Having Tax Trouble Does Not Make You A Bad Person!

You don’t often hear about the emotional side of dealing with the IRS or state tax authorities — yet the truth is that our emotions play a huge role in creating and resolving tax issues! There are any number of reasons that people get into difficulties — from not understanding what has to be filed or paid, to not knowing that someone you trusted failed to perform tasks they said they were going to, to plain old human error.

Guess what? None of that makes you a bad person. Many times, it’s the burden of shame, guilt, or distress that keeps us from acting — yet these emotional roadblocks actually make the problem worse, not better. Every day we don’t act to resolve a tax situation is a day that the IRS or state tax departments counts against us.

At Matthew J. Previte CPA PC, we’re not going to judge you. We aren’t going to tell you you’re a bad person because you didn’t file your taxes on time. It happens. A very, very small percentage of tax issues are caused by people who willfully intended to deceive the tax authorities or avoid paying — the vast majority of individuals find themselves handling situations that got out of control, one simple mistake snowballing into the next until they can’t see the way out.

We know the way out. We’ll work with you to find a way to resolve your tax issues with the IRS. We understand that life happens and that the important thing is NOT assigning blame — it’s fixing the problem in the fastest, most efficient way possible to give you peace of mind and remove a huge stress from your life.

Put down that guilt. Put down the shame. You don’t need to keep carrying it anymore: you can call us and start solving your tax problems today!

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.

 

How to Avoid The Filing of An IRS Federal Tax Lien

By Matthew J. Previte CPA MST
www.taxproblemsrus.com
July 20, 2011

Federal tax liens filed by the IRS for unpaid back taxes can cause serious damage to many areas of your life. IRS tax liens can not only ruin your credit rating but also cause problems with employers. Companies often pass up on hiring an otherwise qualified candidate because of IRS tax liens on the candidate’s credit report. Employers in some industries, (banking, finance, legal, accounting, law enforcement, or government agencies requiring security clearances) often have to terminate employees due to IRS tax problems when they discover an IRS tax lien has been filed against their employee.

For well known public figures (politicians, celebrities, etc.), IRS federal tax liens can do great damage to your reputation once the local press gets a hold of the news that the IRS has filed a federal tax lien on you for unpaid back taxes. Often they will publish news of your IRS tax problems for the world to see causing not only embarrassment and humiliation but damage to personal and business relationships.

So what can you do to avoid the IRS filing a federal tax lien?

Once a federal tax is assessed, the IRS collection cycle begins. Besides the usual IRS collection letters threatening to levy and seize your assets, the IRS will eventually issue a federal tax lien and file it in the public record as notice to the public that you owe back taxes to the IRS. The trick to avoiding the filing of a federal tax lien is to be proactive before the federal tax lien is filed by the IRS.

In lieu of a federal tax lien, the IRS can in many cases accept a Collateral Agreement which protects the government’s interest so they do not have to file a federal tax lien. The three most common assets used as collateral are: (1) letters of credit from a lender, (2) securities, or (3) surety bonds. There are other assets that can be used but these three are the most common and can go a long way towards getting a Collateral Agreement accepted quickly to avoid the filing of a federal tax lien.

So, avoiding the filing of an IRS tax lien is possible. It just takes knowledge of the Collateral Agreement process and approaching the IRS early in the collection cycle before they issue a federal tax lien. An experienced tax CPA or tax attorney is best suited to help you with this process as they know how to properly draft a Collateral Agreement, negotiate with the IRS, and get the Collateral Agreement accepted.

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.

‘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’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.