Thursday, October 06, 2005

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide?

(Martha and the Vandellas, 1965. If you care.)

So what do you do if the IRS levies all your income except $158 a week, and you can’t live on that?

Well, most of you out there who read this are married with family responsibilities. That complicates matters, but it also presents the opportunity for your spouse to go to work, or take a second job to make ends meet. The IRS can’t levy your spouse’s earnings, unless he/she were a party to your non-payment.

Of course, you would also do whatever you could to reduce your weekly expenses. Like car-pool if possible, eat cheaply, and generally live as frugally as you could. You might even sell some things at a garage sale, or trade in that high-payment car for an older cheaper model.

But what if...

You were single with no dependents? You were renting a cheap place by the month because after your divorce your spouse took most of what you had (including the kids) and left you with just the debts and child-support payments?

And what it your car was already an old clunker? And you couldn’t get out from under your debts because of the tax levy and the court-ordered child support — there wasn’t even enough left to set up any long-term payment plans?

And what if there were no way you could borrow any more to help consolidate debts because your credit was already shot? And the only thing tying you to this geographic area was your good-paying job with great benefits — except that now the IRS gets all of your paycheck so the job won’t seem good-paying no matter HOW much you make?

Finally, what if you thought you knew how to get some counterfeit (fake) ID, including a Social Security card?

Would you be tempted to drive your old clunker quietly out of state, set yourself up with a new job somewhere else, and drop out of "the system?”

Sure, the new job would be entry level and low paying, but you’d take home more than $158 a week and you wouldn’t have to worry about all those debts. You wouldn’t be able to marry without your past coming back to haunt you, but you’re not interested in that right now; you’re consumed with fear and anxiety over your hopeless financial situation.

I’m not saying it would be easy. But it wouldn’t be all that hard, either.

It sure is tempting to my employee (see yesterday’s post). I’ve tried to counsel him that “run and hide” is NOT the best option. We’ve discussed the company’s Employee Assistance Program and other “safety net” agencies and programs available locally that might help. He seems dubious.

We’ll see if he stays, or just doesn’t show up for work one of these days. Ever again.


Christina said...

Tempted? I'd probably be in the next state by now. Especially if the initial failure to pay the taxes was a result of just not being able to make ends meet, as opposed to criminal tax evasion. If all they let me take home was $158 a week no matter how hard I worked or how many hours, I would have a hard time getting motivated to do more than $158 a week's worth of work.

Karyn Lyndon said...

What is the Employee Assistance Program going to do? Get him a therapist?

schnoodlepooh said...

It is not possible to live on $158 per week. Not possible.

Duke_of_Earle said...


Actually our EAP is fairly robust and offers free legal counseling (to a point) and referrals to other agencies and services. This employee, if he stays and toughs it out, may sell everything but his clothes, give up the monthly rent place, and move in to a shelter of sorts for a while. The pro bono lawyers might be able to get him back on a negotiated payment plan allowing more take home pay. The choices aren't good, but the EAP has access to resources I'm not even aware of.