Catch Levy & Associates on the radio Saturdays on Big Talk 850 AM WFTL Southeast Florida hosted by Levy Tax Help’s Lawrence Levy.
Introductory audio: Liens, levies, wage garnishments, back tax debts of all kinds. If you’re facing any of these tax debt problems, stay tuned for the next 30 minutes. This is the Levy Tax Help Show presented by Levy and Associated of Delray Beach, tax resolution specialists. Call Levy and Associated 24-hours a day, seven days a week with all of your civil tax questions, 1-800-TAX-LEVY, that’s 1-800-829-5389. Now, the Levy Tax Help Show.
Lawrence: Good morning, South Florida, and welcome once again to the Levy Tax Help Show. We hope that everyone is enjoying the heat in Florida and the summer months, and before you know it coming up really soon, next month, in a few weeks, the kids in Florida, they go back to school. For those of us like me who has a son or daughter going off the college, we say a little bit of a tearful goodbye. It’s a little bit of a bittersweet moment, as far as I’m concerned, but today… this is the last show of the month actually, Saturday 29th, let’s re-introduce everyone to Jenny from the Levy office. Jenny, how are you doing?
Jenny: Hello. Good morning.
Lawrence:Jenny actually happens to be relatively new to the Levy office. She has been around a little bit over a month now, but she also is bilingual. You’re originally from?
Lawrence: When you say my name, you say?
Lawrence: Right, it’s not Lawrence, it’s Lorenzo. Yes, I like that actually. It’s got a good ring to it. So, the phone number locally is 561-865-7800. The toll-free number 800-TAX-LEVY. Yes, Levy really is my last name. I’ll have Jenny give it out in Spanish for anyone who prefers Spanish. Let’s give out the local number.
Lawrence: That would be 561-865-7800. We get the zero, zero.
Jenny: You are correct.
Lawrence: Let’s talk about a few positive things and an upbeat note. Let’s go with some of the recent action in the Levy office this week. We had a client that had IRS issues literally dating back over a decade. I’m actually looking at the letter on my computer screen. I’m going to turn it a little bit so Jenny can see it. She probably heard this file talked a little bit about here because one of the POAs in this office happened to work this file. This gentleman had tax debt that goes back to 2005 – pretty crazy, huh? He owes, I don’t know the amount but I’m going to try to pull it up. The letter that Jenny and I are looking at out of the Memphis Tennessee Service Centre is dated July 20th, so just over a week ago.
It says, ‘Dear Taxpayer. This letter responds to your call on July 12th about the unpaid balance. Case closed’. Are there any sound effects, like yays? So, case closed, currently non-collectible. I’m going to read what that says. ‘We determined that you can’t pay the amount that you owe at this time. We temporarily closed your collection case for the tax periods listed above’. I have to read further. The gentleman owes quite a lot. What does that say, so you can hear it in a female voice? Sorry, you’ve got to push it closer to you. Do you want me to get your glasses?
Jenny: Actually, I do have them right here. It’s $1,092…693.
Lawrence: No, let’s read that all over again. Now the glasses go on. How much is that?
Lawrence: No, no. Read it…
Jenny: That’s crazy!
Lawrence: That’s why we need glasses in the office.
Jenny: I was not looking at that one. That makes a big difference.
Lawrence: Yes, so almost $200,000 this gentleman owes.
Jenny: Since 2005, you said?
Lawrence: Since 2005, yes. In the Levy office, we get clients all the time that owe whether it’s $200… Jenny is like, oh my god, heart attack time, right?
Jenny: I did have one (laughing).
Lawrence: Yes, so god forbid. We actually had two people in the office talk about that, having heart attacks. Allen had a heart attack. He had bypass surgery and Marc actually had stents put in a couple of years ago. Thankfully, they’re both okay. In this case, this gentleman couldn’t be happier. We got this letter in earlier this week – it was on Wednesday around two o’clock in the afternoon. We happened to see the letter come on in and I sent him a text personally and I said, “Hey… Great news. Are you ready to smile today?”, and he said, “Yes, what’s going on? I’m waiting to hear, I’m biting at the chomp”. I said, “Great news, IRS has deemed you currently non-collectible”. So, $192,000, they have deemed him unable to pay.
Lawrence:Now, this gets a little technical, excuse me as I’m choking on a drink. I drink this Ginger Zinger drink.
Jenny: I thought it said linger (laughing).
Lawrence: No, you know what, that’s with the glasses! No, it actually does look like an L but Ginger Zinger. It’s a Trader Joe’s brand, this organic drink. It just makes me feel healthy.
Jenny: Like a little commercial break.
Lawrence: There you go, a minor commercial, sponsored by Trader Joes, Ginger Zinger drink. But listen, this guy couldn’t be happier. He said, “Oh my god, you guys are a lifesaver”, and this is the second or third time he’s been around as a client. In this file, just to be specific, just so people know how this works, he actually had hired us back… I can’t see how far this goes back, probably back in 2010, maybe 2009. He had a business. The business went out of business and all this debt is from payroll taxes from his now old, defunct company. Married, nice guy, couple of kids, and just a really good feeling to have someone say how great they feel based upon what we do and how we can help them out. It’s really incredible.
So, that’s one of the really good success stories of the week that I wanted to at least bring up, but what’s coming up pretty soon? We have September 15th and we have October 15th. Since Jenny is relatively new in the Levy office, let’s talk about those. The September 15th deadline is if you had filed an extension for a corporation in March, the IRS gives you six months, so March 15th to September 15th. The October 15th deadline is the extension from the April 15th six months, April to October, which is for the individual.
For us… so, gear up Jenny from Caracas, there’s going to be a pretty big influx and we get real busy between now and, let’s say, the middle of October. From now until then, it’s literally as if it’s tax season; January, February, March.
Jenny: Tax season all over again.
Lawrence: Exactly, and this is just standard in the industry and things like that happen all the time. Let’s talk a little bit about what goes on with the IRS world. I want to explain this, to some extent, because a lot of the business that we get that you hear of clients, they get frustrated. That’s why they hire us. They get into a pickle. They try and navigate it themselves, and I’m going to explain a little bit of a story.
There was a client that we had got into a payment plan. I’m going to try to pull his file up on the computer as I’m talking to you, but when you get a call, you answer the phones here, right? So, when the calls come in, the IRS is asking for one of the Power of Attorneys. What happens if that person, that staff member of mine… in this office, we have Arnold, we have Danielle, we have Marc and we have Courtney, so there’s four Power of Attorneys in this office. Actually, Dan technically counts too because he is an EA, so there would be five.
If one of them is in the rest room, on the phone, meeting with a client, you tell the IRS they’re not available, right?
Jenny: And we schedule a conference call as soon as possible to make sure that communications are ongoing at all times.
Lawrence: That’s right. So, what happens is… right, speak into the mic, my dear.
Lawrence: So, what happens is the IRS will call and oftentimes, I can’t stand… I don’t like to use the word hate – it’s a strong word, but I really dislike playing phone tag. It’s not productive, it’s frustrating on both ends, it’s ridiculous, as far as I’m concerned. In the appeals division of the IRS, if we file an appeal, there is a specified date and time you have an appeals conference on July 26th at four o’clock in the afternoon Eastern Time, and everyone is going to be ready for it. With the revenue officer world, it doesn’t work like that, does it?
It’s almost as if sometimes the IRS calls hoping that the person on the other end isn’t going to be there. Do you get that impression occasionally?
Jenny: I do.
Lawrence: It’s horrible to me. It’s not right, it’s frustrating, it’s wrong.
Jenny: They also call at the very last minute of the deadline.
Lawrence: Right, 4.58 of the day or the deadline. So, how often is it that we get calls at 4.58, and either someone is not here perhaps or someone is on the phone? My protocol, or my procedure that I put in place is I now say, I tell you, “Please tell the IRS representative (it could be a revenue officer), our office policy is we schedule a phone call to avoid the phone tag”. It seems so practical.
Jenny: It works.
Lawrence: I do nothing more than copycat what the IRS does in appeals. I thought it was a great idea. So, there’s a specified time, you know what file. For us, we could be juggling god knows how many files at any given time and so here we have to jump because the revenue officer calls and we have to quickly see what’s going on with that file, pull up the computer notes, and try and answer it. To me, it makes more sense to have a scheduled time, a scheduled call where there’s going to be something that’s going to be on point where everyone can be focused.
Let me give you an example of a gentleman. This gentleman was our client back in, I want to say, 2016 is when the file started, April 2016. We got him into a payment plan. He owed the IRS, I’ll tell us roughly how much he owed the IRS, let’s see if I can find that one out. This gentleman owed the IRS a decent amount of money. Let’s see if I can quickly see what it is here. He owes the IRS quite a bit, I was right. As of July of last year, about a year ago, before interest and penalties, this guy owed the IRS $210,000 plus penalties, plus interest.
One of the engineers here, who is the substitute guy but he’s really the guy, is shaking his head, can’t believe it, but it happens. This amount, I’m going to blow this up on my computer so there’s no mistake. What does that amount say?
Lawrence: Right, $210,000 plus penalties, plus interest, okay. That number if probably north of $250,000, no question.
Jenny: This is backtracking how many years?
Lawrence: This goes back to, and I will tell you, this is for… let’s see what years it is. Actually, it doesn’t even say. It says, ‘see attached’. Let’s go to the attachment. This is actually since 2008, so 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. This gentleman’s resolution was he goes into a payment plan of $2,193 a month. He makes a decent amount of money. I don’t remember if he is single or married but anyhow, that’s his resolution that he had.
Cut a long story short, he ends up having his bank account a year later, so we’ll call it April of this year, he had fraud on his bank account. The file for us is closed. Unbeknownst to us, and I found out literally last week actually when I was out of town, he said he called the IRS. He said his bank account, and he told the IRS himself, was compromised and therefore he had to set up a new direct debit with a different bank account. Instead of it being what should have been a pretty easy call for him, he said the IRS representative asked him to go over all the financials again, so basically what’s called a 433A over the phone; what do you make, what do you spend, what do you have, then said, “I don’t think you need to do that, let me transfer you to a different department”. He got bounced to another person.
That person said, “I’m not the right person, let me send you to someone else”. That person said, “Sir, all you need to do is fill out a new direct debit form. I’m going to mail it to you or you can go online”. I don’t remember what happened. He fills it out, and this was back in April. Here we are now in July and he just received in the mail intent to levy notice, like my last name. The notices are dated rather recent. July 24th actually is the date of the notice. IRS occasionally has a knack for post-dating things. So, the letter is actually dated July 24th and we happened to receive it on July 20th – go figure. IRS post-dates their letters. Amazing, isn’t it? That’s normal, it happens.
Jenny: What happens in that case with his instalment plan?
Lawrence: Well, here you go, read it. I’ll just flip you the computer. What does that say? Intent to terminate your instalment agreement, right. So, because he didn’t make his payment, he has an intent to terminate. The language in there says ‘the monthly payment for your instalment agreement is overdue because we didn’t receive one or more payments as your instalment agreement requires. You have until August 23rd to make a payment or it will terminate. In addition, this is your notice of intent to levy’.
By the way, Levy really is my last name. You see a lot of the word ‘levy’ and I think your job, your paycheck is signed ‘Levy’, the building says ‘Levy’, the IRS says ‘levy’ out there, but I just happen to be… you know who we thank for that? We thank my dad for that, right.
Jenny: Of course.
Lawrence: We’ll talk about my dad in a minute. I love talking about my dad, great guy, the greatest guy in the world. Everything good about me is because of my dad. Everything not so good about me is my fault. That’s the way I explain it. So, ultimately, I called him, and I said, “Hey, Mr. John Doe, what’s going on? I thought everything was good”. he went to explain to me how he got bounced around and bounced around at the IRS. He said it was over a two-and-a-half-hour call and he thought he did the right thing. He said, “I am so glad you reached out to me. I need your help. This is why I get so frustrated”.
Here’s a good example of a client who owes almost a quarter of a million dollars. It wasn’t his fault that he had bank fraud and so the bank shut down his account and therefore his instalment agreement didn’t debit, and now he is into what we call this IRS vortex. That’s what I told him and I said, “Look, John Doe, you are in this IRS vortex. Get us proof of your bank fraud where they shut down your account and we will go through the steps to try and fix it”. He wouldn’t know that you can file what’s called a 911. He wouldn’t know that you can file what’s called a cap. He just wouldn’t know these things, what’s going on in the IRS world as far as what mechanisms exist or vehicles will be able to fix it. That’s why you call the Levy office. The phone number again… shall we do the English version first?
Jenny: The English version.
561-865-7800, toll-free 800-TAX-LEVY. Do you want to give it a little whirl in Espanol?
Jenny: Do you want me to give out the local number?
Lawrence: Yes, the local number is good.
Jenny: Okay, (Spanish).
Lawrence: 561-865-7800, and that’s toll-free 800-TAX-LEVY.
Jenny: You mentioned filing a 911. What is that?
Lawrence: Well, there you go, this is a great show! A 911, what does it sound like?
Jenny: Oh, an emergency.
Lawrence: Right, so that’s sort of what it is. A 911 is a form that you request taxpayer advocate to get involved. Taxpayer advocate, if you break the word down for what it says, it should be advocating for the taxpayer. It’s a division of the IRS that is there to fix problems when they can’t get fixed otherwise through other channels.
Jenny: And not get stuck in the same…
Lawrence: Vortex, right. You were making your finger do one of those circles around in a merry-go-round.
Jenny: Because that’s how it goes. They send you everywhere and you don’t accomplish anything.
Lawrence: Exactly. It’s one of those things where you try and reach out to someone, a taxpayer advocate, and what taxpayer advocate is, and it’s right on the website by the way, ‘the taxpayer advocate…’, and I’m literally reading, ‘…is your voice at the IRS. We ensure you’re treated fairly and know and understand your rights. If you’re having tax problems and have not been able to resolve them with the IRS, you may be eligible for taxpayer assistance, taxpayer advocate help’. Taxpayer advocate is a decent tool that we use from time to time to try and resolve problems.
Some of the times, they’re helpful. Most of the times, they are, but look at this gentleman who ended up getting into a pickle because it wasn’t his fault. The taxpayer advocate service is an independent organisation within the IRS that is ‘your voice at the IRS’. By the way, I’m reading right from the IRS website. ‘Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights as a taxpayer. Taxpayer advocate can help if you can’t resolve the problem with the IRS and your problem is causing financial difficulties for you and your family or your business, you face or your business is facing immediate threat of adverse action, you’ve tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded to you, or the IRS hasn’t responded by the date promised. Each state has at least one local taxpayer advocate who is independent of the local IRS office and reports directly to the National Taxpayer Advocate’.
In this case, we reached out to taxpayer advocate but the average person would not know 1) how to do that, 2) that this even exists, 3) that you can also file what’s called a cap appeal to try and preserve that, but that’s what a 911 is. Here’s a good example of this guy who owes a quarter of a million dollars, and it wasn’t his own fault. He was in a payment plan. His bank account got…
Jenny: He even tried to fix it and he wasn’t able to do it.
Lawrence: He was on the phone for three hours. I’m telling you, this guy couldn’t be any nicer. In fact, after we’re off the air, we’ll give him a call and I’ll just let you have a chat with him and say, “Hey, we just talked about you on the radio”. It’s nice sometimes for my staff to hear from the client how frustrated they are and how much they are concerned about the level of frustration. They just don’t know what to do. Unfortunately, you get in this pickle.
I’ll give you another couple of examples we had. IRS, they make mistakes, right, not very often. People think they do but it really isn’t that often. Generally speaking, they really don’t make a tremendous amount of mistakes. We had a file which was multiple years, like this, and one of the years was missing, and it was a mistake that the IRS had on the form that they sent. We probably called five or six times to try and have this person at the IRS fix this and literally had not responded once. So, now we have to get the manager involved and then we have to keep going up and up the chain of command. It’s very frustrating, but tax resolution firms are out there to resolve tax problems.
The Levy office, we really pride ourselves, and you know probably more than anyone, you and I in fact… I’ve only known you for a month but I think your personality is awesome, you’re a great fit for the office. We text, we text sometimes after hours. When I was texting and you said, ‘I’m driving’, I love that auto response.
Jenny: My app.
Lawrence: Is that an app you have?
Jenny: It’s an app. It’s in my car, it does that.
Lawrence: So, if you’re in the car…
Jenny: As soon as the car is on and moving then it will reply that if you texted me.
Lawrence: Wow, I love that. I’m a nutcase about that. We have kids, you see. How old is your…
Lawrence: Right, I have an 18-year-old too, it’s scary. Does your 18-year-old use that?
Jenny: Well, if he’s in the car, yes.
Lawrence: Exactly. That totally freaks me out.
Jenny: I’m really against text and driving.
Lawrence: So am I.
Jenny: He’s known that forever so he’s really good about it too.
Lawrence: No, it’s a scary thing. We’re really thinking of customer service. So, when clients call, no matter what it is, in fact this week I think it was Sunday night or Monday night, literally I want to say it was at midnight, 12.30 AM Eastern Time, we had a call come into the office because we’re open 24/7, like Vegas. The Levy office never sleeps.
Jenny: It is true.
Lawrence: Right, it is. You’ll see the emails that I send, you haven’t seen a lot of them because you and I don’t have that need to communicate as frequently because of where you are and what you do compared to where am I and what I do, but I send emails at three o’clock, four o’clock in the morning, but that’s our style. We’re here for our clients. In fact, last weekend on Saturday morning at 9.30 talking to a client, that doctor client of ours, the guy who owes a tremendous amount of money. He was so happy with the call on a Saturday. We then talked on Sunday at one or two o’clock in the afternoon.
You don’t find a lot of firms out there that do that, but we do. Even though I own the company, I’m probably one of the most hands-on people that you could ever meet. The difference is, and I think you’re seeing this now, Jenny, we care. We genuinely care about the client. They’re just not a client number in a computer. We care. We want them… like the lady you talked to today… actually it wasn’t today technically, it was earlier in the week but the lady you talked to, I said, “Tell her I miss her, tell her I love her”. She’s a nice lady. She lost her husband, she’s a widow, and just a sweet, down to earth, nice lady. It was great talking to her. When you said that, what did she say?
Jenny: Oh, she loves it.
Lawrence: She was oohing and aahing, right? She’s got a tough take by the way.
Jenny: She feels cared for and she likes that. I mean customers like that. I’m so into customer service. People need to feel like you care.
Lawrence: Right, and I want to give you a shout out because I do it not probably enough actually but I’m going to do it now. Since you’ve come on, you’ve wanted to do more, you’ve wanted to expand what you do in the office, you want to help. I ask you to do something and you do it in literally three seconds flat. In fact, earlier this week, I had a problem with my Uber app. I needed someone to help me with the city Uber app. It’s either you or my kids but I can’t figure it out. I was back and forth, but it’s frustrating when you get into these situations.
I’m going to give you one last… I want to close with this. I’ve talked about this gentleman and his family for a tremendous amount of weeks now. There is a gentleman that’s a client, husband and wife, they have a couple of kids, and this gentleman owes quite a bit of money. I’m going to pull it up here on the computer again. We’ve talked about his family issues. He’s got a daughter who is very sick.
Jenny: We talked about it in the past.
Lawrence: Yes, nice girl. Last weekend, I actually went and saw the daughter. She was back in the hospital. I haven’t even told you. I went and I bought her a little sweatshirt, like a little hoody thing when I was out of town. I’d never met the girl in my life. In fact, I’d met the mom once ever and I text her on Saturday and I said, “Hey, do you mind if I just come and say hello at the hospital?”. This case was handled by IRS appeals. The dollar amount that this family owes is significant. It’s a lot. It’s over $150,000 plus interest and penalties. That’s from 2013 onwards, through 2016 actually. I mean the nicest of the nice families. They have several kids. In fact, their middle child just turned 16 years old, just got his license a couple of weeks ago and I said, “You can even babysit my 11-year-old”. The family is so nice.
The appeals officer, I can’t say the name obviously, and I don’t know if I’ve ever done this before but I’m going to do it now because it’s justified. This appeals officer couldn’t have been any nicer. This appeals officer bent over backwards trying to give every break that legitimately, ethically and legally the IRS could give to this family. This poor girl, who by the way is tough as nails. When I went into the hospital, she said, “Hi, nice to meet you”. She’s actually showing me what she’s got going on. I cringe and I said… I’m going to finish off by saying the story about my finger in the last five minutes. She’s showing me what’s going on and what she can eat and what she can’t eat. It’s some gastro stomach issue she has going on, but such a tough girl, sweet girl, nice girl, a teenager, and the IRS appeals officer went above and beyond in my opinion.
One of the POAs in my office, Danielle, was working on the file and had to show all these medical records and the history. I mean this girl has been in and out of the hospital, I don’t even know in the past month or two, probably 12 times.
Jenny: Oh, my goodness.
Lawrence: It was absolutely horrific what this family have gone through. Let me back up. You saw my finger and heard the whole story? You heard the story?
Jenny: No, I don’t know anything about after when you got the stitches out.
Lawrence: Yes. So, I ended up slicing my finger open the weekend before July 4th and I was opening up a package with zip ties. I’m happy to talk about it on the air. I was opening up this package with zip ties and opposed to doing the normal thing and going to get scissors or snippers, they’re called, I didn’t. I reached into the kitchen and grabbed the closest thing which was a very sharp kitchen knife, and I’m struggling with the package trying to take the knife and put it underneath the zip tie, pushing and pulling, because I’m right handed. The next thing you know is I pushed or pulled too hard and slipped. I sliced my finger from my nail to my knuckle, not my fist knuckle but the knuckle right above my wedding ring. I had five stitches in that concentrated area.
Here I am walking into the hospital and I’m telling this girl, “Let me tell you about my finger”.
Jenny: Oh my…
Lawrence:It was shameful, “Let me tell you about my five stitches”, and oh my god, my wife is making fun of me, my kids are making fun of me. So, I went in and I said, “The past three weeks since this has happened to me, I’ve told this story almost every day”, because I had a bandage around my finger for a couple of weeks. Someone said, “Oh, what happened to your finger?”, “Oh my god, it was horrible, there was this zip tie”, but I told people because I wanted them to know – don’t use a silly kitchen knife, open up a packet with scissors or snippers, but here I am complaining a little bit about my silly finger, right, and here’s this girl whose family owes the IRS, I don’t even know the number but $175,000 and this girl is in and out of the hospital and has medical issues that you wouldn’t want. As a mom, no one would want to wish this upon their children.
I mean, the dad is the strongest guy I know, the mom is the strongest lady that I know dealing with all these medical issues. The kids are absolutely incredible. They’ve got an older daughter who coincidentally knows my older son. The middle son is 16 and I happened to have the luxury of meeting him, the pleasure of meeting him, and here I am talking about my silly finger. Almost shame on me, right, but I’m admittedly… a few things about me; I know nothing about sports, don’t care, don’t know anything even though I played tennis and was good at it back in my day – don’t care, don’t know, means nothing to me. I don’t care when the Super Bowl is, don’t care who wins the final four, don’t care who wins any of the sport stuff, means nothing to me, and I don’t do well with medical stuff – I’m a wimp.
Jenny: Or Uber apps.
Lawrence: Yes, and I’m not very handy, but other than that, I’m all good. So, I wanted to give a public shout out that I’m so thankful that the IRS appeals officer went above and beyond to help out this family. It just goes to show you that done the right way, if the stars line up with the right person, with the right representation, the IRS will and can do the right thing. There’s a lot of things in the IRS world that are very discretionary, that are very subjective, but in this particular case, a very… if not the most deserving family that I’ve seen maybe in my career, maybe in the history of the firm deserves the break. This wasn’t one of those pennies on the dollar deals, this was going to be a full pay instalment agreement but ultimately, it could have been a lot more per month. The appeals officer really went above and beyond.
If you have IRS issues, we talked about the gentleman who was on the phone with the IRS and got the run around for three hours. He owes a quarter of a million dollars. We talked about the other gentleman who owes almost $200,000 who got placed in non-collectible status. We have upcoming deadlines. If you have IRS issues and you haven’t filed, give us a call. The local phone number is 561-865-7800 and Jenny will give it out one more time in Spanish.
Lawrence: The toll-free number is 800-TAX-LEVY, and yes, Levy really is my last name. Lawrence Levy signing off for now, but if you’re Jenny, you don’t call me Lawrence Levy, you call me…?
Lawrence: Jenny, signing off from Levy Tax Help Show. Enjoy the rest of the weekend South Florida. You take care.
Jenny: Thank you.