Rebeca’s posts about preparing for and surviving an I.R.S. audit have been getting a little more exposure lately thanks to the Chicago Artists Resource. We’re really glad that CAR found these posts interesting and we hope that some local artists have found them useful. Revisiting these posts, we found ourselves not only breathing another sigh of relief that the process is over and done with, but reminiscing about some of the lighter moments of the whole thing.
We were inspired to put together this post of audit bloopers to prove once and for all that the I.R.S. is in fact, human (and that you can find funny moments in almost any situation.)
by Rebeca Mojica
The morning of the audit came. I had called the agent the day before to confirm, and hadn’t heard back, but didn’t think much of it. I was ready! “Bring it, IRS!” I said (literally, out loud), as I gathered my paper files, USB flash drive, receipt books, and my handy-dandy spreadsheet that now had a new column indicating where each item was for quick retrieval during the audit (i.e., – whether the item was on the USB stick or if we had a hard copy, and what the file or folder name was). You can see my colorful spreadsheet in the photo here, just to the right of my laptop.
Here’s where my story became atypical. A woman came into the studio 30 minutes before the scheduled appointment, showed identification, introduced herself as someone from the IRS and asked …
Turns out my agent broke her wrist and was therefore unable to come in. (See? What’s more human than a broken bone?) The woman who was here instead was her supervisor. She wasn’t sure if the agent had canceled or not, so she came by just in case. “As long as I’m here,” she said, “I can do some preliminary interview questions.” That was fine by me. She asked me many questions that she already knew the answer to (like my name, my business name, etc). I wondered if they are trained to ask baseline questions so that if you lie later, they might be better able to detect such deception. I was also fascinated by the fact that she took her notes longhand. Somehow, I figured the IRS folks would use those same tablet devices that the census folks use.
To her credit, she did spend a lot of time apologizing for the unexpected rescheduling. “Well,” I said, “you probably know that the IRS doesn’t have a very good reputation. And stuff like this doesn’t help. Because, of course, you know I’m going to go blog all about my experiences.” Yes, I really did say that. But I said it politely, not with snark. And then she apologized some more. She was actually quite nice, and I did call her later with a question about my personal taxes (unrelated to the audit), and she went above and beyond to take care of the issue. (Human again.)
Toward the beginning of our interview, the supervisor looked right at me and said, “So I should tell you the reason why you are being audited is that our agent is going through training and you are her training case.” !!! “Now of course,” she hurried to add, probably in an attempt to reassure me after watching my eyes open in disbelief, “the IRS randomly selects a certain number of businesses to be audited each year, so you would’ve been part of that pool anyway.” But yep – that’s right, my agent was in training. I was briefly worried that this might make my audit even tougher. I know from leading training sessions in a few industries that sometimes trainees try to really prove they know their stuff, so I thought she might dig super-hard to triumphantly pull something out to show her boss. Hmm, this was an unexpected twist. Several of my friends pointed out that the IRS should be paying me for the audit, since I was essentially helping them with their training program. I didn’t disagree, but I wasn’t going to bring it up with the IRS.
My original agent called a few days later, also apologized, and we rescheduled for a couple weeks later, Monday, July 25. I went back to my life, until Friday the 22nd, during which I pulled out the file bin and the USB stick and reviewed where everything was again.
And then, around 3:30 that Friday, I got a call from the agent. Her wrist hadn’t healed properly, so she was going in for surgery. On Monday. Therefore the audit was postponed. Again. She said she would call me after Labor Day to reschedule.
Labor Day—and in fact, the whole month of September—came and went with no call. I certainly wasn’t going to call the IRS to remind them, so I just laid low. Finally, in October, I received a letter addressed to “Ms. Mojito” apologizing for the delay and requesting that I call to reschedule. My last name is Mojica, and actually, I have accidentally been called Mojito before (possibly due to the awesomeness of auto-correct), but receiving an official letter from the IRS with this salutation was pretty hilarious. (Human moment #301, right?)
After all this craziness, we set the audit for October 26, confirmed the day before, and … third time was the charm. Phew.