This year’s tax season is almost over. Of course there are always last-minute tax payers who are racing against the clock in order to maximize every deduction that is legally possible. By now many have filed their taxes, received their refunds and spent the return already. Each year during tax season the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits just about one percent of all tax returns filed.
Recently while viewing a piece on a news channel the reporter shared startling facts about the millions of “normal” Americans who receive audits every year. I could not help but think that audits seem inconvenient, invasive and downright scary. After all, who wants the government poking around for every receipt and transaction he or she have ever made? As bad a reputation as audits have, it does not necessarily mean there is something wrong or malicious about the return.
By definition, an audit is an official examination and verification of accounts, records and financial statements. It comes from the Latin word “audite” and implies an act of hearing a matter with the intent to take action. Although I know it is not true I’ll assume we all have the same desire to be both fair and honest with the government about our earnings. The horror stories portrayed by others coupled with the threat of punishment for any mistakes we could have made should create enough anxiety to persuade us all to be honest.
On the other side of the coin, there are some times in life when an audit is a valuable tool to assess how things are going. After all, if you never look at the books, how will you know when you are doing a good job? I want to share a couple of vital audits you can make in your life:
- A purpose and passion audit: If you allow a ship to coast off course just one little degree, you will end up on the other side of the world. It’s just like that in life. If we are not careful, it won’t be long before we wake up and discover the life we are living looks nothing like what we dreamed it to be.
- A circle of influence audit: We are well aware that birds of a feather flock together. We spend a great deal of time and energy with people. Whether on the job, at home or at play we are around others constantly. It behooves us to make sure those people have a positive impact on our lives and decisions. If not, it may be time to alter some things.
- A time investment audit: Where does all the time go? Isn’t it amazing that 24 hours can come and go and we are often left wondering what we have accomplished? That’s because we don’t see our time as valuable. Before you flop down in front of the TV or sit idly listening to gossip, assess your time’s worth. The only currency that can never be recovered is time.
- A life balance audit: Ask yourself, what do I do to relax? Most would answer “nothing!” Life is too tough and busy to relax. However, that is the reason things are so tough. Without a valve of release for the daily hustle and bustle, we are left on overload. The only other option is to blow our tops. We have to schedule small pockets of time to unplug from everything and recharge ourselves. Make time or life will never give you the time.
We have the mindset that if we handle our finances with integrity there should never be a need for an IRS audit. For most people, that is true. However, statistics show that there will be numerous people who find themselves on the opposite side of the desk from an auditor in their lifetime. The reality is, at times you will also have to deem it necessary to subject yourself to a personal audit to keep on track. These times should not be scary, see them as an opportunity to trim some things and make your life overall more profitable.
Editorial By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)