ME VS.THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
It was one fall day back in about 1967 when I found a postcard SCOTCH-TAPED to my mailbox — from the IRS. How’s that to start your day? Now back in those years I was consulting for museums around New York and had made very little money, just enough to stay alive, but it was also true that I hadn’t filed any tax returns for the last three years or so, so I knew I was in trouble. The message on the card was terse: It said: “Please call”.…and there was a telephone number listed. That’s all. Trouble.
Now, I hate calling. ESPECIALLY when I’m in trouble. I want to talk to someone in person, face to face, no matter how bad the outcome is going to be. I remembered that I knew where the IRS building was downtown. So, instead of calling, I got cleaned up (as best I could), put on my sport jacket, went to the bank and withdrew every penny I had ($300) and headed down to Chambers Street and the IRS.
You have to remember that this was ages ago, before terrorism changed the nature of everything, so I was able to just walk in the door (no metal detectors). I walked up to a nice lady seated at the front desk (not behind bulletproof glass) and when she said “Can I help you?” I handed her the card and said “Yes, I’d like to speak to someone about this.”
She read the card and seemed confused. “Did someone here ask you to come in?” she inquired.
“No," I answered, “I just decided that I would like to speak to someone in person about this.”
“Oh,” she smiled sweetly, “No, no, you have to call the number on the card”
“I understand that’s what it says, but I’m already here and I would really like to speak to somebody.”
She again reminded me that the card specifically asked me to call. I tried to convince her that since I was already here perhaps someone could take a minute to discuss my situation with me. I really didn’t want to take ‘no’ for an answer.
I think at some point she realized that she could possibly be talking to a crazy person, so she calmly said “All right, come with me and we’ll have someone come down and meet with you.” She then took me around a corner, asked me have a seat in an empty cubicle and told me that someone would be with me shortly. I felt relieved.
I sat there alone for five or ten minutes looking around the cubicle which had a plain desk, the one chair I was seated on and a telephone. And then the telephone rang. It rang once. It rang twice and then, not knowing what to do I answered it. “Hello?”
“Mr. Resnicoff?”, a man’s voice on he other end.
“Yes,” I replied.
“You have to call the number printed on the card.”
Beaten! After all that they beat me!
But just as I was about to give up and go home I heard this sound coming from the next cubicle and as I stood up and looked over the divider… there he was… the man who was telling me I had to call. I was dumbfounded and just stared at him with my mouth open.
Having been caught ‘red-handed’ he just shook his head, smirked, and said something like “OK, you got me. Come on over here and let’s talk”
Victor Bonanno introduced himself and invited me to have a seat. Then, somewhat apologetically he explained that the reason that I have to call that number is that they have absolutely no tax records at this office. That’s all handled someplace upstate. He was reasonable and friendly and when I explained my situation to him his advice was, without knowing any details, for me to file as soon as I could because if there were to be any penalties they would be minimized.
It seemed like sound advice so I took out my certified check for three hundred dollars — and he panicked.
“I absolutely can’t take that from you. We don't handle any money in this office.”
“You have to!” I demanded. “You’re the IRS and I’m just following your advice.”
So after a bit of thought he said “here’s what we’ll do. I’ll take your check. ME, Victor Bonanno and I’ll get it into the system for you, today. Will that make you happy?”
“Yes” I replied.
And with that he opened the desk drawer and took out a piece plain lined paper (I recall the lines being about an inch apart like in kindergarden) and wrote me a receipt. It said something like: Received from Stanley W. Resnicoff the sum of $300 to be applied to his income tax. Signed Victor Bonanno and dated. And that was that. We shook hands, I thanked him and I was gone.
I went home and filled out all the tax forms I needed to the best of my ability and couple of months later I got an official refund for three hundred dollars.
Thank you Victor Bonanno.