Dad and the Revenooers
by Martin J. Mirical
Condensed from Seventeen Little Miricals
as printed in Readers Digest May 1993
The record shows that George Dale Mirical and Mary Octavia Hartwick were married on January 30, 1954. Upon that union, Mary's initials were changed to
M.O.M., and 15 months later, on Easter Sunday, her first son was born.
My parents didn't plan to have many kids. But their son was followed by six daughters. Then they got five more sons and five more daughters. What's better family planning that to have one child every year? Dad asked.
Just before their 17th and last child was born in 1974, the Illinois Department of Revenue sent my parents a notice:
Internal Revenue Service information indicates that you claimed six more
exemptions on your 1971 Illinois tax return than on your federal return.
Based on this information, your Illinois tax was recalculated. You are
consequently being assessed $211.
Dad, a certified public accountant, was furious. Would he make a mistake on his own tax return? Mom was amused. It reminded her of the time someone saw all her kids in the back yard and accused her of running an illegal nursery.
Dad gradually yielded to Mom's enjoyment of the irony. One night he came home from work with a piece of paper. "I wrote a letter," he said. "What do you think?"
Mom noticed his impish look and peered at the scribbled statement addressed to the Director of the Department of Revenue:
We received your communication informing me and my wife that, according to the
federal government, we did not have 15 children in 1971 as reported on our state
income-tax return, but only had nine children and therefore owe the
I wish to thank you very much for this information. There has always been disagreement
between my wife and me about the exact number: We just had our 20th wedding anniversary,
and now she says we have 16, all conceived
right and proper after we were married.
Now I agree with you and the federal government that that's a bit unbelievable. The trouble
is that though my wife ain't too bright about somethings, she can count pretty good. It may be
some pesky neighbor has slipped a few of his into my house and I been boardin' them.
I'm at a loss as to how to solve our problem. I'd count them myself but I can't get
'em to stand still long enough in one place. The one thing I can say
for sure is that there does seem to be a lot of 'em around. Heck, my wife even
claims she's goin' to have another one 'bout April.
I reckon the best thing would be to contact the infernal revenooers again and see what
evidence they have to support their figures. I hear they are pretty good lately at
gettin' confidential information.
I hope you don't think I'm disputin' your word - it's my wife I can't convince. I'd send you
the $211 if it was up to me, but I can't 'cause she hid my checkbook again.
Whatever you find out, you should communicate direct with my wife from now on. I didn't
have much to do with this in the first place, and if I ask her how she had so many children, she
just says she does it the same way ever'body else does.
If I was you, though, I wouldn't send no personal representative to see her just yet. For the
past few days she's been stompin' around and mumblin' things about the government like you'd
Mom liked the letter so much she typed it up and mailed it right off. Eventually, the Tax Processing Center figured
out its mistake:
Our notice to you was generated because of an oversight in our computer program.|
This has been corrected so that we should not bother you again. Normally, we are called
everything in the world except human beings. Your
letter was so unusual that it received special handling.
Two weeks later my sister Mary was born, and Dad kept the saga going by writing again:
I just thought I would let you know that she did it again, baby girl, 7 lb. 10oz. I would
have invited you into the delivery room so you could see with your own eyes, but there was
a lot of moanin' and groanin' in there and I figured you already heard enough of that
a tax collector.|
She was born on April Fools Day and I don't want that to create any fresh suspicions
in your mind.
A few days later a special card arrived, signed by more than 75 employees of the Tax Processing Center.
The last one to sign was Dan Walker, then governor of Illinois:
Congratulations on the Birth of Your New Exemption!|