Allan Pearlman Radio Interview: Tax Tricks, Trips and Traps

People and the news devote lots of attention to important dates like April 15th — tax return filing day — and October 15th — the second filing deadline for all the taxpayers who got automatic extension of the April 15th deadline. In fact for many of us, the IRS and other taxing authorities demand attention on many other occasions throughout the year.

And because there can be tax problems, tax controversies, tax disputes with the IRS that come up at any time, attorney Jack Tuckner, the host of a politics and current events oriented radio talk show, invited me in to talk about tax controversies — collection issues, audits, offshore tax issues, voluntary disclosures, offers in compromise, and similar Radio_noisyissues.

So, on Tuesday afternoon, October 20th, 2015, far, far away from April 15th, and after the October 15th deadline has passed, I met with Jack Tuckner and his partner in radio, Deborah O’Rell, to talk about the IRS and New York State’s Department of Taxation and Finance on there weekly show, Women’s Rights in the Workplace on the Progressive Radio Network, PRN.fm.

The original plan was to discuss the inner workings of the IRS, and how tax payers might best protect themselves from the eager claws of the government for a half hour. But before we knew it a whole hour went by.

The Women’s Rights in the Workplace show describes our conversation like this:

GrimDeath+IRS“Did you know that your wages can be garnished, your bank accounts and home can be seized, and even your driver’s license can be revoked due to back taxes? Join Jack & Deborah as they welcome to the show good guy tax attorney Allan R. Pearlman, who’ll provide insight, tips and “secrets” to avoid getting into boiling hot water with the taxman.”

The whole discussion, warts and all, is here:

Letter from the Editor: A Tale of Two Tax Penalties

While the weather is still cold much of the time these days, now in early February, the days are already a little longer than just a month ago. And though it is often cold, after a string of 18 and 19-degree days followed by eight and nine-degree days, a 30-degree day feels downright spring-like. Almost t-shirt weather.red-heart

Any moment now it will be Valentine’s Day. Then at the end of February, major league baseball’s spring training starts. Alas, not long after that comes Tax Day, April 15th, and with it the annual ritual of gathering up one’s bank statements, W-2’s and 1099’s, and sundry receipts tucked away in wallets, desk drawers, and other places you’re trying to remember right now, so that we, on our own, or with help can prepare and file our tax returns.

Because I’ve worked with many a taxpayer who somehow strayed from the righteous path, to represent them so that they did not have to take on the IRS (or New York’s DTF) alone, I’ve heard many stories about how it was that things went wrong.

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IRS Extends Voluntary Disclosure Deadline for Secret Offshore Accounts

With 48 hours left before the final deadline to participate in a voluntary disclosure program designed get taxpayers with unreported foreign bank accounts to come back into the system and report their foreign income, the IRS has announced that it is extending the deadline from Wednesday September 23, 2009 until October 15, 2009.

The IRS reports that this extension was made in response to repeated requests from attorneys and other tax practitioners from all over the country.

In addition, an IRS agent working on a team evaluating the disclosures being submitted by taxpayers trying to participate in this program told me that there was a huge volume of submissions.

Within the guidelines of this program, taxpayers are given an opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution for tax crimes such as tax evasion and tax fraud.

Also, as part of this program, a taxpayer is subject to paying penalties on previously unreported income in foreign bank accounts under guidelines defined earlier this year, in March 2009. These guidelines are tough and expensive, but not nearly as tough or expensive as the sort of penalties a taxpayer would be facing if not working within this program.

Taxman’s Facebook Miranda Warning? Anything You Put on Your Wall Will Be Used Against You

By now, as taxpayers, if we’ve ever had a scrape with the IRS or a state’s taxing agency, especially if we happen to be owing some, we are accustomed to getting letters, maybe getting phone calls, maybe even having some live person from the IRS show up at our door.

And we are familiar with the forms, and the questions: things like:

  • Where do you work?
  • Where do you bank?
  • Do you rent or own your house or apartment?
  • What is the rent?
  • What is the mortgage?
  • What is the maintenance or common charges?
  • Do you own stocks or bonds?
  • What are they worth?

All these questions, and more.

And, if you happen to get audited, the Revenue Agent (the IRS’s name for the person who does the audit) might send you a few pages of forms which ask you to provide specific information and documents to help answer these sorts of questions. The IRS calls them IDRs, which stands for “Information Document Request.”

If you don’t respond, and things get ugly, the IRS can drag you into court and have you explain to a judge why didn’t provide the information the IRS requested. You might have a good reason; you might not.

It’s all pretty low tech: letters, paper, phone calls, knocking on doors.

But according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the Taxman is leaping quickly into the 21st Century and gathering information about taxpayers from Facebook walls, MySpace posts, chat rooms, and Google.

In “Is ‘Friending’ in Your Future? Better Pay Your Taxes First,” The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Saunders reports that state taxing authorities in Minnesota, Nebraska, and California have been catching long-time tax debtors and tax evaders who announce their professional and travel plans on social media sites. Other states are doing so as well, or at least thinking about it.

For example, one tenacious and inquiring tax collector found a delinquent taxpayer who was a “rigger of sails” by searching for his name and the phrase (“rigger…”). This search led him to a discussion board of local riggers, and in it, a discussion thread telling where this rigger went after his store closed.

With this morsel of information, the taxman located the missing “rigger of sails” and collected the unpaid tax debt.

While states are jumping into mine social media sites and more generally the internet, the IRS is playing its hand very close to the vest. It refused to comment on whether or how it might be using social networking sites.

IRS Staff Are Human, Too Human

Not scorpions, not reptiles, not hairy poisonous spiders, not jackals, not piranhas, not hyenas.

And while some taxpayers may swear that the IRS agent they talked to was worse than the mythical Leroy Brown (that is, “meaner than a junkyard dog” and who was “bad, Bad!”

fourteen years before Michael Jackson was “Bad”), experience suggests (and were a study conducted, empirical evidence, I believe, would support) that the people who work for the IRS are human, all too human.

The significance of this to a taxpayer in a jam is that if some IRS (or corresponding state taxing authority) staffer has been trying for months or years to collect a back tax debt, or just get the taxpayer to file one or more missing returns*, that salaried government employee just might develop an all-too-human negative impression of the taxpayer.

(*If you find a tax advisor who says you don’t have to file a return, hang on to your wallet, and run, don’t walk, to someone else!)

The Taxman’s Human? What’s the Downside?

Even if the taxpayer has one or one-hundred-and-one unassailable reasons to explain how it is that he or she wound up in this situation with IRS agents giving chase, and it all makes sense, the all-too-human IRS employee might form a decidedly negative impression which can affect how that employee might treat the taxpayer.

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Jobs Agency Owner Gets Temp Assignment (Some Call it a ‘Sentence’) to Federal Prison for Unpaid Employment Tax

A San Antonio, Texas, woman was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution to the IRS for her role in a fraudulent tax scheme.

In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Fred Biery ordered that Terrell Diamond be placed under supervised release for a period of three years after completing her prison term.

According to court records, Diamond, along with her now-ex-husband and co-defendant, William Diamond, conspired to defraud the IRS in the assessment and collection of more than $1.5 million in employment taxes due and owing from November 1996 to June 2003.

The employment taxes owed pertained to temporary employment agencies owned and operated by the Diamonds, including Ameriforce and Primo Labor.

Both Diamonds pleaded guilty to the same charge: one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS.

IRS Auditor Caught Faking Own Tax Return

A revenue agent with the Internal Revenue Service has agreed to plead guilty to a federal tax fraud charge for filing a personal income tax return that claimed he suffered a loss in a real estate transaction when in fact he realized a substantial profit. (“Revenue agent” is the official title for the people at the IRS who audit tax returns.)

In a plea agreement, Jim H. Liu, 43, of Diamond Bar, Calif., agreed to plead guilty to subscribing to a false tax return — a charge that carries a penalty of up to three years in federal prison.

‘My Gain is Your Loss’ Shenanigan Uncovered and Confessed

Liu admitted he filed a false tax return for the 2002 tax year that improperly claimed a loss on his sale of a property in Pomona. Liu sold the property for a profit of more than $48,000, but he instead claimed a loss of more than $4,200.

The tax loss to the government, as a result of Liu’s filing, was approximately $14,642.88.

Prosecutor: Marion Barry Owes $277,000 in Back Taxes

Can this guy keep try to keep out of trouble for even a minute or two?

Prosecutors allege Washington, D.C., Council member and former Mayor Marion Barry has failed to pay more $277,000 in back taxes.

In a recent court filing, prosecutors told the court the politician had not made a tax payment during a period in which he took a Jamaican vacation and ran for re-election to the Ward 8 council seat.

“There is no excuse for the defendant’s failure to make payments to the District of Columbia because, during this six-month period, the defendant nevertheless had enough time and money, for instance, to take a six-day vacation in Jamaica in Sept. 2008 as well as to run for re-election as a council member,” prosecutors told the court.

In 2006, Barry received three years of probation for not filing tax returns from 1999 to 2004.

Dentist’s Pyramid of Unpaid Payroll Taxes and Unfiled Returns Bring Indictment

If dentist Arlan R. Turley treated his teeth the way the Government alleges he’s treated his tax-filing obligations, he’d have cavities and one heck of a case of bloody, bad gums.

This 60-year-old Arizona man was indicted on two counts of willful failure to file a tax return and 20 counts of willful failure to pay over taxes. Turley operated the East Valley Dental Service in Mesa, Ariz.

The indictment alleges that the charges for failure to file are the result of Turley’s non-filing of his 2002 and 2003 income tax returns. In addition, Turley has not filed an individual tax return for a whole decade: 1997 to 2007.

The charges for failure to pay over taxes arise from Turley allegedly not turning over his employees’ payroll taxes to the government, again and again. (See http://lifelawandtaxes.com/not-just-for-bernie-madoff-or-king-tut-business-owners-build-devastating-pyramids-of-withholding-tax-debt-deducted-from-paychecks-but-not-sent-to-irs/ .)

If convicted, Turley faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.