Written by: Ashleigh D. Noda, Esq.
I received a case for a 2012 Schedule A correspondence audit. When I called the members, the wife answered and told me that her husband was the one that prepared the return, and usually handles all the tax matters, but she was going to be the primary contact because he was ill.
The process was long and arduous, as the members had to get their documents from the CPA, the husband had to translate his notes for his wife and she had to then get them to me with an explanation. There were quite a few delays in getting the documents and I found out later that among other things her husband was having numerous visits to the hospital, emergency surgeries and she had fallen and broken her arm.
Once I received the documents I noticed that the members had received another notice for the 2013 tax year as well. While awaiting the IRS reply for 2012 and requesting documents for 2013, the member’s husband passed away. I felt terrible knowing that the audit wasn’t going away. I had to get a new Power of Attorney, request the death certificate and a copy of his will. Plus, she still needed to provide documentation for the 2013 audit. I had to continue to follow up with her during this difficult time, as we had already been given an extension deadline which was coming up.
We finally received the exam report for 2012 that had a penalty included of $1,340.20. I prepared a penalty abatement request, explaining that her husband had passed away during this audit and he was the one that handled their tax matters. It wasn’t much compared to the $6,700 tax bill, but unfortunately based on the documentation provided, it was the only item we were able to dispute. We sent out the 2013 response and I told the member that she was probably looking at another $6,600 for 2013, but I would request the penalty be removed as well.
During this time, despite the unfortunate passing of the member’s husband, she was consistently upbeat, responsive and somehow maintained the “look on the bright side” demeanor. I had hoped that I could at least help ease the impact just a little with the penalty abatement.
A few weeks later, we received a new notice for 2012 which removed the penalty. When I called the member, she was so appreciative and she told me that she had also just completed her 2015 return and purchased our membership again and explained we were “stuck with her for another year.” She relayed to me how helpful Taxaudit.com had been throughout the process and how thankful she was that while she had to prepare for the funeral and take care of her husband’s estate matters, she didn’t have to worry about the audit because of our assistance.
In the beginning of this month, we received a no change letter for the 2013 audit (for which documents were admittedly weak, since we did not have the husband’s documents for a majority of the medical expenses and miscellaneous items). I was happy to share the news with the member, who was shocked when I explained what “no change” meant and jokingly wished that we did not have to work together again for 2014.
As I reflected on this story I thought, I did not do anything extremely special for this member and it was how I would have handled any other member’s case ─ I was just more invested. Everyone at Taxaudit.com may be able to relate to the fact that we always try our best for all our members, no matter what their situation is. The only difference is, some send us home with the warm fuzzy feeling at the end of the day.