1. I need tax advice; how do I start and how much will it cost?
When you contact our office for advice, we will send you short informational questionnaire and a contract for services. Upon receipt of the completed information sheet, contract, and $500 to $1,000 fee for a one-hour consultation, we will schedule your appointment. The one hour includes time required for reviewing materials and the consultation, which can be by phone or in person, your choice. At the conclusion of the initial consultation, we may quote a retainer for further representation.
2. Can I discharge taxes in bankruptcy?
Yes, income tax debts can be discharged in bankruptcy, but there are rules that must be met. For example, for discharge under Chapter 7, the tax return must be due at least three years before the bankruptcy petition is filed; a return must be filed; and at least two years must pass before the bankruptcy petition is filed if the tax return is filed late, the taxpayer must wait 240 days from the date the taxes are assessed before filing for bankruptcy, and fraud must not be involved. Under Chapter 13, taxes can be discharged even if no return was filed, the return was filed late, or a fraudulent return was filed; however, there are limits that cannot be exceeded: $871,550 secured; $290,525 unsecured. Our attorneys can advise further during your consultation.
3. If I have a tax collection problem, what are my options?
There are several options which we evaluate for possible strategies regarding tax debt, some of which are offer in compromise, bankruptcy (ch.7,11,13), statute of limitations, etc.
We typically charge a $5,000 retainer to fully evaluate all of facts and the above options, and work with you to determine the best strategies, both short-term and long-term.
4. If I have not filed tax returns in ten years and I owe a lot of income tax to IRS and to the state, can you help me?
Yes. One of, or a combination of, the above options may work for you. In addition, you may need our assistance in dealing with IRS, or "keeping IRS at bay" until such time as you can implement the proper option and strategy. Again, a full review is usually necessary.
5. I owe about $30,000 and IRS has been sending me notices; are they going to try to put me in jail?
When IRS sends notices stating that taxes are due, IRS is trying to collect money; this is a civil collection problem, not a criminal tax problem. In a criminal case one cannot "settle up" with IRS merely by paying the taxes that might be owed. A criminal tax investigation is serious and could lead to potential jail time. Legal counsel should be consulted immediately. In a criminal investigation case that has been referred for prosecution, the prosecutor is interested in prosecuting the case. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are used in criminal cases, and in a tax case are based on the tax loss, which leads to the base offense level. Adjustments are made and various other factors can affect the ultimate level and sentencing ranges. We have handled scores of criminal tax cases. See the chart on this site, in the "Experience" section.
6. My paycheck just got levied. What can I do?
You can contact IRS yourself and attempt to have the levy released, for which IRS may require that you enter into a payment plan or file an offer in compromise. You can also contact competent counsel who can assist you in getting the levy released and determining a short-term and long-term strategy for the overall problem. When we evaluate a client=s case, we look at all issues, not at just one issue in a vacuum. A release of levy is a good short-term fix, but obviously there are other tax problems which must be addressed.
7. My company owes a lot of sales tax. What can I do?
Again, options may include payment plans, offers in compromise, bankruptcy, etc.
8. I live in Wisconsin and owe federal and state taxes; can you help me from Arizona?
Yes. We can evaluate the case, advise as to potential options and solutions, and communicate by fax, phone, mail, and Federal Express mail. In order for IRS personnel to speak with us, or for us to obtain information, a power of attorney is required.
9. How can I protect my property from IRS seizure?
IRS typically does not want to spend a lot of time seizing assets unless they can obtain money by quick sale. If your property is "liened up," the lien holder will be in front of IRS. IRS seizure of property with equity is typically a last resort. The best defense is a good offense: obtain legal advice and take care of tax problems right away, before they take on the "snowball" effect and grow larger and more complicated.
10. Can I start a savings account in an offshore bank?
You can have a savings account offshore, but you are still required to pay taxes on the interest earned. Likewise, generally speaking, income cannot be earned in the U.S. and sent offshore to avoid taxes.
11. I own my own business and I was just contacted by an IRS Special Agent. What do I do now?
Consult with legal counsel immediately. Special Agents are criminal, not civil, investigators; thus, the case is criminal, not civil, and you need to know your rights and your options.
12. If I am in an audit and I end up owing taxes, is there a way to stop interest?
In anticipation of owing and paying IRS a sum of money, you can send money to IRS as either a "payment" or a "cash bond deposit." A cash bond deposit stops interest and can be returned to you at your request, any time before IRS is entitled to assess the tax. The amount will be returned without interest.
13. If I am a mere witness in a criminal investigation, what should I do? What if I am the target?
In either case, first, remain silent ("Silence is golden") and obtain competent, experienced counsel immediately. If you waive your rights and speak with the agent, you cannot later "un-ring the bell." The information will be used against you.
14. Am I protected against an IRS lien by my state homestead exemption, for example, the Arizona $100,000 exemption?
No, an IRS lien trumps the homestead exemption. The homestead exemption protects against other creditors, but in order to beat IRS to your homestead equity, bankruptcy would have to be filed before IRS files a tax lien. This is an example of how critical timing can be.