The Audit

Like most of us, Don Hughston doesn’t like to pay taxes. Unlike most of us, he did something about it: he kept every receipt and tried to legally write off as many expenses as he could as “business” expenses.

Some years ago, he said, he had a small apartment in Denver, a living room-kitchen combo, one bedroom, one bath. He said he slept on a futon in the living room.

Don Hughston
Don Hughston

His deductions were way outside the norm and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service was auditing his tax return again.

Don had claimed his bedroom as an “office” and, as a result, had written off a good portion of his rent and utilities.

“Where do you sleep?” the IRS tax examiner asked, and he obviously did not believe the answer — in the living room on a futon.

Because the tax examiner said, “OK, let’s go see,” or words to that effect. And they got in the taxman’s car and drove to Don’s apartment.

In the living room, just like Don said, the tax examiner found a futon and it looked like it had been slept on.

But the examiner would not give up.

“Where do you keep your clothes?” he asked.

“In the closet in the bedroom, but I didn’t claim that space as a business expense,” Don told him.

How do you get to the closet to get your clothes.”

It was a tiny win for the IRS: The examiner disallowed the deduction for the pathway from the living room to the clothes closet.

Coming Monday: Hold Your Nose, Pat

2 thoughts on “The Audit”

  1. Pat…thanks for the write-up. I must say that there is a certain pride in having an entry with my name on it in The Final Edition! I don’t remember how many times I was audited. There was one stretch of 4 or 5 years in a row…but I only had one house visit. Once, when I grumbled for being singled out, the tax man told me that Denver was an IRS training region and they liked to put their rookies on my case because “I was an aggressive user of the business deduction”. I shouldn’t feel bad, he told me, but instead feel the warm glow of being in “total compliance”! As you know, I’m in London now…and it’s great to read and laugh at these stories. Some are memories to me. I never laughed so much and so hard as when we were freezing in the lean-to and the dug-out shack swapping stories after doing incredible chores like building a dam and such on Snowbird.

    1. Don,
      I wish you could revisit Snowbird. We have running water now! And not just in the creek. We finally tore down the lean-to, AKA the skunk house, and built a cabin of sorts. It has lots of mice but it’s warm on cold nights and dry all the time. Big improvement over the skunk house.

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