Randall S. van Reken, EA, CFP, ATP

Tax Man LLC

Mid-Summer Night's Rant 2015

We Don't Know What You Were Smokin' . . .
But You Were Definitely Inhaling!

"First we pass the bill and then we find out what's in the bill."

  - Nancy Pelosi

I'm sure those moronic words will haunt Nancy Pelosi for the rest of her life.  Unfortunately, they'll be haunting all of us in the form of the Obamacare taxes. 

When the original bill was first introduced in the House back in 2009 as H.R. 3200, I was in a seminar bored to tears, and decided to actually read some of what would morph into Obamacare.  After an hour or so I realized, this had nothing to do with health care, it was a tax bill.  And of course, the Supreme Court affirmed that in a decision which I hated, but I had to agree intellectually.

Now that we've had our first tax season with Obamacare taxes hitting us, I get to be the Obamacare Cop.  I'm the lucky guy who gets to tell them that they have to pay fines and penalties (excuse me, they aren't penalties, they are "shared responsibility payments").  I estimate that my clients have shared in their responsibility payments to the tune of about $150,000 extra tax dollars this past season.

While Obamacare taxes started with the 2014 filing season, they'll double in 2015 with more new forms coming from employers and insurance companies as part of next year's filings.

The IRS Just Has Waaayyyy
Too Much Time on Their Hands!!

I've had about a dozen clients recently get the strangest notices from the IRS regarding address changes.  When we look at the notice and recent filings, the addresses are always the same.  We haven't yet seen an actual change of a single address.  I tell clients not to worry since obviously the address is correct and they are clearly getting their mail. 

But let's face it - ANY correspondence from the IRS tends to freak us out just a little bit.  Okay maybe it freaks us out a lot. 

I did have one client who chose to call and see why he was getting the notice.  After an hour on hold, they finally got to him and told him why. 

We had used the address:  1234 Elliott Street
So they corrected it to:  1234 Elliott 

To quote John McEnroe:

Phone Scammers Posing as IRS Agents

My clients have reported over 200 phone calls and I've gotten six myself, attempting the latest identity theft scam where scammers are posing as the IRS.  I had one client in tears last month over a false threat of going to jail.

I had one client who decided to play along with the caller.  The caller had a heavy foreign accent told him to go to his bank, get only cash since the IRS doesn't take checks (??), drive to a park, and then call him on his cell phone (specifically not to use a land line) and someone would meet him there to "help settle his account."  No kidding!

The IRS does NOT initiate first contacts with people via telephone.  The IRS is warning the public of scammers impersonating IRS employees and officials. There are several tell-tale signs of a scam:

  • Calling about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
  • Failing to identify themselves with a badge number (IRS employee number).
  • Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid credit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the telephone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to arrest you for nonpayment.

After several of these calls from clients, I’ve started to google the telephone numbers used and, invariably, they show as a fraudulent telemarketers.  Just type in the area code and telephone number and you can get an idea of whether a phone call is legitimate.
And to follow-up on a similar warning I’ve made many, many times, the IRS DOES NOT USE EMAIL to correspond with taxpayers EVER.  If you get an email allegedly from the IRS, it is a scam trying to get you to supply personal information for them to steal and use.   I don’t care how official it looks.  Be careful out there.