The sky fell in on Glenn Smart, a roofing contractor, when a succession of tax return preparers failed to do their jobs.

It started when Smart gave his 1975 tax information to a bookkeeper who later left town after being indicted for embezzlement. The Anchorage, Alaska, contractor contacted another tax preparer who advised him to wait until the next year to file since he was late already. Then that preparer moved out of town.Smart took check stubs, computer printouts and other records to a certified public accountant, but the CPA refused to get involved with his delinquent returns. Finally, in 1980, he found an accounting firm willing to prepare his returns - but only if he got his records in some semblance of order.

To get things organized, Smart took himself and his box of records to a secluded mountain cabin. The cabin burned.

He gathered the charred remains and presented them to the firm. His new accountant filled out the forms for 1975 through 1979. Smart sent them with checks to the IRS. But the accountant was injured in a car accident before he completed other overdue returns.

When the IRS noticed it hadn't heard from the roofing contractor in a long time, the word went out: Get Smart!

The IRS assessed taxes of $183,843, negligence penalties of $64,842 and interest.

In the Tax Court, Smart proved the IRS had made errors in increasing his taxes.

The judge refused to buy the taxpayer's claim that he was not negligent in failing to file on time.

Smart admitted in court his records were jumbled and incomplete. While he had some unfortunate experiences, said the judge, he was capable of operating a business that grossed $200,000 to $450,000 which proved he was capable of filing his tax returns on time.

MORAL: It's not Smart to put off paying taxes.