Written by Steve Cannon for USSANews.com.
I’m sure by now you’ve all heard those commercials on conservative talk radio promising tax relief from the IRS. You know the ones, “I owed the IRS $10,000,000, but now, thanks to my tax lawyer, I paid the IRS only $50 and my life is now stress free!” Sound too good to be true? You see where I’m going?
The following is the true story of someone I know who used H&R Block and Platinum Tax Defenders. Both companies failed her. We’ll call her, Gina. Here are the highlights before the full story:
- Gina just got off the phone with the IRS and the agent said that those “tax lawyers” cannot do any more for you than if you were to call us directly.
- The agent also said Gina was in default of her payments because Platinum Tax Defenders made an agreement with the IRS without her knowledge or permission.
- Platinum Tax Defenders advised Gina not to have any direct communication with the IRS. Had she contacted the IRS, against the wishes of her lawyers at Platinum, she would have discovered that she could have resolved her tax issues without the need of these hucksters at Platinum Tax Defenders in the first place!
She writes the following:
Americans being harassed by the IRS, take heed! Do not fall for the tax relief claims made by Platinum Tax Defenders! Companies like this promise relief from IRS debt for “pennies on the dollar.” From my personal, nightmarish experience, Platinum is out to make money for themselves and for the IRS.
Two Evils: H&R Block and the IRS
For most of our adult lives, my late husband, Calvin, and I, worked in public service and made average, middle-class salaries. In 2005 we got married, the same year Calvin retired. In 2006, he filed our taxes using H&R Block. Our refund in 2007 was approximately $6,000. My husband and I didn’t think much of the unusually large tax return because of our recent marriage and his recent retirement. We were making less money annually so we thought a larger tax refund made sense.
It turns out that H&R Block made a $6,000 mistake on our tax returns that year. Surprisingly, H&R Block did not pay for their mistake. As a result, Calvin and I received a notification from the IRS that H&R Block had forgotten to add a $30,000 payment we received from Calvin’s retirement pension.
Our first reaction to this notification was to pay the money owed to the IRS. And we did. We paid because we’re responsible citizens. In fact, we paid the IRS every single year for ten years, without exception. Throughout the years, the IRS sent us a Letter of Correction for our tax returns, stating certain deductions were not allowed.
Not long after this nightmare with the IRS began, my husband passed away and I was left to battle the IRS on my own.
- In 2014, I paid $2,157 to the IRS because they said I still did not pay them enough in taxes. The IRS amended my return and I paid in full. Naturally, the IRS said I could not claim medical expenses for 2014. I was now left with a bill of over $11,000!
- In 2015, I put in for an extension due to life difficulties.
- In October of 2015, the IRS said that I owed them more money for 2014.
- In 2016, the IRS decided that they were not going to include $1,200 I paid them due to a discrepancy they dreamed up from 2014. Oddly, the IRS said they never received this money despite the fact that they deducted it directly from my checking account.
After endlessly paying the IRS year after year, I became weary and beaten down from the IRS constantly hounding me for money. How could the IRS get away with this? This is who I am:
- I am not a rich woman.
- I have a middle-class job in public service.
- I am a widow.
- I drive an older car.
- My house was built in 1872 and in desperate need of repair.
- I barely have enough money to pay for a car repair or any other small emergency.
- Like most of America, I live paycheck to paycheck.
- Although I am not rich, I am responsible, if nothing else.
I was asking myself how to end this IRS nightmare. I had been forced to prepare my returns myself due to mistakes created from H&R Block and another local company (who in 2012, neglected to inform me the IRS disallowed an E-file return because I had to attach a Schedule M to my late spouse’s 1099R – as if this is common knowledge to the average American worker and taxpayer).
The IRS was kind enough to notify me with a, Bill for Interest and Penalties. This “bill” amounted to over $400 because of the aforementioned “mistake.” Wow, really?! How do you fight the government?!
Platinum Tax Defenders to the Rescue. Not.
In August of 2016, after a friend had heard of Platinum Tax Defenders, I decided to give them a call. They assured me they could help (after asking me how much cash I had in my bank account, of course). I “qualified” to receive their services for only $1,500. Naturally, I had to pay them that day. After they received my payment, they sent me paperwork to fill out along with a, Notice of Power of Attorney.
At the time, I was paying the IRS $200 per month, every month. Platinum put a stop on my payments to the IRS and filed for relief. This singular action by Platinum was the only assurance I had that they had done anything on my behalf.
Six months later, in February of 2017, I received my first notification about Platinum Tax Defenders. That notification said that an attorney on my case had quit. Mind you, this notification came not from Platinum, but from the IRS. Platinum did not call me, email me, send me a letter, or even billow smoke signals informing me about this issue. This letter from the IRS also included a Notice to Levy. I was furious! Up to this point, I had not gotten any communication from Platinum. As far as I knew, they took my money and left town!
I wrote an email to Platinum threatening to turn them in to the Better Business Bureau. Coincidentally, I received the first phone call from any attorney at this company that very day. They gave me an update and said that they were going to court on March 30th, 2017. They promised the entire matter would be handled then and, “…not to worry, we’re still on your case.” Platinum said they would call and let me know the outcome.
March 30th, 2017 came and went. I called Platinum Tax Defenders to find out what happened. Miraculously, they were still waiting on the IRS. They said I would be informed of the outcome within two weeks. Two weeks came and went. I received a letter via certified mail from the IRS. “Notification to Levy by May 17th, 2017.” I sent an email to the attorneys of Platinum and asked if they knew about this. They replied with, “We are not sure. Can you send us copies of these notifications?” I sent them the notifications and waited to hear back from my attorneys.
A week or so went by and I began to get nervous. It was now May, 2017. I called Platinum and found out that the attorney I was dealing with had also left the company. He did not notify anyone that I was being levied! Platinum Tax Defenders did not let me know about this incredibly important piece of information! Later, I discovered I had yet a new and third attorney. My latest attorney assured me things would be fine if I sent her copies of the notices. She said she would get right back to me. No, she didn’t get back to me either. (Can you feel the frustration yet?) I emailed her and she replied, “Don’t worry.”
By June of 2017, I heard from the head attorney on my case. He called to let me know the IRS had refused their proposal. “Why,” I naturally asked. He explained that the IRS said the case was too old. (Um, wait a minute, too old? Three years is the standard time allotted to amend a tax filing. Why is this an issue? I had the IRS totally paid off until I received a notice in October of 2015. And as my lawyer, shouldn’t you know whether or not the case is too old? Assuming you know the law, you should not have taken my case in the first place if it’s, “too old!”) I proceeded to tell the attorney the story of how this has been an ongoing harassment from the IRS.
I also explained to the attorneys of Platinum Tax Defenders the letter I received in 2014 from the IRS regarding the $2,157 they said I owed after the IRS amended my return. I asked my lawyers about a notification rule. (Rules within the tax code state that if the IRS sends you a written notification that you owe a different amount first demonstrated, they will give leeway to the first calculation.)
Every single year the IRS comes back with a new reason to squeeze more money out of me. It is not as if I hide from my debt. I have paid them continually every single year for what seems like an eternity! Now the amount is so great I feel I can never get them paid in full.
I asked my third attorney at Platinum for help. He replied that he would request copies of my tax records and go over them. Wait, what?! After ten months, no one at Platinum had ever gone through my tax records! How is this even possible? All of my suspicions about them taking my money and stiffing me had been right. I hung up with my lawyer with the understanding that he would just now do his job that I paid for nearly a year earlier.
Apparently, Platinum did not even research any of the correspondence between myself and the IRS. If this were the case, how did they go to court? What proof did my lawyer have of any case if there were no records on file? This was the answer I had waited months to get. I had it alright. I’m a sucker.
Platinum Tax Defenders took my $1,500 and temporarily stopped payments of $200 per month for 18 months. (Just because the payments were temporarily stopped, doesn’t mean I don’t owe the IRS that $3,600.)
Just yesterday I opened a text message from Platinum saying something to the effect of, “Congratulations! Platinum Tax Defenders has negotiated a settlement. You will now make payments to the IRS of $150 per month beginning the 28th of the month.” Oh, that’s wonderful. I paid Platinum $1,500 to find out I have to pay the IRS $150 each month. That means I still owe the IRS whatever their claim is plus the $3,600 of temporarily stopped payments, plus penalties and interest. Oh, and I’m also out the $1,500 for this service, which could’ve went to pay the IRS in the first place! Had I not used Platinum, the money saved would have helped me pay off at least half of what I owed the IRS by now. Thanks, a bunch!
Government is Never the Answer
Let this be a lesson. Don’t make money! Live hand to mouth or at the mercy of the government because, regardless of your status, you are at the mercy of the all mighty government. They have you right where they want you. Only one thing is worse than the government, companies like Platinum Tax Defenders who are fully aware you are in a bind. Companies like this capitalize on your fear of the government. They are out to make money. They have no interest in what is best for you, their client. You are far better off dealing with one snake in the pit than two. Just continue to pay the government. Either way, you are going to pay.
The Bottom Line
Platinum Tax Defenders took Gina’s money, did a little legal wrangling, and called it good. In actuality they fixed nothing. Now she owes the IRS the same amount of money before she hired them. She’s just out an additional $1,500 that went to these people.
Think about it. If you took your car to a garage to have the transmission fixed and all the mechanic did was spend a few hours looking at it only to not fix it, would he deserve to be paid?
Please share this story with as many people as you can using the social media icons located at the top and bottom of this page. Send this to any tax attorney who may be interested in this story and may able to help (pro bono, of course.)
Personally, I will make this letter public and send it to various senators and congressmen, as well as local attorneys. Naturally, Platinum will be reading this shortly.
To contact Gina, email me, the editor, directly. I will ensure she gets any and all correspondence. My email address is found on the About page in the Menu Bar.