Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bad Expectations Unfulfilled

The letter(s) came a little more than a week ago.

They were from the IRS.

One to me, one to my spouse.

We were being audited.

Would I please call within two weeks and schedule an appointment.

I called the next day, left a message. Received a return call a few hours later, the appointment was set for last Monday afternoon.

Had a miserable weekend, gathering papers, worrying, worrying and gathering not nearly enough papers. Realized at about 1 a.m. on Monday that I did not have everything that I needed for a 1 p.m. meeting.

Thought about trying to reschedule, but I thought it would look bad. So I gathered my meager papers and went.

I thought about all the audit horror stories I had heard. I imagined the worst, and given the fact that I do my own taxes, the worst seemed likely. What if I had screwed up big time? What if there were thousands of dollars in penalties.

I got to my meeting 5 minutes early and made my presence known. The auditor met me and the door, and soon I was in a cubicle.

My rights to appeal were explained, they sounded like Miranda. I was very, very scared. Maybe the advice about having an attorney present was good advice.

The questions began...errors were found. Two in my favor (bad) and one in the IRS's favor (good). The auditor announced the findings: I owed approximately $320, and with interest it came to a bit under $360 and with penalties....there were no penalties assessed. The mistakes were deemed to be "honest errors" and the penalties were waived.

Did I wish to appeal the finding? No.
Did I wish to speak to a supervisor? No.
Could I pay within 4 months? Oh yes, 4 days is more like it!

I left the IRS offices smiling.

And, I feel compelled to report that I was treated with respect at every step in the process. At no point was it confrontational. I also feel that it was more than fair. There is no doubt in my mind that I made the errors that were pointed out to me. I offered no excuses because I had none, and I was not made to feel like I was a criminal.

So I must tip my hat to the IRS for taking the high road and treating me with respect, and letting me leave their offices with my dignity intact and a smile of relief on my face.

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