Your audit: A guide for the perplexed

Bell, Robert H.

Your audit: A guide for the nenilexed Being audited is not the sort of tiling you want to broadcast, generally, I should know, But I feela compulsion to help others get ready for the...

...See, my wife was teaching at Smith and I moved there for my leave and I rented a U-Haul to get our stuff back home in June and it was a hot day and I had to unload the entire truck myself because my wife's back was out of kilter...
...As on my doctoral orals, there were several surprises, Instead of facing a leviathan I met a nice lady who was genuinely distressed that a young man like me would (a) go to Fast Track Folsom ("We see his signature on a lot of audited forms*')»and (b) would keep pich stopw records...
...You see the truckwas parked on a slight incline and I didn't really bounce ail that hard off the landing platform now that I think of it, I probably just stepped a Ittle forcefully off the platform...
...Ho, I'm the slimeball who got audited two years in a row, the one people call up with questions when they're venturing into the gray area...
...My wife was really whizzed until I told her we could at least deduct the loss...
...What exactly was toe hundred and ifty dollar loss...
...3, Hew to conduct yourself after an audit...
...They only audit one in thirty-three tax forms," Or, "The thing to remember is that in tax law nothing is black or white...
...What are the chances this would sead the old j computer tilting...
...colleague: Hey Bob, you'vebadaloto^experience wilh j this kind of thing...
...washer roiling out of the truck, and I was standing in the yard watching while the whole dam tiling went CRASH...
...The second time Mrs* Murphy patted me on the shoulder and said, **Dear, you simply mast keep better «seords" I realized that she and not Fast Track had my best interests at heart, I began saying things like, "It's Just too complicated for anybody to keep straight, Mis.iMarphy* and I've never been very good at numbers/* MRS...
...Never mind that the second time around t dog out enough legitimate deductions to warrant a refund* I actually got over a hundred bucks back from the BUS, even with what Mrs, Murphy termed the sloppiest bookkeeping she'd seen in years...
...See I talked my wife into loading fte china into the dishwasher instead of hand-packing every, darn one of them...
...Another way an audit is like an indictment is that nobody will ever forget that you were nailed...
...Nobody even bo&ered to tell me I could write off research expeditions, or depreciate my library...
...Oh, that's the broken china...
...Your audit: A guide for the nenilexed Being audited is not the sort of tiling you want to broadcast, generally, I should know, But I feela compulsion to help others get ready for the inevitable...
...I did get the Roiling Stone deduction and the meals for research expeditions that, strictly speaking, weren't 100 j percent devoted to the pursuit of learning in Widener library...
...MRS...
...i But with that, we're getting into the gray area...
...ME: Well, ''negligence" is a little harsh...
...Finally, I heard whispered in the faculty lounge the name of Frankie' 'Fast Tracts;'* Folsom, Fast Track kept saying things like,M We should take an aggressive posture...
...I. How to avoid an audit...
...Murphy asked me how I made professional use of the real estate section of the Sunday Times and why I nesde&RolMng Stone...
...MURFHY: Tell me about this deduction of $150 for loss due to accident (Well, I hadn't pulled anyttiing fishy there, like my friend Arnold the Unscrupulous, who reports a stolen wallet to the police every MLA convention and deducts several hundred bucks every April...
...MR How can I deduct laundry bills...
...Unless you are an altruist like myself, don't tell anybody that you were audited...
...Well, I find all sorts of examples of poor writing to show my students f plus I note current illustrations of pastoral, and effectsof the Great Vowel Shift...
...j Robert H. Bell teaches English atWilliams College tmd is a regular contributor to {tax exempt) Commonweal...
...Fast Track" told me to be prepared to give a little but to hold firm on the big ticket items...
...We split the difference: I could not take off the Mi $75 for the Times, bat I could deduct ky subscription ioRoffin$ Stone...
...Being audited is rare enough that it marks you, no 1 matter how large a refund you got...
...ray jump off the loading platform started the whole dish...
...I i I ME: I thought Nancy's mother was dead, j colleague: Technically, yes, bu| I stil think of her as a ) burden...
...Being audited is like being indicted...
...MURPHY...
...I got audited two years in a row...
...MB...
...He bottom line was I owed the IRS $276...
...But then...
...MRS, MURPHY: I'm afraid the regulations are very clear on this point, * I She was also unreceptive to ray argument that it was absolutely necessary to entertain the department chairman I for supper, or that there was no other time to discuss with i colleagues the survey course except at business lunches...
...I crammed for Ate audit the way I did lor my doctoral orals...
...As it happened, I was called in by the IRS for the previous year's tax forms, after I had already submitted die current year's...
...fast TRACK: You must have a rug in that study, and it must have gotten dijty...
...everybody knows flier© is a very important distinction between being charged with wrongdoing and being found guilty of it, and nobody bothers to remember the distinction...
...In my case I had a little extra problem...
...Afd when I got the entire truck unloaded except for flie dishwasher I felt kind of sprigMy and I Bounced off the loading platform for a lemonade and the bounce started the dishwasher rolling out the track...
...Oh, the dishes...
...i IK38ERTH.BSU...
...None of that him Although, if pressed, I was prepared to plea-bargain: Arnold's last name for complete immunity,) me (confidently...
...How to behave during your audit...
...Naturally, encouraged by Fast Track, I had made exactly the same deductions (entertainment, lunches, the whole Sunday Times...
...Whammo...
...Hire are a few tips...
...out of the truck...
...10 April 1987: 197...
...Fast Track was right and I could deduct "Professional Reading" but wrong that anything I bought would qualify...
...Two of my friends have told me that they have Herpes, and believe me, t | haven't forgotten it...
...Did anybody remember that I got a refund...
...MRS, MURPHY: Oh dear, Vm afraid you can't take a deduction on a loss caused by your own negligence...
...t was armed for battle, After all, I was comfortably in the gray area, albeit in an aggressive posture...
...You want to stay in the gray area," From Fast Track I learned to deduct entertainment expenses, business lunches, and some slightly puffed "office supplies...
...I figured it was safer and we could just 196: Commonweal wheel me whole bunch of memiiMo the kitchen...
...fast TRACK: What about laundry bills...
...Po you &iak I can deduct my wife's J mother as a dependent...
...Don't employ my farmer accountant For years 1 went along blissfully Ignorant that I could deduct anything...

Vol. 114 • April 1987 • No. 7


 
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