The leaders of the Bucktail Council in DuBois, Pa., are trying to be good Boy Scouts -- honest, trustworthy and, above all, patient.
For a year, the scouting administrative organization has been forced into an inexplicable relationship with the Internal Revenue Service. Among other things, the IRS has billed them for thousands of dollars and frozen their assets, all of which the scouts say is a mistake.
"I don't even flinch anymore when we get registered letters from them," said Doug Krofina, scout executive.
"Their computer has a mind of its own."
The Bucktail Council's problem, unlike so many recent complaints about the IRS, does not concern lost or delayed tax refunds. It has to do, instead, with the payments of wage taxes (about $7,900 quarterly) for the council's eight employes. The Bucktails coordinate scouting activities for about 3,500 youngsters in north central Pennsylvania.
The group's accountant has records that he says show the payments have been made on time and accurately. He has the canceled checks to prove it, he said. The IRS computer says otherwise.
And the result, said Krofina, has been "a circus."
Four days after Krofina came to work with the Bucktail Council last June, he received four statements from the IRS, notifying him, variously, that the council was delinquent, had overpaid thousands of dollars, or had underpaid thousands of dollars. Krofina said he immediately dispatched documents to straighten out the mix-up and forgot about it.
In July, however, he received a check for $2,662.82 made out to the Bucktails. Krofina sent the check back.
With August came a bill for back taxes of 2 cents, with an added penalty of $153.42. Krofina churned out the paperwork again.
On Oct. 17, he received two checks, in separate envelopes, from the IRS. One was for $2.37; the other for $2.62.
November brought five pieces of correspondence from the agency, including notices that the Bucktails owed 1982 taxes of $14,343.83, $12,323.23 and $10,697.40. Krofina contacted the IRS and, wearily, sent more documentation.
December passed quietly, too quietly. On Jan. 29, the IRS abruptly froze the council's assets. Through the intervention of a banker friend, Krofina said, the Bucktails were able to get their money released.
Nothing further happened until March 11, when Krofina received a statement that the council had overpaid $162.52 and that the money would be applied to back debts from 1982. A week later, the council received a request for 1982 in the amount of $12,624.90.
"At that point, I went running to Sen. John Heinz, screaming, 'Help!' " Krofina said. Heinz (R-Pa.) is head of a subcommittee investigating the IRS' problems.
At Heinz's urging, the IRS promised to look into the case of the Bucktail Council.
"I'm not familiar with the details of the case," IRS spokesman Jim Davie of the Philadelphia service center said last week. "But I'm sure we'll do everything we can to straighten it out."
Things seemed to settle down -- until a few days ago. Another bill arrived at the council headquarters, requesting payment for the last quarter of 1984.
"At that point," said Krofina, "I didn't even look at it closely. I just hid it away and figured they'd get back in touch wih me."