As we completed our filing on Turbo Tax this weekend, a very colorful graphic came up. It was a scale to measure the likelihood of an audit. We rang the bell on the red danger zone. Normally, something like this would send me into a catatonic state. This time, it hardly elicited an eye twitch.
Do you hear that, Mr. IRS man? I’m not afraid of you. I have a very well paid CPA on speed dial to attest to the fact that I suck at being a small business owner. I’d rather pay taxes on money I’ve earned over the year, but if I just get taxes back for money I’ve lost, I can live with that.
I can sleep well on the knowledge that I stimulated the hell out of the economy last year-all in the name of doing business. I replaced my geriatric diesel-powered computer, paid for advertising, stayed at a very ritzy hotel for a conference, and generally threw money around like I was told that I only had one week to live. Uncle Sam owes me.
I saw an article about an Oregon man who claims that his female IRS agent seduced him, then didn’t even help him with his audit. While this may make me question the integrity of an IRS agent, who clearly should have cut him some slack (unless he was a real loser in bed), it still doesn’t make me fear a possible audit.
I watch TV commercials where people pretty much admit that they’ve cheated on their taxes for ten years and now owe the government $300,000. They go to a tax consultant who is able to lower their debt to the price of a tall mocha latte (no cinnamon). Don’t they know that they’re robbing the government of the money that it needs to declare August National Toe Fungus Awareness Month? How can our elected officials afford to establish wild squirrel preserves in Utah? These people have no shame.
If the IRS can’t shake down Mr. Mocha Latte for the money he owes, they don’t have a prayer of getting past my airtight alibi: that I really am just that bad at running a small business. So bring your calculators and rubber hoses – I can take it. And if you’re reading this, Mr. IRS agent, I’m pretty good in bed.
“Are you out of your mind?”
As a matter of fact, yes. I take a combination of medications to keep my mood “stable,” and insure that I don’t hide in a clock tower with a fifth of Vodka and a high powered rifle. A person would have to be crazy to practice do-it-yourself psychiatry, which often turns out to be the case. Trust me, nobody is going to care that your ink blot looks like an aerial photo of Abe Vigoda’s left testicle unless you pay them enough to build their own space shuttle.
Since IRS agents a) don’t provide you with ink blots during an audit, and b) are notoriously lacking in anything resembling a sense of humor, taxes are also a situation where do-it-yourself can have disastrous results. For several weeks now I’ve been mired down in forms, circulars, and schedules, trying to make sense of the 1650, 1125-A, M-3, and V-8. I swear, the instructions for the 1650 say, “This will take two geological eras, anti-hallucinogens, and faith in a higher power to complete.” This is what I’ve got so far.
I stubbornly refused to consider shelling out money for somebody else to prepare my returns, until yesterday. I pulled an all-nighter and went through three pink gum erasers and a case of Red Bull before conceding defeat. Still buzzing with artificial stimulants and performance enhancers, I walked into the office of a CPA with a rather unfortunate last name, evocative of body odor and old socks. In the time it took me to apologize for my questionable skills on Quickbooks, he had amortized three loans and balanced the national budget.
Before I left, $600 poorer, he commended me on my passable accounting skills. At least I’m finally able to crawl out from under a stack of papers that would crush a lesser person’s skull (mine is extra thick). Is it too much to ask for a world where tax instructions are not written in ancient Sanskrit? It galls me that the idiot bureaucrats who write the tax code are being paid to give Joe Taxpayer an ulcer. (Report medical expenses on schedule H). Maybe someday they’ll print an illustrated instruction booklet, complete with a picture of IRS agents with rubber hoses performing a tax audit on some hapless small business owner. I hope it comes with ink blots.