IRS Notice Stuns Lawyer: 'You Owe Us a Penny'

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2009 1:10 PM CST
An income tax return.   (Index Open)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Washington may be loaning billions to automakers, but a Detroit lawyer? He has to pay an IRS bill of 5 cents, the Detroit Free Press reports. James Howarth was busy tallying the cost of paying his debt—which is "several hundred percent over the nickel," he said—when the IRS sent a second notice saying they owed him 4 cents. Howarth called an 800 line to clear things up, but hung up after "an inordinate amount of time on hold."

What's more, he must ask them for the 4 cents because it's less than a dollar. “When I owe them a nickel, I must pay them,” he said. “It's not optional. But when they owe me, I have to ask for it.” The lawyer is reluctant to pay up. “I might apply for a bailout,” he said, though his address could stymie the plan. “For us, there seems to be some sort of stigma.”