Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Aliza never slept well when her husband was abroad. On a purely logical level, she knew that she should bless and thank Hashem multiple times each day for the zechus to live in the Promised Land and the bracha of parnasa. She likewise acknowledged that she should be eternally grateful for the fact that her highly intelligent, talented and charismatic better half had marketable skills that were in demand. Still, she found herself missing Yehuda even before he boarded the plane, and unconsciously counting the minutes until his scheduled return.

This trip, however, there was more than just the usual pining away for her husband that was robbing her of the healing power of blissful sleep. Everywhere she turned, there were more worries, additional concerns. During the dark sleepless nights, they were magnified tenfold, thus engendering a vicious cycle of stress and sleep-deprivation.


Her biggest nightmare revolved around those dreaded three letters that instilled fear and trepidation into even the bravest of men: I R S.

The first registered letter had arrived a couple of months earlier, forwarded from their last employer in the U.S. Aliza had nonchalantly torn open the outer envelope, never suspecting that a virtual time bomb lay lurking inside it. As soon as she saw those three terrifying letters, alarm bells began sounding in her head. Their piteous wail had become progressively louder and more immediate with each passing day.

Yehuda had always filed their taxes to the best of his ability and had consistently sent the completed forms out on or before April 15. So, these “love letters,” as Aliza wryly called them, were both unexpected and deeply troubling.

The first of the series was a notification of intent to levy their joint assets in the U.S. unless an exorbitant sum of money, virtually double their current annual income, was paid post haste. Just like that, a simultaneous thunderbolt and lightning strike that effectively shook their world.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the letters had begun arriving at their place of employment shortly after they had made aliyah. All the previous correspondence had been ignored, however, and presumably discarded. Only this final warning, which had arrived via registered mail, was deemed worthy of being forwarded to their address in Israel.

Aliza frantically phoned the number on the top of the notice. Needless to say, she was told to call a different department at another number. For hours, she dialed one IRS number after another, until she thought the litany would never end. Day turned into night and her concern evolved into genuine despair. Finally, on her eighth try, just as she was about to throw in the proverbial towel, an angel answered the phone. This IRS employee apologized for the run-around and rough treatment that Aliza had endured, and vowed to keep in touch after she had made some inquiries. And she did.

She found out which department had handled the audit several years previously and emailed a copy to Aliza, along with references to several IRS guidelines that could be of help. She lent a sympathetic listening ear and offered unwavering support and sound advice.

Aliza knew that they were far from “out of the woods” yet, but she felt less overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation and more confident that an equitable solution could be found.

Then, the second shoe fell. Their house in the United States had initially been put on the market just as the U.S. economy had imploded. To compound their disappointment, their most promising prospective buyers had reneged on the sale mere days before closing escrow and just a couple of weeks prior to their making aliyah. Thus their beloved home had seemingly overnight metamorphosed from their “great white hope” into a gargantuan “white elephant” and had strained their already limited budget ever since.

Now, over three years and multiple unforeseen home-related expenses later, the housing market had finally begun to rebound, and their realtor had decided to put the house up for sale again. He advised that they list it while it was still early in the season and there was a decided dearth of houses available. His hunch paid off immediately. A few offers came in even before the date of the first scheduled open house. In all, he received chai serious offers, and it appeared that their mazel was on an upward trajectory.

But now the IRS’s dire threats coincided with the time-consuming process of selling their home at long last. They followed the realtor’s recommendation and accepted the offer that required no contingencies. Then they waited. And davened very fervently. Then they signed the requisite documents, paying hefty FedEx fees to have them sent from the US to Israel and back again. And they davened some more.

B’chasdei Hashem, their real estate agent emailed them the wonderful news: this time the house had actually sold! Aliza was elated with the besoros tovos; one major hurdle had been overcome.

As for the others, another two identical IRS letters arrived while Yehuda was abroad, one forwarded from the U.S. address and one sent registered mail directly to their home in Israel. As per her instructions, Aliza dutifully called her guardian angel at the IRS (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and reported the latest correspondence.

Since sleep was proving so elusive in any case, Aliza decided to utilize the quiet evenings to revisit the IRS correspondence that she had received until now. She had never yet studied it herself, preferring to forward it directly to Yehuda.

After researching the first set of documents, she contacted Yehuda right away, despite the late hour and costly long-distance charge.

“Do you remember that I forwarded you the copy of the audit and files from the IRS?” she began without preamble.

“I never got anything worthwhile…”

“What do you mean? The reasons for the audit and the consequent charges are right there in black and white!”

Here, her voice rose a few octaves.

“I never received anything like that…”

Exasperated, she resent the attachments, and waited for him to open them. Again, he insisted that nothing relevant was in them.

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