Seemingly intractable messes
If there is one thing that lights up our sky, it is the prospect of untangling a giant ball of trouble. When someone goes “Ugh” just thinking about a problem, our eyes collectively gleam (especially Debra’s). “Fun!”
You know what these are. You sit down with a headache and a piece of paper. You start to list the things you need to do. And you know you have a train wreck in progress. No more delay. As you start to think, you discover you have to fix Problem Number 1 in order to fix Problem Number 2. But then you look at Problem Number 2 and realize that its solution will change Problem Number 1.
Big, recursive hairballs. Ugh. We love ‘em.
- Mountains of stuff. “Stuff” is a technical term we use to describe unsorted, disorganized, unintelligible data. Look at it. Ask yourself “What is this?” and stare at it until you can answer the question out loud. Ask yourself “Is there an action that must be taken?” Make a decision.
- Financial accounting smoldering in ruins. Where’s the debit for this credit? Why is this expense being treated like a liability? We recently rebuilt the accounting system of a corporate structure with high eight-figure balance sheets. From scratch. With an audit opinion letter at the end to prove we did it right.
- Code wrangling. The Internal Revenue Code. Not the easy stuff. The hard stuff, where you start at Section 61 and ask “is it income?” The hard stuff, where you have to start with “Who is the taxpayer?” Paddle your canoe through backwaters of the Treasury Regulations. End with “Yes,” “No,” or “Unclear and this is exactly why, and here are your choices.”
- Legal analysis. How, exactly, does this Declaration of Trust from the Isle of Man map to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code? If we need a ruling from a judge, what is likely to happen? Who are the true owners of this spaghetti-field of corporations, trusts, and joint ventures and how do they split the money and the power?
- The tax returns themselves. “Remember–tax returns are how you talk to the government about money.” A good friend (and amazingly skilled international tax accountant, highly under-appreciated at a certain Big 4 accounting firm) said that to Phil a year or so ago. Why do tax lawyers so often take a hands-off, “not my department” approach to the tax returns? We don’t see it that way.
One of our clients described it best: “OCD as a tool, not as a way of life.” Precisely.
OCD is a tool we use to get things done. You will quickly learn our personalities are far afield from that–we are all normal. (Some of us are a bit more normal than the others, but, well, that’s normal.) There is a visceral satisfaction that comes from deriving order from chaos. We all joke about enjoying this feeling. But there is reality behind the joke.
If you are lucky, you will deal with the hairball before the government becomes interested in you. Find and fix the problems. Get your tax paperwork in order. Create a system so things don’t go off the rails again.
Sometimes, however, all of this will play out under the alert gaze of an IRS Revenue Agent. We are at ease in that arena.
If you think you’ll go to jail for tax evasion, we are not the law firm for you. We will refer you to someone who can do the job.
If, however, the outcome of your audit depends on mastery of the Code and the willingness to get the facts straight, you will want us at your side. High stakes, high complexity, high chaos. Bring it on.