A Timely Reference Book for Tax-Filers

Published March 1, 2004

The IRS Problem Solver: From Audits to Assessments–How to Solve Your Tax Problems and Keep the IRS Off Your Back Forever
Daniel J. Pilla
Regan Books, 2003, $15.95, 320 pages
ISBN 0060533455

If you are genuinely interested in the Internal Revenue Service or expect to be involved in a tax audit, The IRS Problem Solver by Daniel J. Pilla will prove to be an excellent resource.

The IRS Problem Solver is a “common-sense book” using chapter categories that fit particular needs. The many useful graphics include sample tax forms and letters to the IRS.

I have communicated many times with the IRS, both personally and professionally. In my experience, oral communication seldom works, except under special circumstances. The author’s sample letters are an excellent tool. The only advice I have concerns his specific reference to legal codes and laws both in stating the case and demanding relief. A concise, direct approach to the problem and the remedies sought may be adequate in some cases.

The IRS Problem Solver should be considered a versatile textbook useful for isolating narrow areas of interest. It may even be essential reading for those who file for others. It is one thing having to slog through filling out tax forms and learning arcane tax law. It is quite another understanding what it is like if you are audited, receive a tax letter, file incorrectly, or do not bother to file. The author’s example of a tax filer willing to back his client’s claims but incapable of communicating with the IRS could probably have been prevented through use of this book.

When it comes to finance and taxes, nothing beats “self reliance.” Tax professionals are costly, and you are still ultimately responsible for your own well-being. If you can understand this relatively simple exposition about the IRS and its peculiarities, why not file your own taxes? While it may be impossible for small and medium-sized business owners to do their own taxes, there is a chapter in the book devoted to preparing them for IRS scrutiny.

The most useful aspect of the book is its ability to teach what is expected by a particular type of communication from the IRS. It follows a likely progression from what to expect to how to respond. The author’s main point is not to be afraid.

The IRS Problem Solver also includes chapters addressing marital and divorce financial problems, handling tax audits, and negotiating with the IRS when a levy is unavoidable. The author offers strategic advice for “insulating” oneself from the IRS. He examines the culture of the IRS as it moves into the twenty-first century.

This makes Daniel J. Pilla’s eleventh publication on taxpayers’ rights a timely reference book for any taxpayer’s library. It is also, I would guess, why he is probably working on number twelve.

Duane Young is a soon-to-retire payroll accountant with the American Farm Bureau Federation in Park Ridge, Illinois. He has more than 23 years of experience in business and personal tax matters with AFBF.