Back taxes are a slippery slope. They can come about when you don’t pay enough on your taxes, when you fail to report all your income, or when you don’t file a tax return at all. No matter how unintentional, that first step down that back taxes path can seriously cost you. And it can be frightening to try and figure out how deep you’ve gotten once you’ve fallen. So how do you know when you need to reach out for back taxes help? What red flags indicate that you’ve hit the point where expert help in filing your back taxes is your best option?
If any of the following signs ring true for you, you may need professional back taxes help.
1. IRS notices have piled up in your mailbox.
If you have a stack of notices from the IRS about your back taxes, chances are it is time to do something about it. Instead of throwing the next CP14 notice on top of the rest (or worse, tossing it in the trash), reach out for help to put a stop to the endless stream of IRS letters.
2. The IRS has sent debt collectors after you.
While the IRS will stick to sending you notices in the mail, they can assign your case to a private debt collection agency. They will let you know if they do this. However, once it’s done, collectors will bombard you with phone calls and messages about your outstanding debt with the IRS. And as we all know, collections agents can be relentless.
3. Your passport is in jeopardy.
Believe it or not, delinquent tax debt can cause the IRS to deny, limit, or even revoke your passport. Say sayonara to all your travel plans until you’ve worked out a solution to your back tax issue. Once you’ve paid back your debt or made plans to pay back your debt, the IRS can reinstate your passport but it may not be overnight.
4. You lose your refund, your property, or part of your paycheck.
Refusing to pay your back taxes can result in a tax levy, which means that the government could take your property to satisfy your outstanding debt. They can also take your tax refund and even levy your wages in an attempt to regain what is due to them. While the IRS will send you notices in the mail beforehand, a levy can still shake you to your core. That’s why it might be best to consult a professional to help you fix your back tax issue. Keep your property where it belongs – in your hands.
5. The sum of what you owe (plus any penalties) is much higher than you can afford.
If you’ve got back taxes but you can afford your total balance, your best bet is to bite the bullet and make that tax payment. However, this isn’t often the case. Sometimes your overall balance due to the IRS (including any pesky penalties) is much more than you have available in your bank account. In that case, it’s in your best interest to seek out a tax pro who can help you resolve your back tax issue with a solution like debt forgiveness or a payment plan.
If you recognize any of these signs in your life, it may be time to reach out for back tax help. The longer you wait, the worse it can get. Give our tax experts a call today to take the first step towards freedom from back taxes.
Garnishment. The first thing that comes to mind when you hear that word might be a decorative sprig of parsley next to a fancy plate of porkchop. Or you may imagine a crisp stick of celery in a tasty Bloody Mary. Those types of garnishes are delightful and enhance your meal or drink. So, what is wage garnishment? Is it like adding some cilantro to your paycheck? Unfortunately, the truth is far less pleasant.
What wage garnishment is
Wage garnishment is when your earnings are legally withheld by your employer to pay an outstanding debt. A typical example of wage garnishment would be the IRS levying your wages in an attempt to repay your outstanding tax debt balance with them.
There are different reasons for wage garnishment outside tax debt. These include garnishment for student loan debt, child support, and consumer debt.
Wage garnishment isn’t a rare occurrence. In ADP RI’s 2016 study, one in 14 workers was found to be carrying a wage garnishment.
How wage garnishment starts
Wage garnishment starts when a creditor requires your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck. Your employer then pays those withheld wages to the person or entity with whom you have a debt.
Some garnishments begin with a court order. But with federal student loans, back taxes, or child support, no court order is needed to begin garnishing your wages.
You should receive notice before the garnishment begins. For instance, the IRS will send you letters notifying you of their impending actions. These notices will often give you time to resolve the issue before the garnishment begins.
While garnishment is usually started once you’ve had an outstanding debt and received notice, there was a recent proposal in the Senate to legalize mandatory wage garnishment for anyone with student loan debt. If that proposal passes, employers would automatically deduct payments from the paychecks of employees who have federal student loans.
The rights you have in the face of wage garnishment
While wage garnishment can leave you feeling helpless, you still have some important rights:
- You must receive legal notification about the garnishment.
- There is a limit to how much of your wages can be garnished in a week. This can vary depending on who is garnishing your wages, where you live, how many children you have, and whether you’re head of household. If your wages are being garnished by the IRS, they offer a helpful table for figuring out the amount exempt from their wage levies.
- You cannot be fired from employment because your wages are being garnished for any one debt. However, there is not necessarily protection from employment termination if your wages are being garnished for more than one debt.
- You can dispute your garnishment if you believe you don’t owe the debt. This may require a lengthy appeals process, especially if your wages are being garnished for tax debt.
How to stop garnishment – and get your life back on track
Now that you know what wage garnishment is and how it starts, you’re one step closer to putting a stop to it.
Wage garnishment typically does not stop until you pay the entire debt balance in full. For IRS back tax issues, this balance can include any interest, penalties, and collection fees accrued over the course of your debt.
If you do not have enough money to pay the debt in full, you can always talk to a professional about the other resolution options that exist for you. With IRS wage garnishment, a tax expert can help you figure out a solution like a payment plan that works for both you and the IRS. This sort of resolution will result in the IRS releasing your paycheck garnishment. No wage garnishment means you getting back to living your life more comfortably.