What a beautiful day yesterday was. Weather was on par; brisk in the morning, warming glow of the afternoon sun. I was knitting as we watched the latest installment of “The Walking Dead.” My arm was bothering me, so I put the needles down to check my emails. And that was when I saw it.
A levy had been placed on my account by the IRS. Every last dime was gone. All of the money I had been saving for my teeth, all of our household expenses, all the money set aside to buy yarn and pay for shipping, all of my savings, every last cent confiscated by the IRS. Everything was gone.
I was panicky, shaking, started crying, and muttering to myself “It’s happening again. I’m going to be homeless again.” over and over, and then swiftly moved into such a state I had never seen myself in before. Paralytic. Unable to move, save the frightful shaking.
Phillip grabbed me quickly, tenderly and kept reminding me, “We’ll figure it out. It’s ok. Calm down….”
“We have to start all over… All of that hard work, and I have to start over. I can’t keep fighting like this. I just can’t.”
And then he reminded me that the distinctness of my success has always been that I am a survivor. I have fought so hard, and will probably always have to fight. Because once you are homeless, trying to get out can be a perilous road of unseen circumstances that people don’t ever think of can cripple you. And this one? This one I never saw coming.
I called the IRS once I had calmed down and they explained to me that I never paid my taxes in 2010. Then it made sense to me. You see, that was the year I became homeless, so filing my taxes for the year prior never even occurred to me. I was busy trying to eat, find shelter, save myself. So, the IRS had come at me for the money I had made BEFORE I was homeless…..and 5 years of interests and penalties had amounted to a staggering debt. I asked why they just scooped in and took all of my money and they explained, “You should have answered the letter….” What letter was this? Where was it being sent? “To your last known address.” My warning was sent to an address I had not had in 5 years, my address in Savannah so long ago that even the city itself seems long a ghostly memory told in memoirs.
I was told that the levy against my account was a one time situation to (get this) “Get my attention.” Am I the only one who finds that cruel? I explained the situation, but they had the most impressive answer: “While you were looking for food, clothing, and shelter, you should have also informed the IRS of your situation.” Damn, they don’t teach you that when you become homeless. No, they teach you that clean socks, alcohol and cigarettes are currency for being behind a dumpster you need to pay rent on if someone else has claimed that territory. Like when you finally have enough money to rent a legitimate apartment and landlords won’t deal with you because you’ve no rental history over the last few years, or that you “suddenly” have a few dollars, or that applying for a job when you’re homeless can be an nightmare because you have to remind your employer that when it comes to food or a phone bill, you’ll take food so, “no I don’t have a phone, but can I call you?” doesn’t work out as sympathetically as you’d like. Yeah, these are the things you learn being homeless. Not, “be sure to tell the IRS. The world may have forgotten you, but we haven’t. And we still want what is owed to us when you were socially acceptable and prosperous, despite how you are now.”
We came to an agreement. No more levies would be placed, my account would be active (minus the money they took), and they would not confiscate any more funds as long as I file the returns for that year by Dec 2nd of this year. Then they’ll put me on a payment plan. A payment plan with an account that has $0.
So, despite my need to pull back on the knitting, I have no choice. I mean, I have to pick up the needles again. I was so ready to get my teeth fixed, have a few dollars set aside so that we could move into the next phase of this blog, but that’s all been squashed. I’m selling my books, my t-shirts, my patterns….and yes, even teddy bears, but these teddy bears have to be made to order. I listed some bears that I can make with the yarn I have easy access to, but even then, these bears will not be done until January, which I know is a stupid thing to have to do since it’s nearly Christmas season. But, with what I have on my plate and my arm the way it is, I just can’t have them done any sooner. So, I urge to you grab a book, a t-shirt, or a pattern, or a bear. Something. Anything.
This is the part of my blog where I usually end optimistically. Fine.
Being a fighter can be exhausting. Being a survivor can take its toll on you. But, despite my teeth and arm hurting, despite the madness tossed at me, I am a fighter and a survivor. I’ll take it.
And when the IRS comes calling all you can do is bight your teeth into a grit that causes a headache, clench your fist so tight that your fingernails dig into your palms, keep your head up and say, “Fine. I’ll just have to work harder…..but you’re not going to keep me from thriving. I’m too strong for that.”
If you appreciate this blog and would like for it continue, please donate!