The Smart Taxpayer
Educate yourself. Please feel free to browse our materials to better understand the agencies and processes that you are facing. Follow our principles of the smart taxpayer.
The first principle: A smart taxpayer knows that while the government is there to protect you in most matters, in this matter, the government agencies are not your friend. Certainly in collections matters, these officers are trained to win you over with a friendly and innocent exterior. What lies beneath, however, is an individual who is highly trained to extract the most money and information that they can from you.
The smart taxpayer signs nothing, agrees to nothing, says nothing, picks up a phone and calls their own highly trained professional to protect them, educate them further and solve their problem properly. Simply request the contact information from these officers and instruct them that your lawyer will be in touch with them.
The second principle: There is no quick fix. Many operations will pursue you with flashy offers in compromise promising minor tax payments, often for “pennies on the dollar.” Such promises by organizations have been a major problem area for taxpayers, and the IRS has even issued warnings to taxpayers to protect them from these practices. A competent tax lawyer will vigorously work to reduce the tax and/or penalties you face; however, the process requires skill, knowledge and careful planning and should never be a quick fix.
The third principle: Pay attention to who you are working with. Attorneys are smart, educated and often fast-talking. It can take a lot of brainpower to cut through the haze of what a lawyer is actually saying. Often, lawyers will provide off-the-cuff advice, with promises of legal acrobatics to make everything right, all without having taken you on as a client and without having seen any of your documentation. Ask questions, be persistent and, above all, pay attention. Will an attorney be doing the work or will an underling with little legal knowledge be “managed” by an attorney? Assure yourself of an expert in this field; tax law is a daunting subject shunned by most professionals and mastered by few.
At an initial consultation, come prepared with your facts and questions. Focus on your attorney’s demeanor and whether he or she actually answers the question you’ve asked. A lawyer should speak knowledgeably, but be able to explain to you the problem you face in plain English. Legal jargon is for adversaries, not for clients.