On Friday, a gift arrived in the mail for us. It didn’t come from friends or family but in an envelope from the Department of the Treasury – otherwise known as the IRS.
What was the gift? It certainly wasn’t a check. Receiving a check from the IRS might signal the end of the universe as we know it. However, when I slit open the envelope, and with fear and trembling pulled out the letter and unfolded it, what I saw printed on it in 36-point bold type was: “Amount Due: $0.00.” Cue the angels singing the church bells ringing.
You see, about six weeks ago, on a Friday – why does bad news always arrive in the mail on Fridays so that you have plenty of free time on the weekend to imagine the worst possible scenarios – we received a letter from the IRS. It said that the information reported to them didn’t match the income reported on our 2011 tax return…to the tune of about $500,000.
And just to make sure that I read the rest of the letter once I started breathing again, they threw in a couple of other items that they questioned on our tax return. Hey, what’s another few thousand dollars among friends?
Let me start by saying that if we had we received $500,000+ income in 2011 we would not have sold our house in Petaluma in a short sale, be renting a condo in Cotati and driving cars with 100,000 miles on them. I felt like calling up the IRS and frantically exclaiming, “Come and take a look at our lifestyle. Do we look like people who had a half million dollars in income!!”
After Steve pulled my fingernails out of the phone, I regained my rationality and sent an email to our accountant. I was on the phone with him first thing Monday morning to ask on a scale of one to 10, how worried should I be about this letter from the IRS? Are we talking about just needing to provide additional documentation or are we in the area of indentured servitude for us and our three kids?
He felt quite confident that these issues could be cleared up if he prepared some additional forms but there always is the possibility that the long arm of the IRS could find other reasons to reach into the nooks and crannies of our business and life. He didn’t say it but I couldn’t help but wonder, what if the IRS agent reviewing our paperwork had a fight with his wife that morning or the barista at Starbucks messed up his order and we have to bear the brunt of his bad mood?
I mailed the information that our CPA prepared for us and for the next six weeks, I was dreading seeing that second letter from the IRS in the pile of mail on the kitchen counter. But this Friday, the news was all good and what a relief. I considered framing the letter. As someone who believes in God, I say this without a bit of sarcasm…thank you Lord!