Cleveland Heights, Ohio — I’m like Donald Trump, somewhat. We both inherited buildings from our fathers. I’ve kept my father’s properties and bought a couple more buildings. For my first couple of years I had “loss carry-forwards.” I lost money and paid no federal taxes.
Some dads teach their sons fishing. My dad taught me to do taxes.
He kept two sets of books — one pencil, one ink. Self-made guys, like my dad, often kept two sets of books, a retired accountant later told me. The second-generation, like me, usually goes legit, he said.
I went legit. I got audited, didn’t take an accountant with me, and left the Cleveland federal building with a credit. Landlords handle a lot of cash — first month’s rent, security deposits. That’s probably why I got audited.
Years later, my younger son got a certified letter from the I.R.S. with a handwritten Post-it attached. (The government usually sends me unsigned computer-generated letters.) What did the government want with him? My son, then a college student, played drums for the Michigan Wolverines women’s basketball pep band. He was paid $25 per game plus free hot dogs. The I.R.S. gave him a credit, too: $68. I was proud of him.