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Here are some of the latest statistics on tax disputes brought before the United States Tax Court (Tax Court). Please forgive the writer for not remembering the source, which was thought to be credible at the time. However, if anyone has more credible numbers, be sure to bring it to our attention. Here goes.
- 98% of all disputes against the IRS are brought to Tax Court.
- 90% of those disputes settle before trial.
- 923 cases were brought before the Tax Court in 2015, of which 791 (86%) were won by the IRS and 132 (14%) were won by the taxpayer.
- 265 (29%) of the 923 cases were represented by attorneys and USTCPs and 658 (71%) were “pro se” petitioners.
- 54 (20%) of the 265 cases tried by attorneys and USTCPs were won.
- 78 (14%) of the 658 cases tried by pro se petitioners were won.
It is worth mentioning that many “pro se” petitioners receive “guidance” from other non-attorney practitioners such as CPAs and Enrolled Agents. Therefore, it can be reasoned that retaining professional help significantly increases the chances of winning against the IRS.
Just Ask Al Capone
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Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” Wouldn’t it be horrific to experience both fates consecutively. Such a fate befell Al Capone.
It was rumored that Capone got the attention of President Hoover after the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. It was further rumored that President Hoover instructed Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, to put Capone in jail.
It was then, as it is now, a crime to fail to file an income tax return when required and not to pay income tax. People will try to evade paying income tax. Some have succeeded, while others have failed.
No one is really “off limits” when it comes to the reach of “Uncle Sam.” Uncle Sam’s reach can be felt in life or after death. Salaries and wages can be garnished now or in the future. Bank accounts can be levied. Fixed Social Security payments can be attached through the Federal Payment Levy Program. If all else fails, the estate, if any, will be left with the burden of “paying the piper.” In the end, Uncle Sam will get its “pound of flesh.”
To make matters worse, the tax code continues to increase in complexity. Will Rogers once said, “The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”
Just ask Al Capone (if you could)! His biggest mistake may have been hiring criminal attorneys who had zero experience in tax matters. Understand this people! It is more likely than not, that being represented by a tax resolution expert, is in the best interest of the taxpayer. After all, it has been said, “Only a fool represents himself.