The Three Stages of Tax Collection

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The first step in helping resolve a tax problem is determining where your case is in the collection cycle. Some of our Massachusetts tax debt clients have many years of unfiled tax returns and have had no substitute tax return assessments made by the IRS. Others have had taxes assessed by the IRS but have ignored the IRS demands for payment, thus receiving a date with a federal judge in US District Court. Most fall somewhere in between. The following video explains in more detail what each phase of the three stages of the tax debt collection cycle means for people with tax problems. Below is a summary of each phase from the video.

Stage 1 Phase – The IRS Campus. Once you file your tax return, the IRS will send you a balance due notice from the IRS regional “campus” where the IRS returns are processed. Four notices get generated in this phase and there is no enforced collection activity (levies, seizures, liens) but the longer you wait the more threatening the notices become. Note: It’s a good time to contact the IRS during this phase to get holds placed on enforced collection action in order to buy some time and slow down the collection process from entering Stage 2.

Stage 2 Phase – Automated Collection System or ACS. These are call centers all over the country that work cases on the telephone or through the mail. Cases are worked on what’s called a “first in, first out” basis. This means that your case will be worked by different people all over the country at different points in this stage. As a result, it can be more difficult to resolve cases that have gone to ACS because you will deal with different people from different parts of the country every time you call to discuss your case and you don’t get to meet in person like you can when your case is in a local field office (Phase 3).

Stage 3 Phase – The IRS Field Office. If ACS is unable to resolve your tax issue, the case will get sent into a local field office near you. This is a very serious stage and should not to be taken lightly. IRS Revenue Officers, who are tasked with collecting taxes and securing unfiled tax returns, can also visit you at your home or business as well as issue a summons requesting you appear before them at their local field office on a specific date. Failure to show up for an IRS Summons or showing up without the requested information or tax returns at a local field office will eventually result in the Revenue Officer requesting the US Attorney’s office schedule an enforcement hearing in US District Court before a federal judge! The local field office allows you the ability to meet an IRS Revenue Officer face to face but don’t expect them to go easy on you. Revenue Officers are trained to collect the maximum amount from you and they often prey upon your fears to do so. So do NOT try to represent yourself! These seemingly nice Revenue Officers have a lot of power and can seize assets, file liens, levy your bank accounts or paycheck, show up at your job and speak to your employer, or show up at your business and talk to your employees. So be very aware.

It is very important in this phase to deal with things in a timely manner and have a licensed, experienced tax resolution specialist, like a CPA or EA, who works solely in tax resolution, on your side to represent you. This is not a place to represent yourself because there is too much at stake. If you have unfiled returns, the IRS will keep hounding you for them and if you don’t file your tax returns, they will eventually come up with their own bloated and inflated substitute tax return or SFR assessments. That’s a guarantee! It’s time to take action and resolve your back tax issues today. Our Massachusetts tax resolution firm can help you – we have been helping individuals and businesses in Massachusetts resolve their IRS tax problems for years. Call 877-259-8200 for a free consultation.

How to File Delinquent Tax Returns without Income Info

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People often come to our Massachusetts tax resolution office to resolve their tax problems, such as filing many years of delinquent tax returns. Unfortunately, they sometimes lack the necessary information to prepare their returns. Thankfully, we know how to navigate the IRS maze and get our clients back on track. This video, “IRS Tax Problem Resolution”, explains how we gather the missing information needed to prepare and file their original tax returns and bring them back into compliance, often saving them money too. Below are the main points of interest:

If a client is missing W-2s or 1099 statements for interest, dividends, the sale of stock, or 401k or retirement plan distributions from previous years for example, we can generally get 95% of the taxpayer’s income information from the IRS. We can also sometimes go to other outside third parties to get it. Here are four steps we take to gather the missing pieces of the puzzle:

  • We file a power of attorney with the IRS to find out which year’s tax returns were filed and which were not.
  • We request income transcripts from the IRS for any of years with no tax return on file.
  • Since the IRS income transcripts do not contain state tax withholding information, we often contact current and previous employers’ payroll departments or their outside payroll service to get copies of the W-2s or payroll ledger printouts showing the state tax withholding data.
  • For business owners who have no bank statements or canceled checks, we can request copies of those documents from their bank. Generally, banks will keep information up to 5 or 6 years. If the bank no longer has the records, we can often use forensic methods and business ratios to reconstruct the business’ income and expenses using whatever business and personal records the client does have.

NOTE: It is always better to file your own original tax returns, even if imperfect, than let the IRS assess substitute tax returns, since the IRS will almost always over-inflate the amount of tax owed.

People often ask how far back they will need to file their taxes. If the IRS has not assessed anything, generally you only need to go back and file the last six years of tax returns, even if you haven’t filed in 7 or 10 or 20 years or more.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There are exceptions to this. So check with a licensed tax resolution specialist for specifics in your case. Another point that people often overlook is regarding refunds. A tax return must be filed in order to receive a refund. You have three years from the original due date, including extensions, or two years after the date the money was paid to claim a refund. After that you forfeit your refund.

The bottom line is this: Filing a reasonably accurate yet imperfect return is much more advantageous to the taxpayer than having the IRS file one for you. It almost never will be in your favor and will generally have you owing more taxes AND you may be entitled to a refund!

It’s never too late to come out from the shadows and file a tax return. Get help from our qualified Massachusetts tax resolution professionals who can help you gather the information needed to file and take that heavy weight off your shoulders. Don’t worry about what information you are missing – contact us right away! We can help you!

 

Who Can Help Me Handle an IRS Tax Audit?

“I’m being audited by the IRS and I don’t know what to do,” Stan said. “To me, it seems like the IRS targets the small business owner.  I run a small general contracting firm, just me and two guys. There’s no bookkeeper, no accountant – I do all that stuff myself.”

“So maybe I made a mistake somewhere in the paperwork,” he continued. “How am I going to prove my side of the story? I don’t even know where all my records are. Do you know how easy it is to lose receipts?”

Small Business Owners: You Need Help Facing An IRS Audit

When you’re a small business owner, you tend to do a lot of things yourself.  Keeping costs down means you might handle all of your business’ financial paperwork on your own. However, if the IRS is auditing you, you don’t want to go it alone.

During an IRS audit, you may be asked to answer questions via mail or in person. It’s essential that your answers be honest and correct.  However, it’s also important to know that there are limits to the questions the IRS can ask you during the audit.  If you don’t know that you don’t have to answer a question, chances are you will – and that information can be used against you!

Protect your small business by getting the best audit representation available. Our firm specializes exclusively in resolving tax problems – it’s all we do, and it’s all we’ve done for more than 16 years. We’ve helped thousands of small business owners resolve their tax problems successfully. We know how to handle lost receipts, accounting errors, and the everyday mistakes that trigger an IRS audit. 

Don’t go it alone. Our firm can handle the IRS audit while you concentrate on running your business. You’ll save time, money, and a lot of stress when you get the best tax help.

Small Business Owners: You Don’t Want the IRS Talking to Your Employees

If you’re a small business owner who’s recently received a notice from the IRS about a tax audit, you’re going to want to keep reading this article. There are three types of IRS audits: a correspondence audit, an office audit, and a field audit.

During a field audit, the IRS revenue agent comes to see you in person, in order to complete the audit. They will come to your home or place of business.  Having the IRS agent conduct the audit at your place of business can have two effects:

One: The IRS’ auditor’s presence can disrupt your business. When your attention is focused on the IRS agent, you’re not going to be able to run your business. This can mean a slowdown  in customer service, lost sales, or other negative consequences. Having the IRS on scene doesn’t look good for your business.

Two:  There’s the opportunity for the IRS agent to talk to or overhear your employees talking. A disgruntled employee can create a lot of damaging impressions with a few carefully chosen words: even if it’s not true, the IRS agent may be motivated to investigate further.

 IRS agents are trained to extract information that isn’t otherwise readily available. They’ve been known to ask questions that exceed the scope of their investigation in the pursuit of discovering unreported income and discovering personal expenses deducted by your business.  The seemingly innocent questions they ask your employees have a deeper, darker purpose. Your employees’ answers could fuel the fire.

Avoid the disruption to your business and reduce your risk of exposure by keeping the field audit from occurring at your place of business. When you hire our firm as your audit representative, the IRS revenue agent will have to come to our office and meet with our expert team. We’ll advocate on your behalf. You never even have to talk to the agent in person!

Running a small business is hard. An IRS audit doesn’t have to be.

If you’re a small business owner who’s facing an IRS audit, call us today. We’re here to help you. Let our experienced team handle your IRS audit, and you’ll never have to worry about the IRS disrupting your business. You can focus on making your business grow. We’ll focus on making your tax problems go away.

The Emotional Impact of a Tax Audit: Are You Prepared?

“When I opened the mailbox and saw that envelope from the IRS sitting in there, I just burst into tears,” Anya, who lives in the Dorchester, MA area, said. “You just know it’s not going to be good news.”

It wasn’t good news at all. The IRS notice informed Anya that her previous year’s returns, which she’d filed jointly with her now ex-husband David, had been selected for an audit.

“I’m not an accountant. I never dealt with any of that.  David did our taxes on some free internet website.” Anya said. “Chances are he screwed things up, and now I’m going to be the one stuck paying for it. Which I can’t afford. Which is pretty much why he’s my ex-husband.”

IRS Audit Representation: Finding Tax Help in Massachusetts

Anya freely admitted to being afraid of the IRS. “I don’t want to talk to those people! I’m not good with numbers, and with my luck, I’ll say something that will make a bad situation even worse.”

Dealing with an IRS audit can be a very emotional experience. You may feel scared, anxious, and overwhelmed. A tax audit can spark feelings of doubt and insecurity within the marriage: do you know for certain that your partner was 100% honest and accurate on all the tax filings? Many people report feeling nervous and even paranoid when they are informed of a pending IRS audit. The pressure of knowing you’re going to be audited can cloud your ability to think.

That’s why it’s a good idea to get professional audit representation from a Massachusetts tax professional. You may never have to talk to the IRS directly. An IRS audit representative advocates on your behalf, defending your interests and advising you if special circumstances, such as innocent spouse relief, apply to your case.  It’s their job to get you the best deal possible.

The benefit of choosing a Massachusetts tax problem solving firm is that they’re not emotionally involved in your tax situation. This is their profession, which means they’re able to think objectively and analytically about the case in a way you yourself can’t. 

Why not benefit from that professionalism and get your IRS tax problem solved without all the stress? Call your Massachusetts tax expert today!

Unfiled Tax Returns: Getting Help When You Don’t Know Where To Start

“I got a notice from the IRS about my unfiled taxes. It says I need to file immediately. But I don’t even know where to start,” Joanne, who lives in West Roxbury, MA, said. “I don’t know where my W-2s are; the restaurant I worked at then is out of business now. What am I going to do?”

Unfiled Tax Returns: Time is of the Essence

“The one thing you don’t want to do when you have unfiled tax returns is wait,” said Matthew J. Previte, a Massachusetts CPA who specializes in tax problems. “The longer you wait, the harder it becomes for someone like me to help you. After 10 years, it becomes impossible to get certain information from the IRS. But if you’re in that window, it’s still possible for a tax professional to get the information you need from the IRS.”

“Filing your return is important,” Previte notes, “because if you don’t file, the IRS will file a return for you. When the IRS creates what is known as a Substitute For Return (SFR), they’re not acting in your best interest. They don’t look for the deductions you’re eligible for, or identify the most favorable filing status for your situation. They’re just after their money!”

Unfiled Tax Returns: You Deserve Help

Don’t try filing your late tax returns on your own. You deserve the help of an experienced tax professional who will prepare an accurate return that helps you minimize your tax obligation. Why pay more taxes than you have to?

IRS deadlines are nothing to trifle with! When you receive a notice from the IRS, you need to act on it right away. Get help from a qualified MA tax professional. Getting your tax problems solved will stop the stress. Call right away. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where to start or don’t have your W-2s or 1099s. We can help you!

What Happens If I Don’t File My Taxes for 3 Years?

“Back in 2010, I had a rough year. My Dad died, work was nuts – it just wasn’t a good time,” Glenn , who lives in Southborough, MA, shook his head. “Did I do everything I was supposed to? No.  I didn’t file my income tax that year. Was I intentionally doing something wrong? No – but the fact I didn’t file in 2010 prevented me from filing in 2011 or 2012. What’s going to happen to me?”

Unfiled Tax Returns: Your Questions Answered

Not filing a tax return on time is one of the most common tax problems.  The IRS estimates that 10 million people fail to file their taxes in any given year: if you have unfiled tax returns, you’re not alone.

“I thought the IRS was going to catch up with me right away,” Glenn said. “I expected a knock on my door way back in May 2010. But nothing happened. Now I’m not sure if I slipped through the cracks or if the IRS is going to come after me tomorrow. It’s very stressful.”

Having unfiled tax returns is like walking across a minefield – without any minesweeping equipment! You never know when the whole situation is going to blow up in your face. The truth is that it’s very difficult to predict exactly when the IRS is going to come after you. The IRS’ enforcement capabilities have increased with advances in technology: they’re pursuing unfiled returns much faster than was previously the case. If you haven’t filed your taxes, you should know it’s only a matter of time until you’ll hear from the IRS.

Turn the Situation Around: Get Help Now

Choose an experienced tax problem solver to handle your unfiled tax return situation. It’s always better to file your tax returns before the IRS contacts you!

That way you’ll have an accurate understanding of what your financial situation is. Working with an experienced MA tax professional, you may discover that you owe less taxes than you thought – or that you’re actually entitled to a tax refund! It happens more often than you might think.

Being proactive about your unfiled tax returns buys you time to act strategically. Having more time to find deductions, gather bank statements, and handle all of the other paperwork associated with filing late tax returns is always advantageous to the taxpayer.

Finally, having your MA tax problem solver handle your unfiled tax returns helps you avoid criminal prosecution.  “I really didn’t want to go to jail for criminal failure to file,” Glenn said. “I’m just starting to get my life turned around and back on the right track! Going to jail is not part of my plan.”

While criminal prosecution against taxpayers who fail to file is relatively rare, it’s important to know that IRS policy is generally not to pursue action against taxpayers who voluntarily file late tax returns.  Avoid expensive fines and penalties, as well as the stress and anxiety that comes from living with unpaid tax returns, by getting help now. It’s never too late to file a tax return!

Owe Back Taxes? You Should Know A Wage Levy Can Cost You More Than Your Paycheck

If you have unpaid back taxes, you should know that the IRS and MA DOR can collect the money you owe from the money you earn from your job. This is known as a wage levy, and it can really disrupt your life. Instead of getting the paycheck you expected, you get a few dollars – with the remainder going directly to the IRS or MA DOR to settle your back tax debt.

The Impact of a Wage Levy on Your Life

The first is fairly obvious: when the IRS or MA DOR issues a wage levy, suddenly, you have a lot less money coming into the household. How are you going to pay your bills, buy groceries, or put gas in the car when you have no money?

The situation can spiral out of control quickly. If you, like many people, have your bills automatically taken out of your bank account, an IRS or MA DOR wage levy can create a situation where you have insufficient funds in your account. This can quickly create an expensive nightmare of overdraft fees, late payment charges, and other financial penalties imposed by your creditors and your bank.

That’s not all. An IRS or MA DOR wage levy can really hurt your relationship with your employer. Depending on the type of work you do, the fact that you have significant tax trouble can even be cause for termination. Massachusetts is an at-will employment state, so if your employer feels that your tax wage levy reflects badly on the company, creates an incentive for embezzlement, or is simply too much paperwork for them to deal with, they can legally let you go. Even if you keep your job, your relationship with your employer can be damaged by a wage levy.

People who are self-employed aren’t exempt from income levies, either. The IRS and MA DOR have been known to reach out directly to the people you do business with to collect delinquent taxes. This can really have a negative impact on your business – and your life!

Finally, wage levies can really wreak havoc in your personal life. Money is the number one reason couples fight – and suddenly having less money in the household budget due to a tax wage levy is almost guaranteed to cause disruption. If your partner was unaware of your unpaid tax problems, a wage levy is really not the best way for them to find out!

What Can Be Done About A Wage Levy?

Wage levies can cause real hardship in your life. Working with a Massachusetts tax professional who specializes in tax problem resolutions is the best way to get the stress and financial burden of a wage levy to stop. 

There are several routes to having a wage levy released, including settling your back taxes through an offer in compromise, entering a qualified payment plan, by filing bankruptcy (which may or may not discharge some or all of your tax debts), being declared uncollectible by the IRS or MA DOR, or paying off your back taxes in full. Working with a tax problem solving expert, you’ll learn which option is best for you, considering your individual circumstances.  Help is available!

If you’ve been struggling with a wage levy, call us today. We’re here to help you find an answer to your tax problems. It’s never too late to turn your life around.

Where’d My Paycheck Go? Understanding IRS Wage and Income Levies

When Tom S. got a call from HR, he knew it wasn’t good news. “They wanted me to go down there, so I went down there and they told me that they’d gotten a notice from the IRS. Because I had unpaid taxes, the IRS was levying my paycheck. I’d have 125 dollars left after the levy was taken out from each paycheck until all my back taxes were paid off – so I was looking at the next 3 months with hardly no money to live on!”

IRS Wage and Income Levies: Your Employer Has To Comply!

“I asked HR if there was some way they could let things slide, just for a week or two, so I could get prepared for the financial hit,” Tom said. “But they told me no way. If a company doesn’t do what the IRS tells them, they could get hit with huge penalties and fines.” Tom sighed. “By the time that conversation was over, it was pretty clear to me that I was lucky to have a job at all.”

Many people don’t know that it’s perfectly legal for your employer to terminate your employment if you have tax trouble with the IRS or MA DOR.  Having tax problems can be seen as a motivation to commit embezzlement – and no one wants to have a potential criminal working for them!

Types of Wage and Income Levies

There are two types of IRS wage and income levies. A continuous levy is generally brought against someone who has an employer and receives a regular paycheck. A non-continuous levy is generally brought against someone who receives a form 1099-MISC, and is considered self-employed. If you’re self-employed, you can imagine how embarrassing and stressful it would be to have the IRS contacting the people you do business with directly trying to collect your tax debts. It’s the type of thing that can ruin your business reputation.

What Can Be Done About Wage and Income Levies

If you receive notice that the IRS is going to levy your wages or other income, you want to get help right away. An experienced tax professional can work with the IRS on your behalf to resolve your tax issues and have the wage or income levy released. This can mean setting up a payment plan with the IRS, making an offer in compromise, or taking advantage of other legal means to solve your tax problems.

You have to take action! A wage or income levy won’t go away on its own, and every day it’s in place is a day that’s damaging your reputation with your employer or customers. If you’re dealing with a wage or income levy now, and you want the pain to stop, give us a call. We’re here to help!

Fixing Your Tax Problems to Repair Your Credit: What You Need To Know

“They say love makes the world go round, but that’s not true,” Sal M., who lives in Spencer, MA, said. “It’s money – or more correctly, credit! – that matters. If you don’t have good credit, you can’t do anything in this world. You can’t buy a house, you can’t start a business, you can’t go to school – I can’t even get a car that runs halfway decent because my credit’s all screwed up!”

Tax Liens Can Hurt Your Credit

Many people don’t realize that their tax problems can hurt their credit. When you owe money to the IRS or MA DOR (or both!), and you don’t pay your tax debt, you can wind up with tax liens. Tax liens are public record, which means anyone can find out about them. All of the credit rating agencies use tax lien information against you when determining your credit score.

A good credit score is, as Sal discovered, essential to the way we live our lives today. Even the US Government seems to have figured that out. That’s why there are special incentive programs in place to encourage delinquent taxpayers to resolve their tax issues and repair their credit.

Don’t Try To Fix Your Tax Problems On Your Own!

Working with a skilled, experienced firm that specializes in solving tax problems gives you the widest range of options when it comes to having your tax liens released or withdrawn. The IRS and MA DOR are not in the business of advising tax payers how to best solve their tax problems and restore their credit – they’re focused on collecting the maximum amount they can from you.

You May Qualify for a Fresh Start to Fix Your Credit

The Fresh Start Initiative allows delinquent tax payers who meet specific qualifications to take steps to repair their credit. If you owe the IRS less than $25,000 and can comply with a direct debit payment plan, after you’ve made 3 payments, you can request a lien withdrawal from the IRS.

This is only one of the ways you may qualify for the Fresh Start Initiative. Your experienced tax problem solver will fill you in on other available options to obtain a lien withdrawal. All tax lien withdrawals have a very positive impact on your credit rating. Be aware that you’re required to remain in full compliance with the tax laws going forward, and it’s an opportunity that’s only available once.

Is the Fresh Start Initiative right for you? The best way to get an answer to that question is to consult with an experienced tax professional. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today to discover how you can fix your credit and get your life back on track!