Surviving A Tax Audit

  • Ground rules you can set for an audit
  • How to call IRS bluffs
  • Proving deductions without a receipt
  • IRS forms you should never sign
  • How to spy on the IRS
  • Audits by mail
  • How to appeal an audit decision
  • How to recover the cost of an abusive audit
  • When and how to use tax court


Ground rules you can set for an audit

If you receive an audit notice from the IRS, it is very important that you know the rules and even more important to let the IRS know you are not an uninformed citizen. The more rights you assert, the better off you will be. You begin to assert those rights by establishing the ground rules of an audit. In my book How To Win Your Tax Audit, I identify numerous ground rules. Here are four of them:

1. You have the right to conduct the audit at a time and place that is convenient to you. Use this right to prepare and avoid being caught off guard.

2. You have the right to record an audit as long as you give the IRS the same right. Using this right prevents the IRS from changing the rules midway through the audit.

3. You have the right to limit the scope of the audit to avoid time and trouble discussing issues not relevant to your tax liability.

4. For more information about the eleven ground rules you must establish to insure a fair audit of your tax return, order my book How to Win Your Tax Audit.

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How to call IRS bluffs

Former Senator Henry Bellmon once said, "In a recent conversation with an official of the IRS, I was amazed when he told me, 'If the taxpayers of this country ever discover that the IRS operates on 90% bluff, the entire system will collapse'."
When you know what these bluffs are, you will never be forced to pay taxes you do not owe.

Here are some common bluffs:

Bluff One - You cannot claim a deduction without a receipt or canceled check.
Bluff Two - You have no right to challenge an auditor's decision.
Bluff Three - You must disclose every aspect of your financial life.
These claims are not true. You have rights -- and when you use them, you will pay less tax with less hassle. For more information, order my book How To Win Your Tax Audit.

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Proving deductions without a receipt

Some IRS auditors would have you believe you must have a receipt or canceled check to claim a deduction. But, there are six ways to prove deductions if your records are lost. Few people realize that oral testimony is often enough to claim a deduction as long as the testimony believable and supported by the facts. Affidavits and reconstructed records are also valuable tools used to claim deductions where typical records are unavailable. Cash contributions are a good example of deductions that go unclaimed because of the lack of written records. To prevent the IRS from claiming you have insufficient records to claim a deduction, know your rights.
For more information, order my books How To Win Your Tax Audit, and The IRS Problem Solver Book.

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IRS forms you should never sign

In an audit there are forms the auditor may ask you to sign that can take away your rights. You could lose your right to appeal, your right to claim deductions and your right to prevent enforced collection action.

Form 4549 is one of these forms. Signing it constitutes an agreement that you owe additional taxes and waives your right tot appeal. For more information order my book How To Win Your Tax Audit.

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How to spy on the IRS

Few people know the IRS keeps secret records about every citizen. One such record is called your Individual Master File. Knowing the content of this file can be very useful to you. It's like spying on the IRS. For example, everything the IRS intends to do regarding one or more of your tax returns is reported in this file. When you use my techniques for accessing these files (you have this right under the Freedom of Information Act), you can predict audits, collection actions -- even criminal prosecutions. How well could you prepare for IRS actions against you if you knew months ahead of time when they were coming?

For information on how you can spy on the IRS to protect your wealth and property, order my book Taxpayers' Ultimate Defense Manual. Don't be caught off guard.

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Audits by mail

Just the thought of having to deal with the IRS often scares people into submission. But did you know you have the right to conduct an audit by mail? As long as you set the ground rules as discussed earlier and cooperate fully in providing the IRS with details of your claims, you can conduct an audit through the mail and never have to worry about a face-to-face confrontation.

The greatest advantage to conducting an audit by mail is that you will never be caught off guard. You will never have to answer questions without being able to gather all the facts and provide only accurate answers to the questions asked. It is not uncommon for the IRS to make arbitrary determinations based on information they obtain that is really irrelevant to the return and its claims. Avoid this trap by conducting your audit by mail.

You can learn all you need about the Mail-Order-Audit from my book The IRS Problem Solver. and How To Win Your Tax Audit

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How to appeal an audit decision

Most people believe that IRS auditors have all the power. But did you know an IRS auditor really has no power to change your tax liability, charge a penalty or seize your assets? In fact, an IRS auditor has no power to do anything without your permission.

When you disagree with an IRS auditor, you have the right to bring an audit decision to a higher level of authority. This process is called the Right of Appeal. Just knowing this right often prevents the auditor from trying to bluff you into paying more tax than you owe. It's the best negotiating tool you can have. To learn more about your right to appeal an auditor decision, order my book How To Win Your Tax Audit.

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How to recover the cost of an abusive audit

The IRS's own internal statistics show that when challenged, the decisions made by IRS auditors are wrong between 60 to 90 percent of the time. If an auditor tries to deny your rights and collect more money than you owe, you have the right to appeal that decision. You can also potentially recover the fees and the costs you pay for carrying out the appeal.

These costs may include travel, professional fees, postage, parking or any other cost incurred to defend against unjust claims. For more information on how to recover fees and costs, order my book, Taxpayers' Ultimate Defense Manual.

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When and how to use Tax Court

Just knowing that you have the right to go to the Tax Court can prevent you from ever having to use it. Petitioning the Tax Court is the ultimate appeal of a decision made by an IRS auditor. Statistics show that citizens who use their right to appeal auditor decisions, along with their right to petition the Tax Court, win 60-90% of the time.

Statistics also show that, in most cases, when a Tax Court petition is filed, the case never goes to trial. In every case, the IRS tries to avoid a trial by negotiating a settlement. Tax Court is your court -- but only when you know how to use it. For information on how to use the Tax Court to defend yourself from unjust audit decisions, order my book Taxpayers' Ultimate Defense Manual.

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Lowering Your Tax


How to double, even triple, your tax refund

Here's a technique for doubling or tripling your tax refund that so impressed John Cunniff, an Associated Press reporter, that he did a story on it that appeared in hundreds of newspapers all over the country. What follows is the text of that story.

Thursday, December 14, 1995
Over-withholding on Income Tax Wastes Money Instead of Saving
Tax consultant advises taxpayers to stop lending money to Uncle Sam, and start putting it into an IRA account or 401(k) plan.

Associated Press

NEW YORK - One of the saddest laments Dan Pilla hears is from the taxpayer who allows Uncle Sam to over-withhold income tax because "it's the only way I can save."

"This is the world's worst way to save money," says Pilla, a tax litigation consultant who dissects page after page of Internal Revenue Service laws, rules and regulations, and studies all its (bad) habits.

While his work - writing books on taxes, conducting seminars and advising lawyers and tax experts - has involved defining and defending almost every kind of deduction - there is one that especially bothers him.

That is the one in which the taxpayer treats over-withholding casually.

Let's illustrate what happens, he says. "Suppose the individual gets a $1,000 refund. That means $83 a month was loaned interest free to the IRS."

By the time that individual receives the refund in May or June, he or she has paid another five or six months of $83 payments, or $415.

"Here's what you do: Adjust your W-4 to stop the $83 a month withholding and put the money into an Individual Retirement Account or a 401(k) plan.

"By doing this for a full year you will have put $1,000 into your plan, thereby obtaining a $350 tax break.

"Let's add it up. You have $1,000 cash in your tax-deferred plan, you've probably earned $50 on your savings, and you've protected $415 cash from further withholding.

"That makes your total benefit around $1,815, or more that three times the real value of your refund." In short, the over-withholder is wasting rather than saving.

For more strategies on doubling your tax refund and cutting your taxes to their lowest legal level, see my book How to Double Your Tax Refund. You'll find dozens of money saving, tax saving and tax management tips.

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How to use affidavits to pay less tax

An affidavit is nothing more than a detailed letter of explanation that is notarized and includes a declaration that the statements are made under penalty of perjury.

The significance of the affidavit with respect to taxes is that it can substitute for receipts or canceled checks in the event other records are unavailable. It is well settled that oral testimony is acceptable as proof of a claim made on a return when the testimony is plausible, believable and reasonable. The affidavit is nothing more than oral testimony presented in the form of a written statement.

A good example of how to use an affidavit is in the case of cash contributions under $50 made to a church or other charity. Bike-a-thons, walk-a-thons, candy drives, cookie sales, church donations, Salvation Army bell ringer donations are all examples of cash contributions that often go unrecorded. A simple log of these contributions along with an affidavit can capture hundreds of dollars in deductions you thought you could not claim.

Affidavits are also the key to being able to conduct an audit through the mail. You simply convert your letters of explanation to affidavits. This can eliminate the need to be present during an examination since all the relevant details are provided in writing. Of course the main advantage of a correspondence audit is that you are never caught off guard and never in a position to respond to questions that are irrelevant in determining the correct of amount of tax you owe.

Dozens of uses of affidavits are discussed in my books The IRS Problem Solver and How to Win Your Tax Audit.

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Three Tips to lowering your tax

Lowering your tax can be quite easy and certainly rewarding when you learn a couple of tricks. Following are three techniques I discovered in my research.

No. 1 - Double Your Property Tax Deduction

In most states, property taxes are paid a year behind the year they are assessed. For example, property taxes in Minnesota payable in the current year are really for taxes incurred in the prior year.

In order to double your property tax deduction for this year, be sure to pay this year's taxes before December 31. Now obviously, some people cannot afford to pay property taxes twice in one year. If you can't, remember that funds are usually escrowed with your mortgage payment specifically to pay taxes. At such time you decide to pay additional property taxes, check with your mortgage company to see what your escrow balance for taxes is at that time. Then when you pay the taxes at year end, take the receipt issued by your department of property taxation and submit it to your mortgage company for reimbursement. They must refund your balance when you show proof of payment of the taxes.

This technique is also effective for salesmen who find themselves closing that big deal at year-end, thus experiencing a bit of a windfall. By paying the real estate taxes before January 1, you increase you deductions in the year of higher income. At the same time, this reduces your expenses for the next year, during which your income will probably return to more historic levels. This strategy is a good way to manage taxes for anyone who has up and down trends in their income.

For other examples of how to use this deduction in managing your tax liability order my book Double Your Tax Refund.

No. 2 - Increasing your state income tax deduction by 25%

Generally, the final payment for estimated state income taxes is due by due by January 15 of the next year.

Here's the catch. While estimated taxes paid on January 15 are applied toward the previous year's tax liability, they are not deductible on your federal return until the next year.

Let's say estimated state income tax payments due on January 15, 1997 are $800. This $800 tax is for a 1996 tax liability. However, it is not a deduction on your 1996 federal tax return because it was paid in 1997.

Now, if you pay this estimated payment on December 31, 1996, just two weeks earlier than the law requires, you get an extra $800 deduction in 1996. Be sure to repeat the process next year to avoid losing an $800 deduction.

This is just one of my many tax saving tricks found in my book Double Your Tax Refund.

No. 3 - Turn your attic into a bank vault... Then Rob It!

One of the great myths about non-cash charitable contributions is that the deductions are limited to $250. This is not true. Once you understand this, the possibilities are endless as to how much you can increase your tax deductions by raiding your attic or your garage.

The best part about non-cash charitable contributions is that there are hundreds of IRS-approved charities that need and want donations other than cash. It's much easier to give someone a lamp you valued at $30 than it is to raise $60 in cash to buy a new one. Both give off the same amount of light and both serve their purpose equally well.

The IRS has valuation standards you can apply to your gift giving. When you use special forms also made available by the IRS, you can increase your deductions, lower your tax and help someone in the process. Why sell something at a garage sale for $3 when you can donate it and get a $10 deduction.

For dozens of examples of how you can increase your non-cash charitable contributions, order my book Double Your Tax Refund.

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Preventing Tax Problems

How to audit-proof a tax return

The audit-proofing techniques I teach in my books have been used effectively to prevent audits, penalties and the wasting of precious time you need to take care of your family or operate your business. The techniques are simple -- especially in light of the fact the IRS produces a special audit-proofing form you can use.

Audit-proofing is based on the principle of providing information with your return that will answer any potential questions raised in your return. You provide information for claims you think could raise a red flag and trigger an audit.

Charitable contributions, mileage claims for a small business, unusually high entertainment costs, the home office reduction or unusual medical expenses are among those deductions that are highly scrutinized.

By providing proof of suspected red-flag deductions with the return, you in effect, eliminate the need for the return to be audited. Proof may include copies of canceled checks, copies of receipts, or an affidavit explaining how you arrived at certain deductions.

Form 8275 is a form the IRS would rather you did not know about or use. It is called the Disclosure Statement. When filed with the return, it calls attention to a claim made and says "I claimed this based on these specific grounds." It allows you to prove your claim without going through an audit.
By proving your case before an audit, you greatly reduce the need for an audit and the scope of an audit if there are other claims called into question later. The IRS would rather not audit people who are informed and prepared to respond to a challenge.
Making full disclosure at the time you file your return can also provide grounds for eliminating penalties if you should happen to make a mistake in your return. Form 8275 demonstrates good faith and illustrates the reasonable cause for the action you took in making the claim. These are the primary grounds for abating penalties if assessed later.
For more information on how to audit-proof your tax return, please see my book How to Win Your Tax Audit.

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How to get an extension of time to pay taxes

Each year, approximately four million citizens are penalized for failing to file a return on time or failing to pay the tax on time. Many of these penalties could be avoided if the IRS would just come clean about your right to request an extension of time to pay a tax.
The extension of time to pay should not be confused with automatic extensions of time to file a return. Form 4868 allows you to obtain an automatic six-month extension of time to file a return. However, this form makes it clear that the tax owed at the time of filing must be paid. Failure to do so will result in penalty.
Form 1127, however, is quite a different animal. It is entitled, Application for Extension Of Time To Pay Taxes. It is important to note that this application is not an automatic extension. In order to have your application accepted, you must show undue hardship. Medical reasons, natural disasters or a death in the family are among those hardships that may be recognized by the IRS.
When an application is accepted, our are given up to six months to pay the tax free of penalty. However, interest accrues from the time the tax was due. Use of Form 1127 and tips on how to make a successful application can be found in my book The IRS Problem Solver.

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Protecting Your Business


Defending your business against an audit

If you own or operate a small business, it's important to note that all the rights and remedies to avoid tax collection abuse discussed in this web site also apply to small businesses. The only difference is that businesses are audited and penalized approximately six times more than individuals.

In the eyes of the IRS, businesses -- especially small businesses -- are the source of most of the tax cheating. They are suspected of doing most of the overstating of expenses and underreporting of income. If there is one thing a small business owner does not need, it is hassles beyond that of just struggling to make a living.

The IRS is so intent on auditing and penalizing small business, they have developed special audit task forces to audit various business segments. For example, waitresses and waiters are prime targets for audit. Contractors and subcontractors (like plumbers and electricians) are also another favorite target. One of the most favorite audit targets of all is multi-level marketers like Amway and Shaklee distributors.

The good news is, the audit-proofing and penalty-proofing techniques discussed in this web site offer great protection to small businesses against unnecessary IRS invasiveness.

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When to use independent contractors

Independent contractors (IC) can be a great resource for small businesses who need help on a part-time basis. Independent contractors can provide that help. However, in recent years, the IRS has cracked down tremendously on the use of independent contractors. The IRS likes to claim that ICs are really employees. As such, the agency reclassifies the workers as employees, assessing back employment taxes and penalties against the company.

But there are twenty guidelines published by the IRS to determine whether a worker is an employee or an IC. Knowing these guidelines can prevent the IRS from converting your ICs into employees. Three of the most critical guidelines are as follows:

No. 1 - An IC may not work exclusively for you full time.
For example, an artist may work for an advertising agency upon demand. If at any time that artist begins to work exclusively for the agency on a full time basis, that artist must be made an employee.
If the artist works exclusively for the agency even on a part-time basis over an extended period of time, the artist is probably an employee.
But if the artist offers his services to other businesses and performs services to the public free of intervention from any company, the artist if probably and IC.
No. 2 - An IC must be allowed to work on his or her own clock.
If you require the IC to work specific hours at your place of employment, the worker is probably your employee, not an IC. IC's must be able to control the workplace and how the work is done. If the IC works at home or on the customer's property but sets his own hours and dictates the manner of doing the work, he's probably not an employee.
No. 3 - An IC must provide his own tools and equipment.
To be a true independent contractor, the IC must provide his own tools and equipment of the trade. The plumber must use his own pipe wrench, the electrician must use his own wire-stripper and a mechanic must use his own spark plug wrench. He must also provide his own transportation and insurance.
If the worker is using the tools, equipment, vehciles, etc., and is under the insurance of the company for whom the work is performed, the worker is probably not an IC.
Other guidelines apply and one should not use an IC or classify someone as an IC if these guidelines cannot be met. The consequences of losing all the benefits of IC status are staggering. For all the rules on using independent contractors, see my book The IRS Problem Solver.

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Turn your hobby into a business

You might be shocked to learn that 20% of all small business audits involve disallowing deductions because the IRS reclassifies the small business as a hobby under the so-called "hobby loss" rule. This rule is one of the most misunderstood tax rules by small businesses and tax professionals alike.

It is a common misconception that in order to avoid the "hobby loss" rule, a small business must show a profit in three of five years or it is not entitled to deduct its expenses. That rule simply does not exist. What the rule does say is that a legitimate business exists if there is a legitimate intent to make a profit, whether or not profits were earned.

For example, in the case of Amway distributors, the potential to make a profit is obviously real. Many people make big money in that business yet the IRS has made what amounts to a system wide determination that all Amway distributors are nothing more than hobbyists looking for a way to get out of paying taxes.

A good tip for anyone who intends to start a small business is to first write a business plan that lays out your plan of attack for success. It should include sales goals, projected expenses and projected revenues. If it looks like the business may operate for a period of time on a break-even basis or even at a loss, say so in your business plan. This will not only help you become successful in your business, but will help answer the question regarding profit motive if the IRS challenges your business.

When you know the "hobby loss" rules, you'll never have to worry about the IRS reclassifying your business as a hobby then disallowing all your deductions. Even better, when you know these rules, you might to willing to trying converting your hobby into a legitimate business that you might grow into a steady and reliable income source.

The IRS Problem Solver, shows you how to legally convert a hobby into a legitimate business and how to defend yourself against an IRS attack on your business.

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Solving Tax Collection Problems

How to respond to IRS correction notices

General Accounting Office studies have shown that IRS correction notices are wrong half the time. The common correction notices include claims that made an error in your return, that you failed to file a return or underreported the income in your return. If you get a correct notice from the IRS that you do not understand, there is a good chance it was issued in error.
To prevent paying tax and penalties you do not owe, respond in writing to the notice using certified mail. Ask that the notice be canceled. Respond within the time stated on the notice to avoid any enforced collection action. As long as you are communicating with the IRS to resolve the issue, the chances of lien, levy or property seizure are greatly diminished.
If you have proof that IRS's claims in the notice are incorrect, send the proof via certified mail to the address shown and to the person indicated on the notice. If the IRS ignores your proof, you have the right to appeal that notice just as you have the right to appeal an auditor decision. To appeal a notice you must prepare and send a protest letter asking that the decision be re-examined.

For more information on how to respond to IRS notices, order a copy of my book The IRS Problem Solver.

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How to cancel IRS penalties

Each year, the IRS issues more than 30 million penalty notices to taxpayers. Few citizens realize that 100% of all penalties are subject to cancellation. Nearly every penalty section of the code includes what is referred to as a good faith, or "reasonable cause" provision.Very simply, that provision allows anyone who is issued a penalty to request abatement of that penalty when he can show that he acted in good faith and and based upon a reasonable cause for his actions.

When you get a penalty notice, you must first verify that a mistake was indeed made. If the IRS does not include an explanation of the error made, ask for one. Always communicate via certified mail, return receipt requested. Once it is established that the mistake is yours, you must communicate to the IRS that you always acted in good faith and then provide your reasonable cause explanation for the circumstances that caused the error.

The tax law is very confusing and the IRS makes as many, or more, mistakes than the average person. That's why they cancel about half the penalties issued when a proper request for abatement is made. To learn more about the cancellation of penalties, order my book The Problem Solver.

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How to cancel interest

Since many mistakes are found years after the tax return is filed, interest charges for past-due taxes can often double or triple the original tax bill. While many experts believe you cannot cancel interest, this is just now true.

To cancel interest on tax debt, you must show either IRS error or delay in making the decision that additional tax is due. It is not uncommon for the IRS to lose your case in their bureaucratic shuffle. When this happens, you can cancel interest on your tax debt. To learn more about canceling interest, order my book The Problem Solver.

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What is the statute of limitations on collections

The collection statute of limitations controls the amount of time the IRS has to collect a tax. The IRS has ten years to collect a tax once an assessment is made.

The actual assessment date is found on a notice of tax lien or in your Individual Master File. It is not uncommon for the IRS to try to collect a tax after the statute of limitations has expired. This is one good reason to understand how to spy on the IRS using Individual Master File information. To read more about an Individual Master File see the discussion on "How To Spy On The IRS" under the heading, "Surviving a Tax Audit."

The statute of limitations for audits is three years from the time the return was filed. If filed before April 15, the three-year period begins on April 15. For example, if you file your tax return for 1996 in January of 1997, the IRS has until April 15th of year 2000 to audit your 1996 return. If you file for an automatic extension of time to file your return, the three years begins on the date the IRS receives your return. For example, if you file your 1996 tax return on October 15, 1997, the IRS has until October 15 of 2000 to audit your 1996 return. This is why many experts suggest you do not file your return before April 15th. It simply gives the IRS more time to audit that return. On the other hand, filing with an extension does not limit the time to audit a return.

If you omit more than 25% of your gross income from your return, the statute of limitations for audit is extended to six years. This is why I recommend everyone keep their tax records for six years from the date of filing your return. It is not uncommon for the IRS to assert an omission of income in order to audit a return. Keeping the tax records is the only way to prove the IRS wrong in this situation.

For those who do not file a return at all, there is no statute of limitations. The IRS can audit you for any year in which they claim you have not filed. Herein lies yet another reason to request an Individual Master File on a regular basis. Record of filing a return is made in this file. If you have the record, the IRS can never claim you did not file a return or bluff you into enduring an unnecessary audit.

These are the general rules. Under certain circumstances these statutes may be extended as a result of actions taken by the IRS or you. For example, you may have unknowingly signed a waiver that extends the statute.

For more details on the various statutes of limitations and their exceptions, please order my book How To Get Tax Amnesty, and How to Win Your Tax Audit. .

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How to eliminate liens

A tax lien is the process the IRS uses to claim a security interest in any assets you hold. When left unattended, liens can lead to levy of wages and bank accounts or seizure of property. A tax lien can usually be eliminated by eliminating the tax debt. For details on handling tax liens, order my book, How to Get tax Amnesty.
For some people, the tax debt might impossible to pay because of interest and penalties. That's why it's important to always consider seeking abatement (cancellation) of penalties. For information on how to eliminate penalties, order my books How To Get Tax Amnesty or The Problem Solver Book.
In other cases, the tax debt is impossible to pay regardless of penalties and interest, just because it is so great. In this case, you must consider using one of the tax debt forgiveness programs operated by the IRS. The ability to be forgiven of tax debt you cannot pay is perhaps one of the biggest secrets the IRS has. There are a number of programs that the IRS tries to hide behind red tape and bureaucratic terms. But they are all explained clearly and simply in my book How To Get Tax Amnesty.

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Spousal tax relief

One of the biggest problems faced by divorced couples grows from the audit of joint tax returns that were filed while their were married. In many cases, one spouse (usually the wife) has no idea how returns were prepared. And if it turns out that there is an error in those joint returns, the innocent spouse is forced to pay taxes when she had no role in either earning the income or making the error that caused the debt.

But IRS attempts to collect tax from both parties because the return was filed jointly. When this happens, the innocent spouse has to assert the innocent spouse defense in order to avoid paying tax, interest and penalties for taxes that she had no control over.
For more information on the innocent spouse defense and how to assert it, order my book Taxpayers' Ultimate Defense Manual.

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How to stop a wage or bank levy

A wage or bank levy are commons steps the IRS takes to collect taxes that have been owed for period of time. Wage and bank levies can cause serious financial hardship because the IRS steps in and helps itself to your money without regard to your personal and family needs.

You can get relief from a wage or bank levy by contacting the Taxpayers Advocate (TA) located in you local IRS office. You can send a letter or file Form 911 to get the TA involved in your case.

When you show that a wage or bank levy will cause economic hardship, the TA can lift that levy and assign a revenue officer to your case. From there you can explore one of the tax debt forgiveness programs discussed in this web site. For information on how to use TA, order my books How To Get Tax Amnesty or Taxpayers Ultimate Defense Manual.

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How and when to use the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate

The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate (TA) can be used to intervene any time an IRS action is causing or is about to cause economic hardship. Removing wage and bank levies are examples of actions the TA can take. In some cases, the TA can even establish installment agreements that in turn, stop enforced collection action.
If you are currently involved in an IRS dispute, it would be to your benefit to find the TA in your area and keep the number handy. Also, get a copy of Form 911 and keep it handy. That is known as an Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order.
For more information on how and when to use Form 911 and the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, order my books How To Get Tax Amnesty or Taxpayers Ultimate Defense Manual.

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