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 somewhat back to normal, as normal can be considering what went on with Irma and the weather, and now the tropics. Once again, we had Maria, but I want to talk about some uplifting things. Last week, for a lot of listeners out there, we had some upbeat, uplifting things.
As of the airing of last week, the Levy Office still didn’t have power on Saturday morning. We actually ended up getting the power back on Saturday night. Around 07.30 at night, we had a text message alert from FPL. So, a big shout out to FPL and everything that they have done to try to restore power and of course Comcast and the wi-fi and internet providers and so forth.
Today, I have one of our staff who has been on the show before. I happen to have another Michelle in my life. Michelle, my wife is not with us as she is working away, but this Michelle is. We were in a staff meeting earlier this week. It was on Wednesday. We had a staff meeting just to play some catchup. What she said to me really touched me. I thought it was really nice and I want to bring it up in a second. So, Michelle, good morning.
Michelle: Good morning.
Lawrence: Bright and early!
Michelle: Much too early
Lawrence: It is alright. Listen, you do what you have got to do in the Levy office to get it done. Lance, how are you doing?
Lance: I am doing phenomenal, how are you guys?
Lawrence: Yes. In the winter months, Michelle, you haven’t actually had the pleasure of physically seeing Lance, but in the winter months he eats a lot. He adds on weight and muscle. He is a like a work-out nut. His arms are like this.
Lance: Bulking season. It is phenomenal, I love this time of year.
Lawrence: Right, bulking season, but we are not here to talk about Lance’s workouts and fitness, although this ‘ginger zinger’ drink right here that I am drinking. It is actually not ‘ginger zinger’, but it is something like that from Fritter Joes, and it is my offshoot of spending $10 on a raw juice drink that I sometimes waste money on. For me, I look at it as health and there is really no price that you can put on your health.
Let’s talk about what went on. The Levy Office this past week was our first week back up and running. We were closed for literally 6 ½ business days. I want to give a shout out to Michelle who actually came here with Alan, one of the quasi-office managers, to try and get information so that she could remotely do some things to try and help out our clients. So, I just want to tell you how cool I thought that was. How honorable it was, and for one of the newest employees here in the Levy Office your work ethic, your style and your approach around wanting to help. You and I were talking throughout the hurricane. We were talking and texting to make sure you were okay. Did you have any power at all?
Michelle: Not at all.
Lawrence: How about Jack, the engineer, did he lose power? Three days, but are you in the south?
Lawrence: You are in the north. Where about?
Michelle: The place to be.
Lawrence: Michelle, you are in Coral Springs?
Lawrence: So, you guys got really lucky. I lost power, the office lost power. When the office lost power, I kid you not, it was out for 6 days. Right next door to us Enterprise had power. To the south of us at the barber shop and Finnegan’s, the Irish bar and that whole little strip mall, or plaza (we will call it) were out. When you go further south to Auto Zone and Walmart, they were up. It was just pockets of the neighborhood. The homes behind us in the neighborhood were out too, but everyone was doing everything they could. The City of Delray Beach were great for us at the Levy Office. Their police force were monitoring. They were out there, helping. If you aren’t in Florida, you don’t know what went on. It was really bad. It was a lot worse than, I think, the news media saw. The people in Michigan, as an example, saw it. They didn’t know. Jack, you were out of power for 3 days. We had staff here. Some of Michelle’s colleagues were literally eating peanut butter and crackers just to get by. Then, how are they charging their phone? By sitting in their car, but then if they run out of gas there is no gas, and this domino effect. Then, most businesses, take us for example, thank God, we were able to function. Thank God, our Michigan office was able to step up to the plate and the staff here were doing things remotely as best they could. I have never loved having more than one office than I did in this particular, mother nature event that occurred. It really was great, but I want to give a big shout-out to my team. The Levy team was really helpful. They did what they had to do. They accommodated the clients the week that we were literally out. We were out the whole week. That is one of the craziest things. I could not believe it, and sitting there, and not being a native Floridian it was pretty bizarre. It was almost surreal to see that going on. I was a lucky guest last week on NBC affiliate in Detroit and I was brought in for a radio show where they were doing a fundraiser for hurricane victims. Also, just to raise funds for Irma. Through the radio show collaborating with WDIV which is the local MBC affiliate, Metro, Detroit, I don’t know the exact numbers, but it was in the hundreds of thousands that was raised in a matter of a day. There are people all over the country giving.
Earlier this week, I was up in Michigan and I walked into a bank, and there was a sign at the bank that said, ‘Donate for hurricane Harvey’. So, I walk up to the teller and I say, “Who is the manager?” They say, “Why, what’s wrong, Mr. Levy”. I said, “Let me tell you something. While I respect, and I sympathize and empathize to people that went through this in Texas, you guys have got to modify your sign to include Irma too, and soon to be Maria and the devastation that is doing”. Earlier this week that tropical storm turned into a cat.4 or cat.5. Puerto Rico and some of those (? 00:06:09) islands are decimated. I was watching an interview on Fox or CNN and some guy from St Thomas was saying what they had gone through and the devastation, and they rely on tourism. It is crazy to me. It is sad, in any event. So, we raised a lot of money. I think, I was a little helpful in that because I was able to tell some of these stories that otherwise, people would not know about. Enough with the weather, quite frankly, I think we are done with it. Please God, it is still hurricane season and it has been an active one in the tropics. The water temperature has been ripe. The winds, or lack of, and the wind-sheering, or lack of has been right. I feel like I have almost gone to weatherman school. I feel like I know a little bit about it when I talk about wind-sheering and pressure. It is just crazy.
Michelle: That much pressure.
Lawrence: Yes. It is things that you don’t really know about until you have to live through a tropical weather system that was pretty severe. It could have been a lot worse. The Keys got pummeled. I do want to say also that I talked to a police officer locally, here in Boca on Wednesday 19th at about three o’clock in the afternoon. We try and be philanthropic and do what we can for various charities throughout the country, quite frankly. We are active in the Florida local Boca police, Delray Police Benevolent Fund. I got a call from one of the police officers saying that through my connections, do I have any way to get 2 cycle oil? Again, Jack is piping up because I am not a handy guy. What would you think 2 cycle oil would be used for?
Lawrence: Right. I think of generators, boats, engines, but what they were doing was, the Boca Benevolent Fund, through Boca Police and Boca fire, ended up getting together a semi-load of chainsaws and they needed the the 2-cycle oil to use in the chainsaws. I think, they were getting it from the STIHL company. This guy called and asked if I though West Marine would donate. I said that I happen to know a manager there. Literally, that was in play, but how nice is it that they are driving down to Marathon to help out the fire department and the police just with chainsaws. Again, Lance, I didn’t have the chance to tell you that, but it was pretty crazy.
Things that go on in the tax resolution world, quite frankly, are pretty crazy to me too. I have got to be honest with you. This week we had a story that I want to share with you, and then I want to get into what Michelle said when we had our staff meeting this week. Earlier this week, on Tuesday, I was talking to a representative from a particular state. It was not Florida. Our client owed about $16,000 in back payroll taxes. It was state with-holding. I said that we were going to be filing an offer and compromise. Certain states have an offer and compromise program. Florida does not, officially. It is like the IRS, but this particular state did. I said, “Do you mind if we get a little bit of extra time to get the paperwork together and then we have to do some financials”. She said, “Why?” I said, “Well, some of the book-keeping work has to be done in our Florida office. She says, “You are telling me, that for a particular tax payer who doesn’t have a business in Florida and you are calling me (I was in Michigan at the time). You want to use the hurricane as an excuse!” I said, “Excuse me! I cannot believe you just said that. I have loved ones in Florida. I have my staff who I treat like loved ones”. Was I texting you all the time?
Lawrence: “I have a building in Florida, and an office in Florida, and a lot of our book-keeping is done in Florida.”
Lawrence: So, right on the IRS website, if a taxpayer is in an affected area, or their books and records are there, the IRS is giving you the relief and giving you a break on ‘time’. I said, “Why would you not say, ‘Oh, I saw it on the news, I hope your family is okay if you have one, your friends and staff are okay’ “. Instead, this lady was as rude as you could ever imagine. I said, “I have got to tell you, I am going down this week. Do you want me to take a screenshot of my itinerary? Do you want me to call you when I get down to Florida, and to dial you from our landline so that it comes up, or better yet, why don’t you Google earth and see the Levy Tax Professionals Office, right on Federal Highway?”. This is the nonsensical conversation that was had. I am still aggravated about it, even now, a few days after. Why not have some humanity? Why not say, ‘I am so sorry. I heard about it on the news. I can’t believe it. It is no problem, a couple of extra weeks on a $16,000 debt’. It is not like they owe $100,000,000 in some major case. It was one of the most unreal stories that I have ever seen, and I lived it. I am still pretty hot about it, I have got to tell you.
So, the next day, I called her manager’s manager. I explained what took place. The gentleman was so nice. He was so apologetic and immediately said, “I am so sorry about that interaction”. What more can we do at that point. She didn’t swear. She was rude, there is no question. I wall call it obnoxious to be honest. She was just really cavalier. Almost, as if we were using the excuse of the hurricane, a catastrophic event for a lot of people as an excuse. Do I need to explain to her that we are just brought a lady in recently called ‘Michelle’ and a lady named ‘Lisa’, who were brought in for the specific job of…what is your title?
Michelle: Accounting, book-keeping.
Lawrence: Right, book-keeping. Do I need to explain that now? I am explaining it publicly down the air, but do I need to go into that much detail with you? You are cold hearted and you are rude, you were that condescending on the phone, why don’t you just ask if everyone is okay? Can you believe that, crazy? It really is shocking. Our tax payer dollars at work.
Lance: Lawrence, the one thing that you failed to mention was, let’s say this business owner got another revenue officer in the same exact office, that other revenue officer could have easily granted them the 2, 3, 4 weeks, or two months to get situated, but it is just unfortunately the luck of the draw for this tax payer that they got a revenue officer that was not so understanding. Let’s use that word, which is just frustrating. It frustrates me.
Lawrence: That is being way too polite ‘not so understanding’. She was just outrageous, but what recourse do we have. It is horrible, but let’s move on to something more positive. The end result of that was all okay.
Let’s now talk about the meeting that we had last week. We had a full staff meeting with tax prep. staff, and then a different one for the power of attorneys which is the accountants, the book-keepers, the enrolled agents, the CPAs from the offices here, and up in Michigan they were on the phone, and we had some deadlines. Even though the IRS has extended some deadlines, we don’t want to necessarily kick the can down the road, because guess what? When these deadlines and extensions are up, where are we at?
Michelle: We are still pushing to get them.
Lawrence: And, we have got tax season right around the corner. So, before you know it, the extensions that are granted because of the hurricane are going to take us to the early part of January which is still a few months down the road, but then what? Now we have tax season so we have still got to get these things done. So, in that conversation, I said, “The Levy Office needs to do whatever we need to do to get these done. We have lost a week of time for the most part and let’s use what we can to help out and band together”. So, I had one staff member say, “I will get done as much as I can”, and then you, Michelle, said…?
Michelle: I will do whatever I need to do to get it done. I have no kids at home. I have no reason not to be able to stay late and help out.
Lawrence: Then, I offered to buy dinner.
Michelle: And, I agreed.
Lawrence: I think I said that one-night Chinese food and one for Thai food.
Michelle: I ate lobster and I wasn’t allergic to shellfish.
Lawrence: I tell you, I am so happy and proud about the way my staff handled the situation, and how we all banded together. How, you especially, Michelle, were able to come to the table and say, “I will do whatever I can”. You stayed late and I just think that is great. So, I wanted to give you a public shout out.
Michelle: Thank you.
Lawrence: Let’s talk a little bit about what is called an Ofreeze. I am going to do this really quick. An Ofreeze IRS. Let’s see what comes up if you do it like that. Here is what they call freeze codes and there are certain freezes that are put in. This is a modified, October 1st.: –
“The ‘O’, as in ‘Oscar’ imprints that a disaster freeze will only be (? 00:15:20) systemically by the information and technology services at the request of the disaster program office, or on a case-by-case basis by compliance personnel. Employees outside of compliance will no longer input the ‘Ofreeze’. The ‘Ofreeze’ allows for a special penalty. In this calculation, the ‘Ofreeze’ suppresses some master-files and IDR notices. The ‘Ofreeze’ does not freeze the module from refunding. (So, your refund is not held up.) The ‘Ofreeze’ may be systemically set on identified taxpayer account in presidentially declared disaster are, ala. Texas, and ala. Florida. The ‘Ofreeze’ is released with the current date is beyond the secondary date of the disaster ending date on what is called the ‘TC971’.”
So, if a practitioner calls and it is located in a covered disaster area, and maintains records for several tax payers located outside of the disaster area, inform the practitioner to call the special services line, prepare and excel spreadsheet for ten or more, and mail it into the address. The address where you mail it is right here in Florida, in Jacksonville. So, there is a bulk request, there is a website for disaster relief, but the IRS has this thing called an ‘Ofreeze’, and if anyone is listening out there, it is not a ‘Pass Go’ and get the $200. It is not one of those. It is not a get out of jail free case. We only deal in civil IRS controversy in the Levy Office. You have to rebuild your house. You have to do work on your fence and on your yard. You had some damage, I presume. Did you have damage, Jack?
Lawrence: I had some damage, but it was minimal, thank God, and nothing major. Again, the amount of debris in the parking lot and in the office, was tremendous. That vacant lot next to us that we think is quasi-city owned and the tree that fell, thank God, fell that way. The transformer, I heard, was leaking this week and it could have caused a fire. There are so many things that go on, but IRS is giving people a justified break, and you should call us. I haven’t given out the phone number and we are coming up on the top of the hour with 10-minutes left. Call us if you have questions.
Locally, 561 865 7800. Again, that is 561 865 7800, or toll free 800-taxlevy.
Yes, Levy really is my last name. That is why your pay check is signed, they have Levy on it, right?
Michelle: I don’t see a pay check!
Lawrence: Oh, that is pretty funny. That IS pretty funny!
Lance: Michelle is a volunteer.
Michelle: All this, and I work for free!
Lawrence: Imagine that!
Michelle: We work for food!
Lawrence: In fact, earlier this week, there was what appeared to be a homeless man in our parking lot.
Michelle: It was me, in disguise!
Lawrence: That is funny, but you know, you feel bad and you don’t really know about all of the homeless people. But, IRS has visions out there if you are going to be late on payments, for filing the October 15th deadline date, the September 15th deadline date which was the corporate tax extension. C-corps are now extended all of the way out until October 15th, but I think that has been extended as well. There is also going to be provisions for estimated tax payments, but if you did owe money, as of April 15th that is not going to be an issue that you are going to be able to help out. Relief, Irma. You can find a lot of these things out at the IRS.gov and there is actually an expanded tax relief to victims of hurricane Irma (update: 14-hours ago). Florida extension filers have until January 31st to file. This was a press release and it was put out about a week and half ago. Hurricane victims in Florida have until January 31st to file certain tax returns, this includes an additional file extension for tax payers with valid extensions that run out on October 16th, and businesses that were September 15th (about a week ago). There is extended relief to any area designated by FEMA as a qualifying for either individual assistance or public assistance. There are a lot of deadlines. This includes the September 15th deadline and January 16th deadlines for making estimated tax payments. You can get extensions on all of those.
There is quite a bit of things that are going on out there. In addition, the IRS is waiving late deposit penalties for federal payroll taxes and excise tax deposits which are normally due during the first 15-days of a disaster period.
There is a special page that you can do some research on, but if you have questions, you should call us: –
Call free on 800-taxlevy.
Lawrence: Lance, let’s run out of the show by talking about a few of the examples that you had this week, of client’s that were in need of tax-prep accounting work, and also some tax resolution work at the same time.
Lance: Absolutely. I had a few clients actually. One was a realter who hasn’t filed, nor paid in 5 years. He finally got the letters from the IRS and he just recently got married and his wife is pregnant. His wife gave him that extra push that he needed. So, it is so fresh and we contacted the IRS on Thursday morning. We have got a (? 00:20:49) on his account. We are starting the tax-preparation work which he is gathering up. He is gathering up the data. He is a realter, so he has his expenses and mileage logs. We want to make sure that he is, at least, getting all of those expenses put together so that a tax return is prepared properly. That was a new and fresh one.
Another new and fresh one was a $10.99 nurse that I had as a client. She went four years without filing. Unfortunately for her, the IRS went ahead and prepared a (? 00:21:16). So, right now, they are knocking at the door looking for their $35,000. She is saying there is ‘no way’ as she didn’t make this much money and there is ‘no way’ she can afford it. Well, when the IRS prepares a return for you, you get no exemptions. You are ultimately getting set with the highest tax liabilities with no right-off. So, right now we are going to make a call on that file and get a hold on that one, and ultimately get her in for the tax returns to get prepared. Then, move on. She is seventy-four years old. This lady is now working a ‘W2’ job, single, and so we want to make sure that her later years in life are taken care of. She is a super-nice lady and she brought her nine-month old grandson with her.
Lawrence: Yes. Do you know what? Just listen, you feel so good. You have not been here a long time, but how good does it make you feel to hear some of these stories. I am going to go to my text messages. I completely forgot about this, but let me see this one here. It was from Tuesday. Can you read the time there?
Michelle: 12.25 PM
Lawrence: So, Tuesday afternoon around lunchtime. Can you read what that says?
Michelle: I just want you to know that my wife and I still cannot thank you and your team enough for helping us get our life back together. Business is good, we are getting a little travelling in and enjoying life. You guys are ‘Rock Stars’.
Lawrence: There you go, and my response to that was, “Love that, great!”, and his response was the ‘thumbs up’. How nice is that? That particular client owed north of around $350,000. The case took a good couple of years to get completed, but just to receive a text like that, out of the blue. If I scroll up, prior to that I hadn’t had a text from him since February 2016 which is about 1 ½ years. I get involved in files when I need to, but just out of the blue to get a random text like that, you feel so good about helping people out. It makes you really feel great.
Then, this week we get a call from a doctor. The doctor says, “I think I am a little bit behind on making my estimates. I don’t want to mess up on my installment agreement’. We said that it was okay, and that we understand. “In the meantime, let me see if I can get the approved request”. This was back in February of this year. This doctor owed the IRS? I am going to let Michelle read this. So, ‘The amount you owe as of February 2017 is….’, how much?
Lawrence: This amount does not include accrued penalty and accrued interest. So, that number is probably well-north of $800,000. That is a lot of money. Unfortunately, the very nice client is making his instalment agreements but he had a little bit of a delay on keeping current with his estimates. So, we need to make sure that if we get you into a resolution, that you don’t fall off the wagon. Staying in current compliance is a real critical part of any case resolution. Unfortunately, some of our clients fall off the wagon. I also want to end with this text, because we have got about a minute left, it was from earlier this week. This was 11.30, earlier this week. I am going to quote:
“Received fantastic letter from the IRS approving payment plan at $2,000/month starting October 2nd (for the first `12 months) and then increasing over the sixteen months. Perfect, thank you.”
That client owed probably $200,000 to $260,000. I don’t know the exact amount. Again, he didn’t qualify, like the one that you just spoke about, for an offer and compromise (? 00:25:03) on the dollar because they make too much or spend too much, but they are both happy. There is a resolution in place. They can lead their lives. They can focus on what matters, their loved ones. They can go out to dinner every once in a while, and not have to worry about the IRS firing off my last name and issuing a bank ‘levy’. So, there are lots of ways to resolve the files. You just have to know how to get there and what do to, and you always want the best team on your side, and that is the Levy Office.
We have been around for over twenty years. We are the most experienced tax resolution firm in the country, in my opinion. We have and incredibly deep bench. We have the former IRS revenue officers, the attorneys, the CPAs, the enrolled agents – all of which function as power of attorney(s). The Levy Office does not take on any criminal work whatsoever, we refer that out when we come across it, which isn’t all that often, quite frankly. We deal in civil IRS tax controversy. If you want the best on your side, you call us: –
Call free: 800taxlevy, or locally, 561 865 7800.
Always remember, ‘You don’t fear a levy, you hire a Levy’.
Lawrence: Lance, thank you for taking out the time on your Saturday and impacting your workout a little bit. Michelle, a big shout out to ‘Michelle’ for stepping up and saying she will stay late and she will do whatever it takes’. That is the way the Levy Office works. That is the way we roll, as the saying goes.
I really have got to tell you, I was so proud of my staff when we had to deal with the significant hiccup called ‘Hurricane Irma’. Wishing everyone well, and for those who observe, I want to take a minute to say, ‘A happy and healthy New Year’ to all of the Jewish listeners out there. Happy Rash Shona, happy healthy to you and yours. Signing off for now from the Levy Tax Help Show. You have Lawrence Levy in the house, Michelle (not my wife Michelle), Michelle G. Not Michelle L in the house, and Lance ‘T’. Sir Lancelot.
Michelle: Sir Lancelost.
Lawrence: Lost, the last one of the show, but he is back in action. South Florida, you take care. We will talk to you next time.