Another honest, law-abiding American being drawn & quartred by the IRS

7 Sep

This is a letter written by a couple who are in no way, shape, or form, tax evaders and who are being harassed by the IRS. They have allowed me to publish their letter to the Tax Advocacy Service. Here it is:

Dear TAS representative,

Every year we file an income tax return as required by law. In late May, we received a letter from the IRS requiring us to provide a number of documents regarding our income and our one minor child for whom we received the child credit for years 2009 and 2010.  We promptly set about gathering the necessary information. We translated all the documents they requested and went to the American Embassy in Tel Aviv to have it certified and notarized by the vice consul for which we paid $50.

On August 7, we received a big package of papers informing us that our translations were not sufficient and they are not giving us the foreign earned income exclusion (form 2555) and they gave us a tax bill of $24,400. In the first letter they did not tell us they wanted this form.  Ms. Ard, the contact person at the IRS claimed that the person who prepared the letter forgot, but we don’t believe that now.  We are posting this letter on a website that we found quite by accident.

Do they want to kill someone?  We are not kidding. If someone with a bad heart or an elderly person opened that letter and saw a bill for so much money, they could have a heart attack and die. This is total negligence. We couldn’t sleep for many nights with this hanging over our heads.

The instructions in the letter are not clear and we had many questions before we could do the work.  We had questions as to how they wanted the translations done and it took us three days to get Ms. Ard on the phone.  We believe that from the time a person receives or should receive the letter, they should have at least 60 days to prepare the documents and send it in. The IRS does not take into account that it takes 7-10 days for mail from the US to get here. The IRS only gave us three weeks, September 1, to send it to them. When we spoke to MS. Ard she told us she had been sick. Since time was of the essence, if the IRS contact person is absent from work they should have someone else take their calls, but instead we got an answering machine for three days

Furthermore, the IRS wanted us to provide professionally translated documents. We have about 20 pages and each page cost $65 if done by a professional translator. This is too onerous a burden for citizens of modest income like ourselves.  In addition, we went to the embassy and saw and spoke to the embassy vice consul Mr. Jacob Grannell.  We showed him all the papers from the IRS with the instructions regarding what they wanted. He signed a Certificate of Translation and notarized all the papers.  He said this would be sufficient. If he certified it, we don’t understand why this is not good enough for the IRS. We emailed the embassy today to ask if they provide a translation service, they replied that they do not. Moreover, there are about 200,000 American citizens living in Israel, we are sure many more than in much bigger countries such as Germany. With so many Americans in Israel, we think the IRS should have someone on staff that reads Hebrew. There are a number of competent CPAs who know tax law who they could hire for this job, but the IRS doesn’t want to spend the money. They want the citizen to pay. They should make appointments for people to meet them at the embassy or consulate in Jerusalem and bring all of their documents.

We don’t understand why the IRS did not accept the documents that we submitted the first time. In the first letter they said they wanted “certified” translations. That is why we thought it should be notarized by the embassy.  In their most recent letter to us they demanded “certified” and “verifiable” translations, but did explain what that means. Their instructions need to be a lot more specific.

We already pay about half of our income as taxes to the government of Israel. If we have to pay the back taxes, interest and penalties that the IRS wants, we won’t have money to live (we would need food stamps). We don’t understand why the IRS is doing this as we have always obeyed the law. We only took the credits and exemptions allowed to us by Congress. The IRS can look in their own records to know that we live where we say we do and have for many years. We are also registered at the American Embassy at this address and our son has a birth certificate that was issued by the embassy. In other words, we are not lying to them.

We read on a website that the IRS found two American-Israelis who had a lot of money in offshore accounts. So now they think they are going to find money from other Americans who live here. Most of us Jewish-Americans, who are still loyal American citizens, but have chosen to live in our ancestral homeland, make modest livings, as salaries are generally a lot lower than in the US for similar jobs. For all they money they are spending with these audits, I really don’t think they will find much.

We know that there has been a lot of fraud in the US regarding illegal aliens taking the child credit. We don’t know if they realize that a lot of religious Jews have big families, as many as 8-10 children. Some of them were legitimately getting quite a lot of money, This cannot be regarded as fraud.

We will appreciate all the help you can give us. We sent in the papers earlier this week. We hope this is the last we will hear from the IRS

Very truly yours,

(names withheld for privacy)

copies to: Senator Benjamin Cardin

                Senator Barbara Mikulski

                Congressman John Sarbanes

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