New Year’s Resolution: No More Tax Problems

With an Internal Revenue Service now more aggressive than ever, it’s not a good time to be cheating Uncle Sam or living with tax problems. Fortunately, you don’t have to have IRS problems.

Are you scared of the Tax Man?

Well, if you have any tax problems or are cheating Uncle Sam in any way, you should be.

The Internal Revenue Service, once the butt of late-night television jokes, has changed. It’s now an aggressive agency with the tenacity and bite of a pit bull.

The IRS’s enforcement numbers in 2005 were up substantially compared to the year before — 20 percent more people were audited, including 221,000 taxpayers who earned more than $100,000 per year. All across the board, audits were up and enforcement was iron-fisted.

It’s not a good time to be cheating on your taxes. Just ask a few of these folks:

Singer-songwriter Ronald Isley, of the Isley Brothers, was convicted on five counts of tax evasion and one count of willful failure to file a tax return. He faces up to 26 years in the Big House.

Richard Hatch, the first winner of the reality television show Survivor, was charged with a 10-count indictment that alleges fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors claim Hatch tried to avoid paying taxes on the $1,010,000 he won on the 2000 TV show. If convicted, he faces up to five years in the hoosegow.

Adrian K. Karsten, a former ESPN sportscaster and winner of a 1991 Emmy Award, received 11 months of home confinement after pleading guilty to two counts of failing to file income tax returns.

Lee Mroszak, a Gulf War veteran who is best known as “Crazy Cabbie” on the Howard Stern Show, received one year behind bars after pleading guilty to tax evasion.

And the list goes on and on and on.

Get the picture?

Uncle Sam means business, and for the past three years, the IRS has been getting more and more aggressive. There’s no tolerance for tax cheats and tax-avoidance schemes.

What’s more, 2006 will likely bring even more activity. Congress has already approved funding to allow the IRS to be as aggressive as it was in 2005, if not more.

If you’re one of the thousands of Americans with tax problems, you now have an ultimatum: consult with a qualified tax professional and resolve your problems once and for all or the roll the dice and take your chance.

You might not get caught this year. You might not get caught next.

But you will get caught. This year, make a wise New Year’s Resolution.