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City, Ceres Chamber welcome new tax service
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Welcoming to Ceres on Thursday are: (left to right), City Manager Toby Wells, Redevelopment Manager Steve Hallam, Anna Ortiz, Dana Ferreira of Congressman Jeff Denhams office, Anna Eddings with state Senator Anthony Cannellas office, Juan Montes, city Community Development Director Tom Westbrook, Dovie Wilson of the Ceres Chamber, Vice Mayor Mike Kline, Channce Condit representing Assemblyman Adam Gray and Chamber director David Gonzales. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Chamber and city officials dropped by new business, at 1909 Mitchell Road, Suite D, Ceres, Thursday evening for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Juan Montes said he opened the Ceres business in the summer of 2015 at a different location on Mitchell Road and moved to his current office just south of Fowler Road in December.

The business specializes in tax preparation, tax debt resolution, audit representation, tax planning and consulting.

Montes commutes from San Jose where he has an office. He also has an office in Sacramento and in Livingston. He had an office in downtown Modesto before relocating it to Ceres.

In the tax business for nine years, Montes shifted the focus of his business two years ago to tax debt resolution for people who owe significant sums of taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Now a licensed enrolled agent, he explained that the qualification criteria is "fairly narrow" and takes into consideration a person's ability to pay.

"Definitely not everyone qualifies," he said. "They're not so concerned with what caused the problem. They're more concerned with going forward what can happen."

While there is a lot of competition in Ceres for tax preparation, being familiar with the IRA, Montes said, sets him apart.

"I think what differentiates me is I do a lot of audit defense, the tax debt resolution, negotiating installment agreements , things like that, so I have a lot of experience in how the IRS views a tax return. So if you come to me to prepare your return and we're putting together the numbers and you've done the bookkeeping and all the number crunching, I have firsthand experience with how the IRS would scrutinize all of your expenses in the event of an audit."

In a recent case he handled, a couple owed over $350,000 and the IRS settled for $4,190. Another gentleman he worked with owed $156,000 and settled for $5,300.

In 2012, Congress passed the Fresh Start Initiative which made qualifying easier for an offer and compromise. "What it entails is showing and demonstrating what your ability to pay is and they look at your current income and your foreseeable income is and they also look at what your assets are."

He said the IRS doesn't think it makes to clean out someone's retirement account if it means they will run out of money and be forced to rely on public assistance later.

Typically resolution cases must be paid off in two years.

In explaining the name of his business, Montes said he wanted something people would remember and "a way to find me because everyone has a smart phone."

The business is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment and can be reached at (209) 800-2850.