Cyber-Begging to Pay the IRS

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The idea of cyber-begging isn't new, with the earliest reported cases dating back to 1998. People all over the web are asking for money to finance their divorces, their extravagant desires or, perhaps more worthy, family health crises.

We've even had hits internationally, in Israel, Spain and Canada

Eric Sargent of is emphatic when he says his site is different from the other cyber-begging sites on the web these days.

"We aren't trying to raise money to pay for cosmetic surgery or to buy a sports car. We just want to get this monkey off our back and get on with our lives," says Sargent.

The monkey he refers to is the over $40,000 debt he and his wife, Andrea, owe to the IRS because of a simple (and as they call it, "stupid") mistake they made on their tax returns four years ago.

The mistake occurred when they removed money from a profit sharing plan to finance asbestos cleanup in their home and to finance their move to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"We paid the penalty, but neglected to pay the taxes. We thought they were one in the same," Sargent explains. "We certainly didn't attempt or intend to defraud the government."

Regardless of their intent, it's time to pay the taxman and the family doesn't have the money to do so. Although both are employed, they claim they don't make enough to afford the sizeable installment payments the IRS would require.

So, like many others before them, the Sargents decided to launch a website asking friends and strangers alike to help them out. Less than one week into the launch, they've received over 200 hits and just under $200 in donations.

"We've even had hits internationally, in Israel, Spain and Canada," says Sargent. But we're still about $43,800 shy of our goal," he laughs.

When asked if he truly believes that his site is going to work when many others have failed, Eric Sargent seems determined.

"I believe in the generosity of people," he says. "I would give a dollar to someone in this situation if I could. I'm just asking people to do the same. It can't hurt to ask."


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Eric Sargent
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