Not everyone will one day open their mailbox to find a letter from the IRS, but those who need someone like attorney David B. Greene in their corner.
For the past 20 years, Greene has served clients who run counter to an agency most people would prefer to avoid.
“I’ve always said my best marketing person is the IRS. You send out a threatening letter and then people come to visit me, ”he says.
Sometimes these people are facing an audit. Sometimes they combined one bad decision with another.
David Greene (Photo: Mark Massingill / Ernest Rawlins Photography)
“People come to me and haven’t filed taxes in five or ten years. They didn’t submit a year, were scared, and bury their heads in the sand. Then it’s snowballs, ”said Greene.
Whether customers are facing an exam, haven’t filed their taxes, or haven’t paid their taxes, frightened customers can get help from Greene and his four co-workers at the Greene Law Office at 11 McGee Street near downtown Greenville.
“People say, ‘I can’t sleep at night. I’m afraid they will put me in jail or take my house. ‘I hear that all the time. “
It’s possible, but not likely, says Greene.
“If you owe taxes, it’s not a crime. Hiding and cheating on purpose is the crime, ”he explains. “I try to reassure my clients that the IRS won’t put them in jail. The IRS has no interest in your home. They want some money and are willing to work with us to find a way to pay for it. So that’s what we do.
“A lot of people say, ‘You gave me my life back. ‘I always feel good about that. “
Greene will likely negotiate a payment plan between the customer and the IRS. Sometimes he can convince the IRS to be satisfied with less money than the customer owes. Although settlements are rare, Greene estimates he saved his customers $ 3 million over a two-year period.
“I can’t guarantee anything. I am making that very clear. We are dealing with the IRS. You make the final decision. We just did our best, ”he says.
Greene lived in Greenville until the first year of his life, as did generations of his family. When he and his wife, Jean, married in 1978, they made Greenville their home. Daughter Brittany has worked in Charlotte but will soon be returning to Greenville – to the delight of her father.
Family was the key. When Greene began practicing law in 1977, he joined his brother Tom.
“I was mainly doing domestic law to establish a practice,” he says. His brother practiced Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Act and has since moved to Charleston.
Greene was looking for a new specialty while attending a tax law seminar.
It was a fit. He took in fewer domestic cases and more tax cases until his practice began. In addition to IRS cases for individuals and businesses, Greene handles estate planning, wills, estate matters, trusts and – now that he has hired accountant Paul Sullivan – tax preparation.
“If someone hires me and they haven’t turned in in a while, we do these returns as part of our representation,” he says. “We look forward to making their returns year after year to keep them from getting into trouble again.”
Greene says his career has come true. “I meet a lot of interesting people. Each case has a new fold. It’s always a challenge. “
Lawyer David Greene and his staff from left, Jessica Costlow, Tara Brown and Victoria Mayfield. (Photo: Mark Massingill / Ernest Rawlins Photography)
Greene’s “work family” help overcome these challenges: Tara Brown, Jessica Costlow and Victoria Mayfield, and Sullivan: “We all do everything. We do what is necessary. We are all very busy. “
What is surprising is that Greene never planned to go to law school. He went to Clemson for his bachelor’s degree – in physics. He then went to Florida State University for a Masters and PhD.
Around the time Greene was finishing his PhD in experimental molecular physics, he said, “America was no longer interested in the space program and all science. There were no jobs, no career opportunities. “
His brother and parents suggested law school, so he returned to Florida State, studied law, and did a PhD in physics at the same time.
Greene’s innovative character was helpful all these years later during the COVID-19 pandemic. His office stayed open even when the IRS was closed for seven months.
“We never closed the office. Never, ”says Greene. In the first few months of the pandemic, he pitched a tent at the entrance. “We met customers outside.”
The doors are now open, but cleaning is a priority and everyone must wear a mask.
“I worked every day. I wanted to, ”says Greene.
The pandemic has also changed his church life. Like Greene, Scenic Hills Baptist Church improvised with an outdoor platform for the pastor and musicians. Parishioners can watch the service from their car and tune in to the FM radio.
“It’s like a drive-in movie,” says Greene. “I haven’t been to church in over a year.”
The church is part of Greene’s legacy. His father was an evangelist who started a radio show, The Gospel Hour, which ended up being recorded in 170 markets. As a boy in the 1950s, Greene traveled with his father when he preached in the summer.
“There was a huge tent and people were packing up. We did three campaigns every summer. What kind of training I received as an adult and while traveling, ”he says.
Oliver B. Greene died in 1976, but the radio program lives on. It is broadcast by more than 60 radio stations and streamed over the internet via thegospelhour.org website and other internet stations. Jean Greene leads the operation full-time. David is the director.
“The program is still going well. It is supported by the listener. We don’t ask. People are posting to help us stay airborne, ”says Greene.
From his father, Greene learned to read and help people.
“My father took care of people. He didn’t do anything for the dollar. He did it to help people, ”says Greene. “I like to think that I do. I like to meet my customers. I like talking to them and it all comes from the way I grew up. “
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