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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Lies and the Lying Liars in the Tax Business (with apologies to Al Franken)

I have the good fortune of having professional friends and colleagues around the country who have law practices or accounting practices which specialize in defending taxpayers whom the IRS claims owe back taxes.

And so, when some thorny issue comes up I might talk to a brother or sister tax pro in Florida or Texas or New Hampshire or Washington State or a smattering of other places around the country, in both red and blue states.

Recently, I was working on a tricky issue relating the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (to the uninitiated, this weird string of four words refers to one aspect of tax law that properly strikes fear into the hearts of business owners with employees everywhere or, if it doesn’t, either it should or the business owner has already dealt with the issue and taken steps to avoid or solve this problem; see, for example, 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/).

After brainstorming a bit on strategy for my Trust Fund Issue, my colleague and I started talking about life, the world, and business, generally.

She complained bitterly (and hilariously) about our still-new president Obama (I couldn’t disagree with her more on this, yet we still are able to find common ground elsewhere and get along just fine – like the Jets and the Sharks go bowling together).

Then, to my surprise, she told me that she is doing less and less tax work.

Honest Analysis Loses Out to Empty Promises

Her explanation: We can’t compete with these tax resolution companies who promise the sun, moon and stars in their advertising and then have telephone sales people who don’t know anything about the tax rules and say whatever the taxpayers want to hear.

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