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 holiday season. ‘Tis the season, is appropriate, but what we have right around the corner is taxed season, talking about the holiday season. On today’s show, we have a very unique classic Lawrence Levy twist of a show. Let me first of all introduce everyone to one of our recent new clients. His name is Ronnie. We are not going to say his last name, but Ronnie is a small business owner and we will integrate him into the show in a second. Ronnie, good morning on a Saturday, and thank you for coming on the Levy Tax Help Show.
Ronnie: Good morning, and thanks for that.
Lawrence: It is our pleasure to have you. Ronnie, on today’s show, we have people that have commas after their names. In this case, we will introduce on of the guests and his name is George Smith. George Smith is a very talented CPA who is business with his father, who my father actually knew, and my father, God rest his soul, is the reason why we are all here today. Certainly me, but business-wise, I want to give him a big shout out up in the heavens. George Smith, good morning and welcome to the show.
George: Good morning on a winter Saturday morning, for sure. Thank you so much for having me.
Lawrence: For all of those in South Florida it is a little bit of a chilly weekend here. The temperatures are below 70̊ on the month of December and it is a little chilly. People in Florida bust out their ski hats and gloves when it gets to 50+, but in Michigan we have the top down on the convertible. Also, let me welcome Joseph Davis, one of the Levy team members with a comma after his name. Joseph Davis, CPA, quick books pro adviser, good morning to you, Sir.
Joseph: Good morning South Florida and everybody else.
Lawrence: Joseph has got a minor accent, but he doesn’t think he has one.
Joseph: No, I don’t.
Lawrence: Right. George, Ronnie and Lawrence, we have the accents, we are the odd-balls, but let’s talk about what we do here on this show. We talk about what you do if you have IRS problems. What do you do if you haven’t filed in a few years? What do you do if you have a lack of book-keeping, or no books, what do you do? On the show today, we have two talented CPAs, one of which I pay and one of which is a really smart guy, and I am going to have him tell you why. Ronnie, bear with me for a second, but it will be a good segment into your situation as an example.
Before I forget, let me also give the phone number because I don’t give it out enough.
Yes, Levy really is my last name, and you always want to avoid the levies. As we always say, “You don’t fear a levy, you hire a Levy”.
Lawrence: George, let’s start with you. Over the years, George, when you have had clients of yours that had run into a tax problem in which they owe hundreds of thousands of dollars. It could be recently. You sent us a client that had, what I would consider a smaller debt of about $120,000, and not to the IRS, but to a State taxing authority. We were able to get all of the penalties waived, but when we were talking earlier and asking you to come on the show, the way that I explained it was when I took my kid to the dentist. You have kids too, George, I think we all have kids. They are nine, ten, or eleven years old and the dentist says, “Your kid needs braces”, you send them to a specialist. The dentist sends the kid to the orthodontist. George, over the years, you are honest and talented, and a very well-versed and experienced CPA, but you also know your limitations and your area of expertise. So, for the listeners out there, can you explain your thought process as to why you have sent clients our way and the results that you have got over the couple of decades that the Levy’s’ and the Smiths’ have done business.
George: Absolutely, and you make me blush with the accolades, but I will proceed on to add one more. I am smart enough to know what I don’t know. What you deal with, Lawrence, in terms of the IRS up here in Michigan or with the State of Michigan, whether it is an unemployment agency or State and local municipalities, when clients run in to significant trouble, I am smart enough to know that I don’t know all of the nuances about it. Generally, when they come to me, and I am talking significant amounts. You consider £20,000 small in the context of what you see. For a lot of my clients, that is pretty large. I am smart enough to know that I do not know how to manoeuvre through the minefield that is the IRS, Michigan or local collections, to get them on the fast track of repayment if it is necessary. Also, to negotiate and manoeuvre through that to help eliminate the penalties, decrease the interest and put my clients on much sounder financial footing. Hence the reason why I sent you these types of clients is that you have an extraordinary success rate for them which makes me ‘selfishly’ look good in their eyes for the referral. You do a fine job and I think we are all of the better for having this relationship and has been good for our firm and for your firm. Most importantly, it is good for my clients, the tax-payers.
Lawrence: Absolutely, thanks for the compliments back. Whether it is about trying to get penalties. We will try and isolate this for a quick second. Ronnie, it is good listening for you, and good listening certainly for the listening audience. We recently had a case and there was a significant amount of penalties. I would venture to say that this one was a really big home run, in my opinion, though the dollars were not significant, the concept of the victory was great.
George had sent us a client, probably one of the nicer clients in a long time, not that you are not a nice guy, Ronnie, and I don’t know you well enough to say that so hopefully you will turn out to be as nice as I think you are. Ultimately, this guy was such a nice, down to earth, guy and he ran into a problem that he did not really create, nor did George. George tried to clean it up. A lot of this predates George, all of it does, but it was an unemployment agency issue where the business owed around $15,000 in penalties. At first, they did not want to budge. Not at all. Then they said the would give a us a break and give a 10% off of the penalties. Then they said that they would give us this amount, and they said they would give us this amount off. We were just very persistent. Tenacity really took over, in my mind. We were eventually able to get 100% of the penalties wiped out. I want to be clear for everyone listening, and certainly Joseph in my office, and George, but he knows how it goes. It doesn’t always work like that. There is not always going to be the 100% penalty abatement. There is not always going to be the offer and compromise. There very well may be an instalment agreement. Right now, we are dealing with a client in South Florida. He is a doctor and owes about $750,000 and because of his income, he makes too much, and because of his equity, he has too much – a house, a condo, vehicles. His game plan to save his life and to save his house is going to be an instalment agreement.
George, when you send us a client and you know that we don’t sugar-coat things. You know that we are hands-on. We respond, we text, we email almost instantaneously and, I think, that is one of the things that the clients that you send to us really like, our responsiveness.
George: I absolutely agree. You, like me, are very much a straight-shooter. You tell it as it is. Just as you said previously, you outline a game plan. You show the approaches that you can take and hopefully we can get the best approach to fall in to place. We cannot always guarantee this. As you said, it is dependent on each individual client’s circumstances. I can tell you, 100% of my clients are satisfied. Whether it is abatement of penalties, negotiating an installment agreement or an offer and compromise, whatever, they have all been very pleased and it has taken that monkey off of their back. Also, taking that worry away and they can now, just proceed and go on and live their lives, do their jobs, run their business without that worry out there and that fear that something is going to come down. It is cleaned up. That is the best way of putting it.
Lawrence: Right, and they can enjoy the holiday season. As it is, I appreciate the time on a Saturday morning. George, also I will give him another shout out. Without him, when we are trying to have this interaction with some of these clients that he sends us, it is very helpful because George and I are always, not sometimes, we are always on the same page. We always do the right thing. We are always going to collectively tell the clients to do the right thing and oftentimes, his clients that, by evolution, turn into our client, we collectively have to guide the client as to, what is the right thing to do? Oftentimes, what we have to suggest and prescribe, the pill is a very large one and difficult to digest because a lot of the clients have not been doing things historically, the right way. That is why they have got themselves into a jam. It is our job to get you out of the jam and to keep you out of the jam, and we fix the problem. In this case, we pass them right back on a silver platter to George, and he is loving it. The clients love that they can go out and enjoy their life in the holiday season. So, George, thank you, again, for everything that you do. Not only the referrals, of course, but I can’t tell you, and it really drives me crazy. I makes me sick and really makes my stomach turn, I am disgusted by it, but, how many CPAs are out there, that try and dabble in tax resolution?
Joseph is nodding his head here. You have probably seen it for years. How long have you been practicing as a CPA, Joseph?
Joseph: Twenty years.
Lawrence: Over twenty years. We see it all of the time, where just a basic concept like asking your dentist, can I have some dental floss and they say, ‘What the hell is dental floss?’ It is really sickening to me that there are practitioners out there, CPAs, lawyers for that matter, that don’t know what they are doing but they try and tell their client that they have some skills in tax resolution. I was watching a movie, this weekend. Have you ever seen the movie, ‘Taken’, by Liam Neason? He says, “I have that special set of skills and I am not going to use them if you give me my daughter back!” Well, we have that special set of skills. We don’t hurt people, but we have a special set of sills that will try and dig you out of a jam. You want to, like George said earlier about him knowing what he is not good at, and that is a huge thing to be able to recognise. It is a real testament to his honour, and what an honourable guy he is, as is his family and his firm. On that positive note, happy, healthy holiday season. Merry Hanukkah, as I say because I am one of the Jewish guys on the air today. Merry Hanukkah and we wish you and your family all of the best in the coming years, health and happiness and success to your firm. Thanks again for your roles, and just ‘you are being you’, George. You are a good guy.
George: Thank you and happy Christmas to you, Lawrence.
Lawrence: I love that, happy Christmas and merry Honokaa. My man, George Smith, in the house. Alright, George, we will let you go. Thanks for coming on this show. I will talk to you soon and we will get together for a cup of coffee.
George: You are very welcome. I will see you later. Bye, bye.
Lawrence: Ronnie, that was a good segment in to you. Have you ever been on a radio show as the star guest? When we met, you came into our office as a referral. It was a long story. I tied it in because through the referral of a referral my now, almost nineteen-year-old son had the originating referral as to how you came to the Levy office as a teacher when he was in fifth grade. I mean, literally eight or nine years ago, it was crazy.
Ronnie, I thought it was great to have you on because Joseph, who actually may work on your files and is literally brand new to the Levy office, but when you came in, you were coming into a bit of an unknown. You had a couple of years of unfiled corporate partnership tax returns. It was clear that the person who was trying to help you before was not qualified. They literally had hand-written draft copies of those tax returns. Joseph, in your twenty years, or past ten years, when was the last time you had seem a hand-written tax return?
Joseph: Over twenty years ago. Unless the individuals are doing it themselves. I haven’t seen one from a professional.
Lawrence: Right, very archaic, very unprofessional. Ronnie, you walked into the office earlier this week. It was a 2-hour long meeting. We talked a little bit because that is my personality, but throughout the meeting you looked at your wife, and tell the listeners what you said. I want them to hear how you felt when you came in and how you felt when we shook hands and you walked out.
Ronnie: Well, on the way there, I felt pretty good because the people that referred me to you told me all about you. Like I say, I am the type of person that I hear what you say but I still like to judge a person for myself. So, when I walked into your office was a good atmosphere. My wife was sitting there, and we were talking while we were waiting. Once we had met all of you, another list came up off from my head, and I wanted to get down to business. So, we sat in the meeting and the more you talked and explained everything piece by piece, step by step, that was something that made me feel very good about being there. Then, also, anything that we didn’t know, or anything that we asked you, because we don’t know the terms as the CPAs do, and when we asked you, you would explain it to us. Then you would ask if we got it or not, if not you explained it another way. Like I say, my wife and I felt pretty good about that. The biggest thing is, like I told my wife sitting there, I felt so good, knowing that we just took the step to go forward and get this taken care of because we have been blessed, and I thank God for that, and we are still getting blessed. Like I told my wife, ‘What goes up, comes down if you are not doing the right thing”. So, we had to get in there and get these taxes together. When you see what the tax preparer did for us by hand, and you looked at it and it has white-out on it. I have got to feel at ease and the more you talked, the more comfortable I became, but you also showed us that what you were saying, you were also showing us what we were going to do, how we were going to do it, and if we had any questions we could call you anytime. You are there, you are never asleep, and I said, “I never sleep”. You said, “When you are thinking a lot, call me, because I am a big thing. I started to call you and my wife said, “Leave them alone, please!”. I said that you had told me to call, and I didn’t call. I left you alone, but all in all, I felt pretty good and when I left there, I felt that I had a building off my head because now I am finished pursuing into our business knowing that the taxes have been handled right, by the right people. Then, my wife asked me if she could as one more question. “How do you feel about he way wages that we have to save?” I said that if had spent $1,000,000 to get that right, I would spend it again because what I spent in the office to get things right, we were going to lose that down the line, and much more. So, I said, “I feel good, let’s go and have lunch now”. I appreciated everything, everything.
Lawrence: That really makes us feel good. This is really uplifting. As people know, who have listened to the show for about six years now, none of this is scripted. I have never had lunch. I have never had dinner with Ronnie and his wife. They are new clients and what he just said came from his hear, his gut, and this is what he truly felt. I want people to really hear this because now what happens, Ronnie, you talked on the phone to Lisa, one of the book-keepers, or Joseph, one of the CPAs who now may actually work on your file, and who you can actually talk to anytime you want. So, what happens is, we are using you as a beta test, as an example. You had at least 2015 and 2016 that needed to be filed as partnership returns. It was two years of book-keeping, but some book-keeping had been done. You had it on your internal software program, similar to quick books, but it is not right. Let us take care of the books. Let us take care of making sure the books are handled and payroll is handled.
Joseph, in your twenty years, and since you have been here at the Levy office, this case for Ronnie is a pretty common occurrence that you have seen, so now what do you do, Joseph, as the CPA, and then what do you direct a book-keeper, like Lisa, to do so that you will help Ronnie to have a happy holiday season?
Joseph: The first thing I do is to meet with the client and discuss business to get a feel for where they are at. Then, as Lawrence said, I am quick books pro advisor. I setup a specific file for each company, designed for their specific use. Then, I get with the book-keeper and get them started on putting the data in. Then, as it is input, if the book-keeper has any questions, they holler at me, what about this and what about that? Then, once it is input, I go through it with ‘a fine-tooth comb’, not only from the book-keeping standpoint, but from the financial standpoint in case you need to use it to get a bank loan. Then, I also look at from a tax viewpoint. Is it correct in the tax viewpoint? Then, we go from there, to finding out what tax is due and go on from there.
Ronnie, you hear from Joseph, the CPA. You talked to Lisa, the book-keeper, briefly, but, in your mind, what did I tell you? I said, “Go out and you and your wife, who both work together, decide to spend time as husband and wife, and family time during the holiday season. Put the nonsense that you were going through, or for you wife to get the books in order. That is not what you do. Go out there and generate new business and if you want to spend quality time, you have the ability to pay to have these services and I think you made it right. Your business is only a few years old, but it has grown, and you want to get that foundation right. You said it yourself, that you want to get the foundation right so that your house that you build does not crumble. That is how you feel, is that correct, Ronnie?
Ronnie: Yes, it is.
Lawrence: It probably made you feel good to be able to walk out of the Levy office, at least knowing that you have a team behind you. Look, you have this CPA, you have the book-keepers now, and if there is a bit of a tax problem, which there may be because we have unfiled years and I was pretty up front about it, you are going to have penalties for not filing that partnership tax return and you are going to have penalties if there are payroll taxes, with-holding tax that wasn’t paid, but now you have that team in place. You have that in place, and Ronnie, for everyone out there, you are in the janitorial cleaning business, you do primarily commercial cleaning, right?
Lawrence: So, using your industry as an example, what I make sure is that my office buildings, the one in Michigan and one in Florida, that they are covered. Someone comes in and cleans and dusts and empties the garbage, and that is one of the things that we do. So, having a janitorial service, like you offer, is quite frankly, if you think about it, no different than having a book-keeping service. If you don’t have someone to take out the garbage and clean, it is just eventually going to be a big mess, right? If you don’t have the book-keeping it is going to be a big mess. So, I need a janitorial service, just like you need the books being done the right way. I don’t know if anyone has broken it down to that simplistic example, but being in the janitorial cleaning business, which wasn’t what you always did as you just went into being self-employed and you are the quintessential American entrepreneur. You and your wife have grown into a nice business and now, guess what? You don’t have a boss. Well, you and I have bosses, our wife and kids, right? Joseph, you too, that is who our bosses are, right? But, ultimately, we don’t have a boss that we have to report to, you and me. Joseph does, that is just how his world is. I happen to be his boss, but I am a relatively nice boss and I am fun, and I am funny.
Joseph: Oh yes.
Lawrence: At least in the Levy office, we try to have some levity. Let’s give out the local phone number. It is a Florida-based show.
561 865 7800, toll free number is 800-tax levy.
Yes, Levy really is my last name. One thing I want to get back to, Ronnie, if it is okay. Can you just elaborate on something? You said that we took the time and answered your questions that you had, and if there was something that we had to explain that needed some further explanation, we went into it. I really appreciate when people recognize how much time we take and that we are down to earth normal people. I think, I am just a normal guy. Did you feel at home, and you felt comfortable, even though we had just met for the first time this week? You just had a good feeling, I assume.
Ronnie: Yes. I said before that I am one of those guys, and my wife will say, if I have a gut feeling, the very first gut feeling I have, I am out of there. I would have told my wife that it was not the place because I was not feeling it. Like I said before, when I walked in and meet you guys, I felt even better about it. Now, I am walking around and the cloud that was over my head is gone.
Lawrence: That made my day. That is what we do. As we come to the top of the hour in five or six minutes, but the penalty abatement that you heard, what is really nice to hear is a guy like, George Smith. How nice was that from a fellow CPA, and how honorable was that, when he says that he knows his limitations, because you don’t get that a lot.
Joseph: No, a lot of CPAs think that they can do everything, and you can’t.
Lawrence: No, you can’t. I will tell you something. It is incredible that you actually get people like that, that are out there, and this guy is great because he is at least honest, and he understands that there are limitations that are out there. It is really interesting to hear that.
Let me give you one last example, and this has nothing to do with Ronnie, but this is a case and a nice way to end the show. We had a client that owed the IRS quite a bit of money. He was, what we will call, the innocent book-keeper. IRS believed that he owed about $100,000. He got assessed in what is called ‘trust fund’. It started with us back in January 2016, so it has literally taken two years to get through this file. We have a couple of former IRS revenue officers on staff – Greg Mahaffey and Claire Coffee. Claire used to work at the IRS as a revenue officer for about twenty years. She completed her last ten years as an offer and compromise specialist. We thought this would be a really good file for her. She started off with the file, officially in late-January of last year. Literally, as of November 26th, we have a letter of acceptance saying that the offer and compromise has been accepted. It came out of the Florida IRS office, out of Plantation. It was really incredible how, out of appeals, how this worked itself out. The gentleman at the IRS thought that they owed $100,000. They accepted the offer and compromise, signed and dated by us on February 27th, 2016. Keep in mind, this literally took almost two years. The date of acceptance is the date of this letter and subject to the terms and conditions, the dollar payment towards the accepted offer is listed. We received the last payment on March 14th in the amount of $1. The lien will be released when the offer amount is paid in full. Some of this is just generic language, but this guy who came to us saying that he really didn’t owe this $100,000 and IRS assessed the wrong guy. This happens a lot. It has nothing to do with you, Ronnie, but it was a really good example where you have a lot of tax-payers, and this happens more often than we would like, whom incorrectly, and inappropriate get assessed for what is called ‘trust fund’. They could just be the innocent person who singed cheques and they really aren’t liable. Over the years, I can’t tell you how many times we have had this. It is very frustrating because, in our opinion, these could all be avoided if there was a little more due diligence done, but that is what we do. Whether it is something like Ronnie’s case, where the corporate return hasn’t been filled in for a couple of years, and the reason was this. I asked Ronnie what made you become less comfortable or uncomfortable with your accountant, and she said, “I just started feeling less comfortable and I wondered how it was possible to be making this money and not paying taxes”. Forget about the white-out, the white-out was crazy. Ronnie, you and I are absolutely serious about the white-out, we are not kidding, correct?
Lawrence: There really was hand-written white-out on a corporate 1065 partnership tax return. One of the craziest things that I have seen in a long time, and the return, we know is wrong. Thank God, in essence that it wasn’t filed because it could have got you in a whole lot more trouble.
What we will talk about to recap on today’s show. We had Joseph, one of the CPAs in the Levy office who has been practicing for twenty years?
Lawrence: Also, you do quite a bit of dancing?
Joseph: I do quite a bit of square dancing and round dancing.
Lawrence: Ronnie, do you want to come down to the Florida office to learn how to square dance and round dance?
Ronnie: I have no problem with it, none at all.
Lawrence: Right. So, come on down and visit. You get some taxes and some dancing lessons in. You never know. I kept my word with you. I told you I would get you on a radio show this week, and I did, and you are welcome to text or call anytime you want. We are happy to do it after we get off the air today. We are happy to answer your questions. We talked to George, the CPA who refers us business because he knows it is not his area of specialty. In the Levy office, that is what we do, we have a very deep bench. The former IRS revenue officers, the attorneys, the book-keepers, the enrolled agents. We have a tremendous support staff. Ronnie, you have met Lance. One of the greatest case managers, my right and left hand and I couldn’t do what I do without them, and as it is the holiday season I just want to say a big shout out to my staff. Everything that makes us good, I can attribute to my staff, and everything that we do here, I contribute to my father who made me what I am. Everything good about me is because of him, everything bad about me, I say is from my mum.
On that note, Ronnie, thanks for coming on the Levy Tax Help Show. You said some nice things and we appreciate it. We know it is from the heart, and we know it is from how you feel, and we will do everything we can to get you cleaned up and to keep you cleaned up for the next fifty years.
Joseph, you are a great asset to the Levy team, thank you so much for all that you do, and everyone remember, you want a Levy on your side, not on against you. You don’t fear a levy, you hire a Levy.
Signing-off, for now, from the Levy Tax Help Show, Joseph Davis in the house, George Smith – the CPA who sends us a lot of business, and Ronnie – a nice new client who loves the Levy office. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. If you are going to go down to Miami it is a little bit chilly for that Art Basel Show. See you next time. Enjoy Florida, take care and we will speak to you next time.