Stories from the trenches of helping others resolve their IRS and State back taxes.
|Posted by HB Duran, EA on February 8, 2012 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
It seems the giant has fallen, but who will pick up the pieces?
After trying unsuccessfully to sell the company and filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the largest tax resolution firm in the county closed its doors in January. Not only were employees told to pack their things, an estimated 5,000 clients were simply abandoned in the closure - and any money they paid is gone. The company is apparently pursuing Chapter 7, which would liquidate all assets.
With Powers of Attorney still active in the system, the IRS will continue to cc JK Harris on all correspondences and unless their clients search the internet, they're going to assume that they're being taken care of. (Whether they were ever taken care of at all still remains a mystery.) JK Harris is known primarily for its claims of settling for "pennies on the dollar," pitched by healthy actors in their manicured back yard - a complete misrepresentation of who would even qualify for real IRS settlements.
Inside the tax resolution industry, firms like Achievable Dream are practically dancing in the streets. For every honest tax representative there seem to be so many more like JK Harris who prey on the frightened to make a buck. Companies like the Tax Resolution Institute are calling it "cleaning house" and we can't help but agree. The IRS Hit Man wrote that "the giant tumbles," and it's about time, considering the fact that 20 Attorney Generals and 15,000 clients pursued the company for false advertising. "There will be no recovery at all for the $20 million in general unsecured claims," said William McCarthy, JK Harris' attorney.
Help for back taxes is something that is needed very badly in this country and it's a shame that people are afraid to seek help due to scam artists. There are so many of us who legitimately want to help and can do so with professionalism and expertise. I have no doubt that on an individual scale, some employees of JK Harris are probably good at what they do. Attorneys, Enrolled Agents and CPAs do not have to work for a firm to represent taxpayers and John K Harris has been quoted as saying that they are free to offer representation to their clients after the shutdown.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their jobs, money, trust and representation as a direct result of this shutdown.
If you've been orphaned by JK Harris or another firm, take heart knowing that they can't hurt anyone anymore - call us for a FREE consultation and we will gladly help you start again. You have the right to honest representation - and we're not going anywhere.
TIP: No matter who you choose to represent you, don't forget to do research on any firm before signing up with them - a simple Google search can reveal a lot.
|Posted by HB Duran, EA on December 23, 2011 at 1:15 AM||comments (0)|
Well, Christmas is this weekend and while getting into the spirit of things, I came across a film about the life of Jesus. As he was speaking with his deciples, it dawned me that St. Matthew was a tax collector before he became an apostle. I had been taught this as a child, of course, but it never really sunk in until now that for the last decade, I had a common industry with this fellow. So I decided to do some research.
Matthew was originally a tax-gatherer, in the service of the Romans who became one of the twelve Apostles and the author of the first Gospel. He was the son of Alphaeus born at Capernaum, a settlement on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, about a year after the birth of Jesus. Matthew was employed as a tax collector from which he gained knowledge of languages such as Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew. The Roman system for collecting taxes lent itself to fraud and corruption. Wealthy people would 'bid' on the right to collect taxes in their region and anything they collected over the Roman's demands was kept as profit. Tax Collectors were considered "unclean" because they had unacceptable forms of contact with gentile people (the Romans). They were also commonly regarded to be thieves because they were often fraudulent charging extortionist amounts due to the tax collection system. Matthew 9:9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. Matthew became a disciple of Jesus spreading Christianity after the crucifixion of Jesus. His Feast Day is September 21st.
Above: "Yes, harps are tax-deductible." If you were required to file taxes in Heaven...well it wouldn't be Heaven. But if you were, this is the man to go to for accounting. Here he is depicted writing the Gospel, as inspired by an Angel of God.
The most interesting part about St. Matthew's story is how the taxes were being collected. This is exactly how current tax resolution firms operate! They bid on your business via pushy phone calls and charge you as much as they can to help the Government collect taxes. Although this is not our first function as tax help companies, at the end of the day we are helping the IRS collect what is owed to them according to your best interest.
I could not believe what I was reading. I got my start with one of the most notorious "pennies on the dollar" firms that fooled many of us into believing that we were doing the right thing, while in the same breath extorting our clients out of thousands of dollars not included in their original agreements. It was extortion mixed with just the right amount of actually doing good for our clients so you walked away feeling good about what you did, but with a bad taste in your mouth about the fees. Even then, when owning my own firm was just a day dream, I knew that I would have done things differently had I been in charge.
I'm not claiming to be a saint by any means, but I found some inspiration in the life of a man who turned away from corruption and began helping people instead through the teachings of Christ. It was an unexpected parallel and one I'm glad I found. Matthew quit tax collecting, but I am compelled to keep helping those with a talent I didn't know I had until I stumbled upon it some 11 years ago. I'm not travelling the world teaching people about Jesus, but at least I can offer some relief from modern-day tax collectors!
Saint Matthew is one who without a doubt knows what you are going through with tax collectors in the Government and private sectors. He is the patron saint of accountants, bookkeepers, bankers and of course, tax collectors. If you are having tax woes, send a shout out to Saint Matthew and he would be happy to pray for you and those involved in your case.
Let's not forget the reason for the season and Merry Christmas to you all!
|Posted by HB Duran, EA on September 21, 2011 at 5:45 PM||comments (0)|
Generally, the Internal Revenue Service does not consider non-filers to be criminals, per se, unless the reason is purely for the sake of refusing to file. As we all know (and of which we are constantly reminded), the country is in major debt. A huge part of this includes the national tax gap, which currently sits at approximately $345 billion. A whopping 10% of that is attributed to those who underreport their taxes or don't file at all.
Now more than ever, the IRS is doing everything they can to recover that lost income. Per IRS Publication 3861: Criminal Investigation - Legal Source Tax Crimes Program Strategy...
"One of the basic tenets of our tax system is the belief that all citizens must comply with the requirement to file returns and pay taxes. Taxpayers who willfully fail to file income tax returns pose a serious threat to tax administration and voluntary compliance. The non-filer population has been increasing throughout the decade. To address this concern, IRS has implemented a cross functional National Non-Filer Strategy. The overall goal of this strategy is to bring taxpayers back into compliance. IRS-CI's role in this program is the enforcement of the tax laws for individuals who are not responsive to outreach efforts."
"IRS-CI has devoted resources to identify these individuals, and in the most flagrant cases, criminal prosecution has been and wil continue to be recommended."
So, what if you got some bad advice, just came out of a tough time or were afraid to file because you owed money? The best advice I can give is to file, file, file - no matter what.
Some other great reasons to file your taxes:
|Posted by HB Duran, EA on July 12, 2011 at 9:08 PM||comments (0)|
(From Fox News) July 12, 2011
NEW YORK -- The fan who gave Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit ball back to the Yankees captain and received a treasure trove of gifts in return was bracing Tuesday for another present: a five-figure tax bill, The New York Times reported.
Christian Lopez, the fan who caught and returned Jeter's home run ball at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, could be facing a tax bill for all that he received in return for his good deed, potentially to the tune of about $14,000.
The Yankees gave the 23-year-old Lopez four luxury suite tickets for each of the team's remaining home games, including the postseason, as well as three bats, three balls and two jerseys all signed by Jeter. He also received front-row seats for Sunday's game, which reportedly sell for up to $1,358.90 each.
If the goods are classified as prizes, rather than gifts, Lopez -- who has said he owes more than $100,000 in student loans -- could be in line for a heavy bill from the IRS.
A modest valuation of $50,000 for all of the items would likely mean a roughly $14,000 tax liability, the newspaper reported.
"There's different ways the IRS could try to characterize a ball caught by a fan in the stands," Andrew D. Appleby, a tax associate who has written about the taxing of souvenir baseballs, told the newspaper. "But when the Yankees give him all those things, it's much more clear-cut that he owes taxes on what they give him."
Other experts disagree.
"The legal question of whether it is a gift or prize is whether the transferor is giving the property out of detached and disinterested generosity," Michael J. Graetz, a law professor at Columbia University, told the newspaper.
"It's hard for me, not being a Yankee fan, to think of the Yankees as being in the business of exercising generosity to others, but there's a reasonable case to be made that these were given out of generosity," he added.
Lopez said he plans to ask his parents for a loan if he is hit with the tax bill.
|Posted by HB Duran, EA on July 1, 2011 at 7:36 PM||comments (0)|
Excellent blog entry that sums it all up from Dennison Tax Law. (Source)
The “Tax Lady” of late night television fame, Roni Deutch, announced...that her tax resolution firm is bankrupt and will be shutting down. Deutch’s business declined sharply in recent months in light of a litany of criminal and ethical charges. The charges stem from complaints by angry clients that her firm charged them thousands of dollars and then did nothing to resolve their tax issues. According to former California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who brought the initial charges against Deutch, the firm collected money but only resolved about 10% of clients’ issues. Compounding the damage, as soon as charges were filed, Deutch’s firm began a massive document destruction project in an attempt to cover their tracks. Courts stepped in to bar any further obstruction of justice, but the most significant damage was to the clients she promised to help. There are hundreds of people out there promising tax resolution assistance, but there is a lot more to it than just collecting a fee.
The bankruptcy announcement coincides with Deutch’s surrendering of her California law license and return of fees collected since January 2011. The lawsuits against Deutch have called for her to return more then $34 million in fees to customers, but it remains to be seen whether those refunds will ever be made. In the mean time, former clients who still have outstanding issues with the IRS are encouraged to seek professional advice, as the IRS debts will not go away on their own.
Although this is one company that was "busted" and shut down, rest assured Roni Deutch was FAR from the only one who engages in these practices. Always do your research on any tax resolution firm and never give Social Security Numbers or bank account information to a "tax firm" sales person without doing so first. If it sounds too good to be true, it IS!
|Posted by HB Duran, EA on September 17, 2010 at 2:46 PM||comments (0)|
Wouldn't it be nice to only owe $19?
|Posted by HB Duran, EA on September 17, 2010 at 1:37 PM||comments (0)|
This morning as I sipped my coffee and read my emails for the day, I was reminded of one of my favorite tax resolution cases and thought I'd share.
There was once an elderly man who frequented a mom 'n pop cafe in New York - the kind where the waitresses all know your name and remember your order from last time. (I love those places) One day this widower, normally cheerful, was visibly depressed. When the staff and other regular patrons asked what happened, he stated that the State of Florida took ALL his Social Security benefits out of his bank account. He couldn't pay his bills and he didn't know what to do. Social Security was his only source of income and he didn't have any family to turn to.
Well wouldn't you know it, this angelic group of people pooled their own money together and researched tax resolution firms - I was lucky enough to be the one they chose. I was so touched by his story and the good Samaritans who helped him. They even lent him money to pay his bills!
Through my research, I found that this sweet old man used to live in Florida with his late wife. He worked all his life and retired from a Campbell's Soup factory there. His wife usually handled the bills and when she passed away, he was devastated. He had no idea that he owed any state taxes. Fast forward about ten years - he's living in New York by himself, and found solace in this friendly cafe, which he frequented. Just like that, his money was gone.
How could this happen?
Unlike the IRS, who has a Collection Statute of ten years, many State Departments of Revenue can collect forever. This was the case with Florida - it just took them a while to find him. Like any bureaucracy, the State had no idea of this man's situation, they just knew there was a balance due and took action. Worse yet, his bank account was frozen so he couldn't use it at all.
I knew through experience that there are certain rules that prevent the levy of Social Security benefits, so I got on the phone with the State and his bank right away. I was able to disqualify the levy action and have it thrown out.
I successfully had the levy reversed, all his money put back and had his account placed into a non-collectible status so he would never be bothered again. Thanks to those good Samaritans at the cafe and some good-old-fashioned standing up to "The Man," this gentleman could once again just relax with a cup of coffee. I love a happy ending.