Category Archives: Tax Advice

The only thing worse than talking to the IRS is NOT talking to the IRS

Will taxpayers need to “pay to play” in dealing with the IRS?

Nina Olson is head of the Taxpayer Advocate Service, the office of the IRS that actually reports on how the IRS performs in dealing with taxpayers. She is your voice within the IRS. So when she says something, I pay attention.

Patricia Cohen of The New York Times writes that in her annual report to Congress, Olson said her office “has been left with the distinct impression that the I.R.S.’s ultimate goal is “to get out of the business of talking with taxpayers” altogether.

Fewer taxpayer services. More incorrect processing of returns. Higher costs to taxpayers who wind up having to use tax pros to deal with problems that consumers used to be able to handle themselves. No good spin on this story, but the report is highly readable and you can find it here. I recommend having an adult beverage by your side while you read.

Paying for college when you can’t pay for college

Every year I consult with clients who have children applying to college and who don’t have enough saved–or don’t have anything saved–to cover the costs of a higher education. In The New York Times, Ron Lieber has a good piece guiding parents–savers and non-savers alike–to figuring out how much a school might actually cost you… Continue Reading

Pay your taxes — or lose your driver’s license! NY State has a cool idea to convince reluctant tax-payers.

I regularly tell clients that cash-starved states have become very entrepreneurial and even aggressive in their tax collection efforts. If you earn money in a state, the tax department will probably be willing to go to court to collect income taxes even if you live hundreds of miles away. (I’m looking at you, New York… Continue Reading

IRS security puts taxpayer info at risk

The IRS won’t contact taxpayers by email, because of security concerns. When I am representing a client, auditors generally will not send me emails, for the same reason. And the Service regularly puts out notices telling taxpayers how to maintain their privacy and not get taken in by scammers claiming to be with the government.… Continue Reading

Corporate Cayman Islands tax shelters rip off U.S. taxpayers

*”Corporations are people, my friend.” –Mitt Romney, August 11, 2011 Statistic of the day: A single five-story office building is the registered address of more than 18,000 companies. How is that possible? Well, the building is in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands, and most of those businesses are registered there only for tax… Continue Reading