Good thing I'm retired; I can spend DAYS chasing 300 bucks! Little do they know, I will not give up, they don't know who they are up against. I've got nothing but time baby. Bring it on.
My husband paid our estimated taxes in January, but apparently, inadvertently neglected to sign the check. (I hope not a sign of the retired brain turning to mush but simply a mistake.) Yesterday, I received a notice from the taxing authority of this great state of California telling me that the check was dishonored. (Frankly, I'm surprised they went ahead and deposited an unsigned check, perhaps to generate more revenue for the state by generating a bigger interest penalty?)
Since the payment is "dishonored," we obviously had to submit that payment again, but now it is late, so we will not be "safe" paid for the 2007 tax year and will owe an interest penalty when we file our return. But to really pour salt into the wound, they also sent us a notice saying we owe them $300 for a "dishonored check" penalty. Ouch! I figured 15 maybe 20 bucks for the returned check charge, but THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS? How can California's budget be in such crisis with this kind of revenue generation?
Well, I called and held for 20 minutes (I've got more time than money these days), and was told if I would like to request a waiver, I would have to write a letter (which I of course did; they have no idea how much time I've got on my hands now). If this does not work, I can appeal to the Taxpayer Advocate (you bet I will).
I do think persistence will pay off. I've learned from my already-retired husband that you really can save a bunch of money by devoting some time to things you might have blown off when you didn't have time because you were working. He was able to remove a mystery monthly charge from our phone bill by calling and asking what it was ("if you don't want that service, we can certainly remove it"--we didn't even know we HAD whatever service it was). Most working people don't have the time or inclination to look over all the pecuniary charges in the small print on their phone bills. Or the time he called the cable company to complain about the service that month and we received free HBO for six months. (And when he called to cancel that at the end of the six months, he was offered another six months at a very reduced price). He was able to reduce bills for garbage, pest control, and the alarm service simply by picking up the phone and asking. He's filled out surveys to earn discounted bills and always sends in those rebate coupons.
Yes, it is true, he has had to spend much of his time on hold, but it all adds up. When he was working, he used to say he had more money than time, but now we've got more time than money and infinitely more minutes to sit on hold.