Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fantastic Sam and Magic Johnson

It's tax time. I have a table set up in the den, it is covered with files and piles of statements, receipts, 1099s and w2s. It is a yearly ritual that I truly hate. Even though I always get a little back, I still procrastinate until mid-March before I get it done. I have already postponed my appointment once. If I don't get on it, I will be forced to do so again.

I have used the same tax lady for 20 years. She is conservative and has kept me out of trouble. Even when I was running a business, she offered sound advice and kept me in line. She is getting up there in years, one of these times she will likely tell me that this will be her last year. Then. I will be forced to find someone new.

A few of the guys found Sam one year. Sam ran a book keeping office around the corner from one of our stations and did taxes in the spring. The guys from station #215 ran on Sam one day when Sam was having trouble breathing. Sam was hurting, but not to the point that he couldn't hustle up some business. He told the guys that he would maximize their refund and charge a low price. Needless to say, a few guys bit.

I won't say Sam was a fraud, but he did stretch the envelope. He allowed the guys to write off a ridiculous amount for meals, crazy contributions (no receipts required) and designer shoes as "station safety attire". These are just examples of the stuff Sam would pull.

The guys loved it of course, they were getting huge refunds. They nicknamed Sam "Fantastic Sam" and per firefighter SOP, they couldn't resist telling everybody else about the great job Sam had done for them. The word spread. and the next year, Sam had quite a few members of the K.B.F.P.D. knocking on his door.

This went on for several years. Toward the end, Fantastic Sam was probably doing about 12% of the department member's taxes.

At about the same time, some firefighters from another department in our county were using their own guy, a guy they called "Magic" Johnson. Magic Johnson must have gone to the same tax prep school that Fantastic Sam did, as he used the same tactics to get huge refunds for the firefighters. I don't recall the numbers, but I am sure that Magic Johnson was just as popular with the Small City F.D. as Fantastic Sam was with the Kinda Big F.P.D.

The end came for both groups of firefighters at about the same time, although in very different ways.

One year, one of the firefighters from the Small City F.D. and a client of Magic Johnson, got audited and got spanked. Hard. The next year, most of the firefighters that had used Magic Johnson were audited and reportedly, all got spanked. Hard.  That was bad for Magic Johnson's business and I doubt that he was able to keep any of the S.C.F.D. firefighters as clients.

At about the same time as the above drama was occurring, Fantastic Sam had an MI and died. Engine 215 rolled on him, I think they got him to the ER in a living state, but he died a few days later. I am sure that there was some discussion on the ride back to the station as to what they were going to do the next year at tax time.

As some of our members were aware of the strife the at S.C.F.D, I hope Fantastic Sam's K.B.F.P.D. clients chose a more conservative tax preparer. Although knowing firefighters the way I do, I am not sure that is what occurred.

The pile of papers on my folding table is not getting any smaller as I write this. If I don't want to postpone my appointment yet again, I had better get busy. I hope your day will be more fun than mine.

Thanks for reading,
A procrastinating Schmoe


  1. Capt. Schmoe:

    Taxes--yuk--from a fellow procrastinator, The Observer.

  2. I dont do taxes. lol. J/K. I'm just ALWAYS late. I OWN procrastination.

    Have fun!