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109.73MDow Volume:
Avg Vol: 113.10M
Unchanged
224
Decliners
2653
Advancers
3709
Price Chg %Chg 1 Day
Range: 1 Day
  • 1 Day
  • 5 Days
  • 1 Month
  • 3 Months
  • 6 Months
  • 1 Year
  • 2 Years
Dow
/quotes/zigman/627449/realtime 16,375 +23 0.14%
Nasdaq
/quotes/zigman/12633936/realtime 4,733 -16 0.35%
S&P 500
/quotes/zigman/3870025/realtime 1,951 +2 0.12%
GlobalDow
/quotes/zigman/629063/realtime 2,319 -4 0.16%
Gold
/quotes/zigman/662444/delayed 1,124 0 0.03%
Oil
/quotes/zigman/2331095/delayed 46.19 -0.56 1.20%
FTSE 100
/quotes/zigman/3173262/delayed 6,194 +111 1.82%
DAX
/quotes/zigman/2380246/delayed 10,318 +270 2.68%
CAC 40
/quotes/zigman/3173214/delayed 4,654 +99 2.17%
FTSE MIB
/quotes/zigman/1482176/delayed 22,177 +565 2.62%
IBEX 35
/quotes/zigman/2759620/delayed 10,042 +104 1.05%
Stoxx 600
/quotes/zigman/2380150/delayed 362 +8 2.37%
Asia Dow
/quotes/zigman/6959860/realtime 2,683 -30 1.11%
Nikkei 225
/quotes/zigman/5986735/delayed 17,745 -437 2.41%
Hang Seng
/quotes/zigman/2622475/delayed 20,810 -125 0.60%
Shanghai
/quotes/zigman/1859015/delayed 3,160 -6 0.20%
Sensex
/quotes/zigman/1652085/delayed 25,277 -488 1.89%
Singapore
/quotes/zigman/1709939/delayed 2,862 -44 1.53%
Euro
/quotes/zigman/16008136/realtime/sampled 1.11 +0.00 0.02%
Yen
/quotes/zigman/16008150/realtime/sampled 119.38 -0.69 0.57%
Pound
/quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled 1.52 0.00 0.16%
Australia$
/quotes/zigman/16008115/realtime/sampled 0.70 0.00 0.66%
DXY Index
/quotes/zigman/1652083/delayed 96.26 -0.14 0.15%
WSJ $ Idx
/quotes/zigman/41508961/realtime 88.81 0.00 0.00%
U.S. 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866666/realtime 2.14 -0.02 0.93%
German 10y
/quotes/zigman/15866409/realtime 0.73 -0.06 7.14%
Italy 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866497/realtime 1.92 -0.07 3.70%
Spain 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866444/realtime 2.11 -0.04 1.85%
U.K. 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866328/realtime 1.80 -0.02 0.97%
Japan 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866525/realtime 0.39 -0.01 1.26%
Crude Oil
/quotes/zigman/2331095/delayed 46 -1 1.20%
Gold
/quotes/zigman/662444/delayed 1,124 0 0.03%
Corn
/quotes/zigman/7599553/delayed 361 -1 0.14%
DJIA F
/quotes/zigman/38649152/delayed 16,229 -119 0.73%
S&P F
/quotes/zigman/30356461/delayed 1,933 -14 0.70%
Silver
/quotes/zigman/3134148/delayed 15 +0 0.33%

Quotes

Symbol Price Change % Change
FB /quotes/zigman/9962609/composite 88.15 -1.74 -1.94%
AAPL /quotes/zigman/68270/composite 110.37 -1.97 -1.75%
GOOG /quotes/zigman/30194416/composite 606.25 -8.09 -1.32%
BAC /quotes/zigman/190927/composite 15.94 0.09 0.57%
C /quotes/zigman/5065548/composite 51.79 0.04 0.08%
F /quotes/zigman/264304/composite 13.84 -0.03 -0.22%
T /quotes/zigman/398198/composite 33.04 0.22 0.67%
BP /quotes/zigman/247026/composite 32.41 0.21 0.65%
GE /quotes/zigman/227468/composite 24.51 -0.06 -0.24%
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Rates »

5 yr CD
1.5%
2 yr CD
0.8%
1 yr CD
0.6%
MMA $10K+
0.3%
MMA $50K+
0.4%

National averages from Bankrate.com

You Don’t Need Another Credit Card, You Need A Better One.
Avg. APR Last Week 6 Months
Low Interest 11.62% 11.62% 11.53%
Business 12.85% 12.85% 12.85%
Student 13.14% 13.14% 13.14%
Balance Transfer 14.12% 14.12% 14.00%
Airline 15.10% 15.10% 15.15%
Reward 15.14% 15.14% 14.99%
Cash Back 15.27% 15.27% 15.26%
Instant Approval 18.00% 18.00% 17.93%
Bad Credit 22.73% 22.73% 22.48%
Source:CreditCards.com

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The Tax Blog
The latest news, insights and tips about taxes

How to Avoid Tax Relief Firms

Recently, we talked about Roni Deutch’s film, “Death or Taxes: The Sad Truth About Our American Tax System.”

Getty Images

It’s time to look at one of the saddest components of the American tax system – the predators. It’s bad enough having to fight off the sometimes-terrifying collections tactics of the IRS. It’s even worse when the firm hired to protect you, gets you deeper into debt or causes you to lose your home or business.

The fees for tax debt reduction assistance range from $1,200 to $5,000 or more. Those fees aren’t unreasonable. When handled properly, it takes 30-50 hours to prepare an offer in compromise (OIC).

But the expenses are outrageous when the firms take your money and make promises they can’t keep. They shouldn’t sign you up when they know the IRS won’t approve your OIC. But too many do, and months later, they tell you the IRS rejected your request. By then, your penalties and interest may have skyrocketed, your credit been ruined and your wages been garnished.

Let’s look at recent court cases filed against television and radio advertisers, preying on your fears, your insecurities, and your tax terrors. All cases involve national tax resolution firms who have misled troubled taxpayers.

On April 22nd, the California Superior Court froze the assets of Roni Deutch for shredding documents in defiance of a court order, and not giving refunds to clients, as ordered. IRS has also hit her with a $183,000 lien. Trial is set for July.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed suit accusing Houston-based TaxMasters of fraud and deception. Texas filed suit alleging the company unlawfully “engaged in false, misleading, and deceptive acts and practices.” Florida is investigating them, too.

Florida is also investigating JK Harris for allegedly violating a 2008 settlement with Florida and 17 other states over misleading sales tactics.

If there’s a TV advertiser promising that you can pay pennies on the dollar, you can bet there will be consumer complaints and investigations sooner or later. The IRS even publishes an alert. Why? Not everyone qualifies for offers in a compromise. But some of these firms will sell them to anyone desperate enough to pay.

Firms under investigation tend to operate on the health-spa-marketing principal. That’s where you sign up everyone you can, knowing the members will lose interest in working out in a week or two, or three. But they are forced to keep making the payments all year due to contractual obligations.

Sounds pretty awful, doesn’t it? This isn’t a gym situation. People with tax debt face intense problems. Their wages are being garnished; bank accounts are seized; other assets might be put up for tax sale. They’re in trouble. Often, the tax problems result in chemical depressions – or are caused by depression, illnesses, divorce, or other personal tragedies.

People often turn to the firms they see on television out of desperation. What they really should do is look for a local, reputable enrolled agent or CPA who comes recommended by people they know or try to work with the IRS themselves. After all, they probably won’t qualify for an offer in compromise. Most people don’t.

The two fundamental rules IRS operates by for offers in compromise are:

a)    If you have enough assets to pay the taxes, your offer will not get approved.

b)    If you earn enough money to pay your tax debt over 5-10 years, your offer will be rejected.

Folks who do not qualify for an offer, not even on appeal, can get an installment agreement. You can pay the tax debt over time. Use Form 9465 or the online process at the IRS website. Just think of the installments as the payment for the luxury car you never get to drive.

What can you do if you are in tax trouble? First, see if you can fill out the forms yourself. The IRS offers extensive information on the website. They have improved the information packet for the offer in compromise – Form 656-B. In fact, you can fill in the forms online and print them out yourself.

If you cannot do this yourself, find a reputable tax professional who handles cases like yours. Generally, you won’t need an attorney. You should consult counsel when you have a criminal issue, or inheritance issues, or complex issues that may involve other people’s assets. Otherwise an enrolled agent or CPA can help you.

You can find CPAs at the AICPA website.  Unfortunately, the AICPA does not show any specialization in taxation or tax representation, so finding the right CPA won’t be all that easy.

You can find enrolled agents at the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) website. Search for someone who has ‘representation’ experience or is an NTPI Fellow. The National Tax Practice Institute specializes in training tax professionals in IRS tax representation skills.

Sometimes, when you don’t qualify for an offer, there are other avenues open to you. A qualified tax professional may know of other ways to help reduce your burden – or make it manageable.

Readers, have you ever been in tax trouble?

—-

Eva Rosenberg, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, where your tax questions are answered. Eva is the author of several books and e-books, including the newest edition of “Small Business Taxes Made Easy,” now available at your favorite bookseller. Eva teaches a tax-pro course at IRSExams.com .


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About The Tax Blog

  • The Tax Blog brings together a team of award-winning tax journalists from the Dow Jones network and around the web to examine the tax issues, changes and legislation that affect families, investors and small business owners. Our contributors include Tax Report columnist Laura Saunders (WSJ), Tax Guy columnist Bill Bischoff and senior reporter Jilian Mincer (SmartMoney.com), retirement-focused reporter Anne Tergesen (WSJ), wealth management writer Arden Dale (Dow Jones Newswires), TaxWatch columnist Eva Rosenberg and personal finance reporter Andrea Coombes (MarketWatch), and reporter Alyssa Abkowitz (SmartMoney). They’ll provide the latest news and insight, mine the tax code for tips and loopholes, and answer your questions about tricky tax situations. Contact the The Tax Blog with ideas, suggestions or tax questions at thetaxblog@dowjones.com.

MarketWatch - Stock Market Quotes, Business News, Financial News
Bulletin
Investor Alert

Markets »

109.73MDow Volume:
Avg Vol: 113.10M
Unchanged
224
Decliners
2653
Advancers
3709
Price Chg %Chg 1 Day
Range: 1 Day
  • 1 Day
  • 5 Days
  • 1 Month
  • 3 Months
  • 6 Months
  • 1 Year
  • 2 Years
Dow
/quotes/zigman/627449/realtime 16,375 +23 0.14%
Nasdaq
/quotes/zigman/12633936/realtime 4,733 -16 0.35%
S&P 500
/quotes/zigman/3870025/realtime 1,951 +2 0.12%
GlobalDow
/quotes/zigman/629063/realtime 2,319 -4 0.16%
Gold
/quotes/zigman/662444/delayed 1,124 0 0.03%
Oil
/quotes/zigman/2331095/delayed 46.20 -0.55 1.18%
FTSE 100
/quotes/zigman/3173262/delayed 6,194 +111 1.82%
DAX
/quotes/zigman/2380246/delayed 10,318 +270 2.68%
CAC 40
/quotes/zigman/3173214/delayed 4,654 +99 2.17%
FTSE MIB
/quotes/zigman/1482176/delayed 22,177 +565 2.62%
IBEX 35
/quotes/zigman/2759620/delayed 10,042 +104 1.05%
Stoxx 600
/quotes/zigman/2380150/delayed 362 +8 2.37%
Asia Dow
/quotes/zigman/6959860/realtime 2,682 -31 1.13%
Nikkei 225
/quotes/zigman/5986735/delayed 17,744 -439 2.41%
Hang Seng
/quotes/zigman/2622475/delayed 20,810 -125 0.60%
Shanghai
/quotes/zigman/1859015/delayed 3,160 -6 0.20%
Sensex
/quotes/zigman/1652085/delayed 25,279 -486 1.89%
Singapore
/quotes/zigman/1709939/delayed 2,861 -46 1.57%
Euro
/quotes/zigman/16008136/realtime/sampled 1.11 +0.00 0.04%
Yen
/quotes/zigman/16008150/realtime/sampled 119.38 -0.69 0.58%
Pound
/quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled 1.52 0.00 0.17%
Australia$
/quotes/zigman/16008115/realtime/sampled 0.70 0.00 0.66%
DXY Index
/quotes/zigman/1652083/delayed 96.26 -0.14 0.15%
WSJ $ Idx
/quotes/zigman/41508961/realtime 88.80 -0.01 0.01%
U.S. 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866666/realtime 2.14 -0.02 0.93%
German 10y
/quotes/zigman/15866409/realtime 0.73 -0.06 7.14%
Italy 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866497/realtime 1.92 -0.07 3.70%
Spain 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866444/realtime 2.11 -0.04 1.85%
U.K. 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866328/realtime 1.80 -0.02 0.97%
Japan 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866525/realtime 0.39 -0.01 1.26%
Crude Oil
/quotes/zigman/2331095/delayed 46 -1 1.18%
Gold
/quotes/zigman/662444/delayed 1,124 0 0.03%
Corn
/quotes/zigman/7599553/delayed 361 -1 0.14%
DJIA F
/quotes/zigman/38649152/delayed 16,229 -119 0.73%
S&P F
/quotes/zigman/30356461/delayed 1,932 -14 0.71%
Silver
/quotes/zigman/3134148/delayed 15 +0 0.33%

Quotes

Symbol Price Change % Change
FB /quotes/zigman/9962609/composite 88.15 -1.74 -1.94%
AAPL /quotes/zigman/68270/composite 110.37 -1.97 -1.75%
GOOG /quotes/zigman/30194416/composite 606.25 -8.09 -1.32%
BAC /quotes/zigman/190927/composite 15.94 0.09 0.57%
C /quotes/zigman/5065548/composite 51.79 0.04 0.08%
F /quotes/zigman/264304/composite 13.84 -0.03 -0.22%
T /quotes/zigman/398198/composite 33.04 0.22 0.67%
BP /quotes/zigman/247026/composite 32.41 0.21 0.65%
GE /quotes/zigman/227468/composite 24.51 -0.06 -0.24%
Visit the quote page and your most recently viewed stocks will automatically be displayed here.
Please log in to view your watchlist
MarketWatch Portfolio

World News from MarketWatch

Rates »

5 yr CD
1.5%
2 yr CD
0.8%
1 yr CD
0.6%
MMA $10K+
0.3%
MMA $50K+
0.4%

National averages from Bankrate.com

You Don’t Need Another Credit Card, You Need A Better One.
Avg. APR Last Week 6 Months
Low Interest 11.62% 11.62% 11.53%
Business 12.85% 12.85% 12.85%
Student 13.14% 13.14% 13.14%
Balance Transfer 14.12% 14.12% 14.00%
Airline 15.10% 15.10% 15.15%
Reward 15.14% 15.14% 14.99%
Cash Back 15.27% 15.27% 15.26%
Instant Approval 18.00% 18.00% 17.93%
Bad Credit 22.73% 22.73% 22.48%
Source:CreditCards.com

SPONSORED SECTIONS

Trending Tickers
  • /quotes/zigman/87598/composite NFLX-4.15%
  • /quotes/zigman/23556538/composite TWTR+1.73%
  • /quotes/zigman/7601800/composite JOY-14.60%
  • /quotes/zigman/264176/composite EWZ+1.21%
  • /quotes/zigman/45758604/composite EQIX+1.66%
X
Powered by StockTwits
Link to MarketWatch's Slice.

As of July 2, 2013, the SmartMoney content you loved now lives on MarketWatch.

MarketWatch will continue to provide the same important news and information you rely on every day. And, as a MarketWatch user, you will be able to enjoy:

  • Personalized news and quote email alerts
  • Editorial e-newsletters about personal finance, mutual funds and market-specific coverage
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  • Games, such as Virtual Stock Exchange and Beat the Darts
  • Free WSJ.com registration

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