Private collections agencies pursue liens aggressively

If there’s a lien on your home or other property, it’s best to address it right away. That’s because municipal governments are increasing turning to private collections agencies to recover unpaid property taxes. These private collections agencies often use more aggressive and punitive tactics than the government, and charge higher interest rates.

Many whose liens change hands from public to private, including senior citizens who have lived in their homes for decades, now face losing their homes to these aggressive collections efforts. In some cases, homeowners who land on a public lien list may also become vulnerable to financial predators looking to take advantage of their financial plight.

Does Trump have to reveal his income tax returns?

There is no requirement that a person running for public office has to make their income tax returns public. Presidential candidates must file financial disclosure records, which describe their income and assets, but financial disclosure records do not reveal how much a person paid in taxes. According to The Washington Post, Trump’s tax information from the late 1970s was made public in 1981, and revealed that at the time, he had taken advantage of tax loopholes paid no taxes whatsoever.

While Trump is not breaking any laws by refusing to make his tax returns public, he is bucking a long precedent set by former presidential candidates who have voluntarily released their returns. He may also be compromising his appeal to working-class voters, who could conclude that because he refuses to release his returns, that Trump has something to hide.

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testimonial 1

For seven years, I ran up a $500,000.00 plus tax problem with IRS and state sales tax. Greg settled my case and I’m back in business… Whatever you do, hire that man and get your life back!”

Beware of charity scams related to the Orlando shooting

As if the horrific recent shooting at an Orlando nightclub wasn’t bad enough, the IRS is now warning of potential scams that aim to take advantage of people’s desire to help the victims and victims’ families. According to the IRS web site, people wishing to make contributions to charitable organizations to help healing and recovery in the wake of the shooting should do their homework ahead of time to make sure the charities to which they’re donating are legitimate.

Some unfortunately seize the opportunity inherent in such national tragedies to solicit contributions and personal information from well-meaning individuals wanting to donate to help ease others’ burdens.This fraudulent activity can’t always be prevented, but doing a bit of research before opening your wallet can help prevent the hassle and heartache that can result from getting caught up in such a scheme.

Can you discharge tax liens in bankruptcy?

There are certain types of tax debt that, under certain circumstances, can be discharged in a bankruptcy filing. However, if a tax lien existed on your property before you filed for bankruptcy, the lien will remain, even if you are no longer required to repay the tax debt in question as a result of the bankruptcy filing. Therefore, you would have to pay off the lien if you wanted to sell the property to which the lien had been attached.

If the IRS fails to file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien before the bankruptcy filing, however, then the lien can be removed from a person’s pre-bankruptcy property, even if the person had exempted that property from their bankruptcy estate. On the other hand, if a person did not include a particular property in a pre-bankruptcy estate, then any liens eventually applied to that property would not be eligible for discharge, even if the IRS failed to file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien.

Offshore tax havens create a “finance curse”

With tax shelters now under scrutiny as a result of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), much of the criticism of offshore accounts has been focused on recouping lost federal tax revenue. But according to a recent article in The Atlantic, offshore tax havens appear to be similarly damaging to the political and economic climate of the places where these shelters operate.

In what is known as “the finance curse,” the increase in wealth generated by a country’s participation as a center of international finance can lead to that country to experience an increase in violence, inequality and political corruption. According to the article, this happens when a country’s financial and political interests become increasingly beholden to foreign elites, often at the expense of the local population.

Bill providing protection against IRS asset seizure advances

A bipartisan bill that would require the IRS to provide evidence of illegal activity before seizing assets has passed the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee. Hundreds of taxpayers who have had assets seized between October 2009 and October 2014, when IRS seizure and forfeiture activity in the absence of criminal evidence ceased, will be notified that they are eligible to seek refunds.

The intention of the seizure and forfeiture practice was to ensnare criminals who were making deposits of less than $10,000 at a time to escape bank reporting requirements. But the IRS did not have to prove criminal activity before seizing assets. This led to the IRS freezing bank accounts and taking the property of non-criminal small business owners whose only (non) crime was making habitual bank deposits of less than $10,000.

Keep your property off the IRS auction list

The IRS has its own kind of Craigslist. But instead of selling its own used items to strangers over the internet, the IRS auctions off property that has been seized to compensate for unpaid taxes.

Need a new car, some antiques, some silver coins or a diamond necklace? Maybe you’ve been hoping to make a bid on a lakefront lot or a 7-bedroom home? Don’t forget to check the IRS auction page to see if there might be something worth pursuing. Someone else’s IRS seizure might just be the treasure you’ve been looking for.

Beware of jointly owned property

If you own a property with a spouse, an IRS lien affects both of you. Technically your spouse’s lien would only apply to their portion of ownership in the property, but in reality a lien on a property is a barrier to its sale. You personally may be free of the lien, but until your spouse is able to release themselves from the debt, it’s your problem, too.

The same is true for property ownership transferred in a will. If you bequeath the family home to your son and daughter, and one of them owes the IRS money that they’re not able to pay, the other will feel the consequences of the lien as well.