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Powell Tax Law Blog

3 min read
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Why You Need an Experienced Attorney When Dealing with the IRS

Founding father Benjamin Franklin provided America with a treasure trove of homespun proverbs but one of his last great quotes might be the most famous:

“Our new constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes”

Franklin’s apropos “death and taxes” line – which came in a 1789 letter to a French scientist just five months before Franklin passed away at age 84 – still rings true 233 years later.

Of course, Franklin did not have to deal with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which was not created until 1862, or else he might have amended his famous line to read “nothing is certain except death, taxes, and the vexing task of dealing with the IRS!”

“The IRS is a Hot Mess”: Millions of Tax Returns Not Processed, Calls Going Unanswered

It is not a “state secret” that even before the COVID-19 pandemic threw the world a curveball, the IRS had a reputation of being a government agency that could be equal parts frustrating, perplexing and confusing for the average person to deal with.

Heck, the National Taxpayer Advocate, the independent organization within the IRS which functions as the voice of the average taxpayer, said in 2018 that the IRS was making “a mockery of Taxpayer Bill of Rights” and practiced “shabby tax administration.”

Then came the pandemic and IRS’s “customer service” ground to a virtual halt.

Washington Post personal finance reporter Michelle Singletary found herself fighting an unjust tax bill from the IRS that resulted in last summer’s “The IRS is a Hot Mess: Millions of Tax Returns Haven’t Been Processed, and Calls are Going Unanswered, Including Mine” eye-opening column.

“I want to apologize to every person I’ve encouraged to be patient with the Internal Revenue Service as it stumbles through the aftereffects of the pandemic. Your righteous indignation is warranted,” wrote Singletary. “The IRS is critically malfunctioning … the agency is a hot mess.”

Singletary’s column was full of nuggets such as if you call the IRS, there’s only a 1-in-50 chance you’ll reach a human being or that there was a backlog of 35 million unprocessed tax returns.

Who You Gonna Call? IRS Automated Notices Put Taxpayers on the Hook

The dreaded IRS audit isn’t typically taking place in a soulless government building with a bureaucrat behind a bland desk but comes in your mailbox in the form of a letter requesting documentation to resolve outstanding questions the IRS has about your return.

And these IRS letters usually include a “tax amount due” that the government thinks you owe them. Often, this amount is not correct due to an oversight on how your taxes were filed or even due to an error by the IRS.

Getting through the Byzantine labyrinth to solve an issue can be challenging as the clock seemingly runs out – with more automated letters coming, often threatening a move to judgement and/or collections – without any contact from the IRS or acknowledgement of your correspondence and explanation.

Singletary, unable to resolve the matter via normal channels, made the smart move, hiring a tax professional to help navigate through her 11-page IRS notice.

“Some 75 percent of audits are simple correspondence audits while office examination audits and field audits are both more involved and can take time to resolve,” said Texas tax attorney Steve Powell. “No matter what type of audit you face, the decision to engage the services of a tax professional is the smartest decision you can make.”

Why Hire an Attorney? Because an IRS Problem is a Serious Legal Matter

It does not matter what your opinion of the IRS is or how you feel about federal tax statutes, but an IRS issue is something that needs to be taken very seriously.

“The IRS can and will aggressively target individuals and businesses that have not paid taxes or filed returns,” says Powell.

Hiring an experience attorney, one licensed to practice in U.S. Tax Court or Federal District Court, to help you deal with the IRS can give you peace of mind and protection to properly address many issues including:

  • Back Taxes
  • Wage Garnishment
  • IRS Audit: Always seek professional tax advice when under threat of IRS audit.
  • Amended Tax Returns
  • File a Claim in Federal Court
  • File Tax Returns to Replace Returns Created by the IRS
  • Innocent Spouse
  • Installment Agreement
  • Non-Collectible Status (CNC)
  • Offer in Compromise (Fresh Start)
  • Penalty Abatement

It can feel overwhelming when facing action by the IRS, but an experienced attorney can help the average taxpayer understand the laws and all their legal rights.

Summer 2022: IRS Still Faces a Backlog

It has been a year since Singletary’s column and the IRS reported on June 10, 2022, that it has a backlog still of “11 million unprocessed returns which include returns received before 2022, and new tax year 2021 returns. Of these, 1.9 million returns require error correction or other special handling, and 9.1 million are paper returns waiting to be reviewed and processed.”

Those taxpayers that have tried to get through to offices such as the Austin area IRS office, know that it is still almost impossible to reach a human to answer your questions.

“We are continuing to reroute tax returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are behind to locations where more staff is available, and we are taking other actions to minimize any delays,” said the IRS.

An advantage of hiring an attorney tax professional is that they can make use of a dedicated practitioner line which gives them a much better chance of reaching someone to resolve your IRS issue.

Contact Powell Tax Law in The Woodlands or San Antonio today to for a free and confidential consultation that can be the first step to providing you with an experienced legal team to represent you in issues small and large with the IRS.