105 Ways to Give a Book

Words on Taxes

After a last-minute investigation fueled by incredulous disbelief, it does appear that 2008 is the one year in a five-year span where there is no credit provided for energy-efficient home improvements. Of course, that was the year we installed our expensive energy-efficient air handling system. My general bad timing streak continues. Wahoo!

But if I won’t be richer, at least I’ve had a few laughs. (Actually, that could be the motto for my life.) As I skimmed IRS publications to find some answers, I found instead some great categories in the areas of “Other Income”:
Bribes. If you receive a bribe, include it in your income.

Gambling winnings. You must include your gambling winnings in your income on Form 1040, line 21. If you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), you can deduct gambling losses you had during the year, but only up to the amount of your winnings.

Stolen property. If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.
So don’t forget to declare your bribes and stolen property. I’m going to investigate the deduction for gambling losses for next time. I believe that records are involved, and that’s not a strong area in Vegas.

On my Las Vegas story, the votes came in for 3, 8, and 9. However, I’ve found the few people who’ve asked me about my trip want to know where we stayed, if we won any money, and if we saw any shows. My new short version is based on that assumption:
“We had a fantastic time. We stayed at the five-star Bellagio hotel for $109 a night, showing that even Vegas is feeling the recession. We saw and lost money in pretty much every fancy casino on the Strip. (But not a lot of money.) We went to a comedy club, a magic show, and Blue Man Group, all with discount tickets. It was a great trip.”
But for you, my blogging friends:
“We learned that the places look much closer together on the map, and I have the blisters to prove it. I found that if you argue long enough with the timeshare people, they will call security. But if you try sometimes, you just might find that you get what you need — and a comped lunch.”
Some here have expressed an interest in the timeshare story that involved security. It is a good story, but as the business in question resolved the issue — eventually — I won’t use their name.

On the first day of our trip, we successfully skirted several timeshare salesmen. But I couldn’t resist the call of two Blue Man Group tickets for $35. We booked an appointment for the next morning. That day we walked to the office — farther than we remembered — and waited for an additional thirty minutes in the office before the manager told us that they had overbooked. He could reschedule us for later that day or return our deposit for the tickets. We objected, saying that we had met our obligation by being there, and waiting half an hour while other customers who came in later were taken before us. (We don’t know why.) We wanted our tickets. The manager didn’t want to give us the tickets unless we took the tour. We asked to call his manager, and he gave us a number in Florida. We continued to state our case and requested a copy of the contract for our lawyer. As a new couple came in, we suggested that they might better spend their time elsewhere, which is when the assistant manager offered to have Security escort us out of the building. The manager returned to the room with no better offer, we left a message at the Florida number, and Security — in the form of a short, middle-aged man — came to escort us out of the building.

We immediately went to the timeshare sellers’ booth and told the family there that we just got cheated out of our tickets — which promptly caused them to leave. The security guard told us we couldn’t do that. We quoted the First Amendment. He talked about property rights. We had now involved all of the salespeople in our discussion — and they didn’t like the idea that they were sending people to the appointments if there weren’t enough agents. One of them called to the office as we monopolized the rest of them — in essence, shutting down the sales booth. After the call to the manager got no results, one salesperson referred us to the partner casino to talk to the manager there.

At the casino, I calmly explained the situation. The manager there was very understanding, even if at first look he seemed like the kind of guy who could have roughed us up in a back room. He agreed that things were handled badly and wanted to make it right. He gave us an upgrade on our tickets and a comp lunch at the casino. While Bill filled out the official complaint form, I talked to the manager about his kids and yes, books. (I’m sending him some of my review copies this week in thanks.) In the end, we didn’t spend any more time fighting for what was due to us than we would have spent on the tour and fighting the high-pressure sales tactics. However, I think we’ll stay clear the next time someone asks us, “Seeing any shows while you’re in town?”


Mary Lee said...

Great story! Love it that you fought to the finish line for what you deserved...and then wound up talking about books!

Beth Kephart said...

This is an incredibly funny post.

Are you serious about the tax code? Bribes? Stolen property?

You should send the material to Seinfeld and get royalties!