After five years, lots of letters, lots of frustration and lots of lost sleep, Laurie Schmader is finally off the hook for something she never should have been hooked to in the first place.


As we told you Tuesday, Schmader’s 2005 income was $20,717, but someone at the Ohio Department of Taxation accidentally hit an extra keystroke, jacking her up to $208,717.


The fix should have been simple.


Nay, nay.


After she was notified in 2007 that she owed $11,000 in unpaid taxes, the Cuyahoga Falls woman repeatedly produced paperwork the state requested but kept losing or ignoring, continuing to tack on interest, and finally demanding she appear at a hearing next month.


After she contacted the Beacon Journal and her state representative, someone in the tax department actually looked at her paperwork and acknowledged she had been right all along. Schmader received this email from Julie Brigner, a lawyer in the tax section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office:


“I will file a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal with the Board of Tax Appeals and email you a time-stamped copy for your records. Once your case has been dismissed, the Ohio Department of Taxation will adjust your liability to zero.”


Why this obvious error took five years to fix is known only to bureaucrats in the tax department. And they’re not talking.


Tax trick


We trust it won’t take five years to address another tax issue that’s not nearly as significant but does affect thousands of Ohioans of Irish and Italian descent.


As we recently noted, Mike O’Donnell of Cuyahoga Falls has tried for years to file his state income tax returns electronically, to save time and money, but he can’t, simply because the state’s computer system doesn’t allow the use of an apostrophe in a name.


The state says its computer software rejects apostrophes because the system has to conform to IRS rules that outlaw them.


O’Donnell files his federal taxes electronically using TurboTax and never has a problem with his apostrophe. The apparent contradiction is explained by a spokeswoman for Intuit, the company that makes TurboTax:


“It is an IRS requirement to remove apostrophes from the name field in the electronically filed record. … TurboTax allows the entry in the user interface (which Mr. O’Donnell would see) but strips it out on the electronic filing record.”


A similar process could certainly be used at the state level, and state Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley, has vowed to push the tax department to figure it out.


Suicide mission?


Headline in Monday’s Beacon Journal: “Iran urged to hold off attack on Iran.”


Shouldn’t be a hard sell.


(The good news: Only 14.6 percent of that day’s papers were printed before the headline was caught and changed.)


Ink blots


Readers were having fun with a recent report about a Peninsula man who went to a deputy registrar in Stow to get new license plates and was asked whether he would object to a plate with the letters FKD.


Among the reactions was this one, from Scott Dority.


“?‘FKD’ is bad enough, but I got my new plates a month or so ago and they start with the letters FKT, which takes even less imagination.


“When I started my company 14 years ago, I wanted to get a vanity plate with the company name but was not allowed to because it ‘promoted alcohol use.’ My company’s name is Dorum Color Co. and I wanted the plate to read ‘Dorum1.’?”


Anyone who interprets that as “Do Rum” clearly needs a ride home.


Ship semantics


After a reader objected to the terms “sailing” and “steaming” to describe the movement of big ships, given that most no longer sail or steam, an anonymous voicemailer accused him of hypocrisy.


“He probably ‘dials’ his cell phone.”


Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or bdyer@thebeaconjournal.com.