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 the Levy Tax Help Show. We hope that everyone had a great week and now the kids are back to school. In Michigan they’re not back to school. Certain parts of the country they go back after Labor Day. My older sons get ready for his second year in college. Pretty crazy, means I’m getting older. But we are not here to talk about kids going back to school. We’re not here to talk about the weather and hopefully we’ll keep our fingers crossed the next couple of months and we dodge any of Mother Nature’s curveballs that she may throw. We’re here to talk about what you do if you have an IRS problem. What do you do if you haven’t filed your tax returns in a few years. What do you do if the IRS is knocking at your door and you have had a local visit by an IRS Revenue Officer. Well, talk about revenue officers. We actually have three former revenue officers who work for me one of which is a frequent guest on the show. And he’s not right now so I suppose we’ll say good morning to Greg. Greg good morning.
Greg Mahaffey: Good morning Lawrence. How is everything going right into it full sunshiny morning outside of pouring rain down where you are at.
Lawrence Levy: It’s always sunny, you know it’s always sunny, it never rains. That’s the way we always look at it. Make sure you talk into the headsets so can hear you good Greg. But Greg I know you want to talk about a few things today but give everyone a little bit of the background about when you worked at the IRS. You were there for over 30 years right.
Greg Mahaffey: Correct. I had several different jobs throughout the time, all within the collection division. I specialized also in employment tax examiners. I was an offer in compromise specialist for three years. I was trained in what innocent spouse cases. I worked on the collection interstate specialty task force team dealing with the high-profile tax payers who didn’t want to pay who did everything they could in their efforts to try to avoid paying. So, I had to go after those people. I have done quite a few things including acting management stints and pretty well had a very full career and I was there for over thirty two years.
Lawrence Levy: Well, let’s talk about a few things that you wanted to bring up on today’s show and it was talking about the withholding calculator and do a quick, what they call, paycheck checkup. And actually as you were just displaying your great career at the IRS and what you did when you were there for over 30 years I actually went to the IRS Web site and there is, if you look, if you just type an IRS withholding 2018 it takes you right to a part of the website that says, and I’ll read right from the Web site that IRS.gov, “The IRS encourages everyone to use a withholding calculator to perform a quick paycheck checkup” and that’s in quotations. This is even more important this year because of the recent changes to the tax law for 2018. The calculator hubs identify tax with holdings to make sure you have the right amount of tax withheld from your paycheck. There’re several reasons to check withholding. Greg why don’t you go ahead and explain why you want to bring this up at the top of the show today.
Greg Mahaffey: Well, there’s been all types of articles all over the whole spectrum of the news media in recent months that, due to the tax law changes and the new tax tables that came out. And if you remember, it was quite some effort to get the new tax changes out because they all had to be rushed but they’re figuring a good chunk of the population will be under withheld and may actually end up owing money this year 2018. So those of you will had border-line refunds in previous years. So please use the IRS as withholding calculators on their Web site plugging in year to date numbers from your paystubs from work and double check the calculations. When they are talking in the press about all these great tax breaks and so forth. The vast majority of them are not going to ma and pa businesses. They’re not going to smaller places that don’t to working class people. So as such when the new tables came out, they basically artificially may have lowered your withholding amounts and may have actually be under withheld right now. So please everyone that’s listening out there. Take a half an hour out on the Sunday, go to the IRS’s Web site. Use their withholding calculator use your paystub and double check your numbers to make sure you’re not going to be in for any rude surprises come the first of the year.
Lawrence Levy: Keep in mind I want to talk about the rules with withholding calculator, but we always want to say, please seek professional advice. Certainly, anyone in our office is qualified to help you with that. We have a team of CPA and enrolled agents that can help you with that withholding and if it’s efficient or not I just want to bring one paragraph to everyone’s attention. And it’s at the bottom of this of the IRS.gov site that I went to and it’s a special offer 2019 “if you follow the recommendations at the end of this calculator and change your withholding for 2018 the IRS reminds you to be sure to recheck you’re withholding the start of 2019, next year. This is especially important if you reduce your withholding some time during 2018, midyear withholding change may have a different full year impact in 2019. So, if you do not file a new W-4 for ’19, your withholding might be higher or lower than you would tend to help protect against having too little withheld. We encourage checking your withholding early again next year in 2019.” And they even say you have additional questions like withhold, consult with your employer or tax advisor. So, it’s very critical that everyone out there listening, listens to that this is a pretty big thing and in our space with IRS tax resolution, we see a lot of people who don’t have enough withheld. We see a lot of people who owe taxes consistently year after year especially with what we do for a living and we try and make sure that they stop the bleeding and they stop the non-compliance from year to year to year. And it’s there’s things that can go on in your life that could cause you to have a tax problem. Met with a gentleman earlier this week was actually on Monday, went through a bad divorce. Several kids. It was a very ugly divorce and he has a filed his tax returns since 2012 and he just wants to get his life back in order. He can’t get a new place to live. He certainly can’t get a mortgage, just a nice guy, he is in the consulting business. And we met at the end of last week before the show aired. We met with a gentleman who was a plumber and just again trying to get his life in order hasn’t filed in four or five years. But he just wants to get his life moving back in the right direction. And Greg when you were at the IRS you saw a lot of people come in to your inventory as they call it as a revenue officer and they had various reasons, some better than others, but generally speaking was there just an over whelming or an overriding theme that was pretty consistent throughout all the years you were at the IRS as to why people got themselves into a tax pickle.
Greg Mahaffey: Well, there’s usually had something to do with changes of jobs or someone trying to start off a brand-new business, keeping proper records, not having proper accounting records or an accountant to actually do this stuff for them. So, remember, when you’re out there trying to chase the almighty dollar and become famous by being self-employed, you have to keep your accounting straight. Need a professional accounting service such as ours. You go in there to your day-to-day bookkeeping. If necessarily make sure that you’re staying on top of this thing, so you know what you’re actually making. May look good on paper but when you take up all the other miscellaneous expenses you may actually be losing your arse and you need a professional out there to help guide you get you through this situation to make sure you don’t have any unpleasant surprises. That’s really hard to dig yourself out of at the end of the year.
Lawrence Levy: Right and that’s always the issue with a lot of our clients as they don’t focus on the accounting or the bookkeeping. No matter what the file may be, it could be a lawyer, can be a doctor. It can be a plumber. It can be a consultant. Now there’s just you know restaurants, you name it, our client base is very diverse to say the least. And it happens to a lot of people out there. And one of the big mistakes is they don’t seek professional advice and they don’t seek it fast enough. Talking to law enforcement. So, if anyone out there is a police officer, we see that quite a bit sometimes first responders, a firefighter, we see this all the time where people are just not focusing because people in law enforcement or as a firefighter because of their schedule they have the ability to have another business that could be real estate investment. I mean we just it’s all over. Greg could you see that a lot where you were getting there was firefighters or police officers that would be in your inventory from time to time.
Greg Mahaffey: Yeah. Professional sometimes doing it could be for one of a dozen different things. Maybe they took too many exemptions and then they went through a nasty divorce and they never bothered to change their exemptions. Remember people when you’re out there when you have a major change in your life through divorce, a death anything can happen out there. Double check your tax situation as well. Otherwise you can hit for real nasty surprise. Everything is taken care of now all of a sudden, you’re not married filing joint anymore with three kids. You are married filing separate, or you are head of household or you are simply single and you under withheld for the whole year. So, keep that in mind if you’re going through some kind of dramatic life change, you have to have a professional to help you to help you stay on top of this. It’s a lot cheaper to have preventative maintenance done now than it is to have a major overhaul from a major expense later down the road. Fix your taxes is like basic first aid. You have to stop the bleeding first. You have to stay current. We’re one of the few firms out there that actually encourages people to stay current, lot of tax places won’t you to get in trouble again. So, they can charge you again and again and again you don’t work like that. We want to fix your situation right the first time.
Lawrence Levy: Right. Greg, when you were at the IRS you saw that a lot to where you would have taxpayers. We now call them clients of course that would come to you would be back their inventory like a revolving door almost that would be pretty common right.
Greg Mahaffey:Yes. Sometimes I had that very same representation they had the first time around. And then asked them why you don’t give these people current they sort of shrugged it off as well, we do the best we can. But it’s not a priority for some of these other firms. It’s a priority for us. We want to fix your situation permanently. That’s what makes us different from the rest of the firms out there. And that’s the main reason why people should be looking for a professional company that is looking out for their interests first not their own but their clients’ interests first.
Lawrence Levy: Right. And that just adds to its one of these things that you really want to focus on the accounting and talk about that. What do we have coming up here in another few weeks. We have September 15th deadline, that’s the extension where you have to file your tax returns for businesses and then right after that October 15th is the next one where you have to file your extension, If you file the extension back in April 15th, your personnel’s are due in October and these deadlines are going to come up quick and you don’t want to miss these. Last year, for those that were affected by Hurricane Irma, which was pretty such all Florida, the IRS put up what’s called an O freeze. Which basically it’s a disaster code so everyone was able to file their tax returns late with no penalty. I think it was until the end of January this year. Please God we will not have that same luxury of time. Now we’re about halfway through the show. Let me give up the phone number because we probably don’t give it out enough with the phone number. Locally it’s (561) 865-7800, (561) 865-7800 and toll-free 1-800-TAX-LEVY. Yes, Levy really is my last name. And I want to talk a little bit about a few different files because it’s been quite a week with files and clients I guess who haven’t filed. So, whether it’s the plumber we talked about whether it was the consultant we talked about. We also have a real estate agent who hasn’t found it a few years. We also have a guy that went through some substance abuse. He hasn’t filed in a few years. We have another client and literal just like looking at my computer screens another other client who went through a bad breakup. He wasn’t married but it was a bad breakup. He hasn’t filed in a few years. The list just goes on and on and on and on. And it happens to everyone and I try and explain these things because we’re not just we’re not just limited to a certain demographic. It’s not just if you make $50,000 or under. We have clients making $300,000, $500,000 dollars. Even more than that and they just get themselves into a bind and it’s just one of these things that happens that you have to be able to fix. And Greg one of the things we talked about in the last week show which I still want to bring up again is why is it that there just seems to be such an inconsistent application of the of the rules where you get a revenue officer who may be extremely nice, bend over backwards and try and help you out and you get a different revenue officer who literally just may be trying to bust your chops. It just seems to want to make life difficult for the client and certainly for our office. Is there a reason that you know of. And I know we talked about maybe just personality and management maybe had something to do with it but it really is extremely frustrating on our end and you know why is it that when Greg Mahaffey was a revenue officer you handle it different than someone so maybe sitting a few desks away from you. Any insight as a former retired revenue officer you can give or is it just human nature or personality.
Greg Mahaffey: Human nature, personality and management style. These people are out there doing the best they can to do a job. It is a job for them. And as part of that job they get reviewed. They get judged. They get evaluated. They get promotions, they get bonuses. However, that bonus is not based upon what they collect out there. unlike what a lot of myths say Ira’s not get bonuses based upon what they collect. In fact, they are barred by law from actually judging people or evaluating people based upon their productivity. So, if you hear that, it’s a wife’s tale. It doesn’t exist. This is why it’s so different is because people are different. I have evolved over my decades of being a revenue officer. It depends upon who you have and management. When I started off I was busting people’s chop so to speak and taking no names and taking no prisoners. And it took me quite a long time to finally figure out that hey these are people I’m dealing with. People respond better with sugar than they do with vinegar. So, if you actually reach out to help someone. Guess what, your job to resolve their case is going to be a lot easier and if you’re constantly sitting there kicking them in the butt every time they turn around. What good does it do to the revenue officers job is not to punish people and that’s what a lot of some revenue officers seem to have forgotten about. Their job is not to punish people they are not law enforcement. They’re simply trying to enforce the civil tax laws and collect what is owed. But they are supposed to be doing this fairly and you know what else is what you get.
Lawrence Levy: Right and let me also tell you, they are supposed to do it politely. Right? The tax payer bill of rights last time we checked.
Greg Mahaffey: Yes there is and we follow that very closely and I have called down a few people when I saw them getting out of order in my lifetime.
Lawrence Levy: Well I’ll tell you, we’re really big into customer service. And if you if anyone is listening look up IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights and I’m just going to go through what’s right here on the IRS.com Web site. The right to be informed the right to quality service. The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax. The right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard. The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum. The right to find out the right to privacy. The right to confidentiality. The right to retain representation and the right to fair and just tax system. How about we go to the second one. The right to quality service. Taxpayer and I’m reading this verbatim.
Lawrence Levy: Taxpayers have a right to receive prompt courteous and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS. To be spoken to in a way that I’m sorry to be spoken to in a way they can easily understand. To receive a clear and easily deliverable.
Lawrence Levy: Sorry to let them start all over. I was reading down the excellent the tax payers right to quality service. The taxpayers have a right to receive proper courteous and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS. To be spoken to in a way they can easily understand. To receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service. That seems to be pretty basic right. How about the one that has the right to challenge the IRS’s position to be heard. Taxpayers have a right to raise objections and provide additional documentation in response to formal IRS actions or proposed actions. So expect that the IRS will consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly and receive a response. If the IRS doesn’t agree with their position, then was beyond that preferring to appeal to the next one has the right to appeal an IRS decision. Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions including penalties taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to tax court. So often times, Greg since you’ve been in the private sector for a few years now I think that too many cases go to appeals. I think that if people were able to communicate more effectively, you’d resolve it without having to go to appeals. I don’t know if revenue officers are overworked. I don’t know if they’re just being stubborn. I don’t really know the reason as to why that is. But there’s a lot of cases in my opinion that potentially should be able to be worked at the revenue officer level and try and resolve it at that level. You see that?
Greg Mahaffey: I fully agree with that. In fact, that’s the approach I take when I get a new client and I see there’s already a revenue officer assigned for thing I do is contact that revenue officer and I say I am so-and-so I know your job. I know what you’re trying to do here. Let’s work on a solution we can all live with. That’s approach I take most of the time. That is very welcome news to a lot of review officers when they get someone who wants to sit down with them and get that case resolved. Doesn’t always happen that way. I’ve found that the best approach and that usually does work with a few exceptions.
Lawrence Levy: No listen, I mean Greg when you call and say Hi I’m Greg Mahaffey, you, give me a call back and you explain that that you used to work there as a revenue officer. You’d hope someone would be receptive. Infact, Claire had a call with a revenue officer last week on a file that she got assigned to and the revenue officer said, Hey I think I recognize your name Claire Coffee pretty recognizable name. Coincidentally they both worked in a Florida posted duty. I don’t know how many years ago 15-16 years ago and they actually recognized, well she did, that they revenue officer recognized Claire and Claire’s name. It was very interesting. Sometimes that does definitely help to say the least. But if it doesn’t, you want to make sure that the way in which you approach a case you are diffusing and taking the emotions out of the situation. That’s why seeking professional representation in my opinion is a very critical point to make and we always want to encourage that. Greg when you were at the IRS you saw a lot of POA’s that were either attorneys that had no business being in the tax resolution business or CPA’s they were just out of their element. Did you see, excuse me, did you say you got a lot.
Greg Mahaffey: Yeah, I did. Just because someone’s an attorney doesn’t mean they know anything about tax law. Law and the law profession is a very complicated form. It’s like not all doctors can be specialists in all areas. A neurosurgeon cannot do podiatry work. Likewise, though OBGYN cannot do oral surgery. You need someone who specializes in your particular situation and that’s where we come into play here. Attorneys are great for certain things. Other things attorneys are not necessarily the greatest thing in the world. When you’re dealing with the IRS collection division you need someone who knows the collection division inside and out, knows the laws, who knows the procedures. Who knows how to get a case resolved. And that’s why you need to hire someone like us out there. If you have a simple traffic ticket you need fixed. You go to an attorney. You don’t go to and likewise when it comes to your tax resolution stuff, you come to us. We know how to get stuff fixed and we will work with you and we will work with the IRS. We will find that only a resolution to get you out of your problem. Also, one to keeps you out of trouble going forward from here.
Lawrence Levy: Right. Well I got to tell you that you know you’ve been a tremendous addition to the Levy team. And also, we now just recently added that six weeks ago another former IRS Revenue Officer who was a group manager. And Greg you knew her from the IRS days right.
Greg Mahaffey: Yes, I did. I knew her very well. She and I competed against her management job and she got it not me.
Lawrence Levy: Well you know why? She’s prettier Greg, that’s what I came down to, I’m just kidding with you. But you know ultimately the experience that the Levy team has. Right. It just can’t be matched in my opinion. Besides the three former IRS Revenue Officers that we have, you were in the offer in compromise group. So was Claire and Mindy was a GM a group manager for I think it was seven or eight years was it.
Greg Mahaffey: And so something like that.
Lawrence Levy: And you know there’s over a hundred years of combined experience not to mention between Dainelle, Arnold, Bianca. You then have Miren, Dave Crop a CPA. And you have the EA’s . There’s a tremendous amount of experience that we have on the Levy team. We’ve been around a long time over 20 years and it’s really important that if you have a tax problem, that you seek a firm that has that experience. You want to be able to make sure that whoever you hire, you get that warm and fuzzy feeling about. I want to finish out the last four or five minutes of the show talking a little bit off topic for a minute. You brought up doctors earlier and OB isn’t going to perform oral surgery. A dentist isn’t going to help you out if you have chest pains and in the past few weeks we have not the office, but I have had a friend of mine. She was in her late 50s. She passed away suddenly of a heart attack. We also have another friend of mine who was in his early 60s. He ended up having a couple of stints put in. We also had another friend of mine’s in the heating and cooling business. He’s in his late 60s and he had three stints put in last week. My mother-in-law was having chest pains. I ended up taking her to hospital and she ended up with a heart attack and the stint. So, in the grand scheme of things you look back and we try and tell our clients these things you know that they come in here and they have stress, they are worried sometimes. Last week out to another story, medical related we had a client of ours who’s got a son who’s blind and he’s you know got that as a handicap. And so that the mom and dad, our client, have to deal with that on a daily basis. He is in his late 20s. So, you take into consideration we do at least what our clients are going through in their personal lives. And Greg when you were an IRS Revenue Officer did you take into consideration what was going on. You know someone had a heart attack, their mother-in-law had a heart attack. I mean these are real life experiences. And I’ll tell you when my mother-in-law had her heart attack, that was 10 days ago a week ago Wednesday, you know we were at the hospital literally until midnight, my wife even stayed later. Then all day on Thursday we were there. She had a heart cath and you know get better get to get her home on Friday. So, it really your whole life stops. What if there was an IRS deadline. Right. What happens when you were there did you take a bit of a human approach to something like that and say, oh my god, I understand, and I know you had a heart attack by the way.
Greg Mahaffey: Yeah. Yeah. Mine was connected from my ailments over from the Gulf War. And so I’ve been through the circle too. But obviously you have to be human out there. Even the most hardened IRS revenue officers are human, and they do recognize personal disasters. Some may be heartless enough to ask for some kind of documentation which is usually not a big deal to do or so forth here. But again, most of them will be thoughtful and courteous of personal emergencies and personal disasters. So, I always did, and I knew I would reach out for people when they needed extra help as well. Now I would be there for taxpayers.
Lawrence Levy: Well you know it’s nice that you have that personal touch and you care, and you can give someone a break. I mean I will literally tell you that my wife and my wife works. She’s a lawyer, not to work POA for us from but she has been with the same law firm for 20 some years and everything had to take a backseat. Her mom had a heart attack and she’s got three brothers. And you know everyone including me and also my sisters-in-laws were all there basically at the hospital supporting a phenomenal mother-in-law and even with me at a time away from what I was being able to do in my office. But that’s the way I went. I mean for me, I’m texting, I’m responding to email, I even actually took a call from a client on Thursday morning while my mother was having a heart attack. Mother, My mother-in-law, excuse me, but you know it happens so thankfully my mother was okay and thankfully the gentleman who had the stints, a couple of my buddies there okay. The lady who was 59 years old, she passed away. No idea she had a she had a heart condition. She’s got a daughter and granddaughter and a granddaughter on the way. So, these are tragic terrible things. I want to end with one last positive comment. I saw something that was such an inspiration. Earlier last weekend on Sunday. I used to play tennis when I was in decent shape and I saw someone that was taking a tennis lesson that was in a wheelchair. And I just found that remarkable. Don’t know who that person wasn’t going to be listening to this radio show I could pretty much promise you that. But it was just remarkable, and I just want to give a big shout out to everyone who does have some medical issues going on. And how remarkable it is that you’re resilient and you persevere, and you try, anyhow. Enough of my emotions for the week there but it was certainly a week filled with some ups and downs on the medical side. So, I wish everyone all the best. Stay healthy, eat healthy, keep a positive attitude that will help you stay healthy. If you have an IRS issue you’re not so healthy because it’s just not about the IRS. You pick up the phone and you call that 800-TAX-LEVY that 800-TAX_LEVY. And yet the Levy really is my last name. The local phone number is (561) 865-7800. Signing off for now. You got the famous retired former IRS Revenue Officer Greg Mahaffey in the House and Lawrence Levy. Enjoy the rest of the weekends South Florida. You take care. We’ll talk to you next time.