Filling out tax forms can be complicated.
Even more so when you are a foreigner trying to understand the system in a new country.
Now, double the difficulty when you had income in two countries in the same year.
Well, I have been there!
My company transferred us from Brazil to the U.S. in the middle of 1994, so they hired a Price Waterhouse tax expert to help with the process.
The lady came and asked for my W-2, the bank statements, receipts, etc. so she could fill out the forms.
Since we were too close to the infamous tax day in April, she proposed we should send a check for the estimated amount, while she would prepare the forms. So, we did it.
After a couple of weeks she brought the filled out forms and said, “Now all you have to do is file it”.
About a month later I got a letter from the IRS stating that, even though they had received my check, they never got the forms.
I called our Human Resources Director to my office to complain: “Price Waterhouse made a huge mistake: they never sent my forms to the IRS”.
He replied: “But, you are supposed to send the forms.”
“No, no” I exclaimed, “the lady said all I had to do was to file it” I said as I opened the drawer on the file cabinet next to my desk and showing him the envelope from Price Waterhouse.
“To file means to mail it to the IRS. You were supposed to sign those forms and mail them”, he explained.
“Are you kidding me? I already know several meanings for the word ‘file’: to file metal, your nails, or to file a document in a cabinet… so it also means ‘to mail it tax forms to the IRS?” I sighed in frustration.
So, I immediately sent the forms (filed them) with a letter explaining the whole story above.
I still believe that is still the only day they laughed at the IRS.
Tax day is coming again, but I want to discuss the lesson behind this story: how many times we are so familiar with a process that we use a language that is normal for us, assuming the other side understands it.
I see this happening at work when technical terms or acronyms are used as if everyone, including the guy who started yesterday, knew exactly what they mean. That is mean!
Now, since this is Easter weekend and its whole theme is in the air, I wonder how many times we do the same in spiritual matters. Speaking in a language that may be familiar to some of us, but completely foreign to others.
Can you imagine telling a Chinese who just arrived in our country that he needs to be ‘born again”, otherwise he is condemned to ‘eternal damnation’?
Wouldn’t it be better if we would talk about how God loved us, and share our personal story? Talk about our relationship with God.
Or even better, start by loving and caring for the person, in a way your life will reflect God’s love, so you can talk about it at some point?
By the way: it is not about Religion, it is about Relationship.