Monday, January 26, 2009

Treasury appointment

For those pontificating about Geithner's tax problems, bear this in mind: if you hand the exact same set of original income/expense documents to 5 different IRS agents, you'll get 5 different numbers for the amount of taxes owed. If you take each one and hand it to one of the others to audit, you'll likely end up with 10 different numbers. And that's for returns a lot less complex than his likely is. Income from the IMF means dealing with international income and tax rules, and those are even more complex than the ones for purely domestic income. It's not hard to end up with a dispute about the amount of taxes owed, and it's not always the IRS that has the right numbers.

I'm minded of advice my tax instructor gave: "Never go into an audit or IRS hearing aiming to justify why you can take that deduction. Be ready to do that, but start off by making the IRS justify why they think you can't take it. And if they can't come up with a reason, dig your heels in and make them explain clearly why they're trying to disallow something without any justification."

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