NYC accountant for tax delinquent?
August 30, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I have several years of un-filed taxes. I'm in NYC. I've been, mostly, a freelancer. Things are getting scary. I need an understanding, skilled, non-judgmental accountant.

I've been hiding from the taxman for the last few years, hoping that when my income finally got a little more robust, I would take care of it. I'm still poor-ish, but the notices I'm getting seem too urgent to ignore.

For most of the period in question, I've been an editorial freelancer, working at home. I want to bring all my paperwork to someone who will make it all OK. Any kind of money-related thing makes my stomach hurt. I want to go to someone who won't make me feel worse than I already do. If that person can cut down the amount that the state and the feds claim I now owe, even better. But mostly, I just want someone who's seen people like me before. I'm willing to pay whatever fees are necessary, of course.

Anywhere in the five boroughs. If you don't want to post, you can contact me at

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a suggestion for you, but consider that tax accountants are not meant to be therapists. If money-related issues are causing you such problems, perhaps the best strategy for you is to address those issues with a therapist and just let an accountant focus on his job, which is to fill out a tax return based on the information you give him. I suspect that you will be disappointed if you approach finding an accountant on the assumption that one will be equipped to empathize with you.
posted by dfriedman at 7:22 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Accounts tend to be non-judgmental. Ask your friends/colleagues for recommendations of accountants with experience working with freelancers. Stop freaking out. There are payment plans. You'll be fine.
posted by amanda at 7:26 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I need an understanding, skilled, non-judgmental accountant.

Most accountants aren't "judgmental" in the way you seem to be worried about. They tend not to give a damn why your finances are the way they are, they just want to help you fix them.

But no: accountants are not therapists. Getting an accountant will not help your stomach hurt any less unless you've got money to fix this problem. And they aren't going to work for free, I can tell you that for true.
posted by valkyryn at 7:32 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, accountants aren't therapists, but they do know all about people's money situations and most have them have seen all kinds of disorganization, not paying, etc. I've never not paid taxes, but I did start going to an accountant when I was freelancing because the paperwork freaked me out.
posted by sweetkid at 7:32 AM on August 30, 2012

Also, the taxes that would take me hours of stress and double checking and "oh no what does that mean" just because I stress about this kind of stuff take my accountant like half an hour to do.

I'm in NY, I'll email you.
posted by sweetkid at 7:33 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

My accountant deals with freelancers all the time and he never gives me grief when I'm late with stuff. He'd be able to take care of all of it easily. I'll email you his contact info.
posted by bedhead at 7:43 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Make sure you take care of this ASAP. The stress you are under thinking about it will vanish once this is all over, and an accountant will make that happen. Also, the longer you wait, the worse things are going to get, because there will be interest and other fees on top of what you already owe. There is absolutely no upside to postponing this, so take care of it as fast as you can.
posted by markblasco at 7:48 AM on August 30, 2012

You can go to the IRS main office on Broadway and Reade and ask for a printout of their records on you. These get finalized a year after the tax year. This way you will have all the info on record for these previous years to help you check the accuracy of your filing. It's better to use their numbers if yours are slightly different.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:50 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can highly recommend Shelly Jacobsen at SJ Tax Assoc on 19th Street; she was once an IRS audit manager and really knows how to deal with them, and also is nice and funny. She and her team have been doing my taxes and those of my small business for many years, and they're very efficient and on top of things.

On the larger topic: the IRS is really not there to make your life hell; they're there to get as much tax money in as possible, but they know that some is better than none and eventually is better than never, so they'll offer you a manageable payment arrangement, and you can put this behind you.
posted by nicwolff at 7:53 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

Nthing that an accountant is in all likelihood not going to sternly look over their glasses and call you a bad person. Your situation feels bad to you and you feel guilty over it, but in all likelihood they have seen much worse. You have a manageable problem and they are a professional whose job it is to help you manage it.
posted by gauche at 8:01 AM on August 30, 2012

It's good you've taken your head out of the sand. Taxes are part of life and you need to deal with your situation. The one thing about ignoring your taxes that I know is true: The situation never gets better by ignoring it.

As others upthread have pointed out, accountants have no emotions invested in your financial situation. They are professionals that you pay to file forms for you. That's it.

Besides, at this juncture, even if you did get an accountant who judged you, you STILL need to take care of this.

Put your big-kid pants on, suck it up, and make an appointment.

You can do this. You don't really have a choice.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:02 AM on August 30, 2012

I freelanced, and I had years of unpaid taxes. Then I got a letter from the IRS saying I owed $1.5M. It was a mistake, but they didn't know that, and they were going to begin trying to collect unless I straightened things out.

Once I went to an accountant I was surprised at how easy and quick it all was. The real obstacle was my feelings about money, and one thing that helped with that was Debtors Anonymous. It helped to hear other people, often creative and successful people, talk about the same sorts of issues I was dealing with, and to get their support--both emotional and practical, as in "let's meet at the library and work on a year of taxes together."
posted by jjwiseman at 8:06 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

You shouldn't worry. I was in a similar situation and managed to get on a payment plan with the IRS. The IRS just wants its money, not to jail you.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:24 AM on August 30, 2012


This always sounds worse then it is. I can't recommend a NY accountant (could here in SF!), but here's what should happen.

1. Get an accountant. Have her file all your past year's taxes. They should go through and be able to relieve some of your tax burden through finding deductions etc. This will get you to a point where you know what you owe. Its very likely this number is way less then you think. Also you're not unique. This is relatively common, and I've not met an accountant or tax preparer who'd give you crap for not filing. They'll just do your job and go from there.

2. You now have an amount you owe the gov't and you need to get it repaid. Here's the surprising part. The IRS is actually pretty cool about this. Honestly when I had back taxes their biggest concern is that they get paid at some point. They honestly have very little interest in punishing you, it really does nobody any good. They can get you on a plan thats manageable for your income. Only if you have some massive debt owed (high 5 or low 6 figures) would you want to look into getting a tax accountant or someone who can help you find ways to relieve this without paying the full amount.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:28 AM on August 30, 2012

Excellent NY "old school" quiet & confident CPA = immediate stomach pain remedy.

Such are much more than therapists, they are outright healers. Older, classic small office, with a floor that creaks, barely a website, mid or downtown NY - that's what you seek.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:38 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use Korjé. Her website is sort of hilariously bad and filled with stock photos of white dude in suits, but she is great. My taxes aren't very complicated, but she was recommended to me by several freelancers who adore her.
posted by (Over) Thinking at 9:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Every CPA has seen this and worse. No judging is going to happen.

You may be best served by finding an accountant that is also an IRS Enrolled Agent, because those folks are very familiar with the process for delinquent tax filings.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:40 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was in this same situation years ago in upstate NY. They have seen way way worse than you. You will barely register on the radar of delinquent clients, believe me. Better to direct your energy to immediately 1) understanding what you owe and 2) paying or arranging to pay it off. Also, the accountant is likely to cost a few hundred or more.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 9:48 AM on August 30, 2012

Oh yeah, ditto to everyone. I have been in hot water more times that I care to mention, accountants are problem solvers, they are not your grade one schoolteacher. They just don't care about you got into your situation, and the ones I have met I have never even raised an eyebrow. Same with the IRS. They don't care either, you just give them what they want and they go away. The letters may look scary, but they aren't.
posted by nanook at 11:17 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

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