Braille Monitor                                                                                May-June 1986


IRS Riding the Rails
Tax Specialists on a Roll Answering
Commuter Questions

by Jim Quinlan

(The following article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times March 4, 1986. Dale Wolthoff is a longtime, active Federationist.)

Minutes after Metra's 508 Glenview Express pulled out of Union Station yesterday, a pleasant-looking man holding a white cane stood up and faced the crowded car of commuters.

"Hi, I'm Dale Wolthoff, and I'm from the Internal Revenue Service in Chicago," he said.

Commuters' faces, a day into the new week, looked up from their popcorn boxes and newspapers and stared at Wolthoff. A woman nudged the man next to her. "He's from the IRS?" she asked. The man squinted. He smiled and said, "I knew it would come to this. Now they're following us."

Wolthoff smiled.

"I'm here to answer any questions you might have about your income taxes," he said.

A sigh was heard.

Ruth Flower of Northbrook wasn't shy. She said she had a question. Wolthoff, who is blind, responded to Flower's voice. She told him about her Keough retirement plan and asked something about converting it.

Wolthoff didn't hesitate. In a soft, commanding tone he outlined the federal laws. Roll over this, 10-year-averaging that, no penalty. Flower smiled as Wolthoff finished his pitch.

"That was nice," she said as the IRS Taxpayers Service specialist walked off down the aisle. "I wanted to know. I could have asked my auditor, but, well, he was handy."

Julie Salinger of Deerfield, newly married and a study in organization, told Wolthoff how she and her new husband, a dentist, interviewed three accountants before choosing him for the first time last night.

Wolthoff was impressed.

Her question revealed her careful nature. Her husband was a volunteer dentist in Israel. Could he deduct his air fair?

Maybe, said the IRS man. Was it a local volunteer organization or was it foreign? Julie didn't know for sure. "Then you've got a great question for your new accountant tonight," Wolthoff said.

Clouds of smoke rose in the smoking ear as the IRS man opened the door. He walked through. Announced his mission. No questions there.

The next car was part bar car. Happy people there.

Sophie Drewniak of Fox Lake, a young grandmother, stood between the two cars with her 6-week-old grandson, Matthew, in her arms. She had a question about her husband's trucking business. Wolthoff readily answered, and off he went to the next car.

"I have a lot more questions," she said. "But what I'd really like to do is sit him down and have him do my taxes."

Wolthoff and fellow tax experts will be riding the trains for the next two weeks. It's something he loves doing, he said.

"I believe in the concept of outreach when and where we can," he said. "I think this is an opportunity for me and a service to help people where they are."