Finding a good tax lawyer or advocate

liz_hJanuary 26, 2009

My housekeeper has an IRS problem. A few years ago, she and her husband separated for about a year, then re-united. He didn't pay taxes during that year, and hasn't since. She has filed separately. During some of that time, he was working for cash, but has been an on-the-books employee for a couple of years. His employer sent in payroll taxes, but the husband hasn't filed a return.

They want to deal with this, but aren't sure where to start. She bought a house two years ago. The deed and mortgage is in her name, and she doesn't want to lose it to the IRS.

Any suggestions?

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If she owns the house and she files separately, how can the IRS take it because of the husband?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 3:32PM
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Luann, I don't know if the IRS can take the house - just that it's a concern of hers - as is keeping the husband out of jail! Other than the taxes, he's been a very responsible person the past several years. We are in Texas, which is a community-property state.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 4:26PM
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His employer sent in payroll taxes, but the husband hasn't filed a return.

Do they even know if he owes money or would get a refund? There is no penalty for filing late, there is only a penalty for paying late****. So,if he is owed a refund, there will be no penalty, but he can't collect the refund if he files more than 3 years late (so if he's owed a refund for 2005, the first thing they should do is file his 2005 return in by april 15 or he's giving up that $). If they haven't already, they should fill out the past years forms to find if he owes or not. If he is owed a refund, he can just file the past years' returns, no harm no foul. If he owes IRS, then they can worry about finding a lawyer to help them work something out, but no point in that if he is due refunds.

****if you want to know how I know this, there is a post on the "how to help someone like this" thread that might explain it ;-)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 5:01PM
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A brief update. First, I posed this same question to a CPA friend. I've asked to copy in the excellent advice here, and will do so if permission is received. But she did point out that the best person to deal with this is not a lawyer, but a CPA. Tax lawyers can be needed on questions of interpretation of IRS law/regulations. But for questions that deal with the administration of tax law a CPA is the best person to work with. Look for one whose focus is in taxes and dealing with the IRS. Most CPAs today have websites that give a lot of info about their practice.

Second, my friends have decided to start right now with filing for the years they have 1099's.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 10:25PM
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Liz, I'd suggest that she look for either a CPA or an Enrolled Agent.

Here'a a link to the National Association of Enrolled Agents. Hopefully it will give her some more options.

Here is a link that might be useful: What is an Enrolled Agent?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 6:19AM
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I'm not sure why this thread got bumped to the top, since the most recent reply (before this one) is from 2009. But since it did, I feel the need to clarify what was said above concerning the penalty for filing late.

There is indeed a late filing penalty, and it's ten times the amount of the late payment penalty. But since it's computed based on what you owe, if you don't owe anything, then ten times zero is still zero.

This matters for people who put off filing because they know they'll owe and can't pay on time. Suppose you figure out on Apr. 15 that you'll owe $1000, but won't be able to pay it until May 1. If you wait until May 1 to file, you'll be hit with a $50 penalty plus interest. If you file on Apr. 15, but don't send a check in until May 1, it will only be a $5 penalty plus interest.

See the attached link for more details from the IRS.

Here is a link that might be useful: IRS page on late filing/late payment penalties.

1 Like    Bookmark   September 19, 2014 at 5:25PM
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