It’s Officially a Hobby Now

Tom Velarde
Manager
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ
tvelarde@blackmesagolfclub.com

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Like most of us, I have just done my taxes for this year and this is the time I always consider boycotting any elections.

The IRS had audited me a few years back, and have officially classified my status as a Golf Professional as a hobby. It was a conversation with a person who was not going to change its gender neutral mind.

IRS – Mr. Velarde, you have not made a profit as a golf professional the past 3 years and you’re now in violation of our 3 of 5 rule. I asked if that was under the general rules or possibly under the decisions as the rules of golf are only in these two places and have a cross reference that you can find an answer.

IRS – it’s in the tax code sir, it replied. A feeling came over me like I used to get when I had way too many drinks and my body was getting ready to expel all the poison I had taken with violent force. The clammy sweat broke out and a light buzzing bounced around my head. “Would you know what part of the code?”,  I asked.

IRS- Sir, it’s in the code but simply put, you must show a profit in two of the five years in order to claim all your deductions and you sir show a loss every year. I wanted to joke that if you show me a club pro who makes a profit playing, I will show you a tour pro but let this pass. Can I ask for a second official to look at this ruling (NEVER refer to IRS tax codes like golf rulings…just saying!). The entity looked at me, blinked a few times just to show life and some emotion, and said, “No, I am that higher official”.

“Well, if that is true how would you explain the Postal Service,” I asked? “They have never made a profit.” The entity blinked a few more times and then proceeded to explain that government agencies can lose money and are not subject to the rule. Not thinking, (which is sometimes a common state of being for me), I asked if they even filed taxes. The IRS or the Postal service, sir? “Well either,” I said. The entity moved slightly and a large burly guard appeared ready to enact the SWAT team maneuvers if I moved quickly.

Thinking quickly, I asked if we could just settle on the amount I owed I could pay and leave. The entity had its eyes roll back in its head, reminiscent of a great white shark ready to devour a victim, the jaws of the IRS opened and exposed rows of teeth (they were all capped and shiny though), a number was pointed out to me on one of the pages I was given. I looked at it again, as I thought it was a social security number, and was told I could set up a payment plan. I slowly took out my wallet in which is the check issued to me on an annual basis. I gently unfolded it and neatly wrote out the amount, which would pacify the hunger. Turns out that the tax was a manageable amount as well as the penalties and interest on the penalties. I am glad to see the IRS does make more on interest than we all do in our bank accounts.

My accountant was out after this and took his golf lesson. He asked how things were. I relayed my fun trip to visit the shark and asked if for future reference I could gladly pay more today in order to escape the jaws tomorrow. “Sure, he said, “as long as you fix my swing!” I blinked a few times and said in a very monotone voice, I will try but this is really just a hobby for me. Looking forward to May.

Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email tvelarde@blackmesagolfclub.com.