Thursday, April 05, 2007

More Supporting the Troops, Rethug Style

Buried amidst the cyclone of accusations against Albert "Torquemada" Gonzales and the firing of the US Attorneys is this little bit of trivia: New Mexico US Attorney David Iglesias was cited for being an "absentee landlord" because he had missed work too many times.

Yeah. The only problem is that Iglesias is a captain in the Naval Reserve, and the days that he missed work were days that he spent on his required active duty.

Now that's what I call supporting the troops. In the meantime, it's a clear violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which bars employers from taking action against National Guard and reserve members who have to be gone from work due to their military obligations.

Yet another brick in the impeachment wall.

4 Comments:

DrainBamage said...

I think the Democrats are counting on not impeaching and sweeping more republican'ts from office. We will hear them say we did not have the votes to impeach... (which is true)

All the Dems have to do is let the Repub be themselves and they will be swept from office.

Anonymous said...

I'm a civilian who enjoys reading your blog from time to time. I didn't quite know where to post this information I ran across posted in a forum I frequent so I'm leaving it here hoping it can be useful to some of our soldiers and their families. I've also included a link to irs.gov.
Hope this helps someone.
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=107467,00.html

Here is the post I read:

Last night at dinner with my husband, we got talking about a call he made to the IRS earlier in the day. (Some background: My hubby retired from the IRS three years ago after a 32 year career. He currently runs his own tax prep service. He started his career answering calls from the public, but spent the last 10-15 years as a corporate examiner)

What he told me made me sick…literally nauseated. It made me sad and angry and determined to find a way to get this information out in whatever manner I can. I will start with these fora and move on from here.

In preparing a return for the wife of a serviceman currently deployed to a combat zone, the question (from her) arose as to whether she is entitled to an extension for filing. She had done her homework and found that because he is out of the country, he qualifies for a six month extension for filing. She asked if that was correct. (More background: if a citizen is out of the country and requests an extension to file, the extension does NOT apply to any money owed the government, nor does it excuse any interest or penalties accrued for late filing. Therefore, you may file up to six months late, but if you don’t pay any taxes due by April 15/17, you will be charged interest, etc. until the debt is paid in full.)

Husband knew, because of his years at the Service, that the out of country extension is different than and separate from a Combat Zone extension. He knew that if a person has been deployed to a combat zone, they have the right to an extension for 180 DAYS BEYOND THE DATE THEY RETURN FROM THE COMBAT ZONE. Read that again…if they are deployed for 24 months, they have an additional six months after they return to file. During this extension, they are not liable for any tax debt, nor do they accrue any interest or penalties. AGAIN, INTEREST AND PENALTIES ARE FORGIVEN. Husband also knew that 25 years ago, when he was getting this question at the IRS call center, there was no form to fill out to let the Service know that a person was in a combat zone. He, and the others working there, were instructed to direct customers to write across the top of the return, in red ink COMBAT ZONE and the dates of deployment. They were instructed to have the customer attach a copy of the deployment papers to the return and that was that. What husband did not know was whether, in the intervening years, the Service had possibly created a form for reporting. (Gawd knows they have a form for every OTHER thing!)

Hence, the phone call to the IRS. (Background: the call centers work like this; call is taken, once the question is asked the call is transferred to someone who may be able to answer. That person will answer if it is a simple question that does not require research. If the question requires research, the call is transferred to someone who “specializes” in the area of tax code that pertains to that particular question. In this case, someone who specializes in extension filing and/or combat zone extensions)

Upon reaching person number three in the phone center line-up, husband asked the question: Is there a form for filing for a Combat Zone extension? Service specialist did not know about this extension, but was happy to look it up for him. Please read that again. We have had two combat zones for FOUR YEARS. This person did not know there was a combat zone extension! She proceeded to look it up and yes, there certainly was, but there are no instructions as to how to obtain it. When asked how he should go about informing the IRS that he wanted to file this extension, the “specialist” could not give him an answer. He finally asked her if he could write COMBAT ZONE across the top of the return and attach a copy of the deployment papers and she said that yes, she thought that would be fine.

Several questions arose during our ensuing conversation:
1. Are service personnel being advised, by anyone, that this extension exists? My feeling is not only no, but hell no! Why would we give them a break? We aren’t interested in taking care of them medically or emotionally, why the hell would this administration take care of them financially?
2. Are tax preparers who have no IRS experience aware of this extension? If not, why not?
3. Are IRS employees not being told about this extension? If not, why not? If so, are they not being told how to instruct customers to file for it?
4. What does the government have to gain from withholding this information?
Of course, the answer to #4 is easy: if nobody knows to file the extension, the IRS will increase it’s earnings on interest and penalties, AND it will require immediate payment of tax debt.

The answers to 1-3 are more distressing. Are we callously withholding important information from our military families in yet another dubious show of “support” for them?

Perhaps not, perhaps we met the one military wife who was not informed and then the one IRS agent who was so new she was not informed? (this in spite of the fact that she is a “specialist” in extension provisions in the code?)

Perhaps this information is being disseminated by the Pentagon to the ranks so that families might benefit from it. I’m not willing to bet on it. Therefore I write this missive; in hopes that together we might get the word out and actually help our military in some small way!

Bultar said...

I just found this post from Anonymous on the subject of combat zone tax filing extension... while I was looking for some guidance on how I go about taking advantage of that rule. I'm deployed to Iraq, and yes, there are a lot of folks that make sure we all know about the combat zone 'benefits', but no one told us what we actually have to do (or not do) to take advantage of the extension. And I can't find anything online (IRS site, or anywhere)!
The way I read the rules, it sounds like we just don't file the return, and then when the IRS hunts me down for being late, tries to charge me fines, etc., then I explain that I was in Iraq, and then they will excuse the fines, etc. Seems like a hard way to go about this... why not have a simple form, or email address to send the info to the IRS so they know we're here??
If anyone else sees this and has any more info on what we should do, please let me know, thanks! (follow up comments will be emailed to me)

Farnsworth68 said...

Hi, Bultar. Thank you for the post, and thank you for your service.
I hope that someone comes up with an answer for you.
--The F Man