On Sunday, May 16, 2004, I received a notice that I was being audited by the IRS. I was 28, unemployed/self-employed, $20,000 in credit card debt and I just thrown out all my 2003 paperwork.
After a massive panic attack, my girlfriends convinced me to still meet them for brunch. Catatonic, I brought along the paperwork and the three of us just stared at it. They were scared to touch it, in case bad luck was contagious.
I called my tax lady who had filed for me that year. She was rather elderly so I was relieved when she answered the phone. I did not need this woman dying on me during my time of need.
My tax lady chuckled when I delivered the bad news. She told me to get my 2003 paperwork together and we could meet the day before my audit appointment.
"But I do not have any paperwork... my boyfriend was mad that the box was in the middle of the living room and he suggested I get rid of it. Which I did." I explained, waiting for her to make this problem go away... isn't that her purpose as my tax person to fix this for me!?
"Well, you better get the paperwork." she said and she hung up.
This news was followed by another panic attack/pity party. That lasted about a week.
Of course, I called my parents. They were sympathetic but there was not much they could to help me either. After all, I was a 28 year old woman who should be able to solve her own problems by now. And they had lost a five year battle with the IRS a few years earlier so they could not even be encouraging or optimistic.
I proceeded to take a regular job. I was lucky to get a senior position at a company that was FAR FAR away. My commute was roughly 3 hours round trip every day. I wanted to die but knew this was the only way to get out of this financial rut. If I didn't soon, I would drown in it.
I spent every second of my commute calling my bank, utility companies and credit card companies begging for copies of my statements from 2003. Every time I explained that I needed this paperwork for an audit, I would hear a sympathetic gasp at the other end of the line. Great, now I am an IRS leper.
For three months, I sat in the same place on my couch and spent every spare second highlighting statements, organizing them in piles that covered the entire living room floor and diligently entering dollar amount after dollar amount into an Excel spreadsheet, that ended up totaling 65 pages.
I did not go out except to go to work. I did not see friends, I did not go on dates, I did not take trips... I sat on my couch surrounded by piles of my potential financial ruin.
And my September 9th date with the IRS was rapidly approaching... the next chapter of my story to come soon...