $25. They kept me waiting in the office for hours past my appointment time and then refused to show me the math, so I had to pay the $25. They did waive the penalties and interest since I'd spent the day there. I think the $3 wasn't worth my time. They're crooks. But I'd need to do a class action suit and pay lawyers to prove it.