Monday, November 30, 2015

It was a crappy thing to say, I suppose

... but I'm not sorry.

"Well, then, it's hard to feel sorry for you."

My oldest friend was telling me about her problems with the IRS. A couple years ago, she took a withdrawal from an IRA and, thinking it was just a money market account and not a retirement account, she didn't report the penalties that you're assessed for touching those tax-deferred funds early. She now has to pay the IRS $50/month until, like, the end of time.

She feels like a victim in this.

Her excuse? The bank where she had the IRA didn't send her the proper year-end forms to attach to her return. This surprises me, but OK. It stands to reason that every now and then, mistakes will be made.

Then she said, " ... and the IRS said I ignored the first two notices, so I guess I'm not getting my mail."

Oh. Then it's likely the bank did send her the proper forms. I mean, if she's not getting notices from the IRS, then why should she be receiving forms from the bank? What's the problem?

She still doesn't have her name on her mailbox! She has lived out there for five fucking years, and her mailbox just has the apartment number, not her name. So if you don't include her apartment number, she doesn't get her mail.

We talked about this five years ago. We've talked about it since, when she hasn't received cards or packages I've sent, and I include the apartment number. (She and her daughter have the unfortunate, ongoing habit of throwing one anothers mail onto the desk and no one sorts or checks it for weeks.)

I asked her why she still hasn't gotten around to it.

"It's an irrational fear." She thinks if someone sees her last name on the box, along with her apartment no., they'll know exactly where she -- an unmarried woman -- lives.

"Who are you afraid of?" I thought maybe one of the guys she met through online dating was bothering her.

There isn't anyone in particular. It could just be a person wandering up the street. She's afraid that putting her name on the box will make her a victim of crime.

I pointed out that the pizza delivery guy, the grocery delivery guy, the guy from the laundry service she used to employ ... they all know her name and apartment number. Because she gave it to them over the phone or online.

"Like I said, it's an irrational fear. But I'm not putting my name on the box."

So, said I, you're demonstrably not receiving your mail, and yet you refuse to put your name on the box?

"Well, then, it's hard to feel sorry for you." 

I left out that she 1) "saved" money by unwisely doing her own taxes for a year where her finances were complicated by more than one job and state/federal assistance and 2) is an adult who votes and (usually) pays taxes and yet forgets which of her accounts are IRAs and which aren't. She's always broke, she's no heiress. She doesn't have that many accounts.

I'll post more about her battle with depression later. There's much about her situation that tugs at my heart.

But not this.

I think she goes all "woe is me" sometimes and uses her biochemical imbalance to excuse laziness or bad choices.

I want to help her. And I think the way I can help her is by being straight with her.

But it's hard to know if I'm right. I'm not a shrink. I'm just a friend who loves her and is doing the best I can.