Cincinnati Tax Resolution - March 2020

Is That Picture Worth $1,000?

One Man Escapes an Incredible $400,000 Tax Burden

The client’s name and personal details in this story have been changed to protect the identity of those involved. However, the tax results are 100% factual.

By the timeWes Dolcourt hired me, he was in deep with the IRS. The IRS claimed that Wes owed them a staggering $400,000. To make matters worse, Wes had been dealing with an unreasonable revenue officer who was practically breathing downWes’s neck. The officer was coming toWes’s house, pestering him and adding to what was already an incredibly stressful situation. Wes’s tax nightmare began in 2010. This was the year he was audited. For many people, audits don’t get blown out of proportion. Wes, however, received exceptionally poor treatment from the IRS. The auditor made critical mistakes and didn’t follow the law to the letter. In the end, Wes was hit with an initial $200,000 tax bill. Over the next seven years, it snowballed into $400,000. During those seven years, Wes hired someone on theWest Coast to represent him. Wes, being in Ohio, had some distance between himself and his representation. As Wes’s tax nightmare got worse, it was clear his representative was not doing a good job. Finally, Wes made the call and met with me. I looked at his situation and immediately saw the problem: Wes was being treated unfairly by the IRS, and it was absurd that his representation was not protecting him.

How to Avoid Copyright Infringement for Your Business

We’ve all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and for businesses, this is especially true. Images used on a website and in marketing materials contribute to a specific vision and encourage customers to buy into a service or product. However, obtaining and using those images requires much more than a quick search on Google. To make the biggest splash while avoiding heavy penalties that can tank your business, follow these tips when searching for images. Presume all images are protected by copyright. Never assume that an image you find while browsing the internet is free to use. It may be easy to download one you like and use it on your website, social media account, or blog, but it can have devastating consequences. Someone who wrongfully uses copyright material worth at least $2,500 may face up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines according to federal statute. Play it safe by assuming every image or photograph you find online is protected by copyright law. Always ask permission for use. Even if an image isn’t under copyright, you still might not have permission to use it. Find the source of the image, and inquire about using it for your own business. The image itself may have certain conditions you need to meet before you can use it. For instance, a licensing agreement may require you to pay a fee, give credit to the original creator, or guarantee the image’s use as-is without further alteration. In other instances, ask the photographer, designer, or artist for permission to use the image and agree to include a watermark or a link to their website. Find and use free images instead. Several websites, such as Pexels, Pixabay, and Morguefile, provide hundreds of photos for businesses to use for free and without worry of copyright infringement. Creative Commons is also a great resource to consult. This nonprofit provides free licenses and tools that make copyright material easy to understand. You may need to meet some agreements under a Creative Commons license, but afterwards, you can access and use numerous photos.

I went to work. I got the IRS to back off and hadWes’s case moved to a different revenue officer, someone who was reasonable and wouldn’t houndWes all the time.

After combing through the details of Wes’s situation, I decided to make an offer to the IRS: $10,000 to settle. The IRS came back with a firm no, so I appealed. After some time, the IRS said they were willing to settle for $75,000. It wasn’t a bad offer, considering the initial $400,000 tax bill, but Wes didn’t have $75,000. So, I continued negotiating with the appeals office, because there were some things that just weren’t adding up. After about a year and a half of negotiations, the IRS finally came back with a reasonable offer: $15,000 to settle.

I was able to shave off $385,000 of Wes’s IRS liability. Finally, after several years, Wes’s tax nightmare was over! Wes was ecstatic and very relieved.

–Toph Sheldon

2 • 513-342-4000

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