Number of delinquent taxpayers skyrockets

WASHINGTON, April 14 (Reuters) - As a deep recession strips Americans of their jobs, homes and investments, the 2009 U.S. tax season promises to see a large uptick in first-time delinquent income taxpayers.

"Our calls are up 280 percent," said Richard Boggs, founder and chief executive of Los Angeles-based Nationwide Tax Relief, a firm that helps delinquent taxpayers resolve tax issues.

"We've seen a huge rise in what we call the rookie delinquent taxpayer," he said. "They are incredibly scared, and they have no idea what's going to happen to them because, God bless them, they've never owed before."

As the weak economy puts job security and a steady flow of income on a slippery slope, many are wary of the U.S. tax man, tax consultants say.

With household balance sheets under pressure, more U.S. households are having trouble keeping up with their day-to-day bills and struggling to pay their taxes.

"Folks are not paying their taxes because they are spending it on necessary living expenses," said Kristin Lavieri, an accountant with Weinstein & Anastasio, PC in Hamden, Connecticut.

She added that more of the self-employed, who are required to pay taxes each quarter, are likely to end up with back taxes. "When there is not enough money for general operating expenses, there most definitely isn't going to be enough for quarterly estimates," Lavieri said.

Among those not self-employed, many also have to make tough decisions that could carry long-term financial consequences.

Many withdrew funds from 401k and IRA retirement savings accounts before the permitted time, unaware of the punitive taxes and penalties this would generate, said Larry Walker Jr, president of the financial and tax services firm 4-Serenity Inc in Snellville, Georgia.

Withdrawals from a retirement account before reaching the age of 59.5 are considered taxable income and generally incur an additional tax of 10 percent of the amount.

Other taxpayers did not have enough tax withheld from paychecks. As a result, they now owe taxes or will not receive the amount of refund they usually do, Walker said.

FEAR, SECRECY CAUSE MORE PROBLEMS

"If we are seeing a nearly threefold increase in people who have tax problems who have never had tax issues, it shows that things are worse than people think right now," Boggs said.

But tax woes are such a taboo issue that over 40 percent of Boggs' clients have told him nobody knows about their problems, and that often includes their spouses.

"When they see a tax bill that they know they can't pay, they freeze up," Boggs said. "A very innocent procrastination can get you into a lot of hot water with the IRS."

The Internal Revenue Service, which collects taxes in the United States, vowed to show its gentler side this year.

"We recognize the economic realities that are out there," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman told reporters. "We're available to work with people."

Critics are skeptical this will happen. The agency collects much of the $3 trillion that funds the government.

IRS agents were given more flexibility in their collection actions, including the ability to reduce or suspend monthly payments on back taxes so those hit hard by the financial downturn are not forced to default on their tax payments.

But Boggs said IRS policies are adding to the fear Americans feel for the traditionally secretive agency while outdated guidelines make the prospect of collection action scary.

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, head of an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers, seemed to echo this sentiment in an annual report to Congress.

The report revealed that penalty provisions in the tax code have not been comprehensively reformed since 1989, and the complexity of the tax code is a serious problem.

An elderly woman in Austin, Texas, who asked not to be named, said her $3,000 debt to the IRS grew to around $60,000 in taxes and penalties over 16 years despite the fact that she paid off the initial debt within six months.

The 61-year-old is disabled and suffers from multiple health problems. The IRS now takes $133 each month from her Social Security disability check.

The practice is part of the agency's Federal Payment Levy Program, which allows up to 15 percent of any federal payments a delinquent taxpayer receives to go directly to the IRS until their overdue taxes are paid in full.

Olson noted that too often this automated levy system withholds Social Security payments to taxpayers with incomes below the poverty line. If these cases had been subject to human review, the report says, many would have been classified by the agency as unable to pay.

Some wealthier people are also finding themselves overwhelmed by tax burdens. "America's top earners are suffering a new one-two punch," Boggs said.

"Not only are America's wealthiest suffering the largest losses in nearly a century, but the IRS will be seizing what little resources they do have left in record time," he said.

"Some of my rich clients are having big problems," said Lance Wallach, CEO and president of Veba Plan LLC, a financial consultancy firm. "Hundreds of them do not have liquid cash to pay bills."

Copyright 2008 Reuters. click for restrictions

How does a sports writer know how to fix America, and America's racial dilemma?

In a special edition of the "Glenn Beck Radio Program," Outkick sports columnist Jason Whitlock filled in Tuesday for Glenn to explain how we can bring America back together, lean into racial harmony, and restore the values of our Founding Fathers. Because if not us, then who will?

Jason started out by explaining how, during a recent appearance on the program, he felt a spiritual connection with Glenn, regardless of physical differences, as both share a common passion for God and country.

"Glenn and I share a kindred spirit. A kindred passion," Jason said. "We have two things that we love and are passionate about: God and country. I am not a minister. I'm a flawed sinner just like Glenn and just like you. But I am a believer. Believers share an energy that connects them, that cuts through our physical differences and makes those differences irrelevant relevant. That's what I felt when I met Glenn, an energy and a spirit that connects us. We are broadcasters, media personalities, operating in separate spaces, trying to talk to Americans, who share our passion."

Jason went on to say that he believes there are forces operating, both outside of and inside America, that are working to separate America from God, and that much of what we've witnessed in 2020 — from the racial division stirred by the mainstream and social media, to the rioting and looting by Antifa and Black Lives Matter, to the "remaking of the sports world into a shrine that celebrates resisting criminal suspects and denigrates this great country at every turn" — are symptoms and consequences of America's enemies separating God and country.

"We are one nation under God. We are nothing without Him," Jason continued. "The flawed sinners who founded this nation baked God into this country with their Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among those, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The foreign and domestic enemies of this nation are baking a new American cake. God isn't an essential ingredient in this new cake. He isn't an ingredient at all. The removal of faith is sewing the disharmony that is terrorizing and destroying the United States of America.

"Why am I here today? I'm here to tell you how we take our country back, how we restore the freedoms and the liberties our enemies seek to remove in their remaking of a godless America."

Watch the video below to hear more from Jason Whitlock:

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One of the most shocking things British journalist, political commentator, and author of "The Madness of Crowds," Douglas Murray witnessed during his recent stay in America, was how many Americans are acting as if they live in 1930s Germany or behind the Iron Curtain, afraid to stand up and speak out because they're afraid of the consequences.

Murray joined the "Glenn Beck Podcast" this week to explain why he believes the state of America is actually worse than we realize, and how the Left's obsession with rewriting history has ushered in guilt, fear, and a "silent majority."

Murray said he's particularly "fed up" with those on the Right who are afraid to voice their opinion because they don't want to become the target of leftist mobs on social media.

"Do you think anyone in history who told the truth had an easy time? You've got the easiest time that any opposition movement ever did in history," Murray said.

"You cannot have these people in America living in a free society — which is for the time being free — pretending that they live under the circumstances of Jews in 1930s Germany," he added. "Speak up. Speak out. Don't be a silent majority; be a very damn noisy majority. And don't put up with the oppression of people who are totally insincere ... they want to make money. They want to win. Nothing more. Call them out ... and get back to what you should be doing as a nation."

Watch the full interview with Douglas Murray below:



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New York City shut down its schools over the coronavirus with barely any notice. But even before that, Governor Andrew Cuomo apparently wasn't in the mood to be asked about it, and he made that very clear to reporters.

Asked on Wednesday whether parents could expect schools to be closed as soon as Thursday, Cuomo mocked reporters for their "obnoxious and offensive" questions and accused them of not paying attention. Watch the testy exchange for yourself here.

On Thursday's radio program, Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguiere had plenty to say about Stu's least favorite governor and the decision to close schools. But Glenn also offered his own theory on why coronavirus restrictions have become so political: Americans refuse to be forced into submission.

Watch the video below to catch the conversation:

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Everything comes down to the two Senate runoffs in Georgia. If we lose both races, we lose the country. Democrats know this and are pouring in millions to usher in a Marxist agenda.

As the Left tries to hide how radical the two candidates really are, Glenn takes us inside the Democrat war room to expose the wolf in pastor's clothing, Raphael Warnock, and America's Justin Trudeau, Jon Ossoff. Socialism, the Green New Deal, and "defund the police" are all on the table. And Glenn warns of what's to come if conservatives don't activate: Chuck Schumer will weaponize the Senate, and the radical Left will launch an all-out assault to ravage the Constitution.

Watch the full special below:

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