Speaking of not being powerless…

So, a few years back I seated my window air conditioner in not-quite-the-right-spot and condensation dripped down the inside of the wall and caused a bunch of damage. The landlords are making me pay for repairs, which, y’know, fair enough.

The contractor they got said he’d do it for $700 cash or $700 plus tax if I paid him by any other method. I get it: if I give him cash, he can hide it from the tax people and not claim it. If money goes through his bank account and he doesn’t claim it on his taxes, an auditor would find out.

I don’t condone cheating on taxes buttttttt I’m poor and want to save money so I said I’d pay cash. But then suddenly my landlady was texting me that the contractor needed half the money upfront and she wanted me to e-transfer her the amount and she’d give it to him. I’d been going to give the guy cash as soon as he came in the door anyway but I assumed he must want it even sooner than that, and that this is what “upfront” meant. I texted her back that if we did what she was suggesting, I’d have to pay tax, and couldn’t I just give him cash when he got here? She said I should email him.

So I email the contractor and he says it’s not him insisting on payment going that way, it’s my landlady – she wants an invoice for the work. He himself would be fine getting cash like I wanted. FOR FUCK’S SAKE why did the landlady send me on a wild goose chase, then?

I messaged the landlady explaining again about the tax thing and basically saying that the tax on this job adds up to quite a chunk of money for me and I’m not the one who needs an invoice sooooo how ’bout I e-transfer her $700 and she covers the tax herself? Or else I could pay cash and if she needs proof that the work was completed I could send her pictures. I did say it more politely than that but yeah.

After I sent the message I clued in: the landlady wanted an invoice for the work, in her name, so she can claim it as a write-off on her taxes. Even though I’m the one paying for the work. And that’s fucking bullshit. I mean I don’t actually care about her writing it off – it’s not like I could use that write-off myself – but I’ll be damned if I’m paying almost a hundred bucks extra for the repairs so someone else can benefit from it.

But the landlady is scary so I felt pretty barfy wondering how she would react to me refusing to pay that tax. Also she didn’t say outright that she wanted an invoice so she could scam the government, so if she refused to accommodate my request, then what? I’d have to get kind of accusatory and she probably wouldn’t react well.

Annnnd right about at this point in my panic attack I got a text from her saying “I’ll cover the tax. Just send the main amount.” Just like that.

I’m really proud of myself for being assertive. Normally authority figures scare me and I roll right over for whatever they say. But making me pay extra for her to get a tax break really would have been bullshit. I think she knew it, too, and that’s why she opted not to fight with me about it.

 

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