I certainly understand your angst, but I think it is highly unlikely that a CPA, and most attorneys who do not practice bankruptcy law for that matter, would have any clue that a pending Chapter 13 would affect their tax efforts.
I have CPA's call me all the time asking the most basic
questions about bankruptcy, and I even have attorneys call me almost weekly asking basic bankruptcy questions.
So, while I understand that many consumers assume all professional persons should know all legal/tax issues, the truth is that people learn their area and often rely on other professionals to guide them in other areas. I have clients in bankruptcy cases who ask me about taxes
, and I usually have to refer them to CPA's or tax attorneys since my tax knowledge is weak.
And, even if you still feel she should have been knowledgeable about bankruptcy law, her work was still not necessarily in vain: if you were audited, then just because you are in bankruptcy does not mean that the IRS cannot change its Proof of Claim
amount based on the results of that audit. In other words, the Chapter 13 does not necessarily mean the IRS cannot audit you, so if the accountant kept you from being hit with additional tax liability, then it is still money well spent on your part. The assertion that the IRS cannot collect from you is only partially accurate; they can still file a claim for the taxes, they just may not be able to collect from you outside of the bankruptcy case (if that makes sense). And, if the CPA's efforts kept that claim from being as high as it might have been, this may still be beneficial to you.
However, I would think your attorney would be aware if the taxes were old enough to be dischargeable and would have pointed that out. However, despite the dischargeability of the tax liability, I believe the IRS can still try to establish an accurate amount of old liability so their Proof of Claim in your Chapter 13 case is accurate since they may recover some portion of their unsecured, dischargeable claims as a general unsecured creditor.
One thing that might be a good idea is to advise your attorney (if you can get ahold of her!) to let her know that you have post-petition
administrative expenses (i.e. the $1,500 you owe the accountant) and you need to schedule it to be paid through the Chapter 13 Plan (if circumstances warrant, and if your jurisdiction allows this type of Plan provision). This way, your Plan payment amount may go up a little, but then the accountant will get paid without your having to come up with $1,500.00. Plus, if there is a lot of money going to unsecured creditors, you may be able to get the accountant paid through the Plan without it costing you the whole $1,500.00 since there may be some money in the Plan for general unsecured creditors which can be diverted to the accountant.
If the IRS knew you were in bankruptcy, then they should have contacted your attorney about the audit. If they didn't know about the bankruptcy, and there is liability owed after the audit, you also may want to amend your schedules and add them.
Again, I understand you are angry regarding the $1,500.00, but if the IRS would not have audited you had they known you were in Chapter 13, then it is the IRS's fault if they were listed as a creditor, so you should discuss this with your attorney.
I'm sorry to disagree with your assertion, but I thought you would appreciate an honest, unbiased assessment rather than someone just telling you what you wanted to hear but would not come to fruition in my opinion.
Please let me know if you have more follow up questions!
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