Too Poor to Survive, Rich Enough for Tax Audit?

The IRS auditor pursuing Porcaro's case "flat out said she was looking into them because of me," Porcaro said. "It was just a vicious cycle."

Robert Porcaro, Rachel Porcaro's father, said he has been audited before, both personally and through his 30-year-old painting business. But this, he said, was different. Among the records Robert Porcaro and his wife were asked to provide: blueprints of his Seattle home showing where his granchildren, Rachel Porcaro's children, live.

"It's just been a real nightmare," he said. "I got the sense that they had somebody in their grips that they were going to make an example of."

The 59-year-old said that, fortunately for him, the IRS's audit ultimately found that he didn't owe anything more. In fact, it was just the opposite: The audit determined that government owed Porcaro some $200.

That was cold comfort to the Seattle man, however: His accounting fees totaled $2,000.

Rachel Porcaro's accounting bill is even higher -- $8,000. Driver said he is working to recover that fee from the IRS itself.

Porcaro said she continues to be grateful for her parents' help. She found Driver, she said, through the help of her father, who uses Driver's firm, G.A. Michael and Company, for his painting business.

She said she wonders what happens to others like her who don't have the means to "lawyer up."

"If I didn't have my family's support, I would have tossed my hands up," she said. "I wouldn't have been able to prove to them anything on my own."

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