Ask Money

Haven’t paid taxes

Chris Farrell Dec 15, 2009

Question: I have been delinquent for many years on paying my income tax. I have not received any notes from the IRS and I do have bank accounts and vote in every election so if they wanted to find me it would not be difficult. The problem is that I am starting a new business and need to get them straightened. I have been researching the companies that you see on television and so far all but 2 have an F rating with the BBB. I was wondering what your advice would be about them or using a group like this in general. Thank you for your time. Thomas, Fredericksburg, TX

Answer: I’m glad you’re going to address the situation before the IRS stumbles on you out of the estimated 150 million tax returns filed. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing steep fines and liens on your property.

That said, I would definitely steer clear of the companies you see on television offering help. These firms typically take their fees up front, they’re not cheap, and the ratings from the Better Business Bureau tell you how good a job they do: A failing grade.

However, you do want an advocate on your side. There are plenty of reputable professionals for hire. I would get recommendations from friends, colleagues, entrepreneurs, and other people you respect to find a good CPA, an enrolled agent, or an experienced tax attorney. You’ll want to work with someone experienced at negotiating with the IRS and your state revenue department. For instance, a number of states have instituted tax amnesties in an attempt to get people to file during these tough times. (Texas had a state tax amnesty program from 2004 to 2008.)

The federal government doesn’t have an amnesty program, but you might get a break through negotiation depending on your overall financial situation.

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