We tend to think of the IRS as being a cold hearted bunch, they take but never give. Wayne Vinson shared this very unique story with me, you should never judge an organization by its reputation, it is the people that work for it that make the difference – Simon

In about 1966 I got an investigation on a bankrupt taxpayer, to determine if all federal tax returns had been filed. It was common procedure in bankruptcy cases to quickly get any returns due, so that IRS could file a claim with the bankruptcy court.

I found the taxpayer in a small town we’ll call Logansport, living in a rundown, furnished apartment with his wife and 3 young kids. The taxpayer had operated a small business in another state until it failed, and he had to file bankruptcy. He had a connection in Logansport, someone who promised him a job. The taxpayer had moved his family there, with hopes of a new beginning. They’d lived there just a few days when I contacted them.

I interviewed the man and it became apparent that they were desperate. They were basically out of money, they had no assets, not even a car, and the job had fallen through. This was two weeks before Christmas.

The taxpayer was about 40 I suppose, a thin man who did not look real healthy. The only returns he was liable for were income tax. He said he was sure they were all filed but he would have to check with his former bookkeeper who still had all his records. I told him to get copies and I would check back with him in a week.

The man died two days later. I learned that from his wife when I made the follow up call. She was there with her kids—the oldest, a boy, could not have been more than ten. I learned that she did not know anybody in town and so had no means of transportation. There was no taxi service in Logansport. She said they would not have much of a Christmas meal—even if she had enough money, they could not get to a store. There would be no Christmas presents that year..

The woman told me all this. She was very matter of fact about it—that was the way it was. She did not try to get me to feel sorry for them, no tears. I thought life had dealt her some bad cards and she was playing them the best she could.

That had to be on a Friday. That evening I told my wife about it, told her I wanted to do something about Christmas for that family. She agreed. I was a little hesitant, thought maybe I would get in some kind of trouble with IRS, which isn’t known for it’s charitable acts. I decided IRS just wouldn’t know.

The next morning—Saturday—my seven year old son, Doug, and I got in our International Travel All and headed for Logansport, fifty miles away. In those days I had a $40.00 stash tucked away in my billfold and I was gonna give it to Mrs. Taxpayer. We’d take her and her kids to stores where she could get food for a good Christmas meal and presents for the kids. In 1966 $40.00 must have been worth about $200.00 today. .

And that’s how it went. We went to her house and I said something like, “I know it’s hard for you folks right now, but I have $40.00 here if you want it. And we’ll take you to some stores.”

She got the kids ready and we went to stores. Doug and I stayed in the car—they didn’t need us. It was really fun, seeing them come back with presents and food. We got back to their place and I helped them carry the stuff in.

We didn’t stick around. Mrs. Taxpayer shook my hand and said, “That was really nice of you.” They all looked happy.

Somehow, Mrs. Taxpayer learned our address and for several years after that we got a Christmas letter from her, telling us how she was and how her kids were doing. They were doing well.

Wayne Vinson was an IRS agent for 33 years and the author of a real thriller, Tax Collectors and Other Sinners, the story of a psycho killing tax collectors. It is available at amazon.com as an E-book or soft cover.

Simon Barrett

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