Paul L. Caron

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Taxpayer Has Heart Attack While on Phone With Tax Man, Who Calls 911 and Saves Taxpayer's Life

Lexington Herald-Leader, Tax Worker Helps Save Taxpayer's Life:

They say death and taxes are inevitable. But in the case of Earl Phillips, taxes may have helped save the Adair County man's life.

When Phillips called the state Department of Revenue last month to get answers about his state income tax bill, the faceless Frankfort bureaucrat who called him back saved his life. ...

Phillips, an Adair County construction worker, received a tax notice in late May with [Natalie] Brown's name and phone number. When Brown returned the call he'd placed, she noticed that Phillips, 60, seemed out of sorts. "I noticed he was breathing really heavily," Brown said Friday. "I could tell something was wrong." ...

Phillips' breathing seemed to get worse as minutes ticked by, Brown said. ... So Brown verified she had the correct address for Phillips — which was on his tax forms — and called Adair County 911.

Shortly after that, emergency crews arrived and took Phillips, who was home alone, to a local hospital. He was later transferred to a Louisville hospital, where doctors put a stent, or tube, in his heart. He had a 90 percent blockage in one of his arteries, Phillips said. ...

Brown's boss, Bruce Nix, the Director of Individual Income Tax for the Department of Revenue, said this is the first time in his 21 years with the department of revenue that he can recall that a revenue employee may have saved the life of a taxpayer. ...

Oh, and did Phillips ever get that tax question answered? "Yes, I did," Phillips said Friday.

(Hat Tip: Jim Maule.)

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I can agree, Ms. Brown is a very decent and attentive, and initiative-taking human being - and a very decent and welcome counterweight to the tales of horrible faceless bureaucrats. Some two months ago, my daughter had cause to call the information number for the IRS, and wound up talking to an enormously helpful person, who went several extra miles on checking on my daughter's filed return, and answering all of her questions.
Now and again, bloggers and commenters make comparisons to the Post Office and to the local DMV, with regards to the proverbially awful customer service of those organizations ... and yet, I have to confess, that in dealing with my local Post Office, and the local vehicle registration/licensing office - my experiences have been that the employees have been terrifically helpful, considerate and ... well - pleasant and completely professional. It is possible to have a good experience with these entities, but I will also admit that having a horrendiously awful experience will blot out any and all of the good ones...

Posted by: Sgt. Mom | Jun 21, 2010 5:09:33 PM

Enough with the snark. Is is so hard to conceive of the possibility that Ms. Brown is just a decent human being doing the right thing? I'm a pretty skeptical guy when it comes to big government, but most of the individuals working for government agencies, like most people in general, are decent sorts who'll do the right thing more often than not. This should serve as a good reminder of that fact.

Posted by: jesme | Jun 21, 2010 3:55:36 PM

As someone owing the IRS over 100K, I have chest pain whenever I talk to them too...They definititely need to keep me alive if they want their money.

Posted by: Dr Krell | Jun 21, 2010 3:49:09 PM

What a nice story, all the way around. If more government workers were like Ms. Brown, there'd be fewer of us libertarians!

Posted by: Rhodium Heart | Jun 21, 2010 3:18:29 PM

Yep, having him alive saved them from going through escrow.

Posted by: Wind Rider | Jun 21, 2010 2:57:36 PM

The tax notice caused his heart attack, the tax collector saved him to cough up his payments.

Posted by: ic | Jun 21, 2010 2:55:48 PM

Maybe Mr. Phillips would not have had the heart attack if he hadn't had to talk to the IRS in the first place?

Posted by: Auffie | Jun 21, 2010 2:33:45 PM

It's not out of compassion that tax collectors don't want taxpayers dying.

Posted by: Woody | Jun 20, 2010 7:04:16 PM

Paul where do you find these things? You have a definite future in talk radio. Or politics . . .

Posted by: mike livingston | Jun 20, 2010 1:52:31 PM