Detroit lawyer wrestles IRS...over nine cents


Many of us know that deep sinking feeling which can occur when we receive an unexpected letter from the Internal Revenue Service. Before we even open that envelope, the ugly questions begin to rise. Did I forget to sign my tax return? Do I owe more than I expected? Am I going to be exposed to a lengthy and expensive audit? One unexpected letter from the IRS can surely change your life -- or at least temporarily dampen your enjoyment of it.

A Detroit lawyer recently received just such an unexpected letter from our friendly national tax collection bureau. In fact, his story, as reported by Detroit Free Press, via, includes two such letters. The amazing thing is that the total amount of a monetary discrepancy which is facing Detroit criminal defense lawyer James Howarth, amounts to a total of nine stinking cents.

First, Attorney Howarth was notified by mail in November of 2008, that he owed the IRS a nickel. He was sternly warned that he must pay that amount or possibly face additional charges. Subsequent to that letter, Howarth received a second letter which indicated that the IRS owes him four cents. However, to recover that refund he must explicitly request it, because it's less than a dollar. At this point, the patient attorney doesn't know for sure exactly how many additional pennies he may owe the IRS, or how many pennies it might owe him.

For now, Attorney Howarth has maintained his sense of humor about the mystery, although he has tried unsuccessfully to ascertain the truth of the matter, utilizing the wonderful IRS toll free call-in system. The only thing which seems to bother the lawyer right now is the foolish waste of time, money, and energy which this snafu shall ultimately end up costing both himself and the taxpayers at large. In examining his options for mitigating the absolute stupidity of this situation, Howarth told Detriot Free Press: "I just don't know. But I do know that if I were to walk into the IRS office with pennies taped to a piece of cardboard, they wouldn't accept it."

Originally published