Should we appeal the decision to pay mom's back taxes?

1 answer | Last updated: Jul 16, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother in law previously had a bad Power of Attorney (her daughter) whole stole her mom's money and is now in prison incidentally. She didn't pay Mom's 2004 taxes, causing the new POA (my husband / her son) to deal with an IRS audit, who recently asked for 9,000 dollars. Mom only has under 3,000 in the bank, and is in nursing home on Medicaid. What do you think - should we use appeal? Should we try going to their independent advocate service? It is described as "an independent organization within the IRS whose employees assist taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm, who are seeking help in resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal channels, or who believe that an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should." My husband thinks we should bite the bullet and pay her taxes but since we don't have any money to spare I say we fight it.

Thank you, we have no experience, Debbie and Jack

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

It definitely makes sense for your husband, on behalf of his mother to appeal the decision.  It probably does not make sense to expend what little money your mother has on professional representation by an accountant or lawyer at this point.  If you are unable to resolve the situation on your own, you may wish to utilize the independent advocate service.  You may wish to consider filing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit against the person who stole your mother- in-law's money, but if there is little chance of getting any money to compensate your mother-in-law for her loss, there would be little reason to file a civil lawsuit.  You may still want to file a criminal complaint to at least go on record that the reason for being unable to pay income taxes is that your mother-in-law's money was stolen.  This may help in your negotiations with the IRS.