Monday, October 18, 2010
Help Me Howard: IRS 10 years later
When you file your tax return you know you have to save them for awhile, but how long? One year, five years, forever? One South Florida man thought he knew the answer, now the IRS is coming after him for something that happened. Well you won't believe how long ago. Here is Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN - If your mother is dead you would probably give anything to be able to do what Joseph Minus does each week.
Joseph Minnus: "I always take her Wendys. Wendys is her favorite. Little sandwich, a little junior burger and she gets so excited."
Seeing his mother smile makes Joseph happy. Dealing with the federal government produces different reactions.
Joseph Minus: "I am irritated. I am aggravated and I am afraid."
Joseph recently got two letters from the Internal Revenue Service claiming he owed back taxes for two years.
Joseph Minus: "The grand total is $5,396.33."
That's irritating Joseph. What's aggravating him, the taxes are from 2000 and 2001.
Joseph Minus: "Now why they didn't do that sooner I don't know, but 10 years later I don't think that's fair."
The taxes are for Joseph's small construction company that builds churches.
Joseph Minus: "They wanted a parish hall and some classrooms."
Joseph and his family have had the same address for decades and he says the IRS has never sent him any notice about the taxes.
Joseph Minus: "I mean I didn't expect something so big to be coming from 10 years ago. I mean, I have no clue of where to begin."
Joseph says he was always told to keep his tax records for 7 years, but his 2000 and 2001 returns are not around.
Joseph Minus: "I have no clue of where they are. Who has 10 year old tax returns? That's a good question."
Further irritating him, the back taxes are $2,000, but since he didn't find out about them until ten years later the interest and penalties are $3,300, jacking the total up to $5,300.
Joseph Minus: "That's a lot of money. That's a lot of money I don't have."
Making it even worse, the IRS letters don't tell him what the violations are, so without ten year old tax returns, he has no way to even dispute them.
Joseph Minus: "I need to call somebody to help me and that's when Help Me Howard was the first place that I thought of and that's why I am calling you for help."
Well Howard, the Irs website says to save documents for three, four years, seven years, so can they wait 10 years while interest and penalties soar to come after you.
Howard Finkelstein: "In some cases the IRS rules and the law contradict each other, but if they don't notify you within the first three years, they usually lose the right to come after you. However, if they did notify you and can prove it, then they can come after you for up to 10 years."
When we contacted the IRS they told us they were not allowed to discuss a taxpayer's returns, they gave Joseph a number to call for help. The person there told him the IRS sent Joseph a letter for each tax return during the past 10 years, but Joseph says they could not tell him when they sent the letter. They also said the dispute involved an employee, but they could not tell him which one. However, they did tell Joseph if he paid $114 they could send him his 2000 and 2001 tax returns with the information.
Joseph Minus: "And now I have got to pay more money to turn back around to get information to be able to discuss the problem with them. I don't know what to do. This is not right."
The IRS also reminded Joseph that if he tries to fight them, the money he may owe will climb even higher.
Joseph Minus: "$5,300 by October 21st or I will be penalized with more penalties and interest, so this can very well double if it's not paid by October 21st."
Clearly Joseph is being reminded why so many people fear the IRS.
Joseph Minus: "It don't take no rocket scientist to know it's a lot of money, money I don't have and I can't. I don't know what to do because who fights against the IRS, they are too big."
Did the IRS only send Joseph one letter for a tax issue in 2000 and 2001. The IRS can't be sure yet. So, how do you fight the IRS? Well, the IRS has set up an independent advocate for taxpapers.
Their number is on our website. The taxpayer advocate has autonomy because I am told they answer directly to the IRS commissioner, so if you have a problem call them. They can help guide you. Joseph will be using them after the irs sends his tax returns.
Troubles taxing your temperament. Ready to return to form. Contact us. No penalties. No forms. Just interest in helping you.
For More Information:
Taxpayer Advocate: 1-877-777-4778 / 954-423-7677