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.

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!

JK Harris Locks Doors

By David Slade, December 29, 2011, Post & Courier, Charleston SC

GOOSE CREEK — Bankrupt tax-preparation firm JK Harris suspended all operations late this afternoon and is bracing for a likely liquidation of the firm’s assets, according to founder and Chief Operating Officer John K. Harris.

As of the end of November, the company still employed about 135 people in Goose Creek. They were told late today that they would be locked out of the building at 5 p.m. and could return Friday to pack up their personal belongings.

The company was unable to secure additional funding after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, and will ask the court to convert the case to a Chapter 7, Harris said, which means that instead of restructuring, the company could be shut down and its assets sold.

“This is truly the most devastating event I have been forced to deal with in my 58 years on this earth,” Harris said in an email to employees. “I am not sure it will reach that level for all of you, but I know that for some of you it will be as personally devastating for you as it is for me.”

JK Harris & Co. once advertised that it could resolve people’s tax debts for “pennies on the dollar,” but the nationwide company was dogged by cash-flow problems and the cost of large settlements related to multiple claims that it misled consumers

The company sought bankruptcy protection in October to head off an attempt by the Texas attorney general’s office, related to consumer claims, to force the company into receivership. Harris, in emails to employees, vendors and clients, blamed today’s shutdown on the refusal of the company’s largest creditor, RAI Credit of New Jersey, to provide additional financing.

Employees who were previously laid off are among the creditors owed wages. Money is also owed to vendors, and to consumers who were to get millions of dollars in compensation from previously agreed-upon settlements, from a class-action suit and from complaints by multiple attorneys general.

 

All IRS Payment Agreements Are Not Equal

By Matthew J. Previte CPA MST
www.taxproblemsrus.com
July 7, 2011

If you owe back taxes to the IRS, you have undoubtedly wondered how on earth you’re going to get a mountain of back IRS taxes off your back so you won’t have to live in fear anymore. Living with IRS tax problems is stressful and can cause many problems in your life. One of these IRS tax problems is having an IRS tax levy placed on your wages or bank accounts which leaves you with little to no money to live on. An IRS tax lien can also be filed against you in the public record (usually the county recorder or registry of deeds) which not only lets the world know about your IRS tax problems but severely damages your credit rating by a good 100 points or more, leaving you unable to get a loan. So what can you do to resolve your IRS tax problems?

Although Offer In Compromise is advertised heavily on late night TV, it is rarely an option for most people with back IRS tax debts. Roughly 95% of delinquent taxpayers with IRS tax debts do not qualify for the IRS Offer In Compromise program. Unfortunately, these late night TV hucksters tout the OIC as the magical cure-all for your IRS tax debt woes. There is an old saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And so it is with the Offer In Compromise program. Although my tax resolution firm has filed many Offers In Compromise over the last 16 years, most of our clients who owe large back taxes to the IRS do not qualify. Simply put, they have too much equity in assets (bank accounts, houses, retirement accounts, etc) and/or cash flow (what’s left over after what the IRS allows for basic living expenses) to qualify. So that begs the question, what are my options?

While bankruptcy can sometimes be a good option, we will leave that discussion for another article (see archives for February 2011). Short of running out the statute of limitations on collection, which is generally ten years, or hitting the lottery or inheriting a boatload of money and paying off the IRS tax debts in full, the only option left is an installment agreement. However, not all installment agreements are equal.

The IRS has two different types of installment agreements to pay off back taxes. The first type is a Full Pay Installment Agreement. In this type of IRS installment agreement, the monthly payments are sufficient to pay off the back taxes (plus any penalties and interest that accrues) until it is paid off in full. With this type of IRS installment agreement, your payments will full pay the back IRS tax debts, as well as all penalties and interest accruing on the debt, within the statute of limitations on collection. The statute of limitations on collection is generally 10 years. However, there are numerous actions that can extend the time the IRS has to pursue collection action (liens, levies, seizures, etc). We will leave that to another article to discuss.

The second type of IRS installment agreement is called a Partial Pay Installment Agreement. Under this type of IRS installment agreement, the monthly payment is insufficient to pay off the back taxes plus accruing penalties and interest by the collection statute expiration date. What does this mean in plain English? Well, it means that you make payments until the statute of limitations on collection (in IRS speak the “CSED”) runs out. So if at the collection statute expiration date there is $10,000 of unpaid back tax debt, it expires to zero and you do not owe it anymore. Nice huh? There is one catch however. As part of the terms of the Partial Pay Installment Agreement, the IRS will review your financial condition every two years to see whether or not your financial condition (i.e. your ability to pay more) has improved. If it has, they will require a higher payment if your financial condition shows you can afford to pay more towards the back tax debt. The downside of this type of installment agreement is it is possible that in the future your financial condition improves and the new monthly payment required becomes sufficient to full pay the back taxes, penalties, and interest by the collection statute expiration date. In other words, it’s possible to start out with a Partial Pay Installment Agreement and end up with a Full Pay Installment Agreement. The positive aspect of a Partial Pay Installment Agreement is that if your financial condition does not improve enough or at all, you could still end up paying less than the full amount owed and end up with a large balance of unpaid back taxes expiring to zero at the collection statute expiration date.

With all IRS Installment Payment Agreements, your financial condition is reviewed via a Form 433-A and/or 433-B depending on whether your tax issues are personal or business tax debts. Individuals and sole proprietorships use the Form 433-A while corporations, partnerships, and LLCs use a Form 433-B. If you owe personal taxes and have income on your personal tax return from a flow through entity (S corporation, partnership, or LLC treated as an S corporation or partnership), you may have to submit both the Form 433-A and the Form 433-B to get your installment payment agreement approved.

There are strategies to minimize your monthly payment amount but that will be discussed in a future article. Also, just because the IRS initially denies your IRS installment payment agreement does not mean you should give up. Many initially rejected IRS installment payment agreements were later accepted upon filing an Appeal to the IRS Appeals Division. Persistence and perseverance are key to obtaining a fair IRS installment agreement that you can live with.

IRS identity theft keeps innocent taxpayers waiting months to receive their refund

By: Jenn Strathman, newsnet5.com

CLEVELAND – The IRS said there’s been a five fold increase in identity theft from 2008 to 2010. While the IRS said the breach is not happening at their offices, they are stuck finding a solution to this costly problem that leaves legitimate taxpayers waiting months for their refund check.

Despite a year of hard work, Sarah Madunicky’s financial future is up in the air.

“It’s very frustrating because you work for something and it’s owed to you and someone else can go right under there and take it from you,” Madunicky said.

The IRS rejected Madunicky’s tax return this year. She said the IRS told her someone else already used her social security number to file a return.

An IRS Tax Return Transcript shows a return with Madunicky’s social security number using a Cleveland Heights, Ohio, mailing address, but Madunicky lives in a different city.

The Cleveland Heights home used in the fraudulent filing sold this spring, and the new owners said they have nothing to do with this case.

There was another red flag on the return for Madunicky. The dependent listed on the return would have been born when Madunicky was just two years old.

“It doesn’t really add up,” Madunicky explained.

The return still went through. Five months later, Madunicky is still trying to get answers and her tax refund from the IRS.

“They are not very cooperative and not helping me with any of this,. Madunicky said.

IRS identity theft victims wait months for help

Madunicky is not alone. Testimony from three other identity theft victims at a Congressional subcommittee led the IRS Commissioner to issue an apology.

“We obviously need to do better,” Commissioner Douglas Shulman said.

The IRS told the Government Accountability Office that it’s difficult to screen every return for fraud, and said there are “trade-offs” if it adds more restrictive screening.

It’s expected there would be delays in processing, and could overwhelm the IRS’ capacity to issue refunds in a timely manner.

The GAO report also discussed additional screening mechanisms for known identity theft victims. Returns that fail screenings require a manual review and contact with your employer. The IRS said it feels even this type of screening for ID theft victims would pose delays and a burden for employers.

While improvements would help, the Ohio IRS spokeswoman, Jennifer Jenkins, told NewsChannel5 that the IRS stopped nearly 117,000 ID theft returns just this year. Those measures protected more than $582 million from ending up in the wrong hands.

IRS wants to use PIN system to reduce fraud

“I think the PIN is really the solution,” Commissioner Shulman explained.

Taxpayers would need a six digit Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (PIN) to file a return.

It’s only a pilot program used by 56,000 previous identity theft victims. During the pilot program, the taxpayers will get a new PIN each year for 3 years following ID theft.

“Anything would make it better, especially with a PIN that only certain people would have,” Madunicky said.

Once someone else has your social it takes years to unravel the mess leaving Madunicky to continue to wonder how her social security number was stolen and when the thief will use it again.

“It’s going to be something that haunts me,” Madunicky said.

We called the IRS and Congresswoman Betty Sutton’s office (D-Ohio, 13th District). Sutton’s office said the IRS was just finishing the investigation and the check was immediately issued.

While the case is resolved, this may never go any farther. The IRS told the GAO a “small number of cases” lead to criminal investigations. Privacy laws prohibit them from sharing information with other government agencies and local investigators. So, protection is key.

Protecting yourself from ID theft

If you suspect IRS identity theft, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

Checking your credit report is the best way to keep tabs on your identity. ” Annual Credit Report ” is the official free site that allows you to check your report. There are three credit reporting agencies, and you can check each agency’s report once a year for free. To keep tabs on your credit year round, check one report every four months.

If you notice anything unusual, call the credit reporting agency. The steps to dispute a record on your report are contained in the back of the credit report.

Repairing your credit and identity can take a long time. The Federal Trade Commission outlines all the steps you can take to fight back once you’re victimized. It outlines how to place a fraud alert on your account.

You may also explore a credit freeze. This freezes your credit to reduce the damage. Nobody will be allowed to open another line of credit with your social without proving they are who they say they are. This will make it more difficult for you to get credit, but will reduce the damage to your identity. To obtain a freeze, call Experian , Equifax , and TransUnion .

Finally, don’t give your social security number to anyone unless it’s absolutely essential. Many companies ask for your social, but they don’t really need it. Don’t give it out to anyone unless it’s absolutely necesary.

‘Tax Lady’ Roni Deutch Pleads Not Guilty

Sacramento, Calif. (June 20, 2011)
By Michael Cohn, Accounting Today

Roni Deutch, the tax attorney who heavily advertised her IRS tax resolution services before she was forced out of business, has pleaded not guilty to contempt of court charges.

Deutch billed herself as the “Tax Lady” in her infomercials before she closed down her law firm and surrendered her law license last month (see ‘Tax Lady’ Roni Deutch Closes Firm amid Allegations). She was sued for $34 million last August by the California Attorney General’s Office, which accused her of swindling clients who had gone to her firm seeking help resolving their outstanding tax debts with the IRS (see California AG Sues ‘Tax Lady’ Roni Deutch for $34M). In April, a California judge froze her assets after the Attorney General asked the court to hold her in contempt for shredding millions of documents and diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds from her clients (see ‘Tax Lady’ Roni Deutch’s Assets Frozen by Judge).

During her arraignment Friday in Sacramento Superior Court, Deutch’s attorney registered a not guilty plea on her behalf to the contempt of court charges, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Deutch herself did not speak during the court hearing. Outside the courthouse, a small group of supporters, including several of her relatives, demonstrated on her behalf, holding up signs and yelling, “Justice for Deutch.”

‘Tax Lady’ Roni Deutch Closes Firm Amid Allegations

North Highlands, Calif. (May 16, 2011)
By Michael Cohn, Accounting Today

Roni Deutch, who heavily advertised her tax problem resolution services on television, has closed her law firm and surrendered her legal license after a California judge froze her assets.

Deutch was sued last August by the California Attorney General for $34 million, charging her with swindling thousands of people who came to her for help with fixing their tax problems with the Internal Revenue Service (see California AG Sues ‘Tax Lady’ Roni Deutch for $34M). Last month, a California judge froze her assets after the Attorney General asked the court to hold her in contempt for shredding millions of documents and diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds from her clients.

The State Bar of California said Thursday that it has initiated disciplinary proceedings against her. Deutch held a press conference last Thursday at the headquarters of her law firm in North Highlands, Calif., to announce the closure of her firm and her financial difficulties, but sounded a note of defiance.

“I am letting you know right now that I am turning in my state bar license after 20 years,” she said. “So I say this to you, State Bar of California, ‘Are you going to come to my building and help my 4,000 active clients? Are you going to do that, State Bar of California? Will you now come and pick up my 45,000 debt files? Will you come and pick those up? Do you really care about my clients, State Bar of California? Never disciplined me for 20 years, approving my policies, practices and procedures. Are you now going to show up and help my clients? The last time I checked, you were unwilling to help any of my clients unless I was dead or in a mental hospital. Those were the only conditions that you were going to show up and help my clients, dead or in a mental hospital.’”

Deutch said her firm had run out of money and owed $10 million. She said she personally owed $5 million and did not have enough money to defend herself in court, according to the Sacramento Bee. Her own attorney has asked to be removed from the case because he hasn’t been paid.

‘Tax Lady’ Roni Deutch’s Assets Frozen by Judge

accountingtoday.com
Sacramento, Calif. (April 21, 2011)

A California judge has frozen the assets of “Tax Lady” Roni Deutch after the state attorney general asked the court to hold her in contempt for shredding millions of documents and wrongfully diverting funds from clients of her tax law firm.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shellyanne W.L. Chang signed an order Wednesday freezing Deutch’s assets and appointed a receiver who will take over the financial aspects of her business. Deutch heavily advertises her services for helping clients resolve their problems with the Internal Revenue Service, but has been the subject of a $34 million lawsuit by the California Attorney General’s Office accusing her of swindling clients (see California AG Sues ‘Tax Lady’ Roni Deutch for $34M).

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris asked the court on Wednesday to hold Deutch in contempt of court, imprison her for five days on each violation, and fine her thousands of dollars for shredding millions of pages of documents and failing to pay refunds to her clients in violation of a court order.

“Deutch showed herself to be a predator for profit, preying on innocent, hard-working people who were simply hoping to settle their accounts with the IRS,” Harris said in a statement. “By defrauding these victims, and then pleading poverty, she created a real danger that her clients will never receive their advance fees back.”

In August, the attorney general filed suit against Deutch for swindling thousands of people facing serious and expensive tax collection problems with the IRS. On August 31, the court issued an order that prohibited Deutch from destroying evidence.

“Despite this order,” the attorney general said, “Deutch has been routinely shredding documents on an almost a weekly basis.” The Attorney General estimates that to date Deutch has shredded some 1,643,000 to 2,708,600 pages of documents. Deutch’s shredding campaign has permanently deprived the attorney general of evidence needed to fully prosecute the action against her.

Deutch’s law firm, based in Sacramento County, had revenues of at least $25 million a year. She spent $3 million a year on advertising, much of it on late-night cable TV, and frequently offered tax advice on popular TV shows. In her pitches, she promised to significantly reduce the IRS tax debts of people who signed up with her firm. Instead, she took thousands of dollars in up-front fees from clients but offered little or no help in lowering their tax bills. Hundreds of clients complained to the Attorney General and other government agencies.

In addition to shredding documents, the Attorney General also charged that Deutch violated a November 17 preliminary injunction by failing to issue some $435,000 in refunds to her clients within 60 days. Instead she “decided to disperse funds to friends, family and other creditors. By draining her estate and that of the law firm, Deutch has placed her clients at serious risk of never receiving their refunds.”

For instance, Deutch opted to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity from the sale of her home to a media firm. She also personally withdrew $241,000 from the law firm’s accounts and her personal accounts at just one bank. In addition, since the preliminary injunction order was issued, Deutch made more than $21,000 in unnecessary expenditures, including gifts to family and friends, and a payment to a NASCAR racing team.

The attorney general asked the court to fine Deutch $1,000 and imprison her for five days for each count of contempt, to immediately freeze Deutch’s personal assets, and to appoint a receiver to manage her law firm’s business operations.

A spokesperson for Deutch’s firm did not respond to a request for comment.

Man Indicted for Falsifying Charitable Deductions

accountingtoday.com
Los Angeles (June 21, 2011)

A Santa Monica man was arrested Friday morning on charges that he committed tax fraud and attempted to interfere with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws.

Howard Hal Berger, 51, appeared Monday morning before U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter. Berger previously pleaded not guilty to the charges specified in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury late last week.

According to the indictment, Berger filed a partnership income tax return for Lab Holdings LLC for the 2006 tax year which falsely reported a contribution of $1 million, substantially reducing his income tax liability.

In addition, Berger filed an individual income tax return for the 2006 tax year which falsely reported gifts to charity of $991,700 on the attached schedule of itemized deductions.

While under audit by the Internal Revenue Service, Berger submitted a false charitable donation letter in an attempt to substantiate the deduction for gifts to charity taken on the 2006 individual income tax return.

If convicted of all charges specified in the indictment, Berger faces up to nine years in prison and fines totaling $750,000. Berger is currently free on bond pending trial. A trial is scheduled for Aug. 9, 2011, before Judge Walter.

The investigation of Berger was conducted by IRS-Criminal Investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

IRS Increases Number of Audits

Tommy Williams CFP
schreveporttimes.com
June 18, 2011

Now that most of you have completed your tax returns for 2010, perhaps we might reflect on the most dreaded of tax consequences, the IRS audit.

We spend a considerable amount of time in an effort to be tax efficient. Defer taxes, avoid them and use every tool and technique offered by the Internal Revenue Code to legally limit our tax cost. Given the financial struggles of our federal government, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that the IRS has nearly doubled its examinations of returns from the richest taxpayers.

IRS audits are up nearly 8 percent for the wealthiest Americans. This spring, the Internal Revenue Service released the 2010 IRS Data Book. Journalists and tax professionals looked inside and noticed a couple of eyebrow-raising statistics. The first is that the IRS audited 18.4 percent of 2010 tax returns filed by taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes above $10 million. That’s up from 10.6 percent for 2009. The second is that taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes between $5 million and $10 million were also targets. Audits increased by 55 percent for this group in 2010 with the percentage of audited returns jumping from 7.5 percent to 11.6 percent. So what’s going on here? The IRS has ramped up its efforts to investigate offshore bank accounts and tax shelters, and it appears to be acting on its newfound knowledge. It started a Global High Wealth Industry Group in 2010 to “centralize and focus IRS compliance expertise involving high net worth individuals.”

As IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said at a meeting of the New York State Bar Association Taxation Section, “We’re looking for and finding points of leverage, also called ‘nodes’ of activity, where multiple people not paying taxes can be detected. Financial institutions are one such potential node of activity. Promoters of evasion schemes are another.”

Now the IRS has started an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative, providing information in eight languages to reach taxpayers and preparers who are non-native English speakers. By coming forward about undisclosed offshore accounts, they stand a chance of avoiding criminal prosecution.

Audit rates increased across the board last year. The overall IRS audit rate was 1.11 percent in 2010, up from 1 percent in 2009. The taxpayers least likely to face an audit were within the $75,000 to $100,000 adjusted gross income range with 0.64 percent of their returns being audited.

Experts tell me to do your part to look good. Most audits are not purely attributable to bad luck. Why not do the little things that may help to decrease the odds? Some of the basics are to document all expenses relatable to your business, report every bit of income, claim sensible but not outlandish deductions, avoid portraying a hobby as a business venture, sign your return and work with a really good tax preparer.
If you do find yourself with a tax problem, I’d suggest you invest in some professional guidance.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial adviser prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.