Tax FAQ

If you don’t find the answer to your question her in our Tax FAQ section, please give us a call at (619) 235-9645. If you are at work or cannot talk with us right now, please use the contact form to tell us when you can talk and the best number to call you. We will not attempt to sell you – we will simply and frankly answer any questions or concerns you might have.

  1. What is Tax Resolution?

    Tax Resolution is an area of law that covers tax matters such as: income tax debt relief, tax liens, tax levies, offer in compromise, IRS Installment Agreements, tax penalty abatement, wage garnishment releases, IRS audits, IRS audit representation, sales tax audits, payroll tax audits and negotiations, and state tax matters. When people are in debt with the state or IRS and their finances make it difficult or impossible to pay their back or current taxes, they will find it most advantageous to work with a Tax Resolution Layer.

  2. What can a Tax Resolution Lawyer help me with?

    The IRS is the largest collection agency on the planet and wields all the power of the U.S. Federal government. Any time you have a problem with the IRS it can be summed up as David vs. Goliath. Because of that inequality of power, if you find yourself being unfairly bulldozed by the IRS, or have a legitimate claim or issue that they simply won’t take you seriously about, having a professional tax representative working with you will both get their attention and level the playing field for you. You will almost always be taken more seriously, because once you have legal representation, the people you are dealing with get the message that if a solution is found the issue might be pushed up to their superiors – which might reflect badly on their career, advancement, and government retirement plan.

  3. I live in Oregon, must I travel to your office for you to help me?

    No. Not for the majority of the tax services we provide on a daily basis. In fact, 80% of our business is done by phone, email and fax for clients all over —not just in California. If you’re tax issue with the IRS is one of back taxes, unfiled returns, disagreements or disputes over expenses or deductions or you need help attempting to have the IRS forgive some or all of your tax debt, all of these are done by electronic communication with the IRS in various departments all around the country. If, on the other hand, you are facing a local field audit and need personal representation for the actual face-to-face meeting, it would be less costly for you to secure an enrolled agent or tax attorney close to your home, business or local IRS office where that scheduled audit is scheduled to take place. That said, for all other tax problems such as an Offer In Compromise or something, we’d be delighted to help you analyze your overall financial situation and then negotiate and advocate on your behalf.

  4. Once you get started on my case, will the IRS continue to pestering me?

    No. Most clients are utterly relieved to have the letters stop, the calls cease, and relieved that the government sedan will not be pulling up in their driveway —relieved to know that this monster problem is finally being addressed and solved once and for all. All future IRS communication will go through our office and we will keep you informed. Hopefully you will appreciate that you can get the mail without trepidation, or answer the unexpected knock on the door without first dealing with near heart failure. When you get a tax attorney on your team, you can get back to the business of life —free of stress and anxiety, knowing we will keep you advised of our progress.

  5. How do I stop the IRS from levying my bank account or garnishing my wages?

    When you hire us to represent you, the first order of business is to make sure that all IRS collection activities are ceased. This includes stopping them from hassling you and talking only to us, ceasing any further bank or other account levies, and if there is a wage garnishment we will negotiate another arrangement that the IRS will almost always agree to when we make a case of the hardship it is causing you and your sincerity to work out with them. Again, our goal is to stop ALL collection activities while we negotiate the best possible outcome for your unique tax problems. We will work to protect your assets.

  6. What States do you work in?

    Tax attorneys are approved to work in all 50 States for IRS matters as the IRS is Federal, as are the U.S. Tax Courts and the Bankruptcy Courts as well. With cheap travel and our close proximity to a LAX and other regional airports, we can assist clients anywhere at anytime. We are routinely selected as tax counsel for clients who lived in California, and then moved, or out of state clients who have property, family, or business interests here in the golden state.

  7. There are a lot of tax lawyers out there. How do I choose one?

    Almost all attorney-client relationships have to do with whether or not the two people and their unique personalities “click.” This is a general rule for working with any attorney, a CPA, or even choosing a doctor. Give us a call and speak with tax resolution attorney Paul Staley. We suspect that differences between our firm and many of the “paper mills” out there will become clear to you right away.

  8. I have a CPA and family attorney. Why do I need a Tax Resolution Lawyer?

    Your average CPA works full time with accounting, quarterly returns, and preparing income tax returns. Some CPA’s do get involved in IRS audits, but it is typically not their primary business. Same goes for seasonal tax preparers and enrolled-agents. Tax Resolution Lawyers deal with the IRS and state tax agencies all the time on behalf of their clients. Moreover, tax resolution lawyers are constantly working on solving IRS and state tax agency problems including: back taxes, unfiled tax returns, stopping bank levies and wage garnishments, etc. Moreover, when clients have us represent them before the IRS, there is an “attorney-client privilege” that protects your rights and allows you the freedom and flexibility to ask for legal advice without fear that the government will use your own words against you. The IRS cannot compel a tax attorney to divulge confidential information.

    MORE about “attorney-client privilege” – The majority of our tax clients have issues in their lives that might reflect on their tax liability and they want to openly discuss their concerns to get the information they need to make an informed decision. Many of these conversations brainstorm hypothetical situations or involve close family members. For instance: “When my uncle passed away 3 years ago he left me $112,000 in cash that was in a safe in the concrete floor of his garage under his tool bench. Was I required to report that cash windfall as income?” Or, “In 2006 I was making too much money brokering time shares. A tax preparer I have used suggested I hire my 21 year old daughter and my 18 year old son to ‘spread the income around,’ which I did. I paid them about $40,000 which they reported on their tax returns, though honestly, with their busy college schedules, they really didn’t do too much of the work – I did. Am I in trouble with the IRS, and if so, what are my options to clean that up?” Your tax attorney can discuss these common tax issues with you and present you viable options you might consider. Your CPA, tax preparer, or enrolled agent may be compelled (or volunteer without being asked) some or all of your private conversations or “what ifs” you may have shared. An IRS revenue investigator that might start a process where your audit or inquiry goes rapidly downhill when it should not have.
  9. Can you settle my back taxes for pennies on the dollar?

    That is a clever phrase run on some late night TV commercials, but possible! The visuals on those commercials make you subliminally think that it will be 3 or 4 pennies on the dollar. That is not the norm, but YES, individuals receive some amazing settlements when they are able to submit an offer to settle their taxes at a “serious discount” from what is owed, thus taking advantage of the IRS program referred to ad “Offer In Compromise.” OIC’s prepared and negotiated by tax resolution professionals are often more successful than those attempted by the individual taxpayer. The IRS needs to have your offer presented in such a way that builds a case for the discount you are essentially petitioning. If accepted, those taxes in excess of your offer are forgiven —erased forever truly giving you a ‘fresh start.’ If not accepted, the Tax Resolution Lawyer Paul Staley has other IRS and state programs we can help you take advantage of.

  10. I have not filed a tax return in 8 years. Can you help me?

    Absolutely! We will contact the IRS on your behalf to order your wage information (and any other income documentation they might have: 1099’s, etc.) for the years you did not file. You will need to provide us with income and expense information to the best you can. Then we will prepare the missing tax returns, review them with you, and with your blessing file them electronically with the IRS. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover a refund is owed to you! If not, and should there be a balance due the IRS, you will know before we actually file the returns. If the amount is manageable and you have the funds we can include the payment with the submittal of the returns. If the tax balance is beyond your means, we can work with you and the IRS to negotiate an installment payment agreement or another appropriate resolution to help you resolve your tax debt.

  11. I owe the IRS more than I could ever afford to pay. Can you help?

    In our initial consultation we will get a good overview of your unique circumstances and will advise you of the IRS programs that fit your situation. For instance, you may qualify for an Offer in Compromise which means that we can make make “an offer” that is typically significantly less than what you legally owe —generally a fraction of what you owe. If accepted, you will be on your way to getting this stress and anxiety behind you.

  12. Can the IRS go after me personally for past due payroll taxes?

    Yes, unfortunately not ponying-up the payroll taxes you as a business owner are required to withhold and forward to the government with your quarterly 941 is a HUGE problem. In fact, most of our blog postings about people ending up with prison sentences have to do with unpaid payroll taxes. Prison is usually a result of unpaid taxes coupled with the intent to defraud the government. Just missing a quarter or two can be worked out. You, as an employer, are supposedly “holding in trust” taxes that belong to the state and the U.S. Treasury. You are essentially stealing federal funds. Because of this, the U.S. Congress has provided serious enforcement power to the IRS in “Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (TFRP).” The IRS may determine that any persons connected to the employee’s money stream might be liable for the taxes not forwarded including penalties. Business owners, officers, employee-bookkeeper, hired-bookkeeper or CPA, even an “innocent” payroll clerk.

    MORE about “Trust Fund Recovery Penalty” Cases – There is some legalize that is supposed to determine the liable parties. The business owner and/or corporate officers are almost always liable. As to a CPA who drops in on Wednesday every week to run the payroll and distribute checks, or a hired payroll clerk? Are they in trouble? Unfortunately, they may be. In these circumstances the government will want to pin the action word” “willfully” on every person they go after to collect the unpaid trust funds. The responsible person(s) must have known about the unpaid employment taxes, or the fact that there were not sufficient funds to forward. Many small businesses never have enough money where they can really set the funds aside into a trust-fund “lock box.” So when the time comes to send file the 941 along with the depositing of the associated payroll withholding monies and the business cannot do so, there is BIG trouble. If you are an employee who works for a business that struggles to make their payroll withholding payments and you KNOW IT, and you sign the checks, prepare the checks, are “in charge” of generating the payroll, you should sit down with a Tax Attorney. There are lots of horror stories where employees of small businesses lost their personal bank accounts, homes, cars an other assets —after the business owners did not have sufficient net worth to levy against.

    In larger corporations where funds are actually set-aside in a special account (as they should be), corporate officers will sometimes make the foolish decision to divert those funds to finance a corporate project. Bad idea. Business officers are playing with fire. Payroll Trust Fund enforcement can result in criminal charges. If you are connected to such high-stakes situations, time to shop your resume around and contact an attorney, in the mean time to learn some ways to legally distance yourself from the coming train wreck.

    If you find yourself in trouble with a TFRP collection, San Diego tax attorney Paul Staley may be able to negotiate an IRS Installment Agreement, or your circumstances may qualify you for the IRS Offer in Compromise program which could result in the permanent waiving and forgiveness of some of the delinquent payroll taxes.

  13. I applied for a mortgage but have a tax lien. Can I get it removed quickly?

    It may turn out that the legal time for the IRS to collect on the lien may have expired. If that is the case, we can formally request that the IRS remove the lien immediately and they oblige the request. If the lien has not expired, there are some instances where the IRS will take a subordinate position which might allow your loan or refinance to proceed.


Do you see your situation here in our FAQ’s? —Either way, give us a call!

San Diego Tax Resolution Lawyer Paul Staley provides a no-obligation, confidential consultation and has appointments available for evenings and weekends. We accept all major credit cards and can make other payment arrangements so that we can help you get your tax problems straightened out without adding additional layers of financial burden on you and your family. To speak with Paul or to schedule a confidential free consultation call (619) 235-9645.