toll-free number for more information.
More income than reported? What
warranted this extra IRS scrutiny?
Was my 95-year-old mother moonlighting selling drugs from her wheelchair
at her nursing home? Was my totally
apolitical mother organizing an AARP-Herbal Tea Party chapter that supported Social Security and free immigration? Was she running an Internet
spoof and spam racket out of Nigeria?
I am a lawyer, I thought. I can sort this
out. So I opened Door No. 3 and called
the IRS toll-free number.
I sat on hold for 40 minutes.
The on-hold “elevator music” was
very cheerful and uplifting, a mellifluous mishmash of Richard Strauss, John
Philip Sousa, and Mantovani’s 100 reverberating violins. I have noticed that
there is usually a strong and inverse
correlation between the angst you are
likely to experience calling some omnipotent government agency or mega-teletainment corporation and the inspirational nature of their hold music.
Psychologists must have a hand in this,
like painting prison walls pink or hanging happy pictures on the walls of your
periodontist’s office. I was genuinely
soothed as I listened to the melody that
repeated every 90 seconds (
punctuated by occasional reminders that my
call would be answered in the order
received and that my inquiry was truly
important to the IRS) . . . until after the
thirtieth or so repetition of the soupy
song (now permanently etched into the
gray matter of my cerebral cortex), I began to fidget with the handset and snap
the points off my pencils.
But, at last, a friendly voice came
on the line and asked me for my CAF
“My what?” I asked.
“Your CAF number. The Service as-
signs you a CAF number if you are repre-
senting a taxpayer other than yourself.”
“Well,” I said, “I don’t have a CAF
number, so can you please give me one?”
“Never mind,” said the friendly voice.
“Do you have authority to speak on your
“I most certainly do,” I said. “It says
right on her tax return that I, her son,
was authorized to speak to the IRS for
“Then what is your PIN number?” the
friendly voice challenged me.
So how difficult could it be
“Your PIN number. Do you see the
PIN number on your mother’s tax return
where she authorized you to be her rep-
“I’m looking at a copy of her tax
return right now,” I said. “There is no
to prepare her tax return?
A piece of cake, I thought.
A slice of pie. A walk in the
park. Any lawyer — even
a non-tax attorney such
as myself — could handle
this with ease. What could
possibly go wrong?
(360) 696-3437 V (800) 905-4676
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nurSing Home aBuSe
WrongfuL dea TH
V 2010-11 President, OTLA
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would not hesitate to work
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