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I Will Not Be Overcome by Evil Circumstances

The title of this blog is a personalization of a verse from Psalms 112, Living Bible, which says, “…all goes well for the generous man who conducts his business fairly. Such a man will not be overthrown by evil circumstances.” Psalms 112 is a favorite of mine and I used this portion of scripture as a mantra during a recent opportunity for God to show “His constant care for me” (Psalm 112:7, LB).

Just about the time we started wondering when our $1395 tax refund might show up in our bank account, we got a letter from the IRS saying that they had some concerns about our tax return, would do some checking into things and get back with us within 45 days. Hmm, OK. About three weeks later, we got another letter from the IRS requesting documentation of the adoption expenses we had paid back in 2007.

They wanted a receipt from 2007, and we had 30 days to produce it. Or what? If we couldn’t prove we paid adoption expenses, not only would we NOT be getting a refund this year, we would also owe the IRS about $12,000 back for adoption credits we had claimed in the past three tax years. (Quick primer for those not in the know: the government gives a tax credit of about $13,500 when you had that much or more in adoption expenses. You can take the credit over a four-year period, reducing your tax owed, but it doesn’t increase your refund if you didn’t own any tax.) So, the small piece of paper we needed to produce was worth $13,500 for our family.

What makes these evil circumstances? Well, for starters, why did the IRS wait until the last of four years to ask us for this piece of paper? Maybe they thought there would be a better chance that we couldn’t produce it if they waited so long? (They were right.) And of all the things to question in our tax return – adoption expenses? The IRS already requires a copy of the final court order of the adoption, so they know we actually adopted.  But, you know those people who adopt – they just can’t be trusted! Some of the most devious and crafty element of society, those adoptive families!

Then there was that complication of my being out of the country during the entire 30-day period that the IRS gave us. My husband was home, but he was the only thing in our house. All of our belongings were stored away because of our extended trip. We had left to go to South America for nine months and we put our house on the market, so in anticipation of selling the house, we boxed and stored everything. But before we put things in boxes, we did that thing people will do when they move: we threw stuff away. And I am pretty sure one of the things I threw away was the adoption folder, with that valuable little piece of paper in it. In almost four years of our son’s life, we hadn’t needed anything from that folder, so I tossed it!

OK, not such a problem, we could just contact the adoption agency – good folk that they are – and surely they have a file on us with something we can use to prove to the IRS that a private adoption costs more than $13,500 (as if that weren’t common knowledge). Oh, but bad luck, we adopted from a swindler! Turns out he was taking people’s money and not delivering the babies as promised. Business went belly-up; he lost his license to practice law, got a divorce and left the state.

Providentially, we paid the adoption fees with a credit card, and the IRS indicated that a credit card statement showing the agency’s name would be acceptable. I used my Citibank card – an account I’ve had since college and right up until I closed it about two years ago. I wasn’t even in their system. But they did give me a fax number to send a written request which they might or might not answer in some undetermined time frame.

“I will not be overcome by evil circumstances. I will not be overcome by evil circumstances. I will not be…” You get the idea. A whole lot of that going on for most of the 30-day period.

A few days before our IRS deadline, we got something in the mail from Citibank: a copy of our March 2007 statement. Praise God. And there it was – an expense well over $13,500 to Adoption Advantage in Little Rock, Ark. My husband whisked it off in the mail to the IRS and now we are back where we were two months ago – wondering when our refund check is going to hit our bank account.

Take that, Uncle Sam.  All goes well for the generous person who conducts her business fairly. I will not be overcome by evil circumstances.

Update on Aug. 31, 2012: Thought I would just follow up to say that we did eventually get the full refund.