Wednesday, March 17, 2010

IRS Visits Sacramento Carwash in Pursuit of 4 cents

This has been making the rounds:
It was every businessperson's nightmare.

Arriving at Harv's Metro Car Wash in midtown Wednesday afternoon were two dark-suited IRS agents demanding payment of delinquent taxes. "They were deadly serious, very aggressive, very condescending," says Harv's owner, Aaron Zeff.

The really odd part of this: The letter that was hand-delivered to Zeff's on-site manager showed the amount of money owed to the feds was ... 4 cents.

Inexplicably, penalties and taxes accruing on the debt – stemming from the 2006 tax year – were listed as $202.31, leaving Harv's with an obligation of $202.35.

Yep, the IRS is capable of being heavy-handed and they certainly come across that way in this case but things may not appear as they seem. There's no procedural requirement to hand-deliver a final notice - that's what this notice was, according to the picture accompanying the article - but a final notice is required before the IRS can take enforced collection action. Likely there there are other delinquencies out there and the Revenue Officer learned this was one period that had yet to have a final notice. The hand-delivery? Hard to determine from the article but the worst case scenario is the IRS was using the trip as a prelude to shut the business down. Sort of casing the joint. Or they were just getting out of the office for the afternoon.

Regardless, it's a dumb move by the IRS to play it this way. They come across comically brutal and hurt their mission of encouraging voluntary compliance. Regardless, I hope the car wash owner paid this piddling amount. Otherwise, maybe he oughtta give me a call.

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