Tax Resolution Expert: Jon Neal
Title: Jon Neal, CPA, Tax Resolution Expert
Date: January 14, 2020
Attendee and Guest: Kelly Coughlin, CEO, EveryDayCPA – Jon Neal, The Neal Group
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Hello this is Kelly Coughlin. I am the CEO of EveryDayCPA, and today’s program host for the podcast, Tax Resolution Help Center – A members-only education and information platform, helping taxpayers remove, reduce and resolve tax debt themselves. How, you might ask? Can taxpayers do this themselves? Aren’t taxpayers never supposed to talk to the IRS? Well, the answer to this first question is yes, taxpayers can resolve their tax debt themselves, and yes, they can talk to the IRS. But there is one big caveat or caution to this, they need to know what they are doing.
Tax Resolution Help Center is an education and information platform, designed to enable taxpayers to learn the tips, tactics and techniques from high-quality, top-notch tax resolution experts who are committed to helping taxpayers do this themselves. Through online virtual open office sessions, audio and video webinars, articles and podcasts like this, we have compiled a team of two dozen CPAs and Enrolled Agents who will guide, inform and empower taxpayers to deal with tax debt themselves.
One of these professionals is my guest today. I want to welcome, Jon Neal, CPA, at the NEAL Group. I want to thank Jon for being the very first podcast guest of Tax Resolution Help Center. I know he has been a guest on other programs, and that is how I found him. Jon has a terrific reputation both in his home state of Wisconsin and throughout the country. So, thanks very much to Jon for allowing me to interview him today. First, I want to know a little bit about Jon – family, education, work – give listeners a feel for who Jon is. So, Jon, welcome aboard, thanks.
Jon: Hi Kelly, I am glad to be a part of this program. I am looking forward to helping taxpayers with their tax issues. I have been a CPA since 1980. I have worked on, I can’t count how many, IRS in state tax cases. We have a great team that works well together, and we have three locations in the Milwaukee area but work with clients all over the country.
Kelly: TV and radio ads constantly promote a handful of major tax resolution firms; their mantra is, “Never talk to the IRS”. That seems to be the big theme, they are virtually scaring people to do business with them, and you and I have talked a number of times about this approach. My question to you is this, is the IRS really that big, mean, bear that taxpayers should never talk to?
Jon: Yes and no. When I meet with taxpayers I tell them that, the people working at the IRS have a job to do. Their job is to collect taxes. As long as you are trying to work with them and you don’t ignore the letters that are sent, for the most part, they will work with you. It is when you ignore the letters – and there are a series of letters. And many times I have appointments with clients who bring me a certified letter from the IRS and they say, this is the first I have ever seen that I have a problem. And my reply, typically, is, there should have been two or three letters before then. Let’s see what you have, what the issues are, and see how we can work with the IRS. But in my experience, as long as you are, I’ll use the word cooperating, with the IRS, they aren’t going to take your house, they aren’t going to take your kids, and they aren’t going to throw you in jail – and that’s what most people are led to believe.
Kelly: By the industry?
Kelly: So, if you come into those conversations with the IRS, you need to be prepared, don’t waste their time.
Jon: Right, and I have been told by, I guess, I would call them third parties, that I have a decent reputation with the IRS. It’s not being an idiot in trying to deal with them; we are true pounding on the table type people.
Kelly: Now, you said, when I asked you that question, you said yes and no; so, the yes, you can talk, but then there is a no part of that, tell us about the no.
Jon: The no part is two issues that come up, one is if you are dealing with, you know, one of those three percent revenue officers who are just being very stubborn – and I would call them unreasonable. You know, they want everything now. I have had situations with revenue officers where they just come and like a little dictator and say, you know, you pay me today or I am going to padlock your doors. That doesn’t fly very well with me. So, in those cases I would suggests that as the taxpayer you withdraw yourself from the situation and put a buffer between you and the IRS. So, in that case I would not continue conversations personally. The other time that I would not talk to the IRS is when you get a knock on the door from two IRS agents carrying badges and guns. Those are from the Criminal Investigation Division and that means that this has gotten really serious and you could go to jail. And in those instances I would respectfully say I choose not to talk to you, and go get an attorney.
Kelly: You need the Criminal Defense Help Center, not the Tax Resolution Help Center.
Kelly: Let’s talk about why you got into this business line. Dealing with tax resolutions is fairly close to dealing with tax audits and examinations, and many professionals go out of their way to avoid getting involved in that. I don’t know, would you call that kind of dispute, issue dispute business? Some of us like resolving dispute. I like it. Is that why you got into it?
Jon: Yeah, before I decided to become an accountant I was going to be a teacher – actually a music teacher – and so I like helping people in educating them about what they can do to avoid problems. We all understand that life gets in the way at times and sometimes there is nothing that you can do at the moment. But, seeing a taxpayer situation through to a successful resolution makes me feel good inside. Because you see that the stress is off the taxpayer, we have reached an agreement with the IRS, he or they can go on with their life rather than worrying about, you know, the next knock at the door or the next phone call or the next piece of mail that they get, and it’s good. Fairly recently, there was a couple, they hadn’t filed and, I don’t know, four or five years, and the husband was working overtime just so that he could earn enough money that after they levied his wages to get enough to pay mortgage and put food on the table, and after we were done working with the IRS he was very grateful. And he said they took a vacation for the first time in about six years, with his family, and now he doesn’t have to worry about checks bouncing because he has got money in his bank account. And, you know, as I said, that makes you feel good inside.
Kelly: That’s one of the reasons why we started Tax Resolution Help Center, it is to help people, help lead and guide them. And then if they need help, if they want more than just ideas and guidance then we can lead it for them. Tell us about your process, if you have a new client, and you practice all over the country, right?
Jon: Yes. I have done many Zoom calls, phone calls, conference calls with husband on one phone, the wife on another and me on a third. If they are a local and they want to come in face to face I would be glad to meet with them.
Kelly: Have you found that a lot of tax debt clients prefer to work with you because you are out of state, out of their area?
Jon: There is a lot of truth to that. They don’t want to see me in church, yeah, they don’t want to see me at the country club. They don’t want their neighbors knowing what’s going on. As far as our process goes, I don’t know that I would call it rigid, I think it is fairly standard. Basically, we are asking to tell us their story – why are they here today. Give them some reassurance that they aren’t the first person that has had this problem; they aren’t the first person that we have helped with their issue. One of my favorite sayings when I talk to people is “Life happens”, you know, you made the first step by calling me to discuss and see if we can help you, and that’ great. And now, based on what the client has told me, here is our plan of attack – try and spell out everything – because a lot of people come in, can you do an offer in compromise for me? Well, I don’t know if I can do an offer in compromise for you. I need to understand your situation. I need to get some information. Here are the steps to do an offer in compromise. And maybe you do qualify, maybe you don’t qualify, but until you have the information we can’t tell you which avenue is the best route to go. We take the time to listen to our clients and see why they are in the situation that they are rather than just saying, hey, we can solve your problems for pennies and a dollar.
Kelly: And so dealing remotely isn’t an issue at all for you, right?
Kelly: So for some people it might even be a benefit. I know you will be hosting a number of virtual open office sessions and writing some articles for this platform, and I think you are going to do a couple of podcasts in the next quarter or so, what is it about this tax resolution help-center concept that attracted you to this platform?
Jon: I think one of the main things that impressed me about this approach is that it is not high pressure, it is not me sending out letter to a taxpayer, going, “hey, I saw your name on the list of IRS tax liens and we can help you do an offer in compromise and save you, for pennies and a dollar. This is more of a low pressure or no pressure situation from taxpayer where they can come in and get the information that they need to decide whether they want to do it themselves, what avenues are available to them, and if they want to use a professional there is a professional available they can talk to and get further information and education. And if they want to engage the professional they can engage the professional. You know, very low pressure or as you said, no pressure.
Kelly: Talk about why you think it is important for tax resolution professionals to be understanding. Life happens, talk about that.
Jon: Well, I don’t think you should judge anybody because of what they are doing. You know, there are certain situations that you might not want to work with based on the facts of the situation. You know, in my experience, people have, for the most part, I will call them legitimate reasons. Things happen, you are going through a divorce, your child was sick, you lost your job, I understand that stuff. You had some partners in a business and they left the sinking ship. I was in one of those positions a while ago and I had too with the IRS for some stuff and, yeah, it wasn’t pleasant but you got it done and you got it behind you and you are able to move on with your life. So I understand what the people are going through. And again, if they have taken the courage to take the step to admit what’s going on, that’s half the battle, and we can help them through education or they can engage our services to get the rest of it done and get that burden off their shoulders, get that stress off their family, get their business running again, and move on with life.
Kelly: I think it is terrific that…or I feel very fortunate that you are a part of this program. Because, not only are you an expert at this stuff, you do have that human compassion approach, but you are also in the education area and I think that’s kind of the sweet spot for what we are looking for. Jon, if people want to get a hold of you, would you like them to contact you directly?
Kelly: And you welcome direct calls?
Jon: I welcome direct calls.
Kelly: You welcome that, okay. Alright, do you have a favorite quote or a favorite saying that you kind of live by?
Jon: I do actually, and it came to mind a couple days ago, because I have a friend who had some back surgery and she is in the hospital in terrible pain. It is “You are stronger than you think you are”.
Kelly: And I think that’s very true. Alright Jon, I appreciate it. That’s all I have.
Jon: My pleasure, thanks Kelly.
Kelly: Thanks for your time, great, take care.
Thanks for listening to the Tax Resolution Help Center podcast, helping business and individual taxpayers remove, reduce, and resolve their past tax debt themselves. If you poked the bear, poke the bear back and save thousands of dollars. Virtual open office sessions, audio and video webinars, written articles and podcasts. All for $19.95 a month. Join tax resolution help center today. At taxresolutionhelpcenter.com, helping you help yourself.