My last few weeks at work were completely hectic and dedicated to preparing and filing our taxes. Our organization is quite complex. Even though we are not for profit, we have about 8 subsidiaries, some active, some not, and I have to file 15 tax returns in total. I worked my behind off to understand (doing it for the first time for our company), prepare and file them, staying overtime, skipping lunch, etc. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't do something that would make this process even harder, something completely dumb, something that would put the icing on this cake. In other words, even if the process were a smooth one, I would find a way to make it harder - and the process was not smooth at all...
Not for profit tax returns are quite intensive. On top of it, IRS has decided that organizations of our size have to e-file, no paper returns are accepted. There's a lot of info that needs to be reported on, some of it has little to do with numbers. One of such pieces is the compensation of key employees and other five highest paid employees of the company. For some odd reason, the higher ups or the Board decided that this info (available for public inspection on the Internet to anyone curious) is classified and cannot be shown to peons like me. So all the numbers have to be entered into the software by me, except for this "sensitive" info, which must be entered by HR consultant. There is one problem with this: the system shows a diagnostic error if some of the info is omitted, which prevents return to be e-filed. My boss was somewhat freaking out about the whole e-filing business and was very anxious to see that error-free diagnostic page. So on one of the returns in the lines where the sensitive info had to be put in, I had entered the officers' names (thank G-d that the names of the big wigs in our place are not a top-rated secret), but for their titles I put in "somebody" and for their salaries I entered "51,000" to be corrected later by HR. So the diagnostic page was finally error-free.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the HR consultant is tied up in some very important meeting. The compensation numbers are finalized 48hrs before the final deadline, and turns out that I am entrusted with inputting not all, but some of the sensitive info on some of the returns. I enter the info, I adjust the numbers, and I happily e-file. On my way to my manager's office I feel the pit in my stomach - I realize that I didn't check our biggest return prior to filing. Yes, I checked it prior many, many times, but I didn't after I entered the sensitive info. I had meticulously checked every single page of every single return, except for this one. And as Murphy's law would have it, the one return I didn't check was the one that I really should have. I somehow forgot to do this in the filing frenzy, mainly because the returns did not have to be printed out. But, I went on reasoning in my head, what could possibly change, the number tied out, right? And then it hits me and the pit in my stomach doubles its size every few seconds: on our biggest and second most important return I only changed info that affected the numbers. Pages that were purely informational were not changed - they were initially supposed to be taken care of by HR, not me, and I didn't make a note to correct them when the plans changed.
This is a major disaster. I immediately call the tax software company, and they can't help. I call IRS, and they can't help either. Once e-filed, the return is filed, end of story, the only option is to amend. So there, the tax return available for public inspection showing all the big bosses (except for the three highest) titled "SOMEBODY" (yes, in caps) and earning less than... well peons like me. I don't know what to do, and my supervisor is gone. Three frantic calls to his cell phone go unanswered, and I am not ashamed to admit that I was on the verge of crying.
I wrote this post on the day of filing, and honestly didn't know if I would have a job next week. I was hoping and praying that the whole thing would blow over. So here's the update: the next day we e-filed the amended return, and hopefully the one with a lot of "somebodies" will not make its way to the public. At least that's what IRS says, but I have grown sceptical about the government promises. I was actually recommended for the award for my hard work on the taxes. But I keep on wondering, did they recommend me before the "somebody" boo boo or after?