IRS hopes your audit went well

March 05, 1998|By KEVIN COWHERD

"The Internal Revenue Service plans to ask some of the taxpayers it audits and pursues for back taxes how they enjoyed the experience.

-- USA Today

DEAR TAXPAYER,

Our records show you have recently been badgered by our agency on a tax matter. In order to serve you better, please take a moment to answer the following brief questionnaire:

1) At the beginning of your interview, were you offered a brownie?

Was the brownie moist and fresh?

If you were offered a pecan brownie and you pointed out to the agent that you were allergic to pecan brownies, did he offer a suitable substitute (plain, macadamia nut)?

Or did he say: "I got your pecans right here, deadbeat!"

2) Describe the room where your interview took place.

Was it the size of a broom closet, as per agency policy?

Was the thermostat properly set at 92 degrees with windows latched shut, also in keeping with regulations?

Was the wallpaper faded and did the smell of cabbage cooking permeate everywhere, putting you in mind of a sixth-floor walk-up in a bad section of Kiev?

3) Lighting is a very important component of any IRS interview. Please answer the following questions.

Was the harsh fluorescent desk lamp trained on you at exactly eye level at all times?

When you tried leaning back in your chair to escape the glare, did a set of strong fingers at your back push you back into the light?

After a few hours, did you begin to see an omnipresent halo of blinding light even when you rubbed a hand wearily over your eyes?

4) Describe the professionalism of the agent (or agents) who conducted your interview.

Did the agent roll his eyes at the appropriate times, such as when you stammered, "I . . . I can't recall" or "I'd have to check my records"?

Did the agent stab a beefy finger at your tax form as he was trained to do and bark: "This deduction on Line 53 sounds like bull----."

Did the agent snicker and say "Yeah, right" after you haltingly explained why you deserved a write-off for your home "office," which consists of a battered desk, chair and 1959 Smith-Corona typewriter?

5) Describe your own feelings during the interview.

At what point did you realize you were sweating through your shirt?

When your request for a glass of water was continuously ignored for many hours, did it feel as if the room was starting to spin?

After nine or 10 hours, did you find yourself staring longingly at the packet of Saltine crackers on the agent's desk, the one left over from his lunch?

Did you become apprehensive when the agent suddenly stood and rammed his fist through the wall and screamed: "You're lying, dammit! I know you're lying!"?

By the 14th hour or so, did you develop "Stockholm syndrome," the psychological condition wherein a captured party begins to identify with his captors?

(Note: Typically this is signaled by fawning remarks from the taxpayer, such as "It's a thankless job, what you fellas do" and "It's nice to see at least one governmental agency in such capable hands.")

6) At the conclusion of your interview, were you offered another brownie, as per agency policy?

Was this brownie moist and fresh?

Did the agent walk you to the door and offer a friendly parting handshake?

If so, was this accompanied by the traditional lighthearted agency send-off: "I better check to see if all my fingers are still here, the way this guy's been stealing."

Were you able to make it to the elevator under your own power, or did overwhelming hunger and fatigue cause you to lean on one of our agents?

Many of our "customers" find themselves talking to themselves at this point. Were you talking to yourself?

We hope you enjoyed your time with us!

Sincerely, The IRS

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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