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Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pennsylvania's Orwellian Tax Amnesty Commercial

(Hat Tip: Ann Murphy.)

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2010/05/pennsylvanias-.html

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In case you ever thought the government was on your side, this creepy Pennsylvania Dept. of Revenue ad should cure... [Read More]

Tracked on May 3, 2010 11:16:28 AM

Comments

I wonder if that's an actual house with an actual owner who isn't "Tom". Because if it were mine, and if even a syllable of that commercial were provable untrue I'd sue the pants off everyone involved in that horrid thing.

Posted by: Scorpius | May 4, 2010 3:57:11 PM

I live in Pennsylvania. Why have I not seen this ad?

Posted by: Eowyn | May 4, 2010 4:20:15 PM

Who is this "Tom" they're talking about in the commercial? Don't they mean "Tim"? Oh wait, I forgot. Tim is not subject to tax law.

Posted by: Willy | May 4, 2010 4:25:26 PM

Posted on this as well:
http://withouteyes.com/2010/05/04/we-know-where-you-live/

Posted by: withouteyes | May 4, 2010 4:26:53 PM

My parents live in PA. My father got a rather threatening letter from the state saying he owed PA money (I forget how much), and then talked about the amnesty program. My dad couldn't figure it out, and he has all his old tax forms. He didn't think he owed PA anything. So he called the number on the letter and couldn't get anybody. So he had a lawyer he knows call. He got through. He then told my dad that he owes PA absolutely nothing, that they're just sending these letters out to scare people.

So basically PA is running a scam where they combine this ad with a threatening letter and probably hope you'll just send it in. Not everyone can afford a CPA or a lawyer. Also, some guy on AR15.com got the same threatening letter from PA saying he owed the state $00.02. As I've been reading on the internet I keep coming across more and more examples of people who just randomly got threatening letters despite owing NOTHING.

In other words, this ad is only half of it.

Posted by: Spade | May 4, 2010 5:02:00 PM

Tom?!!? Don't they mean Tim...as in Tim Geithner?

Posted by: Diggs | May 4, 2010 5:29:28 PM

Is this supposed to be cute? IT MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL. "Remember, you bunch of of Proles, Big Brother REALLY IS watching you." But then again, I live in a state which doesn't have a State Income Tax, so I don't have to worry about jack booted thugs, unless they're from the central government.

Posted by: Matt Groom | May 4, 2010 6:41:22 PM


A woman I know was controler for a company in Texas and the folks in Pa tried to set her up. The lady in Texas did the old your name, office number,your supervisor thing. Pa persisted in demanding documents so the lady said that the matter was under review by the company's legal counsel as well as the State of Texas.The lady in Texas then sent an email to Pa telling them to put the whole thing in writing and signed by a person in authority so that she could advise counsel exactly what the fishing expedition was about. The company had no employee's in Pa nor any physical presence,however the Pa tax person said if they sold any thing in Pa that was a tax presence. When told this story I said we ought to impound all Penna plated cars we found in parking lots at the Univ of Texas and hold em until the kids bought in state plates.Driving on a Texas highway is a taxable presence and you need to buy plates.(Hell with the interstate clause it is the Republic of Texas.) My friend jokingly told the dweebe in Pa that any stuff found from Pa would be taxed in Texas just blew the woman's little mind. Been over two years and last we know no letter has been sent.I guess tag em or tow em was a good policy.
.

Posted by: Col. Reed | May 4, 2010 7:00:07 PM

At least they're being honest about being big brother and announcing their seriousness about taking your money.

Posted by: Ken | May 4, 2010 7:24:48 PM

My roommate received a letter from pay-to-play law firm hired by Pa stating he owes zero and demanding 13 cents interest on that balance.

Posted by: Ernie | May 4, 2010 8:10:27 PM

I found Tom's house. They didn't use a fake map. I just pulled up Google Earth and the video while comparing landmarks. It's a real house.

Posted by: Ralph | May 4, 2010 9:50:11 PM

Welcome to Pennsylvania, comrade.

Posted by: Paul | May 5, 2010 5:58:38 AM

Sounds like a civil RICO suit to me--this is the sort of shakedown on a smaller scale that got Traficant sent up for seven years (max is 20 per count under RICO). Or a civil rights one ("whosoever deprives one wrongfully of life, liberty, or property under color of law..."). Enterprising trial lawyers, get to it!

Posted by: Robineus | May 5, 2010 5:58:45 AM

I last lived in PA in 2001. A letter from a law firm hired by the state showed up stating that I owed the state $.06. First I've heard of this "debt" in 9 years. Of course no one answers the phone at either the law office or the State Dept. of Revenue.

Posted by: curt | May 5, 2010 6:25:07 AM

I got a letter from the PA Dept of Revenue claiming they'd never received my 2004 return (filed in 2005).

I called them and told them I only retain tax records for three years, not five, and thus couldn't send them a copy of the return.

Not their problem, they said. Re-create it.

Well, it turns out my employer doesn't retain five-year-old W2s, and IRS doesn't retain returns that old either.

I called PA back, advised them of the foregoing and pointed out that I'd have no reason not to file as my PA tax liability is always outweighed by taxes paid to NY, where I work. I also pointed out that this would have been a lot easier to rectify if they'd written me one, two or even three years after allegedly not receiving the return, as I (and IRS, and my employer) all would have had the necessary documents at that point.

Not their problem, they said. Just figure it out. I'm afraid I'm going to get assessed on my entire gross income, as I can't establish either my deductions or the tax withheld in NY. (I've contacted NY to get a copy of the 2004 return; no word yet on whether they have records that old).

Looks like PA has come up with a novel way to plug the budget deficit. Wait 'til taxpayers discard their records, claim the return has never been filed, and then assess the taxpayer on his/her entire gross income.

Posted by: Anonynous | May 5, 2010 8:30:17 AM

My name is Tom and I will not pay my back taxes after seeing this advertisement. If anything, this will create a thinking process where tax evaders, who have this weight on their mind every second of every day, will decide NOT to pay their taxes. This ad is getting the wrong type of publicity - and yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity.

Posted by: Tom | May 6, 2010 8:04:07 AM

The Pa Revenue people have confirmed that Tom's house is not real. The last few seconds of the ad's zoom-in are animated, and fake.

Posted by: Mike | May 6, 2010 9:24:27 AM

This is UNFRIGGINGBELIEVABLE!! Sounds like a GD commercial for the MAFIA! (Which, of course, it IS.) Two words come to my mind. Over and throw.

Posted by: kathy | May 6, 2010 12:03:01 PM

HAHA! Well, the actual house is fake, but, I located it. It is in New Cumberland. The neighborhood, street, and house location are accurate. The house is not exactly like that though.

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2010 7:11:26 PM