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Good record-keeping can help when surprises pop up

John Bullis
For the Nevada Appeal

With contentment and happiness as a common goal, it is best to avoid surprises (especially bad news) as much as we can.

My father had a small furniture store years ago. I would go in every week to gather the information and keep his bookkeeping and accounting records up to date.

One day there were three IRS envelopes, unopened on his desk with the other regular papers and information.

I asked why didn’t he open the IRS envelopes. He said, “John, it’s probably not good news – you open them.”

Of course the IRS matters were resolved easily. But I think he was avoiding “surprises” by not opening the envelopes.

All IRS letters and notices need to be handled in a timely manner. The U.S. Government Accounting Office “audits” the IRS every year to see how well the IRS performs various functions.

On average, for years, the GAO has found if IRS sends five notices, two are wrong.

Now, IRS sometimes does not receive the correct information. For example, a gentleman who prepared his own income tax returns came in with an IRS notice that indicated he owed about $8,000. He had not remembered to report the sales of some stocks. When we filed an Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return and claimed the cost of the stocks, he got a small refund. IRS did not have information on his purchase cost of the stocks, just the sales. So the IRS notice was not correct.

If you get letters or notices from credit card companies, banks and others that are asking for more payments from you, please check them out right away. They are just like the rest of us – not perfect.

Avoiding surprises means responding promptly with the correct information. Keeping good records with an organized filing system will help you respond correctly to any “surprises.”

Did you hear “When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane”?

• John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior advisor serving Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs, LLC.