Each morning on the radio, I repeatedly hear messages for the Tax Amnesty program offered by our neighboring state of New Jersey.

Now, I’m sure it’s a fairly effective program. Late filers get a break on penalties and the Garden State gets more money poured into its coffers.

Which brings me to my home state of New York.

Over the years, I’ve had several battles with the Empire State over taxes, but my preparer has always warned me, "You can work out a deal with the IRS but you can’t reason with New York State.’

That I found to be true. But conversely, what happens when they make a mistake? Should I ask them to self-enroll in a tax amnesty program?

Case in point.

My wife, who works in Connecticut (now for folks outside the tri-state area I know the meshing geography is somewhat confusing but try to stay with me), pays state tax to both Connecticut and New York. So, when we filed our 2002 return, we were expecting a medium-sized refund. When our check arrived, the envelope was bulkier than normal. I learned years ago while awaiting the results of my driving test, that the thinner the envelope, the better the news. My theory however, does not apply to college acceptance letters.

True to form, the New York State Department of Taxation informed us that our booty would be reduced by an eye-opening $741.

It had to be a mistake. I poured over our W-2 forms frantically trying to find the discrepancy. It suddenly dawned on me the amount in question was exactly the amount m wife paid in NYS taxes over last year. It couldn’t be that simple. But it was. The auditors failed to correctly add the New York State taxes.

I’m not a CPA but a pre-teen enrolled in a high-school bookkeeping course could have discovered the error.

So I confidently drafted a letter to the folks up in Albany (again for folks outside New York, Albany is our state capital, is no where near the New Jersey or Connecticut borders, however it is close to Massachusetts, but I don’t dare go there).

And then I began the wait.

One month passed– no answer. Two months passed and still no luck. A phone call puts me in touch with an automated system so scary and confusing that Rod Serling could have incorporated it into a Twilight Zone episode.

I eventually received a form letter saying that they are reviewing my case. Yet 15 years ago, New York was threatening to send an agent over to my house when they demanded back taxes. This was done without the courtesy of a form letter I assure you.

Well, I’m still waiting. The money was earmarked for our planned August vacation to DisneyWorld. I’d hate to think that I’ll have to spend our vacation pleading with NYS tax refund bureaucrats.

I’d better begin rehearsing my change-of-plans speech to my children.

"Did you know Florida is expecting a heat wave? But I hear Albany is beautiful this time of the year."

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