Dad and the Revenooers
By Martin J. Mirical
The record shows that George Dale Mirical and Mary Octavia
Hartwick were married on January 30, 1954. Upon that union, Mary's initials
were changed to M.O.M., and 15 months later, on Easter Sunday, her first son
My parents didn't plan to have many kids. But their son was
followed by six daughters. Then they got five more sons AND five more
daughters. "What's better family planning than to have one child every year?"
Just before their 17th and last child was born in 1974, the
Illinois Department of Revenue sent my parents a notice:
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE INFORMATION INDICATED THAT YOU
CLAIMED SIX MORE EXEMPTIONS ON YOUR 1971 ILLINOIS TAX RETURN THAN ON YOUR
FEDERAL TAX RETURN. BASED ON THIS INFORMATION, YOUR ILLINOIS TAX WAS
RECALCULATED. YOU ARE CONSEQUENTLY BEING ASSESSED $211.
Dad, a certified public accountant, was furious. Would he
make a mistake on his own tax return? Mom was amused. It reminded her of the
time someone saw all her kids in the back yard and accused her of running an
Dad gradually yielded to Mom's enjoyment of the irony. One
night he came home with a sheepish look and handed her a piece of paper. "I
wrote a letter," he said. "What do you think?"
Mom noticed his impish look and peered at the scribbled
statement addressed to the Director of the Department of Revenue.
WE RECEIVED YOUR COMMUNICATION INFORMING ME AND MY WIFE
THAT, ACCORDING TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, WE DID NOT HAVE 15 CHILDREN IN 1971
AS REPORTED ON OUR STATE INCOME-TAX RETURN, BUT ONLY HAD NINE CHILDREN AND
THEREFORE OWE THE STATE $211.
I WISH TO THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THIS INFORMATION. THERE
HAS ALWAYS BEEN DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN MY WIFE AND ME ABOUT THE EXACT NUMBER. WE
JUST HAD OUR 20TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, AND NOW SHE SAYS WE HAVE 16, ALL
CONCEIVED RIGHT AND PROPER AFTER WE WERE MARRIED.
NOW I AGREE WITH YOU AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THAT THAT'S
A BIT UNBELIEVABLE. THE TROUBLE IS THAT THOUGH MY WIFE AIN'T TOO BRIGHT ABOUT
SOME THINGS, SHE CAN COUNT PRETTY GOOD. IT MAY BE SOME PESKY NEIGHBOR HAS
SLIPPED A FEW OF HIS INTO MY HOUSE AND I BEEN BOARDIN' THEM.
I'M AT A LOSS AS TO HOW TO SOLVE OUR PROBLEM. I'D COUNT THEM
MYSELF BUT I CAN'T GET 'EM TO STAND STILL LONG ENOUGH IN ONE PLACE. THE ONE
THING I CAN SAY FOR SURE IS THAT THERE DOES SEEM TO BE A LOT OF 'EM AROUND.
HECK, MY WIFE EVEN CLAIMES SHE'S GOIN' TO HAVE ANOTHER ONE 'BOUT APRIL.
I RECKON THE BEST THING WOULD BE TO CONTACT THE INFERNAL
REVENOOERS AGAIN AND SEE WHAT EVIDENCE THEY HAVE TO SUPPORT THEIR FIGURES. I
HEAR THEY ARE PRETTY GOOD LATELY AT GETTING' CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.
I HOPE YOU DON'T THINK I'M DISPUTIN' YOUR WORD - IT'S MY
WIFE I CAN'T CONVINCE. I'D SEND YOU THE $211 IF IT WAS UP TO ME, BUT I CAN'T
'CAUSE SHE HID MY CHECKBOOK AGAIN.
WHATEVER YOU FIND OUT, YOU SHOULD COMMUNICATE DIRECT WITH MY
WIFE FROM NOW ON. I DIDN'T HAVE MUCH TO DO WITH THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND IF
I ASK HER HOW SHE HAD SO MANY CHILDREN, SHE JUST SAYS SHE DOES IT THE SAME WAY
EVER'BODY ELSE DOES.
IF I WAS YOU, THOUGH, I WOULDN'T SEND NO PERSONAL
REPRESENTATIVE TO SEE HER JUST YET. FOR THE PAST FEW DAYS SHE'S BEEN STOMPIN'
AROUND AND MUMBLIN' THINGS ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT LIKE YOU'D NEVER BELIEVE.
Mom liked the letter so much she typed it up and mailed it
right off. Eventually, the Tax Processing Center figured out its mistake.
OUR NOTICE TO YOU WAS GENERATED BECAUSE OF AN OVERSIGHT IN
OUR COMPUTER PROGRAM. THIS HAS BEEN CORRECTED SO THAT WE SHOULD NOT BOTHER YOU
AGAIN. NORMALLY, WE ARE CALLED EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD EXCEPT HUMAN BEINGS.
YOUR LETTER WAS SO UNUSUAL THAT IT RECEIVED SPECIAL HANDLING.
Two weeks later my sister Mary was born, and Dad kept the
saga going by writing again:
I JUST THOUGHT THAT I WOULD LET YOU KNOW THAT SHE DID IT
AGAIN, BABY GIRL, 7 LB. 10 OZ. I WOULD HAVE INVITED YOU INTO THE DELIVERY ROOM
SO YOU COULD SEE WITH YOUR OWN EYES, BUT THERE WAS A LOT OF MOANIN' AND
GROANIN' IN THERE AND I FIGURED YOU ALREADY HEARD ENOUGH OF THAT BEIN' A TAX
SHE WAS BORN ON APRIL FOOLS' DAY AND I DON'T WANT THAT TO
CREATE ANY FRESH SUSPICIONS IN YOUR MIND.
A few days later a special card arrived, signed by more than
75 employees of the Tax Processing Center. The last one to sign was Don Walker,
then governor of Illinois:
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE BIRTH OF YOUR NEW EXEMPTION!