The current president of the United States has a major reputation for the way he practices the art of the deal. He even has a book by that title. In it, Donald Trump offers a list of tactics that he says have stood him in good stead at various bargaining tables. These include such tips as:
- Think big
- Keep all options open
- Fight back against being taken advantage of
- Use your leverage
Whether these strategies have proven useful in the course of his interactions with the IRS is something we do not know. The president won’t release his tax records, saying they are under IRS audit. We can’t even be sure where in the process his case may be, whether he is facing some significant penalties over unpaid taxes, trying to negotiate terms to resolve outstanding issues, or defending against some alleged infraction.
Negotiation power depends on being able to walk away
The art of negotiation can seem scary to many, but the objective of the task is always the same, coming to an agreement on a deal that both sides can live with. How this plays out in the context of discussions with the IRS often is a little different. That’s because one of the realities of true negotiation is that a key to holding a power position is having the ability to walk away from the talks.
That’s typically an untenable situation when the IRS or state tax collector is the entity across the table from you. Rather, those with experience in this area of law appreciate that the stage is best set by being appropriately responsive when tax disputes surface. Call it a show of good faith.
If an outstanding tax debt does exist, it may not be possible to eliminate it. With help from a qualified attorney, however, it may be possible to discover circumstances that allow for negotiating terms that reduce the liability significantly.