How to Develop a Winning Strategy in Dealing with the IRS

When I talk about the need to develop a winning strategy in dealing with the IRS — a ‘kick-ass’ strategy, if you will — what I’m referring to is your absolute need to go into it with a strong game plan.

No NFL team is going to take the field on Sunday without first studying the other team’s strengths and weaknesses, and develop a solid game plan based on that knowledge.

Yet every business day, taxpayers engage Internal Revenue Service personnel with little to no knowledge of how the IRS operates, what their true objectives are, what programs are available to settle IRS debt, what your collector can and can’t do (per published standards in the Internal Revenue Manual), and so on.

A ‘kick-ass’ strategy is all about working with IRS employees and standards to yield a positive outcome (a ‘win’). It isn’t a mindset where you set out to conquer the IRS or take the attitude that you’re going to kick the collector’s you-know-what.

Let’s face it, if anyone needs a kick in the keyster… it’s you.

  • You’re the one with unpaid taxes and/or un-filed returns.
  • You’re the one who’s tried to ignore your tax problem.
  • You’re the one who’s let the whole situation steamroll into such a big mess.

If you want things to change, you must change.

It’s time to take charge of your situation, have the courage to face your fears, gain some wisdom on your tax matter, develop a game plan, and move forward. This is what I mean by taking a ‘kick-ass’ approach to dealing with things.

A winning strategy seeks to collaborate rather than conquer.

Think about this for a moment. Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be an IRS collector? Being an IRS agent can be very frustrating, very negative, very difficult. Taxpayers lie to you, yell at you, disrespect you. You probably didn’t grow up thinking that working for the IRS would be your dream job or career. But right now it is your job, it’s what you go to the office and do everyday to feed your children.

Troubled taxpayers will get a lot further by being patient with IRS personnel on the phone, no matter how they might initially respond to you. Take the approach that you’re not dealing with the IRS; your dealing with a person who works at the IRS. Try to collaborate with them to gain a favorable outcome for both of you.

A winning mindset is focused

Forget about politics. It’s not about you being a conservative Republican, or a liberal Democrat, or where in the world Lois Lerner’s emails went. It’s not about whether you think the tax laws are fair or unfair to poor folks, to business owners, to gays, to members of the Tea Party, or to non-profits. It’s about how much you owe, how much you earn, how much you can reasonably pay the IRS without negatively affecting the health and well-being of your family.

A winning mindset accepts the fact that your tax problem is ‘business’, not ‘personal’. Don’t be offended because you ignored IRS notices and finally your bank account was levied. Don’t take it personally if your monthly housing costs or food budget don’t line up with established local or national standards.

Denial is not a successful resolution strategy

It’s amazing to me how unaware delinquent taxpayers are about the specifics of their tax matter. How well do you really know your situation? You can’t fix a problem if you don’t understand what it is. If you don’t know the answer, ask the IRS employee to help you understand the problem, and what the best possible solution is! Here’s some important things to know:

  • What’s the total dollar amount that you owe? How much of that total is tax debt, and how much is interest and penalties? Is penalty abatement possible? Is a payment plan an option for you?
  • How old is the tax debt? When does the assessment statute expire? When does the statute of limitations on collecting the debt expire?
  • Is the case in Automated Collection, or has it been assigned to a local IRS agent? Is a bank levy possible? How soon? How can it be avoided (or removed).
  • Do you have un-filed returns? Has the IRS filed “substitute for” returns? How much could you reduce your tax by actually filing in those years?
  • Could your case qualify for an Offer in Compromise? Is a Partial Pay Installment Agreement a possible solution?

Search for a ‘win-win’ outcome.

A ‘win’ for you is to sleep better at night knowing you’ve shown the courage to face your IRS problem and resolve it, either by being able to reduce your overall tax bill, have a levy released, a penalty removed, or an affordable payment agreement approved.

A ‘win’ for the IRS employee, is to resolve your tax issue in a manner that meets the demands of their boss and IRS collection standards, get your case file off their desk, and move on to the next one.

ANCHOR ON THIS: The IRS has been kicking your tail long enough. The stress and fear can take over your life. But don’t let your emotions keep you from developing a winning strategy in dealing with the IRS. A collaborative strategy will be more successful than a combative approach in putting your IRS problems behind you.

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