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Frequently Asked Questions: Current Clients

Are You A Current Dutton Legal Group Client Looking For Quick Answers to Your Questions? We’ve Got You Covered

Gathering Documents and Information

When you ask me to gather documents and provide you information, do I really have to?

Yes, please. Please provide us what we ask, when we ask for it. We aren’t punishing you by making you do busy work: we do the busy work. We are asking you to do things we can’t do or you are in a far better position to do. If you are confused as to why we are asking you to do things, just ask us.

I can’t get things to you by the date you want them. Is it okay if I get them to you late?

Do your best. If you don’t provide us the information/documents by the date we’ve requested them, understand there very well might be consequences, though. For example, if you miss a deadline, the IRS might 1) levy (freeze) your bank account or 2) make-up a tax return that isn’t in your best interest so that it can try to collect your money or 3) send a wage levy (garnishment) Order to your employer. If you are going to miss a deadline, contact us and let us know. However, contacting us doesn’t mean that we can do anything about consequences that may result from missing a deadline. Further, if you consistently miss deadlines/fail to provide us information/documents, we may be forced to inform you that we intend to stop working on your case until you start helping us by providing us what we’ve requested. We don’t want to see that happen. We want to resolve your tax problems and need your help.

Making Tax Payments

I’m a self-employed person and I need every penny I make to meet monthly expenses. How am I supposed to pay taxes, too?

If you don’t pay your federal/ state estimated income tax payments, we can’t help solve your tax problems. The IRS/your state taxing administration won’t allow us to resolve your past-due tax problem until you send estimated tax payments. Why? Because you owe back taxes because you failed to make estimated tax payments and you will owe taxes again next year, unless you start making estimated tax payments now.

But my case is different! I just can’t afford to make estimated tax payments. I can barely make it as it is!

We understand that you need every penny you make. We do, too. But you have a legal obligation as a United States citizen to pay your fair share of income tax, as well. The good news is that the USA has one of the lowest rates of income tax in the civilized world. It could be worse…

When you make money as a self-employed person, you must pay estimated tax payments. The sooner you get in the habit of sending 10% of every one dollar you earn to the IRS and 5% of every one dollar you earn to your state tax administration, the closer you are to solving your tax problems.

Can I change my payment plan with you guys? I’m having trouble making my payments to you.

Contact us so that we can discuss the matter. Whatever you do, don’t just fail to pay us and then fail to contact us to let us know what’s going on. We’re on your side; contact us and we can likely work something out. However, remember that we have to bills to pay, too!

IRS Questions

Do I have to meet with someone at the IRS or a state taxing administration?

It’s a very rare situation where you are going to have to talk to the IRS or state. We handle talking to the IRS and state taxing agencies for you. If you are required to talk to the IRS or the state, we’ll let you know, prepare you ahead of time, and attend your conversation with you.

How much do I owe the IRS? How much do I owe my state?

The amount you owe the IRS and your state changes every day. Just contact us and we’ll contact the IRS and/or your state to get an exact balance. As soon as we have the balance, we’ll get back to you. Don’t call the IRS or your state “just to get a balance.” Don’t call the IRS or the state. Period. The IRS is tricky! Your state is almost as tricky as the IRS! We emphatically request that you do not contact any taxing administration directly. Your contacting the IRS or your state directly will likely mess-up your case. As a result, we will likely withdraw our representation if you contact the IRS or your state taxing administration directly while we represent you

I owe the IRS more money than I do the state. Why do you want to resolve the state problem first?

We usually attempt to resolve your state tax debt first because you usually can’t include an IRS repayment as an item in your state tax budget. If we set up your IRS payment first, you would have a higher payment to the IRS (because we didn’t include your state tax repayment). However, your allowable IRS expenses always can include a valid state tax repayment agreement expense. Sometimes we’re forced to deal with the IRS first, though. Each case is different and we’ll get your issues worked out. Your case can take many different routes, but we’ll get all of your tax issues resolved in the end. If you’ve got questions or concerns, just contact us.

What’s going on with my case? I haven’t heard from you guys in a while. Should I call the IRS or the state to find out what is going on with my case?

Unless we’ve let you know otherwise, your case is moving along toward resolution. If you’re curious to know exactly what’s happening, contact us and ask us for a “Case Status Report.” We’ll get back to you within 5 business days with exactly what’s going on in your case. As there are many components to your case, don’t call us and expect a quick answer to the seemingly simple question, “What’s going on with my case?” We will give you your Case Status Report as soon as possible.

Will I get IRS or state taxing administration phone calls after I’ve hired you?

While you shouldn’t get phone calls from the IRS or state taxing agency after you hire us, the IRS and your state taxing administration might make a mistake and call you. If they do, politely inform the representative that that you’ve hired our firm to represent you, give them our name and phone number, and tell them to call us and not you from this point forward.

Tax Liens

I’ve got a federal or state tax lien. What does it mean? Are they coming to take my stuff?

Federal and state tax liens are public notices, filed in your County Recorder’s Office, stating you owe back taxes and how much you owe. They show up on your credit report and don’t go away until you pay your tax or until you complete an Offer in Compromise that settles the lien issue. The IRS and your state issue these liens with regularity, as a lazy way of attempting to collect your tax debt. By this, we mean that the IRS and your state can’t actively take anything away from you by issuing a tax lien, the liens just sit there until you try to sell something. At that point, you have to deal with the tax lien before you can do it.

  • While the impact to your credit is lousy, your federal tax lien really doesn’t really do much else to affect your life — other than when you are trying to sell or refinance your house, that is. If you want to sell or refinance your house while a federal tax lien exists, you can get around the federal tax lien by jumping through a few hoops. We can help you do this. Just don’t expect money at closing… To conclude, getting rid of a federal tax lien shouldn’t be a top priority in your tax case.
  • State tax liens are more evil than federal tax liens: they can attach to your car, motorcycle, or anything that’s registered through your state. This makes buying or selling vehicles more difficult. Since you are more likely to sell a vehicle than a house, and there are no hoops to jump through to get around your state tax lien, getting a rid of a state tax lien by a payment agreement or payment in full should be a priority in your tax case.

If I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, what happens to my tax liens?

  • The law is (and this makes little sense), that if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and discharge your obligation to repay your tax debt, a federal tax lien will remain on your property until the lien amount is paid or it automatically is released by virtue of the lien’s expiration date. That’s right: you, personally, will have no obligation to repay your discharged tax debt. However, the tax lien will remain, until paid or it expires.

What does this mean to me and my house?

  • It means that it will be more difficult to buy, sell, or refinance your house after bankruptcy, while the lien still remains. Your exact situation will determine the course of action we would suggest for you, so contact us to set up a time to discuss your situation.
  • It also means that the IRS will still have a lien that it could, in theory, use to ask a court to foreclose on your home to get paid up to the lien amount. In practice, in dozens of cases where our clients have filed bankruptcy, we HAVE NEVER (i.e. not one time) seen the IRS move to foreclose on a home after a client files bankruptcy, discharges tax obligations, and the IRS lien remains. Never. Not once.

If I set-up an IRA while a federal tax lien is still in effect, can the IRS attach it?

Yes. A federal tax lien attaches to all property you own at the time the tax lien was filed, and all property you will own going into the future, until the tax debt underlying the tax lien is either paid in full or withdrawn by the IRS.

That being said, you certainly can fund an IRA (Roth or traditional) or any other retirement account while a tax lien exists. The IRS cannot seize (i.e. levy) any retirement accounts or take any collection action whatsoever while you are in an IRS Installment Agreement or in IRS “currently-not-collectable” status.

If you are not in an Installment Agreement or “currently- not-collectable” status, the IRS can ask you to liquidate retirement accounts or attempt to borrow money against the retirement account to attempt to repay your IRS debt. The IRS can even refuse to grant you an Installment Agreement or “currently-not-collectable” status if you fail to do so. However, the IRS has to take additional steps, including receiving special permission from an IRS District Manager, to actually seize funds in a retirement account.

While technically the IRS has a lien on any retirement account you own at the time the tax lien was filed, and all property you will own going into the future, until the tax debt underlying the tax lien is either paid in full or withdrawn by the IRS, while you are in an IRS Installment Agreement or in IRS “currently-not-collectable” status, the IRS will not: 1) seize, 2) force you to liquidate, or 3) make you attempt to borrow against your retirement account.

Letters and Mailings

Will I get IRS letters after I hire you?

Yes, you will receive letters from the IRS after you hire our firm. The IRS is required to continue mailing you letters until your balance no longer exists. While you will continue to receive IRS letters, and some of them mean and scary, the IRS is supposed to send us everything that it sends to you.

Did you get the IRS letter that I just got?

Very likely. Watch your mailbox. Every time we receive an IRS letter concerning your case and within 3 business days, we’ll send you a copy of the same letter you just received along with a letter from us in plain English, explaining the IRS letter you just received. This does 3 things: 1) it lets you know that we received the same scary letter from the IRS that you just did, 2) it explains the IRS letter, and 3) it lets you know what we plan to do and/or if we need you to do anything. If you don’t get a letter from us within 3 business days of receiving an IRS letter, contact us.
There is only one exception to this “wait 3 business days before contacting us after receiving IRS letter” rule – if you receive a letter entitled “Notice of Levy.” This letter is not the same thing as a “Final Notice of Intent to Levy” or a “Notice of Intent to Levy on X” — these letters do not warrant contacting us. Only contact us immediately if you receive a letter entitled “Notice of Levy.”

Will I get letters from my state taxing administration after I hire you?

Yes, you will receive letters from the state taxing administration after you hire our firm. Your state taxing agencies will continue mailing you letters until your balance no longer exists.

Did you get the state taxing administration letter that I just got?

NO! We do not get copies of any letters you receive from your state taxing administration. Fax, e-mail, or regular-mail a copy of any letter you receive from your state taxing administration. The only exception to this rule is for payment coupons after we’ve entered into a payment arrangement on your behalf with your state.

Life Changes

What should I do if I plan to move?

Contact us if you plan to move with your new address information and the date you have scheduled for your move. We can’t contact you by mail if we don’t have an accurate address for you. [That’s a big deal!]

What should I do if I lose my job or I have new large expenses?

Contact us if your disposable income (i.e. your income minus expenses) changes by 10% or more. If your disposable income has changed by 10% or more, our strategy for your case may change.

Other Tax Questions

How long will it take to resolve my tax problem?

It depends. We’ve provided you an estimate on your Representation Contract. Sometimes it can take one month, sometimes it can take one year or longer. Sometimes it makes sense to act quickly with the IRS, sometimes it makes sense to string-along the IRS for a while. Trust us. If you’re concerned about the time it is taking to resolve your case, contact us.

I filed a tax return and I’m owed a refund. How come I didn’t get it?

If you owe the IRS or your state money, they’re going to hold onto any tax refund you would receive until you don’t owe either of them money. If you owe the state money, but not the IRS, your IRS refund could very well be taken for payment of your back state taxes. The opposite is true, too – your state tax refund can be taken for payment of your back federal taxes. This is a rare circumstance where state and federal government actually work well together: if you owe somebody taxes, don’t expect to get refunds until all of the taxes you owe are fully paid. The good news is that the refund you were to receive will reduce the amount you owe the taxing administration. The only exception to refunds reducing your balance is where you are trying to claim a refund on a tax return that is filed more than 3 years late. The time to claim your refund expires after 3 years from the date the return was originally due.

What should I do if someone has levied (frozen) my bank account or garnished my wages?

Gather the following information and call our office immediately.

  • For Bank Levies:
    • Name of the Administration that has Issued the Levy (for example, the IRS):
    • Bank Name:
    • Bank Fax Number:
    • Bank Contact Name [if Levy Release needs to be Sent to Someone’s Attention]:
    • Bank Address [if No Fax Number]:
    • Bank Routing Number:
    • Bank Account Number:
    • Amount of Funds Levied:
    • Date of Levy:
  • For Wage Levies:
    • Name of the Administration that has Issued the Levy (for example, the IRS):
    • Employer Name:
    • Employer’s Payroll Fax Number:
    • Employer’s Payroll Contact Name [if Levy Release needs to be Sent to Someone’s Attention]:
    • Employer’s Address [if No Fax Number]:
    • Next pay day:
    • Frequency of pay (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly, etc.)

NOTE: Until all unfiled tax returns are filed and we have provided your financial statement, we will likely be unable to lift your levy.

Am I going to jail over this tax problem?

It is highly unlikely to be sentenced by a judge to serve jail time for failure to file or pay taxes. This is not to say that it does not happen, however. The federal and state governments are very serious about getting taxes repaid and will pursue criminal charges for flagrant and/or willful evaders of tax payment. If a state Sheriff issues an “Order to Appear” regarding your state tax debt, you must appear at the designated date/time/place OR have confirmed with our office that you do not need to appear. If we haven’t told you there is no reason for you to appear at a court date and you do not appear at the court date, the Court can issue a bench warrant for your arrest for failure to appear at the court date.

Contacting the Dutton Legal Group

I don’t understand something. What do I do?

If you have any questions or concerns at any time during your case, contact us.
We’re here Monday through Thursday, 9:00am through 5:00pm, Eastern Time. We’re here to help you and put your mind at ease. We’re only an e-mail, fax, or phone call away. Don’t wonder or worry, just ask.

When I dial your fax number, it goes to voicemail. Should I stop the fax transmission?

No, just let your fax machine keep transmitting when you hear our voicemail start. Our fax line is routed through a “Unified Messaging System.”  The system handles both our voicemail and faxes. It will recognize that you are sending a fax and receive it.

How can I reach you?

If you have any questions, please contact us. If you are attempting to reach a specific staffperson at our office and they aren’t immediately available, they will make every attempt to get back in touch with you within 1 business day.
E-mail address: help@duttonlegalgroup.com
Phone number: 800.334.0255
Fax number: 317.452.8814
Mailing address: 931 E. 86th St., Ste. 215, Indianapolis, IN 46240

I have a friend who has a tax problem that they need to get taken care of. Can I have them contact you?

Please do. We will be happy to help them and appreciate you sending them to us for help.