What do you get when you combine an irresponsible tenant, a comprehensive IRS audit, three curious township inspectors, and an inconsistent web server that threatens the existence of your online business? You get the great Trilogy of Stress that plagued my life during the first half of this year! Over the next three entries, I will explain the three situations that converged to create back-to-back excitement and stress in my life over the past few months.
I remember the day exactly! The morning was great, which was mostly due to the delicious bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats that I had for breakfast. Then when noontime came, I took a quick trip home to see if my Amazon.com package was delivered. I checked the mailbox and I didn’t see the package that I was waiting for, but instead I found a letter that I hoped that I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever get. The world immediately paused, my vision blurred, and I started sweating like a pig in a bacon factory. I held the dreaded letter in front of my face and re-read the name of the sender several times to make sure that I was seeing correctly.
The Department of Treasury – Internal Revenue Service.
I didn’t order anything from them, so this couldn’t be for me. Do they have the correct Geremy? Is this a second refund check? Are they congratulating me on how much taxes I’ve paid so far?
I opened the letter and the exact wording is a little hazy in my mind now, but here’s the gist of it:
Congratulations! You have been selected as the lucky recipient of an IRS examination audit from 2010 through 2013! Now fasten your seatbelt because you are in for a fun, scary ride with your IRS agent! Be sure to cooperate, otherwise that new, shiny Tesla that you bought the other day will be ours.
Your friend the IRS
I immediately ran inside and called the agent to politely decline their invitation to the audit, but unfortunately this was not an option that was available to me. Instead, he explained that I needed to gather a few pieces of documentation and present them in a meeting scheduled to take place in a few weeks. The documentation that he requested included:
- 1. Receipts from every single business related expense from each of my three businesses
- 2. Every single receipt, check, and expense from my house
- 3. Every single source of income received over the past few years (including that time that my sister gave me $10 to buy her a passion tea lemonade from Starbucks)
- 4. Every single bank record for the past few years, including deposit statements and cancelled checks
- 5. Every record of every business mile that I’ve ever driven, including a short description of why it was a business mile
- 6. My diary of my innermost thoughts and feelings from 1988 through 1999, including that part when my best friend died and I cried.
I didn’t know where to start, so I immediately thought, “well…I guess I’m going to jail!” But then I realized that there is no place for a long-eyelashed guy like me in jail, so I regrouped and formed a plan. Instead of outsourcing the entire task to an accountant to reverse-engineer my tax returns, I was determined to find every document that they requested and use the entire situation as a learning experience.
I came up with a plan of finding all existing records and getting copies of records that I lost or never received. This plan required many, many long nights, and lots of help from my amazing team of assistants. The assistants called every place where I’ve spent money over the past 4 years and they sent scanned copies of each receipt for my records. While they did that, I crazily ran around and ravaged the house looking for every document that I’ve ever received.
When the day came for the dreaded meeting, I expected to meet with a man who was 7 foot 19 inches tall with a loud booming voice and brass knuckles that he wore at all times. I also expected him to randomly punch me in the face every few minutes while yelling “TAKE IT LIKE A MAN,” but luckily I was wrong. The agent was my age, quite pleasant, and he completed the entire audit in about 45 minutes. At the end, he printed a summary of the examination, requested a few more documents and he sent me on my way. Just like that, the incident that stressed me out for months was over in under an hour with a relatively favorable outcome! Best of all, I didn’t get punched in the face, they didn’t steal my car from me, and I didn’t go to jail to become the boytoy of some guy who is infatuated with eyelashes.
That morning I drove home and let out a huge sigh of relief that I survived the process without any bruises, but then everything changed when I received a phone call regarding my newest tenant who was determined to make my life into a nightmare…