If you owe the taxes but are unable to pay, Howard can assist you with simple or sophisticated plans for resolving your tax debts. Whether the answer is a simple installment agreement, or an offer in compromise, bankruptcy, or an innocent spouse claim, Howard can help you resolve your tax debts and get you back on your feet.
Dealing with tax collection employees on your own can be a frightening experience. Because of the nature of their job, tax collection employees are often people with strong personalities who are trained to use the federal tax collection laws to collect the government's money. They can easily run roughshod over a taxpayer who does not know or understand his or her rights.
As a former IRS attorney with over 18 years' experience, Howard knows what the IRS can and cannot do. Howard has had great success resolving difficult tax collection cases favorably for a wide range of clients, including doctors, lawyers, business owners and wage earners.
Wage and Bank Garnishments
The IRS is permitted to garnish your wages and bank accounts until the amount you owe has been fully paid. Losing your wages, or having your bank account cleared out, presents a hardship to you that requires immediate resolution.
Howard treats these cases as high priority. He has more than 18 years' experience in negotiating garnishment releases from the IRS.
Once Howard is brought into your case, he act swiftly to secure the necessary financial information from you to negotiate a release from the IRS. In most cases, we can successfully get a wage garnishment released before your next paycheck is issued. In most cases, your bank account will be restored if the garnishment is released within 20-days after it was processed by your bank.
Howard Levy has successfully filed bankruptcies that have eliminated taxes for a wide range of clients, including doctors, lawyers, business owners and wage earners. Howard is known for his specialized knowledge of the tax aspects of bankruptcy law.
For our clients who cannot afford to pay the IRS, Howard often suggests a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In most Chapter 7 cases you will pay nothing back to the IRS, be able to keep all of your property, and eliminate your income tax liability.
For clients who might be able to make payments to the IRS, Howard often suggests that they elect to make your payments through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy law stops the accrual of interest and penalties, so your payments make more of a difference toward principal in most situations. Using bankruptcy law to make your payments can also result in you repaying substantially less than the full amount of what you owe, sometimes as little as 5% or less.
Offer in Compromise
An offer in compromise is a settlement with the government to reduce the amount you will have to repay on your tax debt. If the IRS accepts your offer, you will usually be allowed up to 2 years to pay to the amount of the settlement, interest free.
Knowing the rules and the extent of the IRS's flexibility on determining asset and cash flow value is crucial to obtaining the best possible result. Howard will work with you to present your financial information in the best possible light, and to thus increase the chances of successfully compromising your tax debts.
All tax liens filed against you will also be released after the amount agreed on is paid.
At the initial audit stage, it is likely that only the civil side of the IRS is involved, not the criminal. You will probably be asked by the IRS to provide documentation about your expense deductions. The IRS will often seek to review your bank statements or lifestyle habits for signs of unreported income.
Howard takes great care to identify sensitive areas for the audit. Some audits require very delicate handling, balancing straight answers to IRS inquiries with strong legal defenses. It is important to recognize and diffuse an audit issue that could result in the IRS expanding a one-year investigation into multiple years.
As a former trial attorney for the IRS in their Office of Chief Counsel, Howard Levy understands the subtle motives that sometimes dictate the behavior of IRS investigators in audits.
Tax Court Litigation
In cases where litigation cannot be avoided, Howard Levy is experienced and able to represent you in court against the IRS.
Howard gained his experience as a tax litigation attorney for the IRS Office of Chief Counsel. In private practice, Howard has represented tax clients ranging from business owners to wage earners in US Tax Court, US Bankruptcy Court and US District Court.
Tax controversies that Howard litigates include audit disputes, collection cases, innocent spouse claims, trust fund penalty assessments, refund claims and wrongful levy actions. We know when it makes sense to continue to exhaust IRS administrative options, or move a case into court.
If the IRS is holding you responsible for a tax liability that your spouse caused, it may be possible to prepare an innocent spouse claim on your behalf so that the entire liability is not your burden.
Howard Levys experience includes having worked for the IRS as a trial attorney. Howard puts his experience to work when presenting your innocent spouse claim to the IRS.
Factors Howard analyzes include whether you are divorced or separated from your spouse; any history of abuse experienced during the marriage; whether or not you knew or should have known that taxes would be owed; and whether forcing you to pay the taxes would cause a financial hardship. The filing of the innocent spouse claim will also cause the IRS to cease their collection activity against you until the claim is resolved.
Trust Fund Recovery Penalty
Small business owners have personal liability to the IRS for employment taxes that are not paid by the business. Owners may find themselves and their employees under investigation for repayment of these taxes.
The IRS takes unpaid withholding taxes very seriously, and is very aggressive in pursuit of recovering these taxes when they are not paid. The IRS will seek payment of these taxes from corporate officers, directors, stockholders and management level employees. Aggressive IRS officers will also seek to pursue bookkeepers or clerical staff of the company, particularly if they had authority to sign checks.
Howard develops three levels of legal defense in these cases. He focuses on the amount of responsibility and control you had over the companys finances, the willfulness of your actions, and whether the IRS can ultimately collect the liability from you. Howard is experienced in handling these cases for business owners, and can vigorously defend you and your business against the fallout from unpaid employment taxes.
Federal Tax Liens
Many times clients often find themselves needing to sell or refinance their house, or obtain a business loan, but unable to do so because the IRS has filed a tax lien against their property. These liens are also a mark on credit reports. Howard treats these cases as a high priority due to the deadlines associated with the real estate transactions that are at stake.
Howard has helped many clients secure the necessary releases from the IRS so they can close their sale or financing transaction, including IRS certificates that extinguish the lien, removes the lien from a specific property or moves the lien to a lower priority on the property.
Failing to file returns when required to do so can result in the IRS beginning its collections process against you (e.g., levy against your wages, bank account and other assets). It can also result in a criminal offense.
Howard has advised a wide range of clients, from business owners to wage earners, on becoming compliant with IRS filing requirements. Most non-filers qualify for the IRS Voluntary Disclosure filing program designed to bring non-filers back into the system without threat of criminal investigation.
After compliance is secured, some of Howard's clients receive refunds once their returns are filed and accepted by the IRS. We assist others in addressing balance-due returns with remedies such as installment payments, offers in compromise or bankruptcy.
Statute of Limitations
Statute of limitations is legal jargon for how long the IRS has to take an action against you (yes, there are limits!). The end date for IRS collection issues is 10 years, after which they will clear your account balance to zero.
Many of Howard's clients contact him after having owed the IRS for 7, 8 or 9 years, often unaware their problem is nearly over. We guide them to be careful not to take action that could give the IRS more time to collect, such as the submission of an offer in compromise, and how to properly approach the remaining time that is left.
Federal tax liens will also become unenforceable against your property after the 10-year statute of limitations is over.
If you owe under $25,000, we recommend negotiating an installment agreement with the IRS that will allow you to repay the debt over five years. The IRS does not require any financial disclosure in these cases, and the amount you will pay will be based on the amount you owe.
If you owe over $25,000, the amount of your monthly payment will be based more on your ability to pay than on the amount you owe. In these cases, the continual accrual of interest and penalties makes success difficult.
We often recommend that you make your payments through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which can stop the interest and penalties, and provide discounts on the amount of tax that must be repaid. It can provide substantial savings as compared to paying the IRS direct. Your payments make a difference.