Stevieslaw: Cousin Myron and the IRS

Stevieslaw: Cousin Myron and the IRS

I’m sure you all recognize my cousin Myron, aspiring author, GED diplomat, trickster and idiot savant—with not so much savant. Myron is a whiz with numbers and anything related to numbers. He called me the other day as I was urging myself to sit down to do my taxes.
“Why don’t you let me do them?” he said with much hurt in his voice.
“Because you’ll get me audited. You’ll get me fined and imprisoned, perhaps even executed.”
I was being stubborn and I knew it. Myron does taxes for the whole family. In fact, he does the taxes for most of the neighborhood, in a thriving and growing business. He stands by his work and his clients, much like a faithful Labrador retriever, which I remark whenever I can, he more than resembles. Not one of his clients has so far been fined, imprisoned or executed and his work is so meticulous that they have rarely been audited.
But Myron will be Myron. He’s no CPA, doesn’t even have an accounting degree, and when it came time to name his company—for the sign in the storefront, wedged comfortably between Botánica La Bonita and Tiny’s Tattoos, up on Pitkin Avenue—he chose CLOSE ENOUGH ACCOUNTING. Every time I consider bringing my forms to Myron, I get a picture of the line just below my signature, asking for “firm’s name.”
“I’m being audited next Tuesday,” Myron said, sounding a bit put out. “I want you to go with me.”
“Why not?” I said, though I could give lots of reasons. But there’s not much I wouldn’t do for Myron, even if visiting the IRS for an inquisition ranks right up there with dying on my non-bucket list.
“Do they have the goods on you?” I asked, trying to sound like Tony Soprano.
“Of course not, you moron!” he screamed. “I’m worried that I might lose my temper.”
Myron has reason to worry. Many of my relatives, and I’m sure quite a few of yours, have on occasion thrown a waiter or two through a plate glass window, but Myron is the only one I have ever known to throw a waiter through the window both ways. He chucked some poor schmuck, who was late with his fries then tried to defend his tardiness, through the window to the street, then stepped out, picked him up and heaved him inside again.
When Myron bought me breakfast that morning, I took the waitress aside and warned her. She survived. We got to the IRS at about 9 and took a number. It wasn’t until after 11 that an auditor was free to speak to us. Myron and the auditor sparred for two and a half hours. After that, Myron worked over the supervisor for another hour. When asked a question, Cousin Myron would quote something like, “Section 78, Paragraph 2, Line 101.” Gradually, through the stupor that had become my life in the IRS office, I began to realize that Myron had memorized the tax code, and could quote it like a preacher does the Old Testament.
When we finally left, I couldn’t help offering Myron a bit of enlightenment.
“If you don’t want to be audited every year, change the name of your business to something less IRS offensive.”
Myron gave me one of those long, sad looks people usually reserve for Mets fans.
“What are you talking about? I love getting audited. I look forward to it every year.”
“Please don’t tell me you have the whole tax code memorized.”
Myron saluted. “Guilty as charged.”
“How long is it?” For some reason I actually wanted to know.
“16,845 printed pages,” he said. “Want to hear it?”
“For the love of God, no.” At that moment my mind felt queasier but easier as I realized that aside from Myron, the best anyone can ever do in filing taxes is to be close enough.
“OK,” I said, “how’d you like to do my taxes?”
Myron grinned like a man who would never throw a waiter through a window.
“I don’t come cheap. For payment I want three lunches at Katz’s Deli—lean corned beef on rye, two potato knishes, and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda. Plus dessert if I get you a refund.”
“Deal,” I said, thinking as we shook hands that he’d probably opt for the cheesecake.

This appeared in Flash Fiction Funny, edited by Tom Hazuka, Blue Light Press, 2013

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