We were hired by the owner of a small mortgage company to resolve his tax debt. Our client had received a notice that his wages from a related company had been garnished by the state tax board and the federal government had issued an IRS notice of the intent to pursue a tax levy and tax lien. Both the state and the IRS were taking serious action and the client was understandably worried. At the time of the initial meeting the state tax board had already collected approximately $3,000 through wage garnishment which of course was a huge financial burden for his family.
What had gone wrong? The owner of the company admitted that he had actually not filed either his corporate or individual tax returns for five years. Why not? With the downturn in the economy, the company had lost money during that time and the owner figured it was not necessary to file his tax returns because he had made no profit.
Had he received any IRS Notices? Not only was the answer yes, he brought us a large stack of completely unopened IRS Notices and letters from the IRS. At Professional Tax Resolution Inc., we see this all too often. Clients paralyzed by fear have piles of unopened IRS Notices and Letters from the IRS. Why do you get so many letters? The reason is actually more logical than it may appear; the IRS generally has a 10 year statute of limitations for most tax debts so as an outstanding tax debt approaches the 10 year mark, the IRS collection efforts usually get more and more aggressive.
The first thing we did after our client hired us was determine which prior year tax returns had been not filed. We then did background research about beneficial tax codes so that when we filed his missed year returns, we could take all of the applicable benefits for our client. We know from our years of experience that the process of filing unfiled returns or correcting prior year returns is not only the right thing to do, it is far more productive than attempting to negotiate a settlement with the IRS for an amount less than the reported amount of the tax owed.
It turns out in the case of our mortgage company client, the IRS and state tax board had prepared estimated returns based on 1099 Forms provided to them by other taxpayers. When the IRS or State tax agency prepares an estimated or substitute return, they only include information that they have on file which traditionally only includes the income reported to them. The result is that all allowable expenses are generally not taken.
In this case we were able to contact the Internal Revenue Service and State Tax Board and obtain a 30 day collection hold to allow us the time we needed to file all of the outstanding returns. Using IRS transcripts, account information and our client’s company expense records we were able to actually prepare and file all of the outstanding individual and corporate tax returns. Once that work was completed and the returns were properly prepared, we ran a calculation and saw that the actual amount owed was now under $1,000! This was a huge reduction compared to the more than $40,000 the IRS and state tax boards indicated was owed just weeks before. We faxed the revised state tax returns to the state tax board and were able to stop the wage garnishments immediately and our client even receive a refund of the amounts the state had previously garnished!
We achieved great success in this case, reducing our client’s liability by over 97% because we correctly filed his outstanding returns. Had our client asked for advice years before, he might never had to face the burden of his large tax debt. Had he opened his IRS notices and called us for help earlier, he might have avoided a wage garnishment and tax lien. The lesson learned is simply that the worst course of action is no action at all.
For more information about how we can help you; call us at (949) 596-4143 and speak directly with a CPA today.