My first mailbox of the new year contained two fat envelopes from the IRS – one for me, and one for my wife. That’s right: a big fat audit of tax year 2002.
I wouldn’t mind so much, except for the fact that I’ve been getting at least three investigations a year for the past five or so years. And this one is a big one – all expenses for the year documented. So that means going back through every package sent and being prepared to document the postage, the recipient, the purpose, etc. Every train ticket, every meal bought for an interview subject, and so on. And they want documentation of my charitable giving, as well.
I’ll be interested to see how I’m treated this time. It’s the first audit that has required a live interview in quite some time. They estimate 2 to 4 hours on this particular session.
The good news is that I’ve reviewed my return, and my accountant forgot to include my entire list of travel expenses for the year. So, with any luck, I’ll come back with a check in my hand, and they’ll put a note next to my name to ‘leave this guy alone – auditing him is expensive!’ I ended up a little bit ahead the last time they did this, so I really shouldn’t worry.
But I must admit I feel harrassed by the number of audits and investigations I get. It all started back in 95 or 96 when WiredNews said I made $7500/hour for consulting (they were pissed, at the time, because I had written a rather mean column about WiredUK’s demise). About two months later came the first audit, and they’ve just kept coming. I can’t help but sense a connection.
I think I’m going to have to hire a business manager. They take 10% of your income, or something obscene like that. But audits, bills, and banking now take up at least 10% of my potential work time – and even if it comes out as a wash, I’d rather be writing than sorting checks and receipts from years past.
I wonder if Noam Chomsky gets audited a lot, too…