This video is a couple years old, but for whatever reason it was just dropped in the tip box today and we are oh-so glad because it's so frightening it's hilarious. Is it the wedding cake adorned with roses and Patrick Coxes? Is it the carousel of voices? Is it the ginormous Patrick Cox head […]
“Pennies on the dollar” may be a great pitch on cable television, but it’s not a surefire business plan. Desperate taxpayers who have paid money up front to JK Harris to resolve their tax debts at a discount are joining the IRS as potential “pennies on the dollar” creditors now that this leader in the tax settlement industry is filing for bankruptcy protection.
This is the second major blow this year to cable TV ad revenues. Earlier this year “Tax Lady” Roni Deutch gave up her law license in the face of charges that she took fees up front to resolve tax debts and failed to follow through.
Tax nerds see the late night ads when we get home and wonder how these outfits manage to get such great deals out of the IRS when getting the Service to actually forgive tax debts is like pulling teeth from a grumpy rhino for the rest of us.
TaxMasters now stands as the biggest remaining player in the TV tax settlement business, but they have their own problems. They were de-listed last month from the OTC Bulletin Board to the pink sheets for failing to file their 10-Q due August 15. The last reported trade for Taxs.pk is at 13 cents. They have also been sued by the Minnesota Attorney General for allegedly deceptive practices. ABC News reported on the suit:
The Minnesota attorney general says many of the company’s employees are skilled tele-marketers who have little knowledge of the complicated tax issues faced by people who have fallen behind in filing their returns or making tax payments. “When you call, you think you’re talking to a tax professional,” said Swanson. “You’re really talking to just a salesperson who’s trying to get you to sign up.”
So maybe the secret is that the late night settlement outfits are staffed by telemarketers who just happen to be awesome at selling pennies-on-the-dollar deals to the IRS. If that’s true, though, they seem to be having a lot of trouble turning what would truly be a remarkable and valuable skill into profits.
The advice was so good he had to send out a press release:
On the heels of a record reporting year for taxes, taxpayers should be wary – or at a minimum more informed – about audits from the IRS, according to Patrick Cox, CEO of TaxMasters (TAXS), the leading tax compliance and repayment services provider in the nation. According to Cox, the IRS will send out a record number of audits which can be misleading and even wrong.
“Over the past few years the IRS has been shifting gears to use correspondence audits – notices mailed to taxpayers usually showing an alleged discrepancy in a tax filing and asking for a manageable amount of extra money that is owed,” Cox said. “From my experience, most taxpayers – who did their taxes online or had an accountant or friend do them – are scared of the IRS and don’t know enough about their tax filings to argue the audit. Instead of making sure the IRS assessment is accurate, I think most taxpayers just cut a check.”
The latest Taxpayer Advocate Report showed that of the more than 1.6 million Americans who were audited last year, 78 percent received a correspondence audit, while only 22 percent were selected for an in-person examination. A large majority of the correspondence audits are sent due to unqualified or overstated tax deductions.
“Returns claiming tax deductions are the lowest hanging fruit for the IRS in a correspondence audit,” says Cox. “Unfortunately, there are an alarming number of taxpayers that make simple mistakes on the amount of deductions and types of deductions they make and wind up being easy targets for the IRS. A few examples of typically-encountered discrepancies include unreported pension income, home mortgage interest, and cash charitable contributions.”
Conveniently, the Journal of Accountancy also covered the increase in IRS correspondence audits in its August 2011 issue and offers tips on how to manage them for CPA tax practioners.
According to a 2006 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), there has been a 170% increase in correspondence examinations for individual taxpayers with gross incomes or business receipts of at least $100,000 in fiscal years 2002 through 2005, while face-to-face examinations increased by 25%. Since that report, TIGTA has claimed improvements in this area but identifies work yet to be done.