Kissing Tax Debt Frogs

I recently started reading a book called Very Important People by Ashley Mears. It’s about the international night club scene where the very wealthy spend ridiculous amounts of money. It’s not my normal type of read. However, I was intrigued to learn about the informal caste system nightclub bouncers and promoters used to classify and segregate, by physical appearance, the women who are a crucial part of the club scene. 

I’m reminded of the same type of screening that I do when having conversations with people about helping them with their tax debt. 

In that international club scene, physical beauty is dominant. Women who aren’t tall or skinny enough or who simply have the wrong shoes can be turned away. It’s 100% superficial. In my world, the screening is much more nuanced but as important for helping those who make it through those screens to have success fixing their tax issue. 

Before I discuss the analogy, let me state this unequivocally: 

Everyone is entitled to getting some help with their tax debt. However, they are not automatically entitled to get that help from me. Moreover, in working together, if we can’t meet each other’s expectations and obligations, it doesn’t make sense to continue to work together. In other words, we get to choose who we work with and that choice must be mutual. Life’s too short to fight with your clients.

There are many causes of tax debt. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes unintentional from ignorance, other times someone’s intention was to exploit you. Whatever type of victim you are, its sometimes a function of class, education and status. You didn’t have anyone to get advice from, you didn’t know how or why, or you thought you weren’t entitled.

Where they come from tells me about them…

The ways people find me sometimes give me a clue..

If we’ve mailed them a letter, that letter might have sat in their drawer for months before they had the courage to call me. When they make that call, the phone weighs 400 pounds and the weight of the matter on their soul is heavier still. Usually, they’ve invested in reading the letter we’ve sent and have absorbed our message and intention: to help you if we can especially if we can figure out a way to work together.

If you’ve hit a button on Facebook to sign up to talk or replied to an email I sent – the motivation behind this sort of action is less premeditated and this where some screening is often necessary. 

Rather than relying on physical appearance like a bouncer at the door of a glamorous night club, I have to rely on an individual’s understanding of their situation and communication of the facts that we’ll need to know in order to be helpful. It’s not uncommon for me to ask a handful of questions to help me make a decision about how to help or whether or not to offer help. Communication is so important – any sort of reluctance to share details, disrespect or hostile attitude quickly becomes an insurmountable obstacle for me to overcome.  I’m also trying to sniff out if I’m dealing with a “low information” tax debtor – one who might not appreciate timeframes, costs, and mutual expectations. 

There’s also a group of callers who seem to believe that solving their tax problem is more significant than other urgent circumstances. I have spoken to countless homeless, long-term unemployed people.  Some of these people enduring extended joblessness are also attempting to acquire a disability benefit. One of my constant refrains is that the IRS can’t take aggressive action against those with no income nor bank account. Focus on stabilizing your finances before thinking about engaging a tax resolution company to help with tax problems.

Some people call in a transitional state, recently released from prison or several months into their sobriety. The ambition to correct their past mistakes – as if from one the 12 steps – is admirable, if ill-advised. Fixing a tax problem requires some base level of stability. Without a steady job and stable home, the odds of fixing the tax problem would be compromised.

A subset of the “low information” tax debtor is the one who is especially vulnerable to fraudsters before-during-after the tax debt. These are people who trust too easily who end up choosing tax preparers because they are able to get me large refunds.  Or who hire a tax resolution company because they said they could settle or that they were told interest and penalties are negotiable – they’re not.  It’s not uncommon to be the third or fourth company they have hired. I only hope, if they made it through my screening, the reason for their failure was the company and not them. Otherwise, they might be onto hiring their fifth company.

The last group I try to keep out of our company is the group we playfully call the “gamers.” Gamers have schemes to “trick the system” of any interaction. They don’t want to play by rules and have unrealistic expectations. “Why can’t you just offer the IRS, 10% of what I owe and be done with it?” “I only want to pay the principal amount of what I owe, no interest, no penalties” “I don’t owe the IRS, they owe me(but I can’t prove anything)” or my personal favorite, “Can you help me sue the IRS?” If anything in this paragraph gets spoken while talking with someone about their tax debt – it’s almost always a deal-breaker, meaning we ain’t doing business together.

Talking with the right people about helping them fix their tax debt allows me to help a ton of people. Identifying the “right” people, those who need and the help, who appreciate the expertise and who, when we are finished, are grateful for completing the journey together. If you have a tax debt and you feel like you can make it through my screen, and become one of our tax debt frogs that turns into a prince/princess, Text the word: REPORT to (773)232-3277.

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