JK Harris Goes Out of Business

Back in October, the largest tax resolution company in America, JK Harris, filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which would have allowed them to continue operating and restructure their debts under a payment plan.

However, their largest creditor, which appears to have had a claim against the company exceeding $11 million, has decided not to allow them to restructure the debt, and has instead seized all the companies cash and assets in a liquidation of the company.

This means that, within the past 15 months or so, the 3 largest tax resolution firms in the United States have gone out of business, either by bankruptcy or government action. A little over a year ago, American Tax Relief in Los Angeles was shut down by the FTC, and the owners are facing numerous criminal charges. In early 2011, Roni Deutch was shut down by the California Attorney General, and Roni herself was forced to turn in her law licensed and faced state perjury charges.

JK Harris has been the target of several class action lawsuits regarding their sales practices and poor customer service. They have also been investigated by the Attorneys General for several states.

If the closing of JK Harris has left you in a bad place regarding your tax matters, please contact a local taxpayer representation firm from our directory.

Conducting Research Before Hiring a Tax Resolution Firm

When it comes to something as important as resolving your tax liabilities, it is important to conduct research on the tax resolution firm(s) you are considering before agreeing to purchase their services.

What sort of things should somebody do as part of conducting their “due diligence”?

First of all, visit the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.com and look for any complaints or outstanding issues that they have with clients.

Second, you may actually want to turn to an unlikely source for information on certain companies: Your IRS Revenue Officer. Revenue Officers will not provide an unbiased opinion, of course, and many of them will even tell you not to secure representation (which is a violation of IRS policies for them to say, but they still do it). However, your RO has probably worked with most of the large, national tax resolution firms and can give you their personal opinion on the firm if you ask.

Third, before signing a contract for taxpayer representation, be sure to confirm that the firm that will provide your representation will assign your case to a licensed representative. You should be guaranteed that your representative is a licensed attorney, licensed Certified Public Accountant, or a licensed Enrolled Agent, before you sign any contract. The IRS will not allow non-licensed representatives to negotiate for a taxpayer, but you would be surprised at how often large firms have unlicensed assistants doing the actual IRS negotiation.

Fourth, be … Read the rest

IRS Tax Resolution Through An Installment Agreement

The IRS allows taxpayers to resolve their outstanding tax debt via a payment plan, which they call an “Installment Agreement”. Most of these plans have a set monthly payment, but they can also be adjusted based on your seasonal cash flow, and they also permit tiered agreements that call for occasional increases in the monthly payment amounts.

Some taxpayers may qualify for special installment agreements that require little or no financial documentation, similar to a no-doc or low-doc mortgage.

In rare circumstances, based entirely on your financial situation, you may even qualify for an Installment Agreement in which you never fully pay off the back tax liability, called a “Partial Pay Installment Agreement” (PPIA).

As part of negotiating your installment agreement, a comprehensive financial analysis of your business or personal finances will be required. The kind of information we will need to review, as mentioned above, is very similar to what would be required for a loan application. For businesses, this information includes all of the standard business accounting information, such as:

  • balance sheets
  • bank statements
  • profit and loss statements
  • accounts receivable aging reports
  • asset lists & depreciation schedules

At first, many clients are apprehensive about providing this detailed financial information to a tax consultant. However, this information is necessary to perform a proper financial analysis and properly negotiate your tax resolution.

If your financial situation is such that you can legitimately only pay a a minimal amount, the IRS … Read the rest

Do I Need To Include My Wife’s Income In My Offer in Compromise?

Earlier this week, a reader inquired about whether or not he was required to include his spouse’s income when filing his Offer in Compromise. The reason it was in question is because they maintain completely separate financial lives. They file separate tax returns, have separate bank accounts, and don’t even title anything jointly.

Before you question why somebody would do something like that, there are actually numerous reasons for doing so, especially in regards to various aspects of state law. There are also business and asset protection reasons for keeping things separate. For example, if one spouse owns a business or is involved in a profession or activity with a high degree of litigation, then keeping different financial houses can be a good idea.

Here’s the answer to the question: Believe it or not, even if only one person owes the tax liability, the income (and allowable expenses) of everybody in a household must be taken into consideration in the Offer in Compromise application process. This applies to everybody living in the home — even people just renting a room from you.

Now of course, your representative will work to get the non-responsible party’s income and expenses taken off the reporting requirements. Under the tax code, the only person responsible for an IRS tax debt is the person against whom it is assessed, and nobody else.

If you need help with your Offer in Compromise, search our directory to find … Read the rest

Evaluating Your Tax Debt Resolution Options

When it comes to resolving your tax debt, you have a number of possible routes you could take. In this article, I’ll go into some of the pros and cons of each option so that you have the information you need to make the best decision for yourself.

Do It Yourself Tax Resolution

Probably the route most people take, doing it yourself seems like the obvious or only choice for most people and small businesses. Simple tax debt problems that only cover a year or two, especially cases where the tax debt is under $10,000 (or under $50,000 if it’s only income taxes) are fairly easy to resolve with only a few phone calls (one phone call, in some cases).

If you can follow written instructions, are good with forms and paperwork, and have your personal financial paperwork in good order, then representing yourself is neither difficult nor time consuming. You need to be able to read and understand IRS notices and publications and forms, and keep good financial records for yourself.

Here’s a quick test: If you file your own tax return every year and have no problem doing so, then you can probably represent yourself if you have an income tax issue. If you struggle with doing your tax return, even if you use step-by-step software, then you might want to consider getting help with the situation, as well as if you have tax debts other than personal … Read the rest

Evaluating Your Tax Debt Relief Options

When it comes to resolving your tax debt, you have a number of possible routes you could take. In this article, I’ll go into some of the pros and cons of each option so that you have the information you need to make the best decision for yourself.

Do It Yourself Tax Resolution

Probably the route most people take, doing it yourself seems like the obvious or only choice for most people and small businesses. Simple tax debt problems that only cover a year or two, especially cases where the tax debt is under $10,000 (or under $50,000 if it’s only income taxes) are fairly easy to resolve with only a few phone calls (one phone call, in some cases).

If you can follow written instructions, are good with forms and paperwork, and have your personal financial paperwork in good order, then representing yourself is neither difficult nor time consuming. You need to be able to read and understand IRS notices and publications and forms, and keep good financial records for yourself.

Here’s a quick test: If you file your own tax return every year and have no problem doing so, then you can probably represent yourself. If you struggle with doing your tax return, even if you use step-by-step software, then you might want to consider getting help with the situation. If you have tax debts other than personal income tax liabilities, you should also hire a licensed tax … Read the rest

Unfiled Tax Returns

Do you have past due tax returns? If so, you’re not alone. While the IRS does not publish statistics on this, nor are they really able to track this number, but my own research and statistical analysis (because I’m a numbers geek and do stuff like that), estimates that there are between 5 and 8 million outstanding personal income tax returns in the United States for the past three years alone.

If you owe a tax debt to the government and are seeking to get that situation resolved, you will first need to file any missing returns. The IRS will NOT negotiate a payment plan or a reduced settlement if you have past due tax returns. The reason for this is pretty simple: If you don’t file the returns, they don’t know how much you really owe.

While any tax preparer, CPA, or Enrolled Agent can probably assist you with filing your past due tax returns, it is important to note that many of these tax preparers focus their practices solely on current year tax return filings. Since the tax laws change literally every year, it’s a daunting task just to keep up with the tax code for the current year, so many tax preparers don’t bother trying to keep up with prior year tax matters.

A firm that specializes in taxpayer representation, on the other hand, often does exactly the opposite. Many of these firms don’t even offer current … Read the rest

IRS Penalty Abatement Reasonable Cause Criteria

One of the most common questions we are asked has to do with the reduction of interest and penalties on IRS accounts. Any reader of this blog knows that I am adamant about correcting the myths, lies, and half-truths perpetuated by tax resolution salespeople, and the IRS penalty abatement is one of the things least understood and grossly oversold by unlicensed salespeople at large, national tax resolution companies.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: There is no reasonable cause interest abatement application process within the IRS. It simply doesn’t exist, period. If somebody is telling you they can get your interest reduced, you’re straight up being lied to, and you should seek assistance elsewhere.

There are two, and precisely two, instances in which interest is reduced:

  1. Any IRS employee gives you false information, which you acted on and resulted in the interest. This is one reason why all IRS correspondence should be conducted and follow up in writing.
  2. Since interest is calculated based on the tax liability, if an amended return is filed and the tax itself is lowered, then the interest is also reduced.

Now, on to penalties. The IRS charges dozens of different types of penalties, but the three that we most commonly talk about are the late filing penalty, the late payment penalty, and the penalty for not making Federal Tax Deposits. These three penalties combined can add a whopping 65% to your … Read the rest