IRS SECRETS?

I get really angry when I see books or advertisements from alleged former IRS agents whose big sell is that they will let you in on the “secrets” of the IRS.  Do not fall for this!  There aren’t any “secrets”.  You only need to follow the tax law – it’s that simple.  Some people want to bend the truth and convince you that you can get away with something because THEY have the inside scoop.

I remember a discussion I had with an IRS agent a few years ago while representing a client who was in tax trouble.  The client went to a preparer who promoted himself as a former IRS employee, and this IRS employee-turned-preparer filed fraudulent returns with this supposed “insider knowledge”.  Everyone who was a client of this preparer got in trouble with the IRS and owed significant amounts, to be paid back with interest and penalties.  I asked the IRS agent where this genius preparer was now, and he told me the guy fled overseas and they were working on extraditing him.  He was going to face some harsh consequences.

Legitimate tax professionals take hours and hours of continuing education each year, including ethics.  They go above and beyond to raise the standard of their license requirements.  They don’t need to resort to false advertising and fake refunds to get clients.  The objective is to prepare returns correctly, and keep your clients out of trouble.  We are here to follow the law, and many of these “former IRS” people try to make themselves out to be something they are not, in order to sell books or engage in fraudulent schemes to dupe the public.

I want to sell books too, and in my book “101 Ways to Stay Off the IRS Radar”, I discuss the tax mistakes to avoid based on the tax law, and I don’t mislead people with fake information.  The book was in the Top 50 this week on Amazon, so clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks some of these people marketing “IRS secrets” are not all that.

And don’t get me started on those TV ads.  I’ve had clients who came to me after they lost over $10,000 to these companies who did NOTHING.

Remember the woman on TV who promised “pennies on the dollar” for IRS settlements?  She’s in jail now…….

Enough said.

I’ll be doing some free webinars, as well as some appearances across the country.  Check the website for locations and other information.

Until next time…………..

101 Ways to Stay Off the IRS Radar

What you don’t know…….

Another post “from the other side of the desk”:

Sometimes you talk to a client and have to shake your head.  I was brought in to consult with a new client on a particular matter, and reviewed her self-prepared tax return.   After chatting and getting some background, it was apparent the client made a mistake on her tax return.  I caught a very serious error, and brought it to her attention.  It had no bearing on the matter I was brought in to consult on, but due to the fact that the omission brings a massive penalty if the IRS catches it first, I advised her of the issue.

Now, I wasn’t looking for a parade, but her response left me stunned.  She said according to her research, she was under the $400K threshold and didn’t have to file a Foreign Account Report.  She had no idea what she was talking about, because the foreign account reporting threshold is $10,000, and she was confusing FATCA laws for a married couple residing outside of the U.S. with FBAR rules.  (Note  — in this profession, there’s an acronym for everything!)

I told her she was incorrect and was confusing the tax law.  But the part that left me stunned was this: she said the software didn’t prompt her to enter this information, so I MUST be wrong and she doesn’t believe me.  In her mind, if the software didn’t raise the point, then there is no need to report the information.  The software is the end-all for self-preppers and is infallible.

Unbelievable.

When most people learn about an error, they usually want to do everything to fix it ASAP.  And those are the people a tax professional wants to work with.  It’s not a matter of who’s right/who’s wrong, but of protecting clients from their worst instincts.

We have a saying in our industry – “you can’t care more than your client”.  Now, I am guilty of this one frequently.  I enjoy helping people and care greatly about the work I do. Sometimes one just has to accept that there are people who absolutely don’t care about the tax mistakes they make, and the consequences, potential and actual.  Not sure how they sleep at night.

As for the client who refused to listen to me regarding the foreign account reporting and millions like her, the IRS is spending massive amounts of money in the area of overseas account reporting, doing more prosecutions and involving their Criminal Investigation Division.  Perhaps she may find her research was less than stellar after all.  And I can see it now – she’ll tell the IRS they are wrong, since the software never prompted her.

As my most revered mentor would always say – GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT!

Until next time…………..

P.S. — Don’t forget to check out RealLifeTaxAdvice.com.  I will be doing some free webinars, and there are a number of upcoming appearances.

Roses are red………

Flying high now — “101 Ways to Stay Off the IRS Radar” is #3 in Kindle sales today.  The other day, the print book was #74.  Why am I happy?  Because it’s legit. And here comes my tirade on ethics.

When I first wrote my book, all of these “marketers”, “gurus”, “consultants”, “agents”, etc., got in my face and said they could make my book go to #1.  How?  By charging me some exorbitant amount of money and putting me in some nutty category, like Women’s Poetry or Women Writers, etc..  I said no way.  I want to be in the category of taxes, personal finances, etc.  And these “experts” bragged about how THEIR books are bestsellers.  But it’s fake.  And who wants to be a fake #1?  Not me.  Because no gold seal would make me feel good if that’s how it was acquired.

I read a hilarious story about a guy who wanted to prove anyone could have a #1 bestseller by messing with the Amazon categories, and he actually got his book to #1.  Did I mention it was just 1 page and he took a picture of his foot?  I think it was called “Putting My Foot Down”.  (I love that title…..)  And now he adds “Best-Selling Author” to his resume.

My feet belong in the sand; I am not a poet; and I don’t want to make it to #1 that way.  And if #3 is the best I do, that’s fine too.  My goal was to educate and bring tax information in a fun and interesting manner, and I believe I did that.  I don’t need a gold seal.  Would I love one? — sure!  But at this point in my life, I can ignore the parasites and keep on moving forward.  I am not trying to say that I’m Mother Teresa, but I believe that ethics count.

A huge thank you to all who have read the book.  And don’t forget to grab my free report on the 10 Surefire Ways to Spot an IRS scam, available at RealLifeTaxAdvice.com.

Dance Moms – Abby Lee Miller definitely needs “101 Ways to Stay Off the IRS Radar”

Saturday was a breeze.  So I should have taken that as an indication Sunday would be a disaster, as I wasn’t getting off the hook that easily.  Somehow, I held out  hope.  But I was wrong.  On the second day of my media bootcamp class, it was one of those days when your head gets chopped off, gets handed back to you on a platter, and you are supposed to say thank you.  However, I definitely subscribe to the “whatever doesn’t kill you” school, so I’m still standing and that much better for it.

After class, it was off to Starbucks for a cool reward, but the iced tea/lemonade mix tasted like household cleaning products……ugh….…

And since disasters come in three’s, I was fortunate that #3 was just a really, really long, endless wait for a bus.

In class, the chatter was all about a prison term for the host of Dance Moms.  Now, I don’t watch those shows, although I will admit my one guilty reality show pleasure was Hollywood Hillbillies, which I stumbled upon right before it was cancelled.  For anyone who hasn’t seen it, it was a show created for this strange kid who became a YouTube sensation, but he became overshadowed by every other crazy family member he had.  It was hilarious.  But back to Dance Moms.

It’s unfortunate Abby Lee Miller didn’t read my book “101 Ways to Stay Off the IRS Radar”.  This is not a shameless plug; I sincerely believe if she would have checked out some of the ways, she might have made some better choices.  So let’s look at the charges:

  • Unreported income – Ms. Miller had a pending bankruptcy case and never included the income from the Dance Moms TV show (reportedly she tried to hide $775,000).  The judge was channel surfing and found the show by accident.  Chapter 1 in my book discusses cash businesses (Way #1), “off- the-books” (Way #2), and if your low income makes sense (Way #3).  Newsflash to no one:  The judge didn’t think the low income she claimed, as noted in her bankruptcy paperwork, made sense for someone with a TV show.
  • Moving money to someone else – otherwise known as a “fraudulent conveyance” – see Way #21. You can’t transfer your assets to a relative or friend with the intent to hide money.  People try it all the time, but you will get tripped up.  It’s illegal.  And not the least bit original.
  • Unreported cash – Abby Lee Miller reportedly brought in over $10,000 to the U.S. in foreign currency without reporting it.  Way #10 discusses the Bank Secrecy Act, which mandates that deposits, withdrawals, transfers, etc. in excess of $10,000 requires a Currency Transaction Report.  In addition, Way #24 talks about foreign bank accounts (sounds like having thousands of dollars in foreign currency may have come from a bank account).

Disclaimer:  I don’t know Ms. Miller, I am not an attorney, nor have I seen in person the evidence the authorities had against her.  And I still haven’t ever watched the show.

She’s not the first or last person ignorant of tax, banking and financial laws.  Maybe I’ll send her something to read……..

For you others with less time on your hands than she has, and would prefer to keep it that way, 101 Ways to Stay Off the IRS Radar is available for free in Kindle Unlimited; it’s $4.99 for regular Kindle, and only $14.95 for print.