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Tax attorney on taxing problems

A postal clerk date-stamps an envelope containing U.S. Federal income tax forms destine for Kansas City, Mo.

Tax season is over for most people. But what if you missed the deadline to file or to request an extension, or messed up your tax forms in more catastrophic ways? Who do you turn to then? Tax attorney Kelly Phillips Erb -- otherwise known as "Tax Girl" -- tells us her story.


My job is to fix people's problems, fix people's tax problems. I fix returns that either weren't filed the way they should have been or weren't filed exactly the way the IRS thinks they should have been.

I help taxpayers tell their story and explain to IRS -- here's why the mistake happened and here's what we propose to do to fix it. So I do a lot of talking off of ledges.

One of the things that I think is fun about my job is that I'm not just a tax attorney. I joke that I fix marriages. I had this great couple one time that I represented. The taxpayer actually kept two sets of books. I know everybody always reads about that and thinks it never happens, but this guy actually had two sets of books. He had two ledgers and they were the old, green ledgers with the long paper. He had the money that he actually received in his cash-based business and then he had a list that he reported to IRS. His wife kept one set of books and was completely in the dark about the other set of books. Of course, he got audited. He called me up one day and said, 'I need you after all because my wife is making me.' We negotiated a settlement and it actually ended up going really well for the taxpayer. All was resolved. I got the loveliest 'thank you' from his wife who said: now I don't have to kill him.

That kind of thing actually happens a lot in my practice because sometimes it's the fear of the unknown -- what's going to happen. You fight a lot because you're scared what tomorrow might bring with the IRS. In this instance it was really terrific because not only did the taxpayer save his business, he saved his marriage.

About the author

Tax attorney Kelly Phillips Erb, otherwise known as "Tax Girl," lives and works in southeastern Philadelphia, Penn.
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