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Guest post – Dear Translator: Please pay your taxes! June 2, 2014

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

Hello, all:

I started as a translator and interpreter and now run an agency based in Arlington that serves nonprofits and mission-driven organizations exclusively.

Today I received a rather thick envelope from the IRS. Apparently, a translator who I used fairly frequently between 2005 and 2010 and for whom I submitted 1099-MISCs, had not paid some (or all) of his taxes and the IRS was approaching all those companies who had sent him work in order to levy his earnings.

This translator owed around $40,000 in taxes, but the IRS is not to be messed with: penalties added another $60,000 onto the total and he now needed to pay back over $100,000.

The IRS wanted to know if I had any pending payments for him, and if so, I had to send that money their way, and not to him.

However, here is the most alarming thing: THIS TRANSLATOR PASSED AWAY A YEAR AGO.

His estate probably has no money, and the IRS wants theirs, so they’re probably hoping that there are some monies still owed him that they could take. I don’t know, and I’m certainly not a tax professional, but that’s what I assume is happening.

Moral of the story?

Please, translators, PAY YOUR TAXES. Pay ALL of them. Pay them PROMPTLY. Don’t try any funny stuff. The IRS *will* get you (or your heirs), even after you’re deceased.

Thanks for listening!
Sandra Alboum

Sandra Alboum runs an agency that serves nonprofits and mission driven organizations exclusively, is a two-time jeopardy champion, and an amateur gourmet chef and professional mother of two. She sent this post to the ATA Business Practices listserv, and I felt it was worth reposting to a wider audience.

Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes. And as you can see your taxes may live on even after death. Be sure to pay yours and to report all of your income!!



1. vertejas13 - June 2, 2014

Not all of us live in USA. Americans rarely start their posts by saying “If you live in USA…”,

Jill (@bonnjill) - June 2, 2014

Yes, but every country has its own tax office. Whether you are in the U.S. or elsewhere this is kind of universal.

2. patenttranslator - June 2, 2014

I also knew a translator who did not pay his taxes.

This was about 25 years ago in San Francisco, his name was Jim. I could not believe it when he told me that himself.

Then we found out that he had a good reason to think that he would get away with it – he had AIDS and he died about 2 years later.

Just about the only time when you can completely ignore taxes is when you know that you will check out pretty soon – as long as you don’t have an estate and family or children who hope to inherit it, because if you do, the IRS will come after them.

Of course, the other time when you don’t have to pay taxes is when you are a corporation like Apple or GE, because these corporations paid enough money to the Ds and Rs to vote for a law that says that these companies can keep their money abroad without paying a cent in taxes.

So it’s perfectly legal for them to keep money stashed away in the Caymans without paying a dime in taxes, but not for us.

3. Jill (@bonnjill) - June 2, 2014

Not to mention that this is a lot of work for your clients to dig through records and try to prove to the IRS that they filed properly and that there are no outstanding payments pending.

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