Heartbreaking stories

Discussion in 'Positive Feelings and Motivational Messages' started by Black Beauty, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. Black Beauty

    Black Beauty Well-Known Member

    I figured it'd be a good idea to have a thread where we post stories that make us cry in three minutes just to help put things into perspective. I'll start with this one:

    In New Zealand, the IRD can bust into your business, into your dairy, into your plumbing shop, into your farm, they can bust into it, any hour of the day and they don’t need a warrant.

    The Police can’t do that. The Police might be chasing Son of Sam and they’ve got to get a warrant. They might be chasing the worst rapist in history and they’ve got to get a warrant, and they are trained. But these IRD officers with very little training, who are up against, you know, really scary people like plumbers and paperhangers, people that work for a living. They have powers to enter your business at the drop of a hat and do a search. Your Parliament gave that department those powers. They have powers to require you to answer every question that they put to you. If you are scumbag murderer or rapist, you can say, “I’m not answering that question”, but if you are a dairy owner you had better, and it’s the IRD you have to, because if you don’t they can hit you with a fine for $25,000.

    Are we starting to talk like our values are upside down. That we have rights to protect the criminal class but the productive class, the working class, the people that create all the wealth have no rights when confronted with the tax department after its pound of flesh and pint of blood.

    They have the ability to assert that you owe a debt and it is your job to prove that you don’t. Nowhere else in our legal processes do we have that. We believe that we have a free society, a capitalist society, a democracy where you’re innocent until you are proven guilty. That’s true if you’re a murderer, that’s true if you’re a rapist, that’s true if you’re a burglar, that’s true if you’re a thug, but if you’re a taxpayer, it’s not true. You are guilty until you prove that you are innocent. So the department can allege a million-dollar debt and you have to prove that you don’t owe it. How can you prove that you don’t owe it, when you don’t even know what it’s about? And they’re not required by law to tell you what it’s about. They can just assert it. Not only can they assert a debt against you, but even before it goes to Court you have to cough up half. Can you imagine that? You’re paying for your lawyers, you’re paying for your accountants, you’ve got this big debt, you have to pay half even before your case is heard. This is an outrage. And these tax laws are having a huge consequence. There are two problems with tax. It’s too much, and the laws are too vicious.

    There is a guy in New Zealand, he lived on the Kapiti coast. Ian Lee Mutton was his name. He was a good guy. Father, husband, two little kiddies, and he was a good sportsman, and he worked and he liked a wee drink and having fun. And his business was, and he worked hard at it, was putting in air conditioning units in new office towers. And he had a dream, he dreamt that rather than working for other people he could go out into business on his own. And he did that. And he was good at the work, but he was a lousy businessman. He quoted too low, some of his people didn’t pay, and the costs got out of control. But he persevered and he learnt. He got to the end of one year 1992, and he owed $6,000 terminal tax. No big deal, knew he owed it, was going to pay it.

    He then had an accident off a ladder at work and broke his ankle and couldn’t work. He had been assessed for this tax, and the demands kept coming. His ACC, such as it is for self-employed didn’t come, even though he had been paying it all these years. So he and his family were suffering no end. Here he was hobbling around on crutches. He went repeatedly to the IRD with his wife saying, “Look, I can’t pay this”. They wouldn’t listen to him. He had to pay, they’re the rules. He says, “I’m not working”, doesn’t matter. He gets back to work, someone smashes his utility up and he has to spend more money so he can keep working. He pays his tax that year, he pays his tax the next year, he pays in his next year more tax than he has ever paid in his life as a percentage. And he gets to the end of that year, and he owes more than he did at the start. Because the penalties and the interest are just overwhelming him. His accountant and his business manager go in to see the IRD begging them to give this guy some relief. He’s working hard, here’s all his accounts, give him some relief. They wouldn’t.

    His marriage split up, his wife couldn’t take the pressure. He was behaving strangely, the pressure was huge on him. That bills were just being generated by that horrible computer that the IRD has and they would be arriving at his house in envelopes and in the finish, he couldn’t even open them, he just threw them in the bin. In his final year, he went on booze a bit. He didn’t pay any tax, so it mounted, and the debt got to $45,000. He then snapped out of it, he stopped the drinking, he got back with his wife, he realised that he had to make his business go bankrupt, stop his dreams, stop his aspirations. And he got a job working in Queenstown, putting in air conditioning units working for someone else. All he had in the world at that point was a utility worth $5,000 and $1,100 worth of tools.

    On the day that he was to leave to Queenstown to take up his new job, the IRD turned up. They wanted the ute, and the tools, to offset the debt. They were going to take the very means that he had to make a living. He drove the utility up to the Otaki Gorge and killed himself. He penned before he died a message to the IRD, saying that “you are responsible for this, that you have taken everything that I ever had, that I now leave this world like I came into it, with nothing, but that I beat you, because you no longer going to get any more out of me,” and he signed, the last thing he did on earth, was to sign that note, “one happy man”.

    The IRD got that note, they turned up at the widow’s house wanting the ute and the tools. She then, ladies and gentlemen, goes outside and stands on the porch and sees her twelve-year-old son hanging dead from the tree. He couldn’t take his father’s death. The IRD have never apologised, never said they have done wrong.
     
  2. Black Beauty

    Black Beauty Well-Known Member

    I would like to know that you read my letter carefully and compassionately. I am also pleading for help in a matter that has gone on for over twenty years – far too many years.

    Last Wednesday on the Holmes programme, we were stunned to hear that poor lady tell of her husband’s suicide (and that of her son’s at a later date), in what was a case of a man being driven over the edge, because of continuing penalties put on his tax, which he could never get repaid, no matter how hard he tried.

    I sat in horror and couldn’t believe that finally all we had been through was being told by a very brave lady. No, my husband didn’t commit suicide – had it not been for our faith and wonderful Christian friends who came to our aid when I feared that he could get no lower in deep depression, I would have no father for our family of four or a husband either.

    My husband is a very hard worker and always has been. Over 20 years ago now, he had a small shearing contract business and ran into trouble paying his tax on time one year. Every week he paid more than we could afford, trying to pay back the overdue tax plus the present year’s tax. But for all these many years, we have never caught up because of the hefty penalties. We lived in Tirau then with four very small children and have literally struggled to survive ever since. We had Case Managers who were like the Gestapo, unbelievably cruel, heartless and completely incapable of any feeling or compassion. They wanted $300 per week, when I wrote and told how we didn’t have enough money to buy food, etc., for the family and live, it was cut to $250 but before long – more nasty, threatening phone calls wanting more, more and more money each week. They always rang when my husband was at work and I became frightened every time the phone rang. To this day I still suffer from this fear as well as being scared to get the mail out of the box each day.

    My husband worked (and still does) from dawn to dark every day apart from Sundays and as the years have gone on, more often than not, it is seven days a week.

    From a young wife in the 1970s I have had this awful burden and constant worry. We always wanted badly to own our own home and still desperately do, but have almost given up hope. Our marriage has hung together but I give the credit to God for that, as I know full well, had we not had our faith, we could never have survived.

    As our children got older I got a part-time job to try and save a deposit for a house. I had saved $9,000 – never touching my earnings for anything even though I like nice things and badly needed clothes for myself and our children. However, another Case Manager (in Hamilton) rang me one morning when my husband was at work and ordered me to the bank, threatening bankruptcy. He had me in tears, pleading with him that it was my hard-earned savings to try and get a home, but there was no let up. I made a fool of myself when I broke down in the bank later that morning after drawing the money out from my own savings account. That $9,000 to me was like $200,000 to most people. The only savings we had ever managed to have and it was gone and our dreams with it. That was onl 5-6 years ago.

    Then a new lady took over the Case Manager job. She was even worse if its possible and treated us like animals. The same old story: the more we paid each week the more they wanted. My husband has had a well paid job but we have never seen any of it – the penalties took it all. We are still struggling. The last year has been awful. My husband went on to PAYE forms last year which is stopping any future tax building up ahead, so that is good, but we are still trying to pay all the back tax and penalties and live at the same time but are only bringing home two-thirds the amount, but our outgoing payments are still the same. There just isn’t enough money to meet all these needs and we’re just not making it. Now, other debts are building up and we’re trying to drip feed lots of bills to get them paid and we can’t ever get on top.

    My husband and I just sat there in front of the TV last week reduced to tears, as we listened. He worked out that in penalties alone, we have paid an extra $40,000 - $50,000 on top of our tax over the last 20 or so years. Surely, when a hardworking, honest man tries so hard, for so many years, to repay on regular payments these 40 percent penalties are unwarranted. This has not been worked out correctly and he thinks it may well be a lot more than that.

    My husband is so scrupulously honest, that it is to the point of being ridiculous. Over the years when he didn’t have enough work in the winter, he would get under smelly wool sheds, bagging sheep manure into fertilizer bags, then carting it over to Tauranga or Hamilton and would walk the streets trying to sell it at $5.00 a bag. He was paid cash for it all and we argued – I’d say, ‘we’re so hard up, do you have to declare all the cash from this?’ But, no, he would say it was dishonest and every cent received was declared. He does small shearing jobs for people with 4-5- sheep or goats. They pay cash and he declares every cent and won’t hear of it any other way. I’m sure most people wouldn’t do that, but, for all his extreme honesty, it has got us nowhere.

    We have wasted money having to pay rent for years instead of it paying off our own home. We have had endless cheap cars causing horrendous bills but we had to have transport for my husband to get to work. Our health has suffered with illnesses, constant headaches which nothing seems to help, all caused by stress. We go years without a holiday and then we take just one week, like this year, and end up not even able to buy treats, like one ice cream, and of course come home even more behind because repayments couldn’t be kept up the week we were away. However, if we hadn’t taken the week’s break from work my husband would have cracked up again from exhaustion and I would not have been able to cop with the strain of it all either. We barely exist from week to week with rent payments, tax payments (from back tax penalties), car repayments, etc., etc.

    My husband is 50 now and I am 51. We have paid several bulk sums off our tax as well as weekly repayments i.e. my $9,000 was one lot, but it made no difference.

    Do you not think it grossly unfair that we have now paid $40,000 - $50,000 just in penalties alone? (probably a lot more).

    We have never been able to afford a lawyer to help us. When things get too behind there are weeks when we’re unable to pay the weekly tax repayment but we endeavour to and always have. I could get you endless references for my husband’s character – all would speak of his extreme honesty and endless hard work, all mainly for the Tax Department.

    What can you do – now this has come to a head? Is there any relief for us? It has only been the fact that my husband earns a good wage that he has been able to continually pay back so much a week, but they still always wanted more and hassled us continually.

    When our daughter went nursing, she didn’t get a full student allowance (badly needed it as we were unable to help her of course) – our wage was too high. The fact that we never saw any of it because so much was going back to the tax department didn’t come into it, but it was so unfair that she had to suffer because of our debts.

    Is there justice in all this? The cruel and heartless case managers (not all, but many, I can assure you), took everything. If we had had a house, they would have taken that too, but there wasn’t one to take.

    Please answer this letter – what we have been through over 20 years and are still going through, can never be fully described by letter. The tears, frustrations, despondency, depressions, arguments over lack of money – it is endless and has literally ruined our lives. It is nothing short of a miracle that we are still a whole and caring family unit. Everything we have to do is a struggle, like an urgent and necessary trip to the dentist, just another bill to try and pay by drip feeding and so it goes on and on.

    PLEASE look into our case and help us. My thanks go to the brave lady who brought this wretched saga of never ending penalties into the open. Is there light at the end of the tunnel or not?

    I am sending copies of this letter to the Commissioner of IRD and John Shewan of PriceWaterhouseCoopers but am trusting you to be able to help us as we cannot afford to be able to pay a top tax consultant but thought it might help to write anyway.

    Thanking you.