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5 things the IRS doesn't want you to know

By Kevin Hanson, Contributing writer
Published On: Apr 01 2012 10:45:16 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 21 2014 01:51:53 PM CDT
tax rebate refund letter, IRS, Internal Revenue Service

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Have you ever wondered why April Fools' Day (April 1) and tax day are in the same month? Maybe it's coincidence, or maybe it's a cosmic joke, or maybe, just maybe, it's exactly as it should be.

Maybe it's not funny at all. Think of it this way: an April Fools' prank is typically funny only to the jokester. Oh sure, the poor sap on the receiving end will pretend to laugh, pretend to be a good sport about it; but inside, they're either humiliated or planning their retaliation.

On tax day, it's usually the Internal Revenue Service that's the jokester, making you account for every stinkin' penny earned and spent during the year.

Well, listed below are five things the IRS doesn't want you to know, so that you can at least get a giggle or two at the IRS's expense ...

Tax maze, forms, dollar sign, taxes, money

No. 5: They don't want to seize your assets

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that you're delinquent on your taxes. IRS collection agents might threaten to seize your assets in order to scare you into resolving your tax issue. Don't get scared.

In most cases, it's too expensive and takes way too much time for the IRS to seize your assets. They have to not only identify and seize said assets, but they also have to sell them.

This is typically done via public auction, which means the cash they get will likely be less than the value of the assets seized.

So, although it's never a good idea to be delinquent on your taxes, just remember that the IRS really doesn't want to seize your assets. One exception to this, however, is your bank account. It's a relatively easy process and they don't have to bother with an auction. They might also try to garnish your wages.

law, justice, gavel, law books, courtroom

No. 4: They would rather not go to court

If you should ever find yourself in trouble with the IRS to the point where a trial in a court of law looms over your head, you can take solace in knowing that they would rather not go to trial.

Trials are expensive, they can take a long time to reach a resolution and, if you have a good tax lawyer, the IRS (aka the United States government) risks losing more money than the issue is really worth.

The IRS is going to exhaust every possible avenue before actually going before a judge. Keep this in mind if you find yourself going up against tax agents threatening to haul you into court.

If you can come up with a reasonable resolution outside a courtroom, chances are excellent they'll settle.

upset office worker at computer

No. 3: Their agents do make mistakes

Believe it or not, the IRS doesn't know everything. In fact, tax lawyers estimate they give the wrong answer to taxpayers' questions about 30 percent of the time.

Nobody's perfect. You expect mistakes from time to time, even from "experts," but 30 percent is pretty significant.

Of course, tax lawyers are also likely to tell you that in the event that the IRS gives you the wrong advice, you can't count on it if you're trying to dodge an accuracy related penalty. One exception to this could be if you are able to get the incorrect advice in writing; however, IRS agents are usually instructed to avoid giving written advice.

It is advised that you refrain from asking the IRS any question beyond the scope of what would be considered a rudimentary question. A wrong answer on even a question that seems to be simple could make your life chaotically miserable.

Taxes, upset, angry taxpayer on phone, forms

No. 2: It pays to be pushy

Sometimes in life you have to be a bit of a jerk. For some of us, it just comes naturally, we don't have to pretend. For others of us, it's a foreign concept that runs counter to how we would normally behave.

But when you're dealing with a bureaucratic megalomaniacal organization like the IRS, you have to do something to get their attention.

You might have heard the expression, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Well, it fits in here like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Now, you don't really have to be a jerk (usually), but it pays to be persistent and well-informed in the tax issue you are trying to resolve.

If you present your case in a cogent, rational manner, you're less likely to be given the never-ending run-around.

taxes generic paperwork frustration

No. 1: Some entry level agents have no financial training

Quite often you'll find that IRS auditors and collection agents at the entry level don't have backgrounds in tax laws, IRS procedures and practices, or even finance.

Instead, people who get behind on their taxes are normally funneled to a specialized branch of the IRS called the Automated Collection System (ACS).

The word "automated" is a bit of a misnomer. ACS agents are tax collection specialists whose job is to get you to pay in full the tax you owe, plus any penalties and interest that's accrued. Even though many of these officers lack a financial education or training, it's crucial that you pay attention to what they say. They have the same authority as any other IRS agent, meaning they can garnish your wages, enforce bank levies and hit you with a tax lien.

Bottom line: do whatever you can to avoid being delinquent on your taxes so that you never have to worry about these pencil-pushing, pocket protector wearing IRS agents.

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