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Look for the IRS to get more aggressive

irslogo021710_optBY JIM KOURI, CPP

Most taxpayers have finished filing their 2009 returns ... but watch out.

One tax resolution attorney has a warning: Today's IRS is nastier than ever.

The Internal Revenue Service will be more aggressive in collecting back taxes and prosecuting Americans accused of tax evasion, according to the new Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner.

The Internal Revenue Service, one of the Treasury Department's agencies, claims that billions of dollars in income tax assessments were not paid by Americans. If not collected, annual unpaid taxes keep accumulating each year along with penalty and interest charges to create an inventory of "tax debts," which approached $300 billion at the end of the fiscal year.

IRS has a complex process to collect unpaid tax debts by contacting taxpayers through notices, telephone calls, and in person. Because IRS has a very large debt workload and limited resources spread across multiple units, it must make numerous decisions about how best to handle debt cases. The complexity also arises because debt cases can take various routes based on about 70 IRS decision rules used for handling cases.

"A total of $332 million would be devoted to new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) enforcement efforts, including $128.1 million to add nearly 800 new IRS employees to combat... tax evasion and improve compliance with tax laws by businesses and high-income individuals," said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, himself an accused tax evader.

"Those of us who fight the IRS every day know this is true. The US Treasury is desperate for cash and the IRS has been told to get tougher in collecting old debts," says Anthony E. Parent, founder of IRS Medic, Wallingford, CT.

The IRS has hired many new and forceful Revenue Officers who will come to people's home, businesses or even to a Rotary Club meeting to find suspected delinquent tax payers. "These Revenue Officers tend to be overly aggressive because they think that this will impress their superiors and get them promoted," he cautions.

For the first time, taxpayers' primary residences are up for grabs by the IRS. "The IRS is now willing to seize a taxpayer's primary residence if they feel there is enough equity to satisfy the tax obligation. They can be convinced to back off if you offer a reasonable collection alternative. It's not easy, but it's possible," says Atty. Parent.

In the past, the IRS would not seize retirement accounts, but that too has changed. "The IRS is getting bolder," says Atty. Parent. "They can and will wipe out a taxpayer's entire retirement savings if they feel they can collect enough money. There are legitimate ways to prevent this, but you need to know what you're doing."

The moral is anyone owing money to the IRS needs to be proactive and not wait for the IRS to come to them.

"We've had clients who came to us after the IRS has pursued them. That makes helping them a lot harder. If someone comes to us early in the game, we have more options. Don't ignore the IRS. They have to send you a certified letter before they levy or seize your property, but people refuse to pick up those letters. And when the IRS takes aggressive action against them — like wiping out a bank account or levying wages — they were surprised. You do not want to be surprised by the IRS. It won't be pleasant and the longer you wait, the more shocking it will be," he said.

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

 

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