For many people, filing taxes feels like a terrible annual chore, but it’s often a relatively short-lived one. Once you have all your paperwork, you send your tax return to the Internal Revenue Service, maybe wait for a refund, and then you don’t have to deal with it again until the next year.
On the other hand, there are the people dealing with tax liens, years of unfiled returns, taxes on canceled debt, taxpayer identity theft or an IRS audit. Admittedly, the chances of getting audited are pretty slim: Fewer than 1% of taxpayers were audited in tax year 2014, according to data released last year, and the IRS isn’t exactly bursting with staffers who have time to check your work. But that doesn’t mean you should be careless with your taxes and the associated paperwork. Plus, taxpayer identity theft is increasingly common, and paying off a debt to the IRS is no walk in the park.
No matter what the cause, tax problems can add significant stress to an experience most people already find unpleasant. But hey, there’s always someone who has it worse, right? Take these TV characters, for example.
1. Jerry Seinfeld, ‘Seinfeld’
Jerry gets audited after Kramer convinces him to donate to a fake disaster relief fund. Unfortunately for Jerry, George breaks up with his girlfriend — a former IRS worker who is helping Jerry with the audit — in the midst of all this and she throws out Jerry’s tax forms. He didn’t make copies.
2. Max Black, ‘2 Broke Girls’
While getting help from fellow broke girl Caroline on her taxes, Max reveals that she’s never actually filed them before. Obviously, that’s a problem.
3. Nancy Botwin, ‘Weeds’
The whole series premise is a tax nightmare: Nancy is selling weed to support her kids and maintain her lifestyle after her husband suddenly dies. Of course, in reality, illegal income isn’t exactly the sort of thing the IRS and any law enforcement agency likes to let slide.
4. Walter White, ‘Breaking Bad’
Again, producing and selling drugs (in this instance, we’re talking about meth) to pad your savings is illegal. The IRS was probably the least of Walter White’s problems, but still, it was one of them.
5. Mary Richards, ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’
The fear of the IRS audit has been around for decades, as shown by a 1970 episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary isn’t nervous about the audit, because she keeps good records, but the situation gets messy when her auditor shows a romantic interest in Mary.
6. Dorothy Zbornak, ‘The Golden Girls’
The IRS found some discrepancies in Dorothy’s ex-husband’s tax returns, prompting a multi-year audit of his taxes. That included years when he and Dorothy were married, so she finds out she’ll need to pay half of the $5,000 that her ex-husband, Stan, owes the IRS.
7. Norm, ‘Cheers’
Norm gets investigated for tax evasion, and a female IRS agent propositions him in exchange for foregoing the audit. Faced with cheating on his wife or getting into tax trouble, Norm declines the IRS agent’s offer.
Remember, negative accounts like tax liens can drag down your credit scores. If you want to see where your credit currently stands, and whether you have negative items on your credit report, you can view your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.
More on Income Tax:
- How to File Your Taxes for Free
- How to Protect Yourself from Taxpayer Identity Theft
- How to Maximize Your Tax Refund