In the course of running the Collegians For A Constructive Tomorrow for the last 12 years I’ve had plenty of dealings with the IRS. In the early days there was some back and forth to establish our 501c3 status, requests for additional information, notifications of rule changes and even a refund check or two. It has all been very mundane and professional.
Then 3 weeks ago I returned home from the office and saw a letter that was attached to my front door. I assumed I was being hit up for lawn service, so my heart just dropped when I saw it was a letter from the IRS.
It was clearly hand delivered and attached to my front door since there was no postage and my mailbox is across the street. In 12 years, all of my correspondence with the IRS has been through the US mail with a rare phone call mixed in. My accountant had never heard of such a practice. Hand delivered notices rubber banded to my front door seemed ominous.
As I opened the letter, I could only imagine the awfulness that must be inside. A huge fine? Notice of an audit? Was I being criminally charged?
To my great relief it was ‘only’ a request for employee documentation from 2009-2011 with the suggestion of fines commensurate with the tax owed during that time.
Now I hesitate to say more. I only recently sent my response, and while I believe we are just fine, not enough time has passed to get the all clear from the IRS.
Essentially, the forms being requested from 2009-2011 were only required in the 4th quarter of 2011. I re-sent a copy of that form from 2011 and let them know that according to the law, Collegians wasn’t required to file before then. We should be free and clear.
But after the news of the IRS targeting conservative groups, I’m not so sure. I still find it odd that an enforcement officer would drive from St. Paul to my far-flung suburb to personally attach a note to my door. Why the IRS would skip the convenience and usual manner of doing business through the mail, I can’t be sure. But if the purpose was to frighten and intimidate, they were surely successful.
Had this notice come in the mail and at a time before the IRS was under a cloud of scrutiny, this would have seemed like a mundane request. But now I can’t help but feel a little paranoid.
-Bill Gilles is the National Director of Collegians For A Constructive Tomorrow