by Maria Ruiz
Maria often shares stories with us about Santa Barbara history, her travel all over the world, her dogs, and life.
It’s Tax Time again and, like every year, it brings back an old memory. Sometimes it feels as fresh as if it happened just last year.
It was 1960 and I was a young wife with a husband in school and a new baby demanding everything. Because my husband was in school, I was left with the budget and receipt collection while he attended the University of Arizona in Tucson.
My father had recently retired from the U.S. Army and returned to the University to earn his degree in accounting. His first job was with the I.R.S. To celebrate his new job and the birth of his first grandson, we agreed to have Thanksgiving with him.
As we all sat around the table, the conversation turned toward tax season and how he would be working more hours. He was explaining some of the tricks people use. I, remembering my first two years of filing taxes said, “Wow, it’s a good thing you can deduct food, otherwise we’d have to pay.”
Every adult at the table froze. Six pairs of eyes were staring at me. Eventually Dad started to cough. When he had regained his composure he said “How did, where did, ah…how did you do that?”
I, confused at the silence, said “Well, you know the box you list the deductions, there is a line for ‘other’. I put it there.”
Another guest asked “Why do you think you can deduct food?”
“That’s easy. You can deduct medical and since you need food to keep from getting sick, I saved all my food receipts for the year”
Dad asked, “What did you write on the line where you put it?”
“That’s easy, I wrote FOOD.”
By now, Mom was breathing again and the rest of the guests were eating, being careful not to look at me.
Dad said “Well, you didn’t lie and no one has caught it. But don’t do that ever again.”
A few of the guests were actually smiling and one burst out in laughter. He said “She does have a point there.”
Dad just shook his head.
And I never deducted food again; even though it would have been nice to be that naive again.