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.

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.

 

‘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.

Former Louisianna Sheriff’s deputy, wife plead guilty to fraud

By Littice Bacon-Blood
The Times-Picayune, June 21, 2011

A former St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s lieutenant and his wife, who owned an accounting service company, pleaded guilty to fraud in federal court on Monday for filing false federal tax returns and collecting more than $800,000 using the names of inmates held in the parish jail, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office.

The Times-Picayune archiveHale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana
The couple is said to have filed false tax returns over a 10-month period from about April 8, 2005 to about Feb. 20, 2006.

Lt. Warren LeBeauf Jr., 42, and his wife, Tamara Scott-Landry, 37, entered the guilty plea the morning of their trial before U. S. District Judge Carl Barbier, authorities said.

The two were charged May 6, 2010 in an 88-count indictment and are set for sentencing on the charges on Sept. 22 before Barbier.

They face a maximum of 10 years on the conspiracy to commit fraud charge, a fine of $250,000 and up to three years of probation.

Scott-Landry, who also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, faces a maximum 20 years on the wire fraud charge and a mandatory two years added to any sentence she receives for the aggravated identity theft charge.

LeBeauf, who had been employed by the Sheriff’s Office since 1989 and worked as a resource officer at Destrehan High School, was terminated July 30, 2010 for violating department policies, said St. Charles Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Pat Yoes.

According to federal authorities, LeBeauf used a law enforcement data base to obtain personal information on inmates such as Social Security number and birth date and passed it along to Scott-Landry to make fraudulent income tax refund claims.

Authorities say that LeBeauf met a St. Charles Sheriff’s Office 911 call center operator at a park and paid $100 for more than 4,000 pages of print outs from that law enforcement database which was used to fraudulently collect approximately $810,183 in income tax refunds.

Yoes said the operator, who had worked for the department for nearly 30 years, resigned July 2, 2010 before disciplinary action could be taken against her.

The tax forms filed electronically with the IRS made the returns payable to cashiers checks and stored valued cards. The money was then deposited into bank accounts controlled by LeBeauf and Scott-Landry, authorities said.

According to the indictment, the individual tax return amounts ranged from $1,577 to $3,525.

At one point authorities say Scott-Landry withdrew $26,000 in cash over a three-day period from an ATM and the couple went to a Chevrolet dealership and bought a 2004 Chevrolet Suburban “with a paper bag full” of cash.

It was in that SUV, parked in the drive way of Scott-Landry’s house, that authorities say they found inmate names and other items used in the scam.

During the execution of a search warrant, and “in the presence of almost a dozen armed IRS agents,” authorities say LeBeauf arrived at the house with an unknown person and attempted to leave with the SUV.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division which has made investigatin refund fraud and identity theft a top priority said James C. Lee, special agent in charge, IRS criminal investigation.

CA Man Arrested After IRS Mistakenly Deposits $110K In His Account

The Huffington Post
James Sunshine, 06/19/11

Last September, Laguna Beach resident Stephen McDow found $110,000 deposited in his bank account, courtesy of the IRS. That same deposit has now landed him in hot water, according to CBS Los Angeles.

The IRS mistakenly sent the tax refund money, meant for a 67-year-old woman, to McDow, instead, reports local news station KCAL. The Los Angeles woman reportedly failed to inform the IRS that she had closed the bank account she had filed with them, and the account number was subsequently assigned to McDow.

When the woman discovered that McDow had been the recipient of her refund, she called him and demanded her money back. McDow, in turn, offered to pay back the balance in monthly payments, as he had already spent $60,000 paying off student loans and his home mortgage. Unsatisfied with the suggested size of the monthly payment, the woman declined the offer, according to KCAL.

McDow was subsequently arrested and charged with one felony of grand theft by misappropriation of lost property. He reportedly faces four years imprisonment and is currently being held on bail for the exact amount he first received: $110,000.

Some tax cheats work at the IRS

Almost 3% of IRS workers caught cheating but some slip through cracks

By Andrea Coombes, MarketWatch.com
June 21, 2011, 5:35 p.m. EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The IRS catches almost 3,000 tax scofflaws in its own ranks each year, but some employees still dodge the system, according to a new Treasury Department report.

The Internal Revenue Service’s internal program caught on average about 3,000 incidents of noncompliance on employee tax returns each year from 2004 through 2008 — that’s about 3% of its workforce — but 133 employees who may have violated tax law avoided that program’s net in 2006 and 2007, according to the report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, which monitors the IRS.

The potential violations include failure to file a tax return, filing late, failure to report income and failure to pay taxes due.

While the report found that only a tiny portion of the IRS’s some 107,000 employees (in 2007) slipped through the cracks, TIGTA called on the tax agency to root out any and all workers who may be trying to game the system.

“In the inspector-general community, we have a zero-tolerance policy for any incidence of fraud, waste or abuse,” a TIGTA spokeswoman said.

“As the agency of the federal government whose chief mission is to administer the federal tax system, IRS employees are particularly expected to comply with all tax laws,” the TIGTA report said. “The IRS risks an erosion of public confidence in the American voluntary tax system if it does not appropriately address employees who are not complying with their tax obligations.”

For its part, the IRS said in a statement that it imposes harsh penalties for tax fraud within its ranks. “Ensuring that IRS employees comply with the tax law is a top priority for the IRS… Employees who are judged to have willful tax-compliance problems are terminated, in addition to other potential sanctions.”

Also, the IRS said that it investigated the 133 problem cases and most did not constitute fraud. “In 44% of the cases, employees filed a tax return late but were due a refund. And over half the cases have already been reviewed and closed because the facts did not merit further review. We are analyzing the rest of the cases, and if there are problems they will be addressed,” the IRS said.

Inside job

While the scope of the problem appears to be small, examples of IRS workers committing fraud are not hard to find. An IRS agent in Santa Clarita, Calif., in May was sentenced to three years in prison for filing fraudulent returns “for himself and innocent relatives that claimed, among other things, bogus deductions for alimony and mortgage payments,” according to a U.S. Justice Department release.
In April, a part-time data-entry clerk at an IRS office in Fresno, Calif., was charged with filing false tax returns and committing wire fraud and identity theft after allegedly stealing 68 tax returns from an IRS office, filing fraudulent returns using taxpayers’ personal information and claiming excessive federal tax withholding, presumably to generate tax refunds.

Separately, another IRS employee in Fresno in April pleaded guilty to filing false income-tax returns in the names of her husband, who was in state prison at the time, and other prisoners. The tax returns claimed federal tax withholding on wages the prisoners had never earned, to generate tax refunds. The IRS issued tax refunds totaling more than $13,000 based on the false returns, according to Justice Department statement.

And a separate TIGTA report in 2009 found that 128 IRS employees claimed the first-time home-buyer tax credit, even though they might not have been eligible. TIGTA simply identifies potential problems that require further investigation by the IRS.

Andrea Coombes is MarketWatch’s personal finance editor, based in San Francisco.

Seizure on Restaurant Released, But Tax Problems Still Loom

By Jarret Bencks
Medford Patch, June 2, 2011

The bright orange seized sign on the front door of Il Faro restaurant has been taken down, but the Medford Square restaurant is still in hot water with the state’s Department of Revenue.

The seizure on the business was lifted after revenue officials determined nearly all of the restaurant equipment belonged to the landlord at 21 Main St. and could not be auctioned off to pay some of the back taxes, said revenue spokesman Bob Bliss.

The Italian eatery, owned by Giuseppe Longo, still owes $142,784.20 in taxes and penalty fees dating back to 2006, and has made no efforts to create a plan to start paying the debt off, Bliss said.

“The taxpayer clearly is not taking any steps to work anything out with DOR,” Bliss said.

Nearly all of the back taxes, which date back to 2006, stemmed from failing to pay the meals tax, Bliss previously said.

Before being taken down, the sign, dated May 11, read: “The Business Property of Il Faro, Inc. had been seized for nonpayment of taxes, and is now in possession of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts…Any person who attempts to tamper or interfere with this property will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”