You’ve seen the commercials and heard the advertisements. How the IRS is going to take away your home, your business, your life savings. Garnish your wages and seize your bank account. Everything you’ve worked for gone in an instant. The scary boogeyman that you should be very afraid of if you ever slip up and can’t meet your tax obligations and responsibilities. So make that call and they’ll send in their highly trained and experienced Ghostbusters and they’ll make that IRS boogeyman go away.
But are they really that bad? Well, in my 30 plus years in the profession working with individuals and small to medium size businesses, I’ve really yet to see a situation where I personally observed a client get unfairly taken advantage of to any material extent by the IRS. I’ve never seen anyone’s wages garnished. I’ve seen maybe a couple of bank account liens and a few more where a lien was threatened. But none of that happened without a material amount of time passing from the point a legitimate tax debt originated. And I’m talking sometimes months or years later. Actually, I’ve seen them be quite lenient on occasion. Not to say that the IRS can’t and doesn’t use these tools and more whether the debt is justified or not. And there are going to be a few bad actors in every large organization, including the IRS.
But if you ever find yourself in a situation where you owe the IRS and for whatever reason you just can’t pay, don’t be afraid! And before you make what could potentially be an expensive call to the IRS Ghostbusters, realize that the IRS can often be an organization that will work with you and help you however they can with their various taxpayer programs. Your CPA can help you through the process working in your interest and behalf and without all the scare tactics.
Dale F. Jensen, CPA