“I learned a long time ago, never to mess with the IRS,” Jake repeated firmly whenever this topic of discussion came up. Which has lately left me feeling puzzled.
I snuck into Jake’s records. I had to be sneaky; Jake didn’t want me nosing around in there. But Jake is dying. Soon my wife will inherit his business. She and I need to know how he’s running it. And he’s secretive.
Before my mother-in-law died, I offered to do Jake’s bookkeeping for free. After all, he was getting pretty old and I knew how much he hated paperwork. I thought he’d jump at the offer. He didn’t, but my mother-in-law did. She shouted, “Yes! Please! And don’t ask him! Just do it!”
But Jake just laughed and said he could handle it himself. No problem. He politely disobliged my offer. My mother-in-law’s gimlet eyes murdered her husband where he stood. But how could I go over his head? A consensus was required in this situation.
But now my mother-in-law is dead. And Jake is dying.
My mother-in-law passed away a few months ago, and my wife and I have moved in with Jake, so we can help him as his own health fails. Now that I live in his house, I’ve been able to discover where he hides his receipt book. I’ve been sneaking it out from time-to-time, and organizing a set of books for him. Or actually, for my wife, so that she can file his final tax return after he dies.
Jake owns a number of rentals in our town. He notes in his receipt book how much each tenant pays, whenever they pay the rent. But something in these records is not adding up. It appears that sometimes his tenants are getting away with not paying the rent. And there is one renter who appears to have never paid rent.
Is this guy who always claims he doesn’t cheat the IRS, lying to us? Is he really taking rent money under the table?
My wife delicately broached the subject with her dying dad. He assertively denied that he would ever allow any renter get away with not paying the rent, and he definitely affirmed that he claims all of his income.
It’s taken us a while, but we are starting to put two-and-two together. Here’s what we suspect is going on:
About five years ago, my wife confronted Lisa at the bingo hall. She shouted at her,over the heads of a startled crowd, calling her a bitch, whore and slut. Lisa was shocked. She thought they had been friends. Almost family.
But my wife was responding to something one of her bingo friends told her. She had reported to my wife that Lisa was bragging to people at the bingo hall that one day she was going to inherit a lot of property from Jake, and be rich.
Lisa has rented from Jake for over twenty years. We’ve always suspected Jake was having an affair with her. And Lisa is the one who appears to not have ever paid rent.
I snuck into his tax records. Based on these records, it appears that Lisa really has been paying rent. But based on the receipt book, Lisa really hasn’t. So what is Jake up to?
The best we can figure out is that Jack is underreporting income from some of his rentals, and applying that underreported rental income to the rental that Lisa lives in. So Jake is not really cheating the IRS. He’s claiming all of his income, and dutifully paying all of his taxes. But he’s also weaving a complex web of duplicity, to hide his affair with Lisa. And he’s apparently done this for many years, hoping to fool his wife.
I doubt she was fooled. Now I understand why she was so eager to have me take over the bookkeeping. She knew I’d start asking some uncomfortable questions.
Jake is not a tax cheat. Jake is a wife cheat.