If you’re reading this article, you’re probably stressed out. There’s nothing like the sinking feeling in your gut when you get a yellow envelope in the mail straight from the IRS. It feels a little like being pulled over for a speeding ticket or unexpectedly called into your boss’s office. You try to tell yourself that it’s something minor, but that little worried feeling just won’t go away.
It’s even worse when the letter says that you owe the IRS money. You may not have the money available. What should you do? Should you sell your boat? It’s more than ten years old now, and a little rusted out, but maybe you can get something for it. It might be worth a try.
Or you could rent your home out through an online service. Sure, you might have to stay with your mother-in-law for a few weekends. Maybe forty or so throughout the next year, depending on how much you’re able to charge for your home.
Protip: If you’ve got something unique to the property, you can charge more. Do you have great mountain views? Seclusion in a quiet, wooded area? A flock of friendly ducks who love to get petted? A gregarious barn cat?
Make sure to include anything like that in your ad. It could make a big difference.
But say you don’t want to do that. Maybe your mother-in-law is the kind of person who is always asking you when you’re going to have more babies, even though you’ve already told her that you’re tapped out at one. Or maybe she’s got a funny, stale smell in the house that never seems to go away, and you know it would be rude to start cleaning her house for her. It would look like you couldn’t stand how dirty she is. It’s better not to cause lasting problems.
So, what can you do? Luckily, there’s no need for you to do anything as drastic as I’ve outlined above (although if you do have a home with a friendly flock of geese, you should definitely consider renting it out or even having a petting zoo type situation on the weekends). There are companies who are dedicated to helping you negotiate your debt with the IRS. Find out more about taxes here.
Don’t Be Intimidated
If there’s one thing, I wish I had known earlier in life, it was to speak up for myself.
In his book Evicted, Matthew Desmond writes about the plight of three families in Michigan who face multiple evictions. One thing he noticed during his study was that the tenants who were most in danger of losing their housing were the least likely to come forward and communicate their problems to their landlords.
Perhaps they were too embarrassed to admit that they needed help. Maybe they were afraid that talking to the landlord would only draw unwanted attention to their situation. They may have been laboring under the false delusion that the landlord might forget, and their problem would disappear.
But the landlord never forgot. Each of the families profiled fell behind on their rent and were unable to make up the difference and were eventually tossed out onto the street. When Desmond went to speak to the landlords, they all said the same thing.
They expressed that if the residents had come to them, they would have been willing to work out an agreement. They didn’t really want to evict their tenant. An empty apartment meant they were seeing no income from that property until they were able to rent it out again. They knew that it took time and resources to list and show the apartment, as well as to perform background checks on any potential new residents.
But because there was a lack of communication, both parties were done a disservice. Don’t be afraid to speak out about what you need.
You might think that the IRS is as old as our country, but that simply isn’t true. When it was first formed a hundred years ago to help pay for the civil war, it had a much different method of operation than today. Click the link: https://www.jobs.irs.gov/about-us/who-irs#:~:text=Origin,was%20repealed%2010%20years%20later to dive deeper into the history of the IRS.
The IRS you’ve come to know and fear was shaped by lobbyists. Until the nineteen sixties, the IRS was responsible for calculating what each individual owed the government and sending them a bill. At tax time, it was as easy as opening your mail to find out what you owed. It was simple, clear, and direct.
Well, that just wouldn’t do. The parent company that owns H&R Block saw that there was money to be made in taxes, and not just for the government. So, they lobbied the government for years, trying to change the way taxes were done.
They were successful. Even though today the IRS knows exactly what you owe them before you even begin to think about doing your taxes in January (or let’s be real, the middle of April), they still expect you to try to figure it out on your own. If you make a mistake, well, then you’re subject to fines and fees.
This works out well for everyone involved – the private companies that get to prepare your taxes for you even when they’re relatively straightforward, the government agency that gets to suck a little bit more money from you for every mistake, and the states that operate under the same system. Click here to find out more about the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1988.
That’s right, it benefits everyone except you, the consumer. And the fat cats like it that way, so it isn’t about to change anytime soon.
Making Do With What’s Due
So, you owe the IRS. First of all, take all that guilt and shame and fear and just dump it off at the nearest landfill. The system was designed to do this to you. Let’s focus instead on a solution.
The easiest thing to do is to contact a professional like the IRS Tax Relief Network to intercede on your behalf. They are not accountants, but lawyers who are skilled in negotiation. They will talk with you to help you determine what your ability to pay is.
Then they will go to bat. They will speak up for you when you feel you are not able to. They will fight to find a deal you can live with. They may be able to negotiate for a lower tax bill or create a payment plan that will be affordable for you.
Whatever you do, don’t panic. Know that there are resources available for you to get back on your feet as soon as possible.