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 Associates 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 who is listening has power and is safe from what devastated Florida during the last week or so. It was crazy, and I am not a native Floridian, so for me to see what was going on physically, was just unbelievable. I, quite frankly, don’t think the news media pictures and coverage was indicative of what actually went on. It was a lot worse, in my opinion. I think, they did a great job of coverage, don’t get me wrong, but I also think that to live it and to be there as all of my staff in the office did, they didn’t have power until earlier this week. They were literally worried if they would have enough gas in the car. They were riding their bikes to the convenience store at the gas station and just nibbling on snacks.
With no internet, businesses aren’t able to function. It is just the things that you don’t realize, and you almost take for granted, it was just a horrific experience. So, for anyone listening, I really hope that everyone is ‘OK’ and that life gets back to normal for all of the Floridians that were impacted. Also, the people in the Keys, the Virgin Islands and the islands of Turks and Caicos, St Barts, Barbuda. I had never heard of Barbuda, but now because of the news I have. Puerto Rico, Cuba and anywhere that got impacted. It was a massive storm, but let’s say good morning to Lance. Lance, how are you doing?
Lance: I am doing good. Hopefully, everyone in Florida is doing well and getting there slowly but surely.
Lawrence: Yes, you take it for granted in today’s world, and not having internet was just crazy. I want to make an uplifting set of stories today. We will talk about some IRS stories, but I want to go back and talk about a circumstance that happened on the Tuesday and Wednesday, before the hurricane hit, because it happens to me. I was in the office in Florida on Tuesday of last week and I was trying to get ready.
At this point, the hurricane was just tracking right down the middle of Florida the way the weather channel and the hurricane centre were predicting it. I was trying to get everything set and buttoned-up at the office. We have hurricane windows, thank God, but wanted to make sure everything was alright. So, on Wednesday morning, I drove in my SUV to Home Depot, not knowing how I was going to get plywood and how I was going to get it back from the Home Depot off of Linton, by 95 and Delray, and back to our office. I figures I would just wing it. The day before, thank God, we had a lucky connection and we were able to get five or six sheets of plywood, but it wasn’t enough to cover the whole front side of the building. So, on Wednesday I went for a hunt to Home Depot. It was only a couple of miles away. I got out of my car and while walking to Home Depot I saw this guy walking out of Home Depot, wheeling one of those contractor carts that sticks up like a shopping cart. I said to him, “Do you have any way that you could help me to get some plywood back to the office?”. He said, “They are out of plywood, but they have sheets of concrete”. I don’t know the exact term as I am blank on it, but it is sheet rock or concrete rock. It looks like plywood, but it is concrete. He said, “I am happy to help, by the way, I am Dan the Handyman”. I said, “Oh my God, you are not going to believe this, but I am probably the least handy person you would ever want to meet in your life. You will never get anyone who knows less about fixing or handyman stuff than me”.
Lance: I can confirm that.
Lawrence: So, I end up going into Home Depot. I buy four or five sheets of this concrete. I bring it back out and he and I (Dan the handyman) and his father, who was working with him and his assistant, lifted it into his flatbed sheet by sheet. He had a bunch of sheets for a job he was going to go and do. They literally followed me back to my office. I paid him. I said, “Here you go! I don’t care what it is. I am indebted to you. Do you want to also put them up?”. He said, “Sure, I will come back and put them up”. After that, when he left, he promised to come back. When we are sitting in Federal highway, even in heavy rain it floods a little. We don’t sit up very high in Delray Beach, so I was trying to figure out how to get sand bags. If you can believe it, I was going to take a garbage can and go to the beach with the garbage can, fill it and use garbage bags from our office to try and make a Mcgyver type sand bag system to protect the office.
Well, as it turns out, thank God, our landscaper who is a tremendous guy said, “Don’t worry, I am going to take care of the sand bags”. Little do I know, but the bags that house the sand is a little bit porous, and it is a different concept than me just going to the beach with a pale and a shovel and adding sand into a zip-lock or garbage bag from our office. It all got worked out, thank God, with the storm, at least for us.
Earlier this week, the office still didn’t have power. We are in this pocket of Delray. The buildings to the north of which is Enterprise Rent a Car had power and even going north towards Linton does, but I was just talking to some people who still don’t have power. I think FPL are going a tremendous job, so a big shout out to them. I think the city, at least in Delray, and some other cities have tried to get the word out as far as helping and being assisted. It really has been something that has been quite an amazing chain of events when people have just helped. Lance, you have heard about some of these things as well, right?
Lance: I have. Everyone is taking the time to pull over and help their neighbors. You were mentioning a story where a young lady, Hannah, was driving around in her pick-up truck pulling trees. That is crazy and it really shows the character of people when they go and help each other and their neighbors just to get through this clean-up. It is a long road, but everyone is helping out and we will get there sooner or later.
Lawrence: Let’s talk about Hannah. She is a single-mum. In fact, I want to back-up for a minute. When I got back to Detroit, I was asked to come onto a radio show that was doing a live broadcast from an NBC affiliate in Metro, Detroit earlier this week. They were trying to raise money for hurricane Irma victims. I think, it was around ‘Harvey’ as well. They asked me to come down as we have a big presence in Florida. They said, “Can you come down to the live broadcast at 07.30 hours”. You ended up going with me, Lance. It was so nice to hear and see the outpouring of support. When you are in Michigan, when you are in Metro, Detroit, you don’t really think about hurricanes. You see it on the news. You hear the stories. You hear of the devastation. You hear about looting. You hear that the Keys got literally decimated, but you don’t really worry too much about it. People think of Florida as a tropical destination. Not so much that you do business there, not so much that you have an office there. They think about the beach, the pool, palm trees and fun in the sun. In fact, the engineer who helps us with the show, he was still without power as of late last week. Even as at Thursday lunchtime on the 14th, he still didn’t have power. He lives in the Fort Lauderdale in Broward County. There is still a lot of people, and I don’t know the numbers, who don’t have power.
Then, what about cable and all of the necessities. Is gas back to normal and the airports and travel? It was just a chain reaction of things that go on. So, on the radio show in Detroit, it was such a nice thing where they had local newscasters from the NBC affiliates WDIV came on and there was a phonebank taking donations. What I heard, and I don’t know for sure, is that they raised north of $200,000 for hurricane relief. I think it went to the American Red Cross. I saw a guy when I was in the studios who walked by and he had an American Red Cross name tag on. Hannah, the single mother was texting me saying, “Can I help, what can I do, can I be of some assistance with whatever you need?” She was literally driving around in a blue Ford pickup around areas in Palm Beach County with rope and pulling debris out of the road just to be a good Samaritan. This is what this woman was doing. She is tough as nails, she is incredibly nice, she is a very sharp business woman, but what a good and kind heart, to go and help people like that. It was incredible. She was texting me some videos of moving a tree limb out of the way that was too heavy. She was literally pulling it herself. She set her phone down after putting it on record, and then she tied up the tree limb to a rope and tied that to her pickup and dragged it out of the way. It is crazy. You hear these incredible stories.
I heard another one too, and I want to get back to Dan the handyman. There was a couple came into Home Depot and last week you were able to buy generator online, you could pay and go in with your receipt. There was a guy buying a generator and the couple came in, or a lady came in (as the story goes) and said, “I really need a generator because my husband is diabetic and he needs it really bad. The guy said, “You need it more than I need it”, and he gave his generator to this lady who needed it for her husband. It really goes to show how the whole community banded together. So, Dan the handyman helps me at my office on Sunday, when the hurricane came through south-east Florida, and on Monday I get a text saying his house is demolished and the roof was ripped off. He and his kids are homeless and he just needs to work to try and get food. So, here is this guy that was so helpful and trying to help us and other people. He was running around like a madman at all hours of the night on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to get ready for it, and he now has no home. He and his kids are literally out. The schools are out on Palm Beach County. It is just the crazy things that go on, but on top of that, and ‘a shout out to Dan’.
It is really good people like neighbors who check on this and check on that for you in Delray. They have been really good to work with. The police have done an incredible job, especially for us and trying to protect areas that didn’t have power. It is a huge wave of support. So, that wraps up half of our show now, talking about the hurricane, but I really wanted to give it the conversation that it deserves. Thank God it is in the past, but for people who may be listening to the show, “I am so proud of Floridians, and these good Samaritans that were out there helping”. It is terrible what happened to the people in the retirement community in Hollywood. It is sad stories like that. It is horrible, but mother nature in California, you think about earthquakes. In the plain states like Oklahoma you think of tornedos and they they get them all the time.
When you live in a tropical environment, whether it is Texas or Florida or any seaboard locations, you have the concern over tropical weather and storms and hurricanes. We were just very lucky as to how this all unfolded. The forecast was a lot worse than the storm surge. I was glued to the weather channel as most people were. It was a very scary experience even for people who have been through hurricanes before. There was ‘Andrew’ or ‘Matthew’ last year. The magnitude, the sheer size of this one was just mind boggling. It was really just an incredible, mind-boggling one.
Lance: To compare the sizes, it trumped. It was five times the size and the pictures were unreal.
Lawrence: I will tell you that the resilience of the Florida people is something I have never seen, but Lance, why don’t you explain? We are going to shift gears now to tax resolution with an uplifting story. Tell us about the client who hired us where the revenue officer was just unwilling to cooperate and what we were able to do in a matter of minutes.
Lance: Absolutely. One of our client was trying to handle it on ‘his own’, as he put it. He said, “I am a smart guy, I run a business, I know what I am doing”. I said, “Of course”. It was a refrigeration company. He was going back and forth with a revenue officer for the past six months. I asked him point-blank, “So, what had been accomplished in the last six months from when you first started talking, to where you are at now?”. He said, “Well, nothing and he just took $6,000 out of my bank account”. I said, “Have you spoken to the revenue officer? Why did he levy you? What happened, exactly?”. He said, “He won’t return my calls”. So, he is not returning calls and has levied the account and at that point, I said, “You are a smart guy. I get it, but let us handle this one for you”.
Lawrence: Immediately, we get the power of attorney forms. Greg in my office gets the revenue officer on the phone and speaks to him. Within one hour, we were able to get the $6,000 bank levy released. Within one hour. Greg called me as the levy was released. I said, “Are you joking?”. He said, “Absolutely not”. It was perfect. We called the client and he was thrilled that his funds were released. He was able to pay his staff and pay a few bills. He wasn’t denying that he owed them money, he just fell on hard times. The business went through a six-month ‘cold spell’ as he called it. Then, all of a sudden, now things are doing better so he wants to pay. He is not avoiding payment. He is not saying that he does not owe this. He just needed a little bit of time and a little bit of a cushion to get him through this. Unfortunately, the revenue officer originally wasn’t so willing to deal with their client. Once Greg got a hold of them, it is all running smoothly. We are actually in the midst of getting a proper agreement into place and requesting some penalty abatement. The client is thrilled. We are happy. The revenue officer is even happy. The revenue officer claimed that the client was not communicating with him, the client said the revenue officer was not communicating, but ‘he said, she said’ does not really matter at this moment. We have got to get to the end game and that is what our job is.
How good does that make you feel, but how wrong is it that a client has to go through that. It is crazy to me, but what a great ending to that because we called. The client has been calling for week and weeks and doesn’t get a return phone call. We look like heroes, the client will be madly in love with us for the rest of their natural life, but let’s talk about another great uplifting story.
I am looking at, not even sixty days ago, 26th July. I am looking at a letter from the offer and compromise group out of Texas. My client happens to be from Michigan. We have accepted your offer and compromise signed and dated on 5th January 2017, and modified by an addendum on 10th May. This guy owed the IRS about $1.2 million. It may be more. I don’t know how much. It could have been $1.5 or $1.4 million. It was big numbers either way. The IRS accepted an offer of compromise of $52,600 (and change). Now, that was really one of the true pennies on the dollar. This guy was so happy and so relieved. He got his life back because his life has been in turmoil. He really has been through a lot in recent years. For us to be able to get him his life back and save him literally over $1 million, was just huge. He has got to keep his nose clean forever. Technically, it is five-years where you have to stay clean on filing times and pay on time, and being compliant, but ultimately, what a great story to have for todays’ show again. Whether it was the one you just explained, or this guy. Can you imagine? I can’t imagine owing the the IRS anything, let alone one million dollars plus. How do you sleep at night? I don’t even sleep at night.
Lance: I hear you.
Lawrence: It is such a stress and you go through these situations in life, and sometimes it is going to throw you some curved balls, but just to be able to help someone is so incredibly good. It makes you feel so good about it. I want to also tell another success uplifting story. Lance, you are familiar with this one too, actually. This was not the IRS. This happened to be with a State. We had a client that had a sequence of events where there was a death in the family. The clients father had passed away. The business then got taken over by his two sons, our clients. The CPA passed away. He was elderly. He was in his eighties and he, from what we were told, was very archaic with his technological skills. He didn’t have fax. He didn’t have email. He was always telling the client, “Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry”. So, we had in this case what we believed to be very solid reasons to wipe out about $14,000 worth of penalties on a $27,000 or $28,000 debt. This again was to a State, it was not the IRS.
We were back and forth multiple times with the collections division of this particular State, in a particular area that it was with, and we were then dealing with one of the managers’ managers. So, it was pretty high up in the chain of command. This lady, who was interacting with our office was nothing but unfriendly. I would probably say, rude and condescending and combative, and it completely made no sense. Why take that approach when we have very legitimate grounds? She was unwilling to have any dialogue whatsoever in a professional, polite, normal tone of voice to try and just talk it out. It was either her way, or the highway. There was no discussion in it whatsoever. It was crazy. It was just an unbelievable reaction and quite frankly, we didn’t expect it. To cut a long story short as we are coming up to the top of the hour here with about seven or eight minutes left, one of the gentleman who works in the Levy Office is the former assistant attorney general for Michigan. He was in charge of treasury collections. We asked him if he could get us this lady’s boss and keep on going up and up.
Lance: She would not give it to us.
Lawrence: Yes. I forgot about that. We said to her to please give us her boss’ name. We will make up a name here, ‘John’. We asked his last name, she said, “Smith”. What is his phone number? She didn’t want to give it to us. It was so bizarre.
Lance: Her exact words were, “I am speaking on his behalf”.
Lawrence: Right, exactly.
Lance: That is important to remember that part.
Lawrence: Right. Let’s fast forward. We end up speaking to two levels above her and there is a new director that got put in place for this particular division of the State of Michigan, and she couldn’t have been any nicer. She was apologetic, she was swift with her actions in resolving it and could not have been any nicer. In the meantime, what we did bring up in this little story is that it was the weekend before ‘Labor Day’, and the particular division of this particular State ended up levying their bank account. So, here it is. The Thursday or Friday before Labor Day and the guy has got to payroll, he has got to pay bills going into the long holiday weekend and his bank accounts get levied. Well, even if it had been addressed on the Friday there was no way because the bank would have taken one to two business days to get the levy reversed. This lady felt so bad, she was trying to accommodate that. It was really an unbelievable experience that these folks went through. Fast forward again, the lady at the top who is in charge of the whole division apologized and couldn’t have been nicer and said that this was not how things should have gone. She then had the person underneath, who was the person that we were not given his name called and he couldn’t have been any nicer, professional, polite and apologetic. He actually said that he had some dental work done and he came into the office when he wasn’t feeling too hot to try and help in the situation. That just goes to show you that, in my opinion, it is so wrong that you have to go through so many hoops to get what is fair and equitable.
Lance: Also, the gentleman came and said that the representative was absolutely not speaking on ‘my behalf’ and that he didn’t know why they would have said that. That was mind-boggling to me.
Lawrence: You are right. He said, “No-one is speaking on my behalf”. I said, “Well, that is what we were told”. The sad thing is, how many tax payers would have known how to navigate through that themselves, or how many power of attorney’s or tax resolution firms would have been able to get through to the right person, or been able to give a little bit of resistance back and say, “Your conduct, your demeanor, your attitude and tone is completely inappropriate and completely unprofessional”. It was just not called for because we did, and we were in the right, and I felt so good that the Levy Office was able to take the necessary steps to resolve this. The bottom line now is that the bank levy was reversed and released. The bottom line is that the State agreed to 100% penalty abatement and they agreed to abate the interest which is pretty uncommon. I think the net savings to the client was $18,000 or something like that.
Lance: Yes, $18,000 – $19,000.
Lawrence: Now, that client couldn’t have been any nicer. Wasn’t he just a nice guy, Lance?
Lance: Honestly, he is by far one of the nicest and most genuine people that I have ever come across in my life. He is just a genuine person. You don’t hear that word too often, but as genuine as can be, that is him. He is a great guy.
Lawrence: I want to say that we got into a side discussion on a health-related note and I have been trying to eat healthy. I am drinking these juice drinks. He said, “Oh my God, I have one of those Ninja’s”, and he came into the office on Thursday, a couple of days ago on the 14th at 0800hrs and he said, “I am going to make some of these blended juice drinks for your office just because you guys are so nice, whether it is the receptionist, the secretary. He literally sets up shop in our conference room with a whole big concoction. He had ginger, turmeric, carrot, celery, kale, apple cider vinegar and lemons. He cut it all up and put it in his juicer and it was incredible. Forget about what it tasted like which was great when we drank the juice drink. He made a pumpkin slushy with all of this healthy stuff, with no added sugar. It was really incredible, but the fact that he came to the office and did that. It was just to show how nice this guy is and how appreciative he was of what we did for him. His text to say thank you said he was so happy that our office was here.
By the way, the way he came to us was through a referral from a CPA. That CPA doesn’t even know the end of the story yet because he is out of the country on a vacation with his wife. So, I can’t wait to tell this guy how this ended up. It really just goes to show you why you need a tax resolution service. Whether it is a story like you mentioned with the revenue office, Lance, whether it is a story that I had mentioned about a particular States collections division that was just unfriendly and unwilling. It is mind-boggling to me, why is it like that? Why is it just not professional dialogue? I will actually just wind up the show in the Levy Office.
800 taxlevy, or locally 561 865 7800
I was talking to one of the former IRS revenue officers who works for me. Her name is Claire. She had a pretty uncomfortable interaction with a revenue officer this week. That is the politest, politically correct way to say it. I said, “Claire, that is one of your former colleagues”. She didn’t know her, but a revenue officer is a revenue officer. I said, “Why is that?” Her answer to me was, “Lawrence, I will just never get it. When I was a revenue officer I would do my job, but I was nice about it. I didn’t have to be mean and I didn’t have to be rude. I didn’t have to cut somebody off”. I said, “Claire, it is unbelievable to me, what are you going to do?” She said, “Now, I have got to get in touch with the manager and she will explain that she wasn’t like that when she was a revenue officer”. The chain of events that goes on is really quite frankly, a waste of time. Anyway, I will tell you another story when we have time. It is about another situation where Greg had to get involved, and get the territory manager. It just makes no sense to me that they could be so much more productive in the resolution of a file, than to have to constantly fight and climb up a mountain. It makes no sense to me, but look, if you have IRS tax problems give us a call.
We handle civil tax controversy only. Not everyone will qualify for an offer of compromise. We spoke about the gentleman earlier who owed $1 million and settled for just over $52,000 – it doesn’t always work, but if it does work and you qualify, the IRS accepts your offer and compromise and that is what the program is designed to do. You have to make sure that you qualify and if not, there is always a solution.
If you are worried, or if you can’t sleep, hopefully now that the hurricane mess is behind us, and again, I just want to say publicly to everyone, “Thanks for all of the Floridians for banding together, it really was a great sense of community and for people to help by letting people sleep in their houses. Some people had no power, some had AC and some didn’t. As good as it could have been, it really was with a lot of people coming together, and the sense of community especially here in south Florida where we have a pretty big presence. Signing off for now from the Levy Tax Help Show. You have Laurence Levy and Lance (? 00:26:52) in the house. Everyone please be safe, we wish you well. If you need anything at all, you call the Levy Office. Even if you need a handy man, we will give you that. We have got a bunch of people. Roofers, plumbers, electricians, whatever you need, we are happy to help. Give us a call.
Local, 561 865 7800
Enjoy the rest of the weekend, south Florida, take care.