You see, the IRS decided to write me a nice little letter, requesting that I send them back within thirty days every possible bit of documentation on every medical, charitable, and business deduction from my 2010 federal tax return. My letter is thus a single paragraph, but then there are 294 pages of attachments to it. I'm glad it's considered a business expense just to mail the thing.
And I can understand why they asked me to prove my claims. My return looks bogus, I know it does -- but there's ample reason for it.
Medical. Deanne and I are both pretty high maintenance. We never spend less than $5,000 out of pocket in a given tax year, and in 2010 I had two major surgeries. We look like a pair of hypochondriacs.
Charitable. What can I say? We tithe. And then we start looking around for projects we care about to give to. We must look like we're just making it up.
Business Expenses. Clergy work all the time. We believe in what we do. And when you start adding in the big trips of all sorts that guys like me do -- well, in 2010 there were three out of State trips for BSA meetings and two for UMC national meetings, plus the youth mission trip to White Oak and the UM Trek to Philmont, not to mention Annual Conference and other stuff. The mileage and reimbursements the church provides -- grateful as I am for it -- is only what you see of the berg above water. The IRS may have defined us all as "common law employees" in their pet kangaroo court, but pastors are still entrepreneurial workers who set their own goals and devote everything they've got to it.
Going back two years means that I've got some receipts missing. Plus, there are always judgment calls to be made. I'm proposing an adjustment that would show several hundred dollars more income to be taxed. Here's hoping that nobody in the gummint really wants to wade through all the stuff I'm sending in and we can resolve it on that basis.