by Tom Wacaster
“The tax man cometh!” My exposure to those words dates back further than I can remember. I don’t know how many years it has been since I filled out my first tax return. Too much of the proverbial “water has passed under the bridge.” Evidently the words strike a cord with the American public because books have been written, movies produced, and television producers have used the IRS as a target for series plots. By the end of this month most businesses and banks are required to have all tax documents in the mail so the American tax payer can take care of his obligations to the government in general, and the Internal Revenue Service specifically. Thus begins the long, drawn out process of gathering figures, crunching numbers, wearing out pencils, and doing all that is involved in preparing and posting the tax return for the year. Thankfully the process lasts only 60 days or so; unless, of course, you are a proverbial late filer who seeks an extension for six months so you can stretch out the wonderful experience that comes with filling out your tax forms each year. I say that jokingly, of course. Whether you chose to complete your returns by the deadline, or file an extension, there is a magical date that looms ever before us. April 15th has long been highlighted on the calendar of most Americans, either literally or at least mentally. I am sure it ranks up there with one’s anniversary, birthday, graduation day, et al! Again, I jest! With the age of the internet, E-filing, and on-line tax help and software, we have finally managed to see the “Reduction In Paper Act” become more of a reality in our lives. I quit doing my tax returns the old fashioned way more than two decades ago. When e-filing first became available I was one of those die-hard old-timers who refused to trust the internet for filing my tax forms. But then, I'm not so sure that the Post Office is all that reliable either. But I found comfort in the realization that the Post Office takes special care of those packages mailed to the Internal Revenue Service if for no other reason than the fact that it is the IRS that collects the funds to pay the salaries of the Post Office; you might call it “self-survival.” Since the scandal surrounding the IRS hit last year I’m not so sure that my feelings of security were that well founded.
Like a number of you, I plan to get my taxes done early and in the mail—by “hard copy” or “digital.” Others are determined to procrastinate another six weeks or so, and some have already mailed in their return in hopes that they can get their “refund” check sooner (maybe even before the government runs out of money). But whether early or late, last month or next month, electronically or snail mail, it is only a matter of time until the IRS examines that return. The wheels of government may grind slowly at times, but they do grind. And while I have only been audited one time in my lifetime as a tax-payer, there remains in the back of my mind the realization that I may have to stand before a representative from the IRS and give an account of my actions for this, or any other tax year. But you know what? Such an “audit” will be nothing compared to that great “audit” that each and every one of us will face come Judgment Day. Oh, to be sure, none will escape. We will all give an account (2 Cor. 5:10). And while the wheels of Divine justice may seem to grind slowly (at least from our perspective), be assured that God’s judgment will be swift and sure when the time comes for our Lord to return to gather His own. The appointment has been set (Heb 9:27), the time and place stipulated by Almighty God Himself. We will not have to provide any records of “business expenses,” or “charitable contributions” because our omnipotent Judge will know the inner most thoughts of our heart (Heb. 4:12-13). There will be no “earned income credit,” nor will there be any exemptions based on age or income. No one will be able to file jointly, for “each one of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). Great and small, rich and poor, black and white—all men will stand “before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). While an “at random, computer selected” audit by the IRS is only a mild probability, our appearance before God is an inevitable reality.
Now let me ask you something. Which event do you fear the most? The POSSIBLE audit by an IRS agent, or the INEVITABLE audit by God Almighty? Think about it!