Blogging the Audit

I’ve been having a debate with myself lately (I have a lot of debates with myself) about whether or not to provide a blow-by-blow account of Reinvented’s audit by CCRA (aka Revenue Canada; think IRS if you’re in the USA) in this space.

In mid-July, at our regular yearly meeting with our accountant, we learned that CCRA planned to audit the company. We didn’t actually hear from CCRA ourselves until earlier this month, and the details about their areas of interest didn’t get spelled out in detail until last week. So I’ve had a lot of time to think about this issue.

On one hand, I realize, from immediate personal experience, how stressful this experience can be.

It’s not that we have cash stashed in Cayman Islands-based shell companies are are worried about being found out.

It’s simply a matter of being faced with the scrutiny of an antagonistic (by nature, not personality) force with infinite resources: in the back of my mind there are worst case scenarios where they come and take Oliver away, charge us $50,000 to get him back, and make us ride bicycles down endless paths while rabbits and donkeys try and knock us off.

In other words, irrational fears.

In this climate of paranoia, the notion that I might antagonize my overseerer, directly or indirectly, through what I write here, is a little daunting. And there’s always that I might accidentally blurt out some fact that, in the wrong hands, might cause them to say “oh, you design websites, well then we need to double your taxes for the last 10 years.”

In other words, irrational fears.

Counterbalancing this is the notion that by writing about the experience here in a a workaday way I might take the edge off the same experience for others who might experience it. To be honest, I’m not sure whether being audited is stressful, to this point, because of anything that’s actually happened or simply because whenever I mention that it’s happening people universally emit this weird kind of gasp, the same kind of gasp they might admit if I told them my foot had fallen off.

So maybe being audited is stressful only because everyone says it is.

I’m still debating this with myself. Stay tuned to see what I decide.


Johnny's picture
Johnny on November 26, 2003 - 22:38 Permalink

I don’t think a tax audit is something you discuss on a weblog. It would be like blogging about going to the bathroom (although you did write that bit about teaching Oliver how to pee). Its just not appropriate and I think it should be private.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 26, 2003 - 23:13 Permalink

But isn’t part of the fear of the audit the fear of the unknown? If more people were more open about “going to the bathroom” things, we would probably all have healthier attitudes towards things like colonoscopies. I will stop now, for fear of polluting the metaphors.

Will's picture
Will on November 26, 2003 - 23:19 Permalink

I went to a “lunch and learn” session on personal and small business taxation hosted by the Chamber of Commerce today. The nice lady from Grant Thornton that referred to the CCRA in terms that made them sound like the bogeyman from hell. I started wondering about how large the gap is between how accountants characterize the tax-man and how the tax-man really is, and thought of Reinvented getting audited. So, if you do pursue this idea, I’ll be watching closely to see if the folks over at the CCRA really are frightening monsters out for blood or something closer to diligent fact checkers.

Nils Ling's picture
Nils Ling on November 27, 2003 - 01:03 Permalink

I was audited about ten years ago. It was scary as hell to contemplate, particularly since Revenue Canada (their name at the time) opened the discussions by sending me a letter informing me I owed them many thousands of dollars.

By chance, my new neighbour happened to be the Regional Director of Revenue Canada. He reassured me, helped me get some information I was missing, and set up my first appointment with this scary “Auditor” person.

I went in to meet the auditor. His name was David Niven (true fact) and he was pleasant and helpful and fair and straight and yeah, I did have to pay thousands of dollars (thanks to a moron of an accountant I once had) but far less than their original letter, thanks to David.

They know you’re scared of them. And they know nobody wants to go through this — that “I’m going in to see the auditor” is every bit as appealing as saying “Well, today’s the day those wisdom teeth come out”. It’s something nobody wants on their calendar. Imagine going in to every meeting with people who are terrified of you. (Actually .. that’d be kinda cool.)

But in the end, the folks who work at CCRS are … well, people with a necessary job to do. They have wives and kids and dinner parties and wisdom teeth that sometimes act up … and while the organization is scary, people like David Niven aren’t.

So write about it or don’t — you won’t be ripping the lid off anything. I think you’ll find it’s a fairly straightforward, prosaic process conducted by folks who have a lot of power and use it judiciously. They’re governed by one principle: every person in Canada should pay his or her fair share of taxes. I think that’s a concept we can all get behind.

(We’ll leave the discussion about what constitutes “fair share” to the politicians who make those decisions)

(A side note to the people at CCRS: there. We’re even. Now, leave me alone. That Regional Director I mentioned? He’s been doing my taxes for the past ten years, and if I go down, we’re all going down together.) (C’mon, guys, I was just kidding!) (But not about who does my taxes.)

taxman's picture
taxman on November 27, 2003 - 01:14 Permalink

BOOGETTY BOO!!!! ahahahahahaha….!!! we’ll get you my pretty…!!!

Al O\'Neill's picture
Al O\'Neill on November 27, 2003 - 14:28 Permalink

Careful, if you blog the audit they might audit the blog. :)

Dave Hyndman's picture
Dave Hyndman on November 28, 2003 - 01:22 Permalink

Blog away. I, too, am being audited. Misery loves company.