having integrity in finances

Integrity in Finances

Writing this post is going to cost me. I did the calculation today, actually. It’s going to cost me $7. It’s not for an internet fee (TTG pays that). It’s not for the Dr. Pepper I had to drink to stay up late to write it (that was $1.27 at QuickTrip). It’s what I owe the United States government after the dust settles and I add this “Other Income” to the amount of money I make for the year. Now, hopefully I will make more than $8 for writing this post (this is not a subliminally shady indirect ask for a raise…or is it???) so there will be a net income for me. However, I was challenged to think about “Other Income” that I receive in a different way after filing my taxes this year.

I’m one of the few…um… “unique” people that look forward to completing my taxes each year. I enjoy the task of compiling a bunch of paperwork, punching away at my TI-84 calculator, hunting down answers in the literary piece of art known as the tax codes, and drinking can after can of Dr. Pepper until the job is done!

The hardest part of this process for me is the character check that comes along with it. The integrity it takes to honestly represent my financial dealings is at times extremely difficult to muster up. I’m talking about the $380 dollars I made from selling textbooks online in 2014. I’m talking about the $50 my wife made babysitting that one time back in August. I’m talking about the small but helpful income from writing blog posts like this (again, not a hint…). I tried to identify the hurdles to having 100% integrity in my finances, especially my tax returns. Here are a few I came up with…

  1. The “Too Small to Count” Factor… I mean Uncle Sam is dealing with millions and millions of dollars…a few dollars I keep won’t hurt him.
  2. Making the Government the Bad Guy… thoughts creep in like “they waste my money anyways” and “they already took enough for goodness sakes!”
  3. The Comparison Game… A minor “whoops I forgot to mention that” is nothing compared to other people who are the tax evaders. THEY are the bad guys!
  4. The Ignorance Card… Well if I don’t look up if it’s taxable income then I’ll always have that excuse!
  5. Playing the Numbers… and coming to the conclusion that more than likely I won’t be audited…so therefore nobody will know or check on it.

The hurdles I came up with are real and may even have some validity to an extent. However, I’m trying to  commit myself to not letting these justifications stop me from being 100% honest on my return. One thing I do to help me is to prepare my taxes with a like-minded person who agrees that honesty is the top priority, with financial gain as a priority underneath it. Most importantly, I’ve made the connection that ultimately somebody is watching the decisions I make and does know the exact level of my integrity in every decision. This year and going forward I’m striving to be 100% honest with my taxes not because the government deserves it, but because I think God desires it, expects it, and rewards it.

What about you? What are hurdles you face in  keeping integrity in finances? What do you do to overcome them?

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5 comments

  1. John Smith says:

    My problem is not reporting income it is deductions. All my income comes with 1099’s, and W-2’s.
    Sometimes I think I know how much I gave, and am tempted to deduct it. The only problem is I might think it was more than I gave. So, I keep a file all year long with the carbon from the check, and all receipts the charities sent me. I just don’t want to pay more than my share or to steal.
    I would rather God bless me than have to teach me a lesson (OUCH!).

  2. Kevin E says:

    “I’m talking about the $380 dollars I made from selling textbooks online in 2014.”

    I agree with the other things you said, but unless you sold them for more than you bought them for, you do not owe taxes. You would on the amount over your cost if that is the case.

    • Matthew Lauritsen says:

      Good call! That is true. My case was a little different so I did indeed need to report. Thanks for the comment!

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