IRS tries to collect 4-cents in back taxes at car wash

We all know that times are tough. As a result, the IRS has made collections -- and audits -- a priority in an effort to put more revenue in the Treasury.

How much of a priority? So much so that the IRS sent a couple of agents to Harv's Metro Carwash in Sacramento, California, to collect back taxes ... of 4 cents.

According to the owner, Aaron Zeff, the IRS agents showed up last week demanding payment. When Zeff took a look at the letter, he noted the amount: "I looked at the letter and I couldn't believe what I saw. The number was astonishing. Four cents."

Of course, that was the original amount owed. Over time, together with failure to file penalties and interest, the amount at issue had grown to $202.35. And the IRS wanted to be paid.

According to Zeff's attorney, Ashley West, Zeff knew nothing about the back taxes. West claims that they only learned about the delinquent debt this week.

Zeff claims that he had notice that he owed nothing as of last year. He says, "I have a letter from the IRS just from October of (last) year, stating that my returns have been filed and my tax balance is zero."

Of course, Zeff's experience is far from normal. In the large majority of cases, the IRS doesn't show up on your doorstep. In most cases, if you owe money to the IRS, you'll receive a notice advising you of the amount and your right to appeal. If you ignore the notice, the IRS may take further steps to collect, including placing a lien on your real property or garnishing your wages.

What exactly inspired the IRS to stop by Harv's hasn't been made public. The IRS doesn't comment on private collection matters. But Zeff has his own idea: "The good men and women of the IRS said, 'Let's go down to Harv's car wash and get our car washed.' "

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