Liens, Levy’s, 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 Associates of Delray Beach. Tax Resolution specialists Call Levy & 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 Levy: Good morning South Florida and welcome once again to the Levy Tax Help Show. As now all of the kids in Florida are back to school. Some parts of the country that kids don’t go back to school until after Labor Day. But wherever you’re listening from we’re not here to talk about the summer, the end of the summer, the hurricane season. Please God we all stay safe this hurricane season here in Florida. We are here to talk about what do you do if you have an IRS problem. And in the Levy office we deal with civil tax controversy both federal and the state. And let’s start off and I don’t give it out enough. Let’s give the full number because we just simply don’t give it up enough, we get too focused on the content which I’d like to have the show’s content driven but the phone number locally right here and stuff Florida right in Delray Beach on Federal Highway about a half mile south of Linton is where the office building is. The local phone number is (561) 865-7800 (561) 865-7800. And the toll-free number is 1-800-TAX-LEVY and yes Levy really is my last name. We’re gonna talk about some levy’s this week and how that impacted some people and what we do to try and help. But let’s also say a good morning and hello to one of the Levy team members Greg Mahaffey. Good morning.
Greg Mahaffey: Morning Lawrence. What’s news? Bright beautiful Saturday morning.
Lawrence Levy: Well everything is always good in the Levy office and we try to keep the mood light. We try to break some of the ice and attention, but Greg let’s give everyone a little bit of the background about you in case you’re a first-time listener. You worked at the IRS for how long.
Greg Mahaffey: Over 32 years. Several different capacities. My main job was as a revenue officer of field collections and officer’s investigator. I also specialized as an employment tax examiner for three years basically determining the difference between independent contractors and employees. For three years I am also working offers in compromise. Back when those were handled at the field level in Metro Michigan I worked for three years on an assignment about interstate collection. A special team working at high level what they call it now a tack or cases involving money laundering potential fraud and possibly even international scams and other such things. And I had various acting management stints during my career. So altogether I was very, very busy from my 32 and a half years and in the middle of all that I even took time off to go off to war back in 1991 when I was called up from the reserves for Desert Storm.
Lawrence Levy: So, thank you for your service. We always like to bring that up and also thank you for all of law enforcement, first responders and police officers. I know yesterday, Friday there was another shooting. I think that was the traffic stop and someone shot an officer in the back. So, we like to give a big shout out to all of the firefighters and the first responders and police officers, law enforcement, military office. We are big supporters and we like to say thank you. Let’s talk a little bit about what I call is Frustrating. Discretion. May be frustrating is not the right word, may be upsetting discretion but I’m going to give you two examples. We have a client right now that owes in the millions which in our tax resolution world is very large dollars. In the tax resolution space is a large dollar file. The revenue officer assigned to this file couldn’t be any nicer. She is giving one of the Power of Attorney at our office Danielle as much time as needed to try and get an accurate set of financials. The books are a bit of a mess. They went from what we’ll call a ma and pa operation to something of a decent substance, a very large business very quickly and often times clients don’t focus on the foundation, which a lot of the foundation is based upon the books and the accounting and having a good set of books and your quick books being correct and making sure everything is reconciled and balances. Needless to say the books are a bit of a mess that we’re trying to clean them up. The revenue officer is extremely nice. She has been very practical, understands what’s going on and understands that we’re trying to do it right and we want to be able to have a accurate discussion with one of the POA’s in my office Danielle and the revenue officer to determine what the resolution of this file is going to be without having an accurate financial picture. You’re literally just flying blind. It makes absolutely no sense. So the point of that quick story is: large dollar 3 million dollars 2 million, I don’t know the number, it’s in the millions of liability. Now let’s go to a different example and Greg maybe you could speak to this. Different example, different case. We have a gentleman that has payroll taxes and his company owes $150,000 dollars in payroll tax. Last week, a week ago the Revenue Officer Levied the bank. The power of attorney in my office, a guy named Arnold. Arnold was able to have the revenue officer release the bank levy. He couldn’t basically meet payroll and it turns out that the agreement was hey you have to make a payroll tax deposit on Monday. So, six days ago. Well as it turns out the gentlemen put money in the bank, the bank had a hold because of the size of the dollar amounts. So he deposited the money on Friday. The bank had a two- or three-day hold. Funds weren’t clear until Tuesday. Tuesday morning, the guy makes his 941 deposit and emails it over. We turn it around literally in less than 20 minutes, half hour. It could be less than that. I don’t know. And in the meantime, an hour later the client says oh my god my bank account was levied. Well this revenue officer faxed over a levy to the bank. Now it’s somewhat crossed. We’ll also in the mail. But it crossed in the faxes we sent over the proof. It didn’t go Monday because the check in clear from the deposit that would been on Friday. So, a very practical explanation that went on. For some reason the revenue officer and the manager didn’t want to accept or believe the story no matter what was said. It just made no sense. The amount of time that was spent Tuesday and on Wednesday addressing this issue was unbelievable how much time. Bottom line was IRS agreed to reduce a portion of the levy but they wouldn’t give you the reason, the logic behind why. So, it turns out that had the clients said, hey I think my bank may hold the money because there’s a hold because it’s a check and its over x amount of dollars. I’m sure that someone from our office would have called the IRS and said hey we’re not able to make that 941 deposit on Monday it’s going to have to go on a Tuesday to give you a heads up. But even after we explain that which is practical there’s no doubt that there’s nothing foggy and gray about that. The IRS just didn’t want to listen to reason. After substantial pushback and an appeal that was filed in and withdraw of an appeal. Bottom line was IRS ended up releasing a good portion of the money that was levied but it still puts the client in a in a bad spot. They’re still short. They’re going to bounce payments to their vendors. They’re going bounce payment for a utility payment for a gas or electric or something I don’t know what it was. Point to explain to that story is here’s a guy that owed $150,000 dollars in payroll tax and the revenue officer and the manager just are not reasonable. The Revenue Officer actually was polite was a nice guy I wasn’t obnoxious wasn’t rude wasn’t anything just what no reason. It just it makes no sense. It’s almost like you and I brought this up before Greg and maybe you could speak to it. But you know I come downstairs at ten thirty at night and I see my son with his hand that’s got chocolate on it and you know I said what are you doing eating a cookie at 10:00 at night you should be in bed and he’s got you know his hands in the cookie jar. Physically it was not in the cookie jar. In this example I’m giving but they give you a blank look on his face and he’s not giving you an answer as to why he came down snuck a cookie. It’s the same thing with the IRS. They don’t give you an answer. It is extremely frustrating. It’s almost like it’s my way or the highway and you don’t like it you know go to my manager. The manager is going to typically support the Revenue Officer. Not always but often times when they don’t like that, and you go up the chain of command you go to the Territory manager then you go to the director and you keep on going through these channels. You go to appeals. Greg can you give. As a former IRS Revenue Officer, why is it possible. Why is it fair. Maybe you don’t have an answer but that you could get someone who owes millions of dollars and have the nicest revenue officer who is going to be able to help and give you time and understand what’s going on and listen and have a discussion to be polite and being a human being and then you get someone who just is just it’s my way or the highway is the answer. And we’ve talked about this many times but I like to bring it up again. Is it just human nature? Is it just the nature of the collection group. Maybe the manager the marching orders being from management, it doesn’t seem fair doesn’t seem right. It just it’s so frustrating because not only do we have to deal with that, but our staff has to deal with that and then we have to translate that to the client. the client saying why you’ll just talk it out a 10-minute talk we’ll get you so far. Do you have any insight to that?
Greg Mahaffey: It’s all dependent upon the individual and the people running that office and the management chain of command and what they’re demanding from their revenue officers. How they’re rated for their jobs and so forth which all comes down to who’s the boss. What’s the attitude of the people in charge. And what are they demanding. I went through the program after the laws changed in 1998 called Revenue Structuring Act of 1998 also known as RRA 898 in which the IR’s was supposed to become more humanized with themselves a tax payer shoes start talking to people listening to people because I found my biggest success when I did that job is when I talk and listen to people. They have a lot to learn from taxpayers and taxpayers have a lot to learn from the IRS as well. And when you break those chains of communication is where you have conflict and problems. So just depends upon who you get and the kind of mood they’re in and what their managers are demanding from them at the time.
Lawrence Levy: You know and unfortunately, I just find that so frustrating. And I just don’t I just don’t think it’s fair. But what I think is fair and what reality is. I mean so be it. But I just I just don’t think that it’s right it’s very frustrating. On a positive note, I’m going to shift gears for a second. We had a client that had a offer in compromise that was accepted. I think the guy owed over two hundred thousand dollars and he sent us a really nice comment. He said I’m quoting I had an IRS issue that no one was able to help me with so and recommended I contact the Levy office. So I did. To help me with resolving a very difficult situation a very I think what with what they were able to accomplish. It’s really nice to hear these comments and I’m going to read you another one because it’s braggarts it talks about you that at that first one was not about you Levy & Associates is very professional, they completely stand behind their word and take care it’s to the fullest. Greg and Lance, Lance one of our case managers, have been a top on my case ever since they accepted the challenge a few years ago. Honestly, I’m a little skeptical forking out that kind of cash up front. Obviously talking about our fees. I figured they would take a look at the case to deal with a couple things and then move on. That’s not the case. They said they would work on this until the IRS said the IRS is paid and they continue to stand behind their word in today’s word, world he meant to say, it’s very in capital. “Hard to find a company that stands by what they say”. I’m forever grateful that I chose Levy & Associates to handle my IRS debt situation. Thank you. Team. Team being a capital T. It’s nice to hear that feedback from clients on the Levy team. We have of course Greg who’s with us now who used to work at the IRS for over 30 years. We also have a lady named Claire. Claire used to work at the IRS as a revenue officer for half of her career at 15 or 16 years and then she had the last 16 years of her career as a offer and compromise specialist. So she did nothing but work offers and she’s phenomenal. We also have a gentleman, A lady named Mindy. Mindy was a group manager for Greg was eight years or nine years.
Greg Mahaffey: Nine years.
Lawrence Levy: Nine years.
Greg Mahaffey: I competed against her for that management job and she got it.
Lawrence Levy: There you go. So, if you’d like. Such is life. So Mindy was a what’s called a GM a group manager for nine years. So, combined between Mindy and Claire and Greg, we have over a hundred years of IRS experience. That’s pretty darn good. And you know the logic there is you can have them think what they would have done if they were the revenue officer, if they were offering compromise specialist, if they were the manager what would they have done under these circumstances. But that’s where there’s discretion that’s involved and that’s a very challenging part of our tax resolution world whereby what Claire or Mindy or Greg would have done may not be the same that another revenue officer or manager would do. And I think that’s where a lot of our clients get frustrated. I think Greg now has a POA I mean you’ve been working this file at the Florida file by the way not necessarily Southeast Florida but you know that the frustrations that you’ve experienced talking to the revenue officer or talking to the manager talking to the Territory manager even typer advocate you know you in a million years would have never done what the revenue officer is doing to our client. And it’s frustrating for you that work there for 30 years.
Greg Mahaffey: Definitely, again it comes down to management’s, there demands at a local level and in this case I would never, never approach this case the way this revenue officer is never. I would have looked at it realistically because what he’s trying to do here will never fly. I hope with the U.S. Attorney’s Office pure and simple. It just strikes me is blatantly unfair. Obviously, we can give the client’s name but it is a local case in Florida. And it’s not only is it unfair.
Lawrence Levy: It just seems so you know practical. You know it didn’t seem so impractical I guess is the best way to put it. Let me give you another example. And Greg what we’re going to pick your brains on this one. A file that you don’t know but you do know both revenue officers because they’re local to where you used to work. We’ve got a gentleman that owes the IRS about 160 thousand dollars and he’s got statutes are going to expire in a couple of years. And he was on an installment agreement, but it’s come up for review and a revenue officer has told one of the POA’s in her office. No problem. We’re just going to you know give us two financials and he’ll be in what’s called the PPIA, his houses free and clear. The guy’s in his 70s. Now you have another client almost similar circumstance guys in his 70s houses free and clear and he owes a little bit more. I think two hundred thousand dollars. That revenue officer is suggesting that they want to pursue a suit to foreclose I’m sorry a suit to convert the lean-to judgment which is going to extend the statute life. Almost apples to apples cases similar ages. In fact, the one guy who’s working and the other person. And when I asked Mindy who used to be a group manager why is there a difference. I’ll tell you Greg what she said in a minute. But why do you think there’s a difference between what one revenue officer is going to do to gather their ducks-in-a-row to pursue a suit to convert lien to judgment where another revenue officer is just going to basically say you know it’s OK. It’s there. I mean is there is there some logic behind that or is it just a style of higher revenue officer.
Greg Mahaffey: It could be a combination of the revenue officer. It could also be that the Revenue office managers have ordered it could be that the territory manager has ordered it. It could just be that that’s taxpayer left a bad taste in RO’s mouth. It could be one of a couple different things.
Lawrence Levy: Let me ask is not here in general but would rather talk about that. Why is a bad taste in someone’s mouth? Why is that. Why. I mean how does how does that work. And it should be factual. It should be factually driven and based upon facts because maybe the client wasn’t nice maybe the client was frustrated maybe the revenue officer misinterpreted the client’s actions. Maybe he didn’t like the power of attorney. I mean a bad taste in someone’s mouth shouldn’t be. I mean that’s what’s that’s what is not fair in my opinion.
Greg Mahaffey: Well it’s not fair. But we are all people and people have flaws. People have opinions. People have gut feelings instincts. Many times, when they are acting on that and logic goes by the wayside. We have less than desirable outcomes and then we have needless conflict that could arise.
Lawrence Levy: Well I guess you could take that in any scenario and I’m going to get off the topic of the IRS for a second. We’ll talk about police officers because we talked about it earlier and we love police officers, but you can be driving down the road and speeding. And one police officer pulls you over and gives you a break and said Take it easy right. And another police officer is going to pull you over and give you a ticket. It’s just the way it is. No different than if you go into a restaurant and you have great service, or you go into a restaurant and you have horrible service. Then the waiters unfriendly and you ask. You know, I’ll tell you what happened to me. Sunday night. I was with my wife and my son was its Sunday or Monday. Monday night I was with my wife and my son and it was and then we ended up going out to dinner. And I had to modify the salad that I ordered. It wasn’t anything major. I actually said it sounds weird, but I didn’t want lettuce in the salad. Just the ingredients. So minus off the lettuce and add in pine nuts. I didn’t think that was that big of a deal. So, put the ingredients in the tomatoes the cucumbers the avocado whatever else they had outside in there and add pine nuts. Not a big deal to me. Well the waitress say you know gave me like a funny look which I guess maybe it’s justified because I don’t want lettuce in my salad. But she was rude about it. So, the manager comes over and has to explain that we don’t really modify salads and that in this restaurant and I said well I was you know can you add pine nuts. So, I said How about this leave the salad as it is and bring me a side of pine nuts in a bowl. I’ll pay for it and I will literally pour the pine nuts in my salad. How about that. So the kitchen to get them out of anything and ordering my salad, bring me a side of pine nuts so you know how did how did that experience go, right. So, I think that again the manager was actually nice, and the waitress was about it and he sort of apologized in his delivery was a lot nicer.
So what have reminded me of Lawrence if I can interrupt one second Jack Nicholson movie which he wants a side order of toast. You know they don’t sell side orders a toast at this restaurant and order the whole BLT minus the B L T and the mayo with what was left is just the side order of toast. I think it was five easy pieces.
Lawrence Levy: Yes. Same thing. My point being is look it can happen whether you get pulled over for speeding and the police officer is going to cut you a break and you know say hey take it easy. I also think that using the police officer on the speeding ticket analogy if you get pulled over and you have a clean record it’s more likely that the cops going to say hey you don’t have a history of speeding and I’m giving you a warning if you get pulled over and you got five or six speeding tickets in the past four years. You know what. We’ve warned you probably got a break before and I’m going to give you another ticket. You know when is enough is enough. So there’s a lot of things that go into it but it is very frustrating. We have upcoming some deadlines coming up. We have September 15th which is a corporate extension tax return deadline. We also have October 15th which is your personal tax return extension deadline. And literally this week we have been trying to reach out to clients because the nature of the work that we specialize in, tax resolution, often times our clients they are the quintessential procrastinators. They know, you know get around to it a lot of times they just they don’t like dealing with taxes and accounting and bookkeeping and it’s just it’s a thorn in their side. So, we literally will have to call clients. Hey deadline approaching, and we’ve got 30 days. What’s going on what’s going on. And that happens. Greg, when you were at the IRS did you see a lot of procrastinators, people that weren’t trying to circumvent the IRS. They just were waiting to the last second to get you the information whatever the case may be.
Greg Mahaffey: Definitely. Just like everything else to do in life. It’s like having a honey do list. You try putting off some things that are very distasteful for as long as possible. Same thing as your wife honey do list at home that you might get to one day in the next 50 years.
Lawrence Levy: Yeah, I mean I’ll give you an example was my son’s last day at camp and he wanted to get for the bus, he went to go out and get a dozen bagels or doughnuts and he gives me a list of stuff to do. Dad give me this dad give me that. I did it. You know I’m sure my wife gives me that same honey do list and try and put off the cleaning of the garage and this and that. And it’s again whether it’s that or whether it’s IRS or tax matters. But keep in mind everyone we have a job to do. The IRS is going to give you deadlines and you have to make sure you hit them if not my last name comes about. I want to talk about that for you. It’s sort of funny as we come to the top of the hour here. One of these beloved team members is a guy named David Brockman. David Brockman been used to be one of the assistant attorney generals in Michigan in charge of state treasury collection. And we brought him on to be a Power of Attorney and he’s just been a tremendous asset. And he was asking about my last name and about the jingle that we have because boy does he love it. And we had a client come in. What was it. It was Thursday the 16th. And he said I hear the ads on the radio and it sticks in my mind. You want a levy on your side not one against you and then I would say what about the other one “Don’t fear a levy. You hire a levy”. And I was just born with that name and sometimes people will question is that really your last name. And I say yes, my father my mother they were from England and they moved from England to Michigan and in the Midwest it’s more common to pronounce it levy not Leavey. So oftentimes people will say Leavey I say no it’s Levy and the IRS pronounces it levy bank levy, a wage levy, a levy on receivables. So, we always say you want to levy you on your side Not one against you, don’t fear a levy you hire Levy and Greg how crazy is that. Over the years you would be the one issuing levies and you have your paycheck, you work for a company that is has Levy it and the guy outside the paychecks named Levy, but you never thought that 20 years ago know did you.
Greg Mahaffey: Oh heck no. When I was dealing with your father as a CPA and he was representing taxpayers when I was at the IRS. Never in a million years I never thought I would work for his son one day.
Lawrence Levy: Well I’ll tell you were always a very honorable Power of Attorney and you were always a practical guy. So as a complement to you, you were always great. And you know I have heard from former IRS folks that knew my dad. My dad passed away now seven years ago. But that he was always good to work with, so I hope the interaction with my father was pleasant he was. He was that he had that British accent. So that was very a distinction.
Greg Mahaffey: Yes definitely. He was very prim and prominent proper at all times.
Lawrence Levy: That’s about as close as you’re going to do to get to my dad accent right. Yeah, I was that he was like James Bond meets Winston Churchill my dad was. But let’s give a shout out to my dad because my dad is looking down on us from the heavens and making sure that the Levy family and the Levy team members and the clients are all okay, so dad thank you for all you did and I always say everything good about me, I can attribute to my dad anything not feel good about me. Well that’s my fault. But I think that’s the best way to put it. But yeah, Greg when you were at the IRS you were actually always a very practical guy you were someone that would try and look at things from a resolution-oriented case approach. You weren’t the guy that was going to put up the hurdles you were the guy that was going to try and work towards a resolution so everyone in my staff thoroughly enjoyed working with you as a revenue officer because you did the right thing. You were aggressive. No question, but you knew what was fair, you knew what was practical you took a pragmatic case approach and quite frankly that’s one of the reasons that I decided I want to hire you and have you on the team. We know we would love plenty of revenue officers out there that I’m sure Greg you wouldn’t want to have sit in this office that you know right.
Greg Mahaffey: Oh definitely.
Lawrence Levy: You know I just, it’s not it’s not right. And we talked about it lately and I don’t know if it’s just because the economy is back a little bit in a better spot than it was a few years ago but it seems like there’s been that shift a little bit more of an aggressive posture. But the not so nice ones are still not so nice. The nice revenue officers are still nice and we sincerely appreciate the interactions with the very professional and polite employees at any taxing authority whether it’s at the IRS level whether it’s at the state level or whether it’s at a different part of the state which is the unemployment side that we deal with in multiple different scenarios from the Levy office to anyone who’s listening. I got to tell you it’s a lot easier to be able to talk and interact on a professional level and just talk sense and talk substance and not talk nonsense and not be rude and not be obnoxious and not be stonewalling and not give the it’s my way or the highway approach it makes life a lot easier and things will get accomplished a lot faster if there’s more of a practical approach that’s taken. So, we really try and have that exuded from our staff and we would hope that taxing authorities respond like kind. Ladies and gentlemen treat people like ladies and gentlemen. And that’s the way that it should be. And I’m a big fan of customer service and everyone knows that. So, we round out this show. We have talked about how there is unfortunately differences between revenue officers and personalities. We’ve also talked about a really nice couple of client testimonials that we’ve had in the Levy office we have a great team. We have three former IRS employees all of which have worked at the IRS for over 30 years. We got what they told. Actually, if you count the years over 100 years of combined experience, we have the CPA is the EAA that function as of Power of Attorneys along with the attorneys that function as Power of Attorney’s. If you have an IRS problem, no matter what it is you haven’t filed a few years you’re in the middle of an audit you owe back payroll taxes your own income tax. You give us a call immediately. The phone number is (561) 865-7800 (561) 865- 7800 and the toll-free number 800 TAX-LEVY and yes the Levy really is my last name and we always like a finish was saying. Always remember you want to levy on your side not against you. Don’t fear a levy, you hire Levy. Signing off for now from the Levy Tax Help Show, enjoy the rest of your weekend South Florida. You take care.