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February 2015 Archives

No Expense Receipts for the IRS? Try a Song and Dance Routine.

Not only did song and dance playwright, George M. Cohan lead the way on Broadway, he also broke new ground with the IRS. Cohan who wrote Broadway hits like “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “Yankee Doodle Boy” paid for much of his travel and entertainment with cash and was bold enough to go up against the IRS when, back in the 1920’s they denied all his deductions.We all know how important it is to keep our receipts in case we ever get audited, especially travel and entertainment receipts the IRS already looks upon with suspicion. However, most people don’t know about or think about the Cohan case. But, thanks to good old George, even if you can’t find a receipt today, you’re not up the creek without a paddle. He took the IRS to court and eventually won.I am not advocating sloppy or careless recordkeeping, however there are times when critical receipts seem to vanish. Here’s the gist of the 1930 Appeals Court Cohan, which is to this day an exception to stringent IRS record keeping requirements. The Cohan Rule allows taxpayers to prove by “other credible evidence” they actually incurred deductible expenses.Unlike during Mr. Cohan’s time, we have digital trails of our expenses, though a cash trail is still impossible to follow. You may have to go to court even though the argument doesn’t always work there. If you’re unwilling, like George Cohan was, to take “no” for an answer, you might find that providing written statements and/or other supporting evidence could prove to be convincing to the IRS or an Appeals Court. In many cases even charitable contributions have been allowed under the Cohan Rule, though not in cases subject to special strict substantiation requirements.If you are afraid to take a deduction because you don’t have a receipt, remember the song and dance man and remind your lawyer of the Cohan Rule. And if you’re ever in New York City, stop by and pay him tribute. You’ll find a statue of the IRS and Broadway pioneer in Times Square.  

Tax Resolution Expert, Attorney Lance Drury Reveals IRS Is Sorry For Stealing Innocent Taxpayers’ Money.

Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” heralds the first public apology by the IRS regarding the Civil Assets Seizure program as good news though perhaps not so sincere.St Genevieve, MO, February 19, 2015:Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” posted a new article on the LANCE DRURY LAW website entitled “It’s Never Too Late for the IRS To Say “I’m Sorry.” But Do They Really Mean It?”  The Civil Assets Seizure Program is the topic of Mr. Drury’s recent article.Drury writes, “This story is music to my ears! Earlier this month, the IRS apologized for seizing the bank accounts of innocent, law-abiding citizens. Not only did they say, “I’m sorry”, they also said they were going to change their ways. That’s a first.”Drury reports, “The Associated Press published the article which stated, “Pressured by Congress, the IRS said Wednesday it is changing its policies and apologizing for seizing banks accounts from otherwise law-abiding business owners simply because they structured bank transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements.”(www.finance.yahoo.com/news/irs-apologizes-seizing-bank-accounts-172627143.html)The interesting thing about the above statement is that the IRS, while apologizing, is also alleging that the business owners whose accounts were seized were actually guilty of structuring their bank deposits in order to avoid paying taxes.”  “Fact is,” states Drury, “none of the people targeted by the Civil Assets Seizure program have been charged with a crime.” He goes on to add, “While it seems perfectly reasonable for the IRS to target anyone suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations or a history of tax evasion, it is highly unconstitutional to assume guilt and then not even give the person a chance to prove their innocence.”Drury draws on The Associated Press article which continues with, “IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress that the IRS is changing policies to prevent the seizures, as long as the money came from legal means. "To anyone who is not treated fairly under the code, I apologize," Koskinen told the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. "Taxpayers have to be comfortable that they will be treated fairly."Is it fair that the IRS doesn’t have to give notice before seizing the assets, nor do they have to prove that the person is actually guilty of anything? Apparently all the IRS has to do is to assume the account in question is ‘probably’ involved in structuring.According to Drury it’s “Doubtful that ex-marine and Georgia gun shop owner, Andrew Clyde felt he was treated fairly when the IRS seized just under a million dollars.”Drury relates that Clyde had just under one million dollars seized because as he related to the Associated Press, “Because of his insurance policy, Clyde said, he didn't like carrying more than $10,000 in cash between his store and the bank. As a result, Clyde said, he made 109 transactions between May 2012 and March 2013, totaling $940,313. A month later, he said he was visited by two IRS agents who accused him of structuring those deposits to avoid the reporting law. They said the account had been seized.” "I was never so afraid in my life," said Clyde," a former Marine who did three tours in Iraq. "I trembled when they left."As Drury says, “Law-abiding taxpayers are easy picking for the IRS. It’s time for change so that maybe someday taxpayers will be comfortable that they will be treated fairly.”The entire article can be found at http://www.lancedrurylaw.com/never-late-irs-say-im-sorry-really-mean/About Lance DruryTax Attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, has been practicing law since 1984 and began representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service in 2006.  With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, Drury has positioned himself as a leading attorney in the state for IRS tax resolution issues.  He is able to evaluate the unique situation of clients and provide them with honest answers and a specific plan to best resolve their tax problemsAbout The Lance Drury Law FirmSince 2006, the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury has been representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and State of Missouri Tax Commission. With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, we’re proud to be your local choice for Missouri tax services.###  

It’s Never Too Late for the IRS To Say “I’m Sorry.” But Do They Really Mean It?

This story is music to my ears! Earlier this month, the IRS apologized for seizing the bank accounts of innocent, law-abiding citizens. Not only did they say, “I’m sorry”, they also said they were going to change their ways. That’s a first.The Associated Press published the article which stated, “Pressured by Congress, the IRS said Wednesday it is changing its policies and apologizing for seizing banks accounts from otherwise law-abiding business owners simply because they structured bank transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements.”(www.finance.yahoo.com/news/irs-apologizes-seizing-bank-accounts-172627143.html)The interesting thing about the above statement is that the IRS, while apologizing, is also alleging that the business owners whose accounts were seized were actually guilty of structuring their bank deposits in order to avoid paying taxes. Fact is, none of the people targeted by the Civil Assets Seizure program have been charged with a crime. While it seems perfectly reasonable for the IRS to target anyone suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations or a history of tax evasion, it is highly unconstitutional to assume guilt and then not even give the person a chance to prove their innocence.The crime those who become targets of the IRS Civil Assets Seizure program are alleged to have committed is as the AP article states, “routinely making bank deposits of less than $10,000, that allowed the business owners to avoid reporting requirements designed to catch drug dealers and money launderers.”The Associated Press article continues with, “IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress that the IRS is changing policies to prevent the seizures, as long as the money came from legal means. "To anyone who is not treated fairly under the code, I apologize," Koskinen told the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. "Taxpayers have to be comfortable that they will be treated fairly."Is it fair that the IRS doesn’t have to give notice before seizing the assets, nor do they have to prove that the person is actually guilty of anything? Apparently all the IRS has to do is to assume the account in question is ‘probably’ involved in structuring.Doubtful that ex-marine and Georgia gun shop owner, Andrew Clyde felt he was treated fairly when the IRS seized just under a million dollars. This is his story as related by the AP.“Clyde said he didn't know about the reporting law when he got an insurance policy that only covered losses up to $10,000 if they happened outside his store in Athens.Clyde and three other business owners appeared before Roskam's subcommittee  to recount how the IRS had seized their bank accounts. Because of his insurance policy, Clyde said, he didn't like carrying more than $10,000 in cash between his store and the bank. As a result, Clyde said, he made 109 transactions between May 2012 and March 2013, totaling $940,313. A month later, he said he was visited by two IRS agents who accused him of structuring those deposits to avoid the reporting law. They said the account had been seized.” "I was never so afraid in my life," said Clyde," a former Marine who did three tours in Iraq. "I trembled when they left."In addition, the article reports, “Clyde said he was never accused of evading taxes or of illegally obtaining the money. Yet, he said, the IRS filed a civil complaint against him and made several offers to settle the case by forcing him to forfeit large portions of his money. In August, three days before the scheduled start of a civil trial initiated by the IRS, Clyde agreed to forfeit $50,000 in order to get the rest of his money back. Clyde said his legal bills totaled almost $150,000.”Law-abiding taxpayers are easy picking for the IRS. It’s time for change so that maybe someday taxpayers will be comfortable that they will be treated fairly.  

Tax Resolution Expert, Attorney Lance Drury Helps Taxpayers Turn the Tables on The IRS Tax Scammers.

Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” entreats readers to control their fear and expose IRS tax scammers instead of becoming their prey.St Genevieve, MO, February 9, 2015:Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” posted a new article on the LANCE DRURY LAW website entitled “Don’t Get Caught By The Dirty Rotten Scammers.”  When fear of the IRS can be controlled, tax scammers lose control is the message Mr. Drury delivers.Drury writes about what happens when most people think they’re in trouble with the IRS, saying, “Fear is the first emotion that comes up and that’s exactly what these scammers prey upon.”Becoming aware of the techniques scammers use is important, says Drury. He offers a list of tricks that have been used by scammers to fool taxpayers, saying, “Most important is to control your fear” despite the fact that they
  • Use common names and provide fake IRS badge numbers.
  • Know the last four digits of the victim's Social Security number.
  • Make it appear as if the IRS is really calling.
  • Send fake IRS emails to support their scam.
  • Call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV to support their claim.
Drury turns the reader’s attention to the IRS.gov website for more information writing, “Each year the IRS publishes the top twelve scams. (www.irs.gov) In the last few years the one that continues to top the list is the phone scam.”According to Drury, “When it comes to the phone, the only thing you need to remember, if you can keep your wits about you is that the IRS never initiates collecting a debt via telephone. If you can only remember this one thing, you’ll have the presence of mind to do one of three things: 1) Ask for a name and number and once you get that information tell them your lawyer will call them back; 2) hang up; or 3) simply tell them to bug off.As Drury continues, he warns, “The face-to-face scammer is particularly deceitful. They’ll tell you they can get huge returns. The ways in which they do this are illegal. By the time you’re expecting a big check, they’ve pocketed it and you’re left to face the IRS for illegal claims, back taxes owed and huge fines. So select your tax preparer very carefully. If they do not file electronically let that be the first and only red flag. Walk away. Even if that particular tax preparer comes by way of a friend’s recommendation, walk away.”The entire article can be found at http://www.lancedrurylaw.com/dont-get-caught-dirty-rotten-scammers/About Lance DruryTax Attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, has been practicing law since 1984 and began representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service in 2006.  With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, Drury has positioned himself as a leading attorney in the state for IRS tax resolution issues.  He is able to evaluate the unique situation of clients and provide them with honest answers and a specific plan to best resolve their tax problemsAbout The Lance Drury Law FirmSince 2006, the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury has been representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and State of Missouri Tax Commission. With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, we’re proud to be your local choice for Missouri tax services.###   

Tax Resolution Expert, Attorney Lance Drury Reports on IRS Budget Cuts That Don’t Bode Well for Taxpayers.

Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” writes about the burden imposed on do-it-yourself tax filers who have been used to the robust IRS customer service programs that no longer exist.St Genevieve, MO, February 9, 2015:Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” posted a new blog on the LANCE DRURY LAW website entitled “Budget Cuts at The IRS Spell Disaster for Many Taxpayers” just when Americans thought tax season couldn’t get any more stressful!Mr. Drury recognizes the fact that, “No one really loves to pay taxes, however most people buckle down this time of year, grit their teeth and do their duty as U.S. citizens.” He continues with, “Unfortunately, this most unpleasant duty is becoming more difficult in light of recent budget cuts at the IRS.”It’s never been mandatory for taxpayers to hire a service for filing their taxes. Drury confirms that writing,  In the past, the IRS has offered services to help Americans navigate the complicated tax codes. There were robust customer service programs that included telephone help as well as walk-in centers.” Now, though, he shares, “according to a recent MainStreet article, “Today the IRS refuses to answer any but the most basic questions on tax law. The agency has also discontinued all help for off-season requests leaving, for example, anyone who has to file quarterly estimated taxes (a relatively complicated process) on his own.”(www.mainstreet.com)Fear of making a mistake could change everything, as Drury elaborates, “Anyone who has previously filed his or her own taxes may become overwhelmed this year as a result of many changes to the tax code. Making sure taxes are filed on time and correctly is the taxpayer’s problem. So, those who have not paid to have their taxes prepared in the past may now be forced into paying to have their taxes done just to avoid any fees, interest and penalties that could result from making a mistake.”According to Drury, “Budget cuts just don’t cut it for the IRS or for the American taxpayer.”The entire blog can be found at http://www.lancedrurylaw.com/budget-cuts-irs-spell-disaster-many-taxpayers/About Lance DruryTax Attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, has been practicing law since 1984 and began representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service in 2006.  With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, Drury has positioned himself as a leading attorney in the state for IRS tax resolution issues.  He is able to evaluate the unique situation of clients and provide them with honest answers and a specific plan to best resolve their tax problemsAbout The Lance Drury Law FirmSince 2006, the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury has been representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and State of Missouri Tax Commission. With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, we’re proud to be your local choice for Missouri tax services###

Tax Resolution Expert, Attorney Lance Drury Reports on The End of Civil Asset Forfeiture Program.

Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” elaborates on the ending of a program that started with good intentions and turned into an evil force corrupting law enforcement at local, state and federal levels.St Genevieve, MO, February 9, 2015:Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” posted a new article on the LANCE DRURY LAW website entitled “The Time Has Come to Bring Civil Asset Forfeiture Program to an End.”  Few issues in Washington unite people these days, with one exception: The Civil Asset Forfeiture Program.Mr Drury writes, “ As more Americans are becoming aware of the controversial and, frankly criminal program that has caused the ruin of small businesses and damaged the lives of thousands of innocent people, Civil asset forfeiture has, according to a recent Washington Post article “become one of the few public policy and social issues that united activists and lawmakers across the political spectrum, some of whom dubbed the system ‘policing for profit.’”According to Drury, “Attorney General Holder finally barred local and state police from using federal law to make any further seizures without proving that a crime occurred.”Drury shares that the program began more than 3 decades ago as part of the war on drugs. He highlights statistics from the Post article reporting that, “Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing.”Sadly, as Drury explains, “Most people are unaware of the program unless they have been innocently or otherwise targeted.” He continues, “As the Post article makes clear, “Civil asset forfeiture is one of the most powerful — and unusual — law enforcement tools. Police do not need evidence of a crime to use it, because it is a civil action against an object, such as currency or a car, rather than a person.”An instance of the law being misused, as Drury shares, “An example cited in the article is of Mandrel Stuart, who according to the Post “was stopped in 2012 by Fairfax County, Virginia, police, detained without charges, handcuffed and stripped of $17,550 in cash that was to be used for equipment and supplies for his barbecue restaurant in Staunton, Virginia. He eventually hired a lawyer, and a jury gave him his money back in 2013. But he lost his restaurant while fighting the government, because he had no working capital.”Drury goes on to say, “With so many innocent people, many who have been people of color and immigrants being targeted as a result of this program, it is clearly time for change.” He continues, “This random act of illegal search and seizure, while started with good intentions, has turned the IRS, local and federal police into criminals all in the “name of justice.” There simply is no justification for stealing from innocent people.  And while the end has come, it clearly has not come a moment too soon.The entire article can be found at http://www.lancedrurylaw.com/time-come-bring-civil-asset-forfeiture-program-end/About  Lance DruryTax Attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, has been practicing law since 1984 and began representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service in 2006.  With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, Drury has positioned himself as a leading attorney in the state for IRS tax resolution issues.  He is able to evaluate the unique situation of clients and provide them with honest answers and a specific plan to best resolve their tax problemsAbout The Lance Drury Law FirmSince 2006, the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury has been representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and State of Missouri Tax Commission. With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, we’re proud to be your local choice for Missouri tax services.###  

Tax Resolution Expert, Attorney Lance Drury Warns That IRS Tax Scams are At Epidemic Proportions.

Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” issues warnings that can help prevent becoming a victim of the tax fraud scams that are popping up coast to coast.St Genevieve, MO, February 9, 2015:Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” posted a new blog on the LANCE DRURY LAW website entitled “Don’t Be a Victim.  IRS Tax Frauds are Out To Scam-a-Lot in 2015.” Forewarned is forearmed and according to Mr. Drury every tax payer needs to be aware of the massive scale tax scams already at an all time high.Drury issues warning number one, writing, “The IRS does not initiate contact with individuals by calling. They always send a formal letter on IRS stationary when contacting anyone regarding unpaid taxes.” He advises, “So, if anyone calls you claiming to be the IRS, ask for a telephone number. Tell them you’ll call them back. Better yet, tell them you’ll have your attorney call them back.”Most people don’t think straight in dealings with the IRS, so as Drury writes, “Warning number two: the IRS does not threaten, intimidate, nor do they use aggressive language.” As a society we are so accustomed to thinking of the IRS as the bad guy that it’s easy to use fear to intimidate. However, Drury adds, “ I get calls every week from clients and prospective clients saying that the IRS has called them threatening arrest, seizure of assets and worse. Do not be afraid of these callers no matter how threatening they sound.”Drury’s third warning is “The IRS does not contact you through email asking for personal information. If you receive an email regarding your tax refund, do not reply, open any attachments or click any links.” And, while warning number four may seem unlikely, it is, according to Drury true. “Tax return preparers. Most preparers file honest tax returns”, Drury reports, “However there are a few red flags to beware of, such as preparers who don’t offer electronic filing, who offer to file your return without a W-2 form, or who don’t sign your return or enter their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs).”Warning number four: Tax return preparers. Most preparers file honest tax returns. However there are a few red flags to beware of, such as preparers who don’t offer electronic filing, who offer to file your return without a W-2 form, or who don’t sign your return or enter their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs).The entire blog can be found at http://www.lancedrurylaw.com/dont-victim-irs-tax-frauds-scam-lot-2015/About Lance DruryTax Attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, has been practicing law since 1984 and began representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service in 2006.  With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, Drury has positioned himself as a leading attorney in the state for IRS tax resolution issues.  He is able to evaluate the unique situation of clients and provide them with honest answers and a specific plan to best resolve their tax problems About The Lance Drury Law FirmSince 2006, the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury has been representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and State of Missouri Tax Commission. With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, we’re proud to be your local choice for Missouri tax services.###   

Tax Resolution Expert, Attorney Lance Drury Provides Update on IRS Civil Asset Forfeiture Program.

Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” talks about the first win against the IRS for targeting innocent U.S. citizens in its civil asset forfeiture program.St Genevieve, MO, February 4, 2015: Tax resolution attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, and best selling author of “Successonomics” posted a new blog on the LANCE DRURY LAW website entitled “A Reversal of Fortune for The IRS Civil Asset Forfeiture Program.” Providing hope for anyone who has ever been or may be the target of this program, Drury cites a milestone case saying, “The case has sparked political action.  Civil forfeiture has also become an issue in the confirmation of the nominee for U.S. Attorney General.”Drury brings his readers up to speed with a brief review of the Civil Asset Forfeiture program, writing that it “allows the IRS to monitor and seize the assets of small businesses and individuals without ever having to prove they were in any way involved in criminal activity. Initially originated as a way to target alleged terrorists and tax evaders, the IRS decided to target anyone who makes a series of small deposits in a relatively short period of time that adds up to $10,000 or more.”The case, reported in Accounting Today, marks the first time the IRS has been forced to return assets. Drury quotes the article, “Federal prosecutors have agreed to return nearly $447,000 to a small business whose assets had been seized by the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department agents as part of the controversial civil forfeiture program.” (www.accountingtoday.com/news/legal-watch/prosecutors-return-447000-in-irs-civil-asset-forfeiture-case-73379)Drury adds, “If you have been an innocent target of the IRS Civil Asset Forfeiture Program, get help from the most experienced tax attorney you can find. The precedent has been set. All is not lost.”The entire blog can be found at http://www.lancedrurylaw.com/reversal-fortune-irs-civil-asset-forfeiture-program/About Lance DruryTax Attorney Lance Drury, founder of the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury, has been practicing law since 1984 and began representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service in 2006.  With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, Drury has positioned himself as a leading attorney in the state for IRS tax resolution issues.  He is able to evaluate the unique situation of clients and provide them with honest answers and a specific plan to best resolve their tax problemsAbout The Lance Drury Law FirmSince 2006, the Law Firm of Lance R. Drury has been representing individuals and businesses in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and State of Missouri Tax Commission. With offices located in Ste. Genevieve and Columbia, Missouri, we’re proud to be your local choice for Missouri tax services.###  

Budget Cuts at The IRS Spell Disaster for Many Taxpayers.

No one really loves to pay taxes, however most people buckle down this time of year, grit their teeth and do their duty as U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, this most unpleasant duty is becoming more difficult in light of recent budget cuts at the IRS.In the past, the IRS has offered services to help Americans navigate the complicated tax codes. There were robust customer service programs that included telephone help as well as walk-in centers.Now, according to a recent MainStreet article, “Today the IRS refuses to answer any but the most basic questions on tax law. The agency has also discontinued all help for off-season requests leaving, for example, anyone who has to file quarterly estimated taxes (a relatively complicated process) on his own. (www.mainstreet.com)Anyone who has previously filed his or her own taxes may become overwhelmed this year as a result of many changes to the tax code. Making sure taxes are filed on time and correctly is the taxpayer’s problem. So, those who have not paid to have their taxes prepared in the past may now be forced into paying to have their taxes done just to avoid any fees, interest and penalties that could result from making a mistake. This also sets the stage for unscrupulous tax preparers to take advantage of those who think someone else can get them bigger returns. (See last month’s blog on tax scammers.) It may also lead to more people just throwing up their hands in frustration and not filing at all. What will an already understaffed IRS do? How many taxpayers will go unnoticed for how long?And, heaven forbid if they get found. The fees, penalties and interest could be staggering. Budget cuts just don’t cut it for the IRS or for the American taxpayer.

Don’t Get Caught By The Dirty Rotten Scammers

Tax Season is in full swing. So are the tax scam artists. The last thing in the world any taxpayer needs is to become the prey of these dirty rotten scammers. Once caught up in their web a whole world of chaos unfolds. And the only one who gets hurt is you. The scammer is off to another victim before you know what has happened.Each year the IRS publishes the top twelve scams. (www.irs.gov) In the last few years the one that continues to top the list is the phone scam. Here’s how it plays out. Someone calls pretending to be an IRS representative. If you answer the phone, you immediately pay attention because they say they are from the IRS. Fear is the first emotion that comes up and that’s exactly what these scammers prey upon.They Count on FearMost important is to control your fear. Here are a few techniques the dirty rotten scammers use to fool the unsuspecting victims.
  • Use common names and provide fake IRS badge numbers.
  • Know the last four digits of the victim's Social Security number.
  • Make it appear as if the IRS is really calling.
  • Send fake IRS emails to support their scam.
  • Call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV to support their claim.
When it comes to the phone, the only thing you need to remember, if you can keep your wits about you is that the IRS never initiates collecting a debt via telephone. If you can only remember this one thing, you’ll have the presence of mind to do one of three things: 1) Ask for a name and number and once you get that information tell them your lawyer will call them back; 2) hang up; or 3) simply tell them to bug off.Don’t be surprised if the person on the phone seems to know things about you. They troll social media sites and get bits and pieces of information, just enough to fool someone who is scared.Phishing for Personal InformationFrom phishing to phony emails, from fake charities to false claims of zero income, from gaining your trust as a reputable tax preparer to setting up illegal trusts, today’s tax scammers are sophisticated and devious. They come at you from every angle, the phone, computer and in person.The face-to-face scammer is particularly deceitful. They’ll tell you they can get huge returns. The ways in which they do this are illegal. By the time you’re expecting a big check, they’ve pocketed it and you’re left to face the IRS for illegal claims, back taxes owed and huge fines. So select your tax preparer very carefully. If they do not file electronically let that be the first and only red flag. Walk away. Even if that particular tax preparer comes by way of a friend’s recommendation, walk away. There are more honest preparers than dishonest ones. Don’t fall for promises of huge returns. You could end up in hot water.Steer clear of tax scammers, file your taxes, work with a reputable tax preparer or attorney and you’ll never have to fear the IRS.  

Don’t Be a Victim. IRS Tax Frauds are Out To Scam-a-Lot in 2015.

Warning number one: The IRS does not initiate contact with individuals by calling. They always send a formal letter on IRS stationary when contacting anyone regarding unpaid taxes.So, if anyone calls you claiming to be the IRS, ask for a telephone number. Tell them you’ll call them back. Better yet, tell them you’ll have your attorney call them back.Warning number two: the IRS does not threaten, intimidate, nor do they use aggressive language.IRS tax scams are reaching epidemic proportions. I get calls every week from clients and prospective clients saying that the IRS has called them threatening arrest, seizure of assets and worse. Do not be afraid of these callers no matter how threatening they sound.Warning number three: The IRS does not contact you through email asking for personal information. If you receive an email regarding your tax refund, do not reply, open any attachments or click any links.Warning number four: Tax return preparers. Most preparers file honest tax returns. However there are a few red flags to beware of, such as preparers who don’t offer electronic filing, who offer to file your return without a W-2 form, or who don’t sign your return or enter their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs).Always protect your personal information. Do not give anyone who calls or emails you saying they are from the IRS your social security number, bank account numbers or any other personal information.Report any suspicious calls or emails that appear to be tax scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. 

The Time Has Come to Bring Civil Asset Forfeiture Program to an End.

As more Americans are becoming aware of the controversial and, frankly criminal program that has caused the ruin of small businesses and damaged the lives of thousands of innocent people, Civil asset forfeiture has, according to a recent Washington Post article “become one of the few public policy and social issues that united activists and lawmakers across the political spectrum, some of whom dubbed the system ‘policing for profit.’”The program which includes monitoring bank deposits began more than 30 years ago as part of the war on drugs. The Post article reports that, “Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing.” They are entitled to make these seizures “without proving that a crime occurred”, as stated by Attorney General Holder who finally, last Friday, barred local and state police from using federal law to make any further seizures without proving that a crime occurred.Most people are unaware of the program unless they have been innocently or otherwise targeted.  As the Post article makes clear, “Civil asset forfeiture is one of the most powerful — and unusual — law enforcement tools. Police do not need evidence of a crime to use it, because it is a civil action against an object, such as currency or a car, rather than a person.”An example cited in the article is of Mandrel Stuart, who according to the Post “was stopped in 2012 by Fairfax County, Virginia, police, detained without charges, handcuffed and stripped of $17,550 in cash that was to be used for equipment and supplies for his barbecue restaurant in Staunton, Virginia. He eventually hired a lawyer, and a jury gave him his money back in 2013. But he lost his restaurant while fighting the government, because he had no working capital.”With so many innocent people, many who have been people of color and immigrants being targeted as a result of this program, it is clearly time for change. The inspiration perhaps for John Yoder and Brad Cates, two directors of the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture office under President Ronald Reagan, saying the program should end.  According to the Post, they said “the program began with good intentions to fight the “profit motive” that fueled drug cartels and other criminals. Over time, however, the tactic has turned into an evil itself, with the corruption it engendered among government and law enforcement coming to clearly outweigh any benefits.”It is the only law that is the antithesis of our justice system. In civil asset forfeiture, the “victim” is considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent. And as the Post reports, “As a consequence, protections common in criminal law do not apply. In fact, owners who want to recover their cash or property must show it is theirs and demonstrate it is not tied to crime.”This random act of illegal search and seizure, while started with good intentions, has turned the IRS, local and federal police into criminals all in the “name of justice.” There simply is no justification for stealing from innocent people. And while the end has come, it clearly has not come a moment too soon.   

A Reversal of Fortune for The IRS Civil Asset Forfeiture Program.

In a recent article, I wrote about the highly controversial Civil Asset Forfeiture program, which allows the IRS to monitor and seize the assets of small businesses and individuals without ever having to prove they were in any way involved in criminal activity. Initially originated as a way to target alleged terrorists and tax evaders, the IRS decided to target anyone who makes a series of small deposits in a relatively short period of time that adds up to $10,000 or more.All financial institutions in the U.S. are required by law to fill out forms and submit them to the IRS alerting them to this type of activity. Once the assets are seized, it is up to the account holder to prove their innocence. Even when they do prove they are innocent of any wrong doing, the IRS does not return the seized assets.However, in a recent case, as reported in Accounting Today, “Federal prosecutors have agreed to return nearly $447,000 to a small business whose assets had been seized by the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department agents as part of the controversial civil forfeiture program.” (www.accountingtoday.com/news/legal-watch/prosecutors-return-447000-in-irs-civil-asset-forfeiture-case-73379)This landmark action is good news for anyone who has ever been or will be the target of the civil forfeiture program. The case has sparked political action. According to the Accounting Today article, “ Two high-ranking members on the House Ways and Means Committee, former chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., recently filed bipartisan legislation to curb civil forfeiture abuses similar to the Hirsches’ case (see Congressmen Introduce Bill to Curb IRS Civil Asset Forfeitures). Civil forfeiture has also become an issue in the confirmation of the nominee for U.S. Attorney General.”If you have been an innocent target of the IRS Civil Asset Forfeiture Program, get help from the most experienced tax attorney you can find. The precedent has been set. All is not lost. 

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