Putting the ax to tax: Attorney goes to bat for clients against the IRS

prev
next

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

The first client that tax attorney Venar Ayar represented before the IRS was a well respected, highly paid CPA and partner at a big accounting firm, who had represented himself in an audit — landing a $300,000 tax bill.

“He came to us desperate, and our job was to do as much damage control as possible, given the mess he had created,” Ayar said. “It took hard work and intense arguments with the auditor, but my client walked away with more than $200,000 in refunds. 

“The half a million dollar swing was because I found a loophole in the tax code applying to people who own rental properties that have been foreclosed on,” he said. “Since then, I’ve represented many others in similar circumstances and have always gotten significant refunds by taking advantage of this loophole.”

Not every case is that dramatic, but whatever the tax problem, Ayar and his team at Ayar Law Group in Southfield specialize in handling it.

“I defend taxpayers against the IRS,” he said. “I’ve always been, and will always be on the right team — defending the little guys against the government.”

Some people think the IRS is too slow or doesn’t care enough to come after them, notes Ayar, who has seen people do ridiculous things on tax returns, confident they would never get audited and caught. 

One client, making more than $200,000 per year, claimed less than $25,000 on his tax return every year.

“He was paying more in mortgage interest than he claimed he earned every year,” said Ayar. “It didn’t take long for his returns to be selected for audit, and wasn’t hard for the auditor to figure out what was going on. Now that client is likely to get charged with tax fraud and will very likely end up in federal prison.”

Another client who owed more than $400,000 in back taxes had previously hired a CPA firm whose offer of $100,000 to settle was rejected. The man hired another tax attorney to appeal, and lost.

“He turned to me in desperation, his last shot at ever resolving his debt,” said Ayar, who told the man the rejection was the best thing that could have happened since the whole thing had been done incorrectly. Convincing the man to give it another shot, Ayar got the entire debt settled for under $25,000. 

“I saved him over 75 percent off what the last guy wanted to settle for but couldn’t, and almost 95 percent off what he owed the IRS on the day he hired me,” he said,

In another case, a business owner making about $150,000 a year in cash was depositing it into his personal bank account and not reporting it. 

“When his returns were selected for audit, things weren’t looking so good for him,” Ayar said. “For self-employed people, the first thing the IRS usually looks at is bank statements to add up deposits, and compare that to what they claim on their tax return. This guy was going to be screwed once that happened and probably land in prison.”

Getting the auditor chatting, Ayar learned the man was unhappy with his IRS job — and dangled the possibility of him eventually joining his firm. 

“He got so wrapped up talking to me about his employment prospects that he completely forgot to look at my client’s personal savings account statements, and didn’t catch on to any of the underreporting,” Ayar said. “My guy got off scot-free.”

With results like this, it’s no surprise that Ayar has achieved recognition as one of Detroit's leading authorities in tax law, attaining the highest possible rating by Martindale-Hubbell for the past three years, and last year being recognized as a Top Lawyer by DBusiness magazine and as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers.

A member of the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers and of American MENSA, Ayar is a member of the State Bar of Michigan-Taxation Section; Oakland County, Macomb County, Detroit Metropolitan and Chaldean American Bar Associations; as well as both the Chaldean and the Southfield Chambers of Commerce.

According to Ayar, many out-of-state tax resolution firms that advertise aggressively are known for charging high up-front fees, but not doing the work clients hire them for. 

“I have many clients who have been ripped off in the past, sometimes twice, before hiring me to fix their problems,” he said. “It’s important to know who is representing you. Usually, that means stick with someone local, and preferably an attorney because lawyers are subject to strict ethical rules and are governed by the State Bar Association. Lawyers are less likely to run off with your money because they run the risk of losing their law license if they do.”

Another mistake is using your tax preparer to defend in an audit, especially when there are serious mistakes.

“There’s an inherent conflict of interest, especially when the returns are clearly erroneous,” Ayar said. “The CPAs often approach the audit in a manner that makes them look as innocent and competent as possible – this often means sacrificing clients to save their own skin. It’s a lot easier to take the position of ‘blame the preparer’ when the person defending you is not the same person you claim messed up because they are incompetent and/or unethical.”

Ayar warns of a scam involving calls from a Washington, D.C. area code, supposedly from IRS agents telling people they owe back taxes, and must pay immediately — usually by going to a store and loading money onto a prepaid debit card account — or be arrested.

“As you can imagine, these calls scare the hell out of some people, and many fall for it,” Ayar said. “The IRS rarely calls taxpayers on the phone, and when they do, it’s never to demand payment on the spot like that. If you get a call like that, hang up and don’t call back.” 

Ayar, who earned his juris doctor, cum laude, from the University of San Diego School of Law, had originally planned on becoming a business transactional lawyer.         

“But, when I took my first tax class, I was hooked and couldn’t get enough of it,” he said. “The tax code just made sense to me, as crazy as that sounds.” He went on to earn his LLM at the same university.

After hanging out his shingle as a solo practitioner for a few years in Detroit, he worked as a tax attorney with an IRS defense law firm in San Diego, successfully defending criminal tax fraud cases, and resolving tax audit defense, settling debts for back taxes, setting up payment plans, releasing tax liens and levies, and many other tax problems, with anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars at stake.

Returning to Michigan in 2012, he founded Ayar Law Group. The University of Michigan grad brings a unique perspective to his work, having owned or operated several small businesses — including an accounting and tax preparation business, three Detroit-area full-service supermarkets, and a 92-room hotel in Novi.

“I’m in a position to better understand my small business clients’ challenges, both tax and non-tax — for instance, I know what it’s like to run a struggling business and not know whether there would be enough money to cover my employees’ paychecks by payday,” he said. “I’m able to give my clients financial and business advice, not just advice on how to deal with the IRS.  Solving a small business’ tax problems requires me to look at the situation in light of the rest of their business condition — tax problems don’t exist in a vacuum. I often find myself looking through my clients’ financials and helping them figure out where they can shave their budgets to free up enough money to be able to deal with their tax issues.”

The West Bloomfield resident enjoys spending time with family and friends, weight training, U-M football games and giving back to his community. He passionately supports many charities.

While he enjoyed his years in San Diego, the Detroit native is happy to be back home.

“I feel like this city has way more to offer than people give it credit for, and that if we’re ever going to see the Detroit of old again, everybody needs to do their part,” Ayar said.  “For me, that meant coming back home when it was time to open my firm. I’ve been able to create eight much-needed jobs in a little over two years, and am growing fast.  Detroit needs all the help it can get, and every little bit counts.

“Everybody thought I was crazy to come back to Detroit, but nobody outside metro Detroit gets it like we do,” he said. “Detroiters have more pride in their city than any place I’ve been, and I’ve always been the same way. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Comments

  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »