How We Broke H&R Block

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there is not a day in the lives of Steven and Lori Romano that could ever be called mundane. I don’t know what it is about us, but we seem to attract all things strange, crazy, extraordinary, and downright bizarre.

Take our recent tax issue for instance. (If you need to review the full backstory click HERE).

When we left H&R Block a week ago, we weren’t 100% certain how the whole First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit was going to play out, but I have to say, we were bracing ourselves for the worst and getting the money in place in case we found out that we needed to immediately repay the lump sum.

Funny thing was, after spending almost two hours sitting with our tax guy, we still didn’t have any answers about the damn Homebuyer Credit. He tried looking it up in his manual, searching the IRS website, and even tried entering about two dozen different things into the computer, but nothing seemed to work. We went ahead and e-filed our return, and went home to do a little more research on the Homebuyer Credit.

Two days later, our tax guy called. After spending several hours online and poring over his manuals, the best he could tell was that the balance was likely due. Wanting to make sure we were taking the right steps, Steven headed over to the local IRS office to ask a few questions and see if he could get some answers straight from the horse’s mouth.

Of course, the agent that Steven spoke to acted like we must either be a couple of morons or a couple of thieves. That’s right, sir, we’re criminals. Tax evaders. We’re here in your office of our own volition trying to figure out how to give this money back and all you’ve got for us is a whole bunch of attitude and a a half-assed explanation of the forms we will need to fill out to amend our current tax refund.

So, tonight we headed back over to H&R Block with the amendment forms and our tax guy got to work again.

And that’s when we broke H&R Block.

You want to know why our economy is in the crapper? This First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit is a prime example. See, our government is the king of the bait and switch. They decide they want to stimulate the economy and motivate hardworking Americans to buy homes, so they start giving money away as an incentive. When it starts going well, they change the rules, and instead of an actual tax credit, buyers are issued a loan. As soon as people start catching on and home sales start to plummet, they change the rules again. Then, when the economy continues to tank, they start scrambling to clean up the mess and make more of a mess in the process.

See, with all the changes and the backpedaling and the mismanagement, somebody apparently forgot what the rules were in the first place, and our poor tax guy has apparently gotten stuck with what he is saying is the craziest situation he’s seen in all his years in the business. Tomorrow, he and his manager get to call the H&R Block headquarters to discuss what appears to be a very big glitch in the system that literally will not allow us to complete our taxes.

We won’t know for sure what the issue is until we hear back from the folks over at headquarters, but apparently, because Steven and I are being responsible, honest, diligent citizens, the system can’t decide what to do with our First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. See, they made rules and provisions for people who foreclosed on their homes, people who walked away from their homes, people who died, people who divorced, homes that were condemned, homes that were destroyed, homes that were sold for a loss. But they didn’t make any sort of rules about people who simply moved out.

How does this happen, people? And how does it always happen to us?

All we want to do is pay back the money and be done with this whole mess. But apparently, the government doesn’t want it too badly. If they did, they wouldn’t make it so damned impossible. At this point, we should either be receiving some sort of compensation from H&R Block for being some sort of case study, or a loan forgiveness from the government because it was their stupid rule (or rather lack of rules) that got us into this mess in the first place.

What’s going to be really interesting though is seeing whether or not the IRS even catches its own mistake when they process the return. We filed it last week, so we’ll just have to see what happens when the return arrives.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

Brain Dead – A Rant

So, I’m sitting here when I really should be sleeping, and I’m staring at my blank computer screen trying to find some inspiration.

Sorry folks. I got nothin’.

See, it’s been a long week here in Casa de Romano. Our lives have been completely hijacked by potty training and taxes.

The good news is that Cadence is doing amazing with her potty training. She is rocking the big girl unders, and we just completed Day 3 with no accidents…well, at least no #1 accidents. Since accidentally peeing in her snowboots on Thursday (which were a logistical nightmare to actually get clean again), Cadence has been pee-free except on the potty. #2 though, is still a work in progress. We’ll get there though, as long as we keep the Peanut Butter M&M’s flowing as rewards.

The bad news is that after getting excited about getting a decent return back on our taxes, we get hit with the news that we owe the federal government $7500 to repay the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit we took advantage of when we bought our house in Arizona.

Damn that house.

See, a few years ago, the government started giving away up to $8000 to first time homebuyers. It was their way of stimulating the housing market and giving people an incentive to buy when everyone was starting to realize that the market had gone to shit. Then suddenly, the rules changed, and instead of giving the money to people, they started giving it as a “loan” that had to be paid back in $500 increments for 15 years. Of course, home sales started slowing down again, so the government decided to reinstitute the free money campaign.

Unfortunately for us, we fell in the short period where the money was a loan.

We weren’t irritated about that…okay, so maybe we were mildly irritated. I mean, it’s just our luck that we somehow buy a home in the 3-month span that the goverment decided to change the rule to our detriment. But we decided that a $500 a year deduction from our tax refund to pay the loan back wasn’t going to kill us.

Then, we moved, and the government found a way to screw us again.

See, there are all sorts of “what if” scenarios floating around regarding our credit/loan. If you get divorced and sign the house over to your spouse, you’re off the hook. If you sell your house for a loss, you’re off the hook. If you foreclose, you’re off the hook. If your home is condemned, your off the hook. If you home is destroyed, you’re off the hook.

But, if you relocate because you find a new job that is going to give your family more opportunities, if you do the right thing and find a way to keep your house and continue to make the payments without fail, if you are a responsible citizen who tries to do what you can to make sure you’re playing by the rules, what you get is a whole bunch of attitude from the holier-than-thou IRS agent you go to talk to at the local office, and a big f*%# you from the federal goverment in the form of a $7500 bill, payable upon receipt.

Seriously? What the hell is wrong with this system?

In 2009, big banks and corporations and corrupt executives were handed billions of dollars–dollars gleaned from the little guys, the hardworking taxpayers that do more to keep this country running than any of the politicians or wealthy CEO’s that look down on everyone else from the windows in their big offices. If you ask me, it would have been a whole lot smarter to invest the money in the hardworking American people, than to hand it over to the greedy SOB’s who got us into this economic crisis in the first place. Hand a nice check over to the members of the hardworking middle class or the struggling lower class, and you might have actually seen a positive change in this economy already. I mean, these are the people who would probably end up spending that money to pay down student loans or mortgages, to put food on the tables for their families, and maybe, just maybe, even invest in themselves or their own small businesses. Instead, the big fat checks lined the pockets of the greedy and got flushed down the big toilet we call corporate America.

Don’t get me wrong, Steven and I take full responsibility for the money we owe. We should have known what we were getting into taking a handout from our federal government that seemed too good to be true. I guess, overall, we’re just really disappointed.

We’re disappointed that the system in the country is so broken that hardworking, responsible citizens routinely get raped even when they try to do the right thing and get their hands on a piece of that ever-elusive American Dream. We’re disappointed in ourselves for trusting in a system we know is broken, even when our guts were telling us not to. And we’re disappointed that there seems to be so little that we can do to change it.

Instead, we will tighten our belts and find a way to repay what we owe. And we’ll continue to pay our mortgage and hold onto our house in Arizona until the market picks up enough for us to be able to sell it and at least break even. We’ll continue to pay our taxes. We’ll pay our bills and our student loans. We’ll put food on the table and buy treats for our dog and continue to build a future for our young daughter. We’ll scrimp and we’ll save and we’ll treat ourselves when we can because life is short and we want to enjoy it now instead of regretting later. We’ll do it all because that’s just how we are, and because we truly believe that, eventually, the good you do comes back to you.

Sometimes, it just takes awhile.

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