If you have ever been to the “Ziggurat,” you never forget it. Named the “Chet Holifield Federal Building,” this is the IRS tax office in Laguna Niguel, California, where taxpayers or their representatives may go to meet with IRS tax attorneys, Revenue Agents, Collections Officers, or even IRS Criminal Investigation Division Special Agents. Although those meetings can be heated and IRS agents and attorneys can be imposing figures for lay persons, the most memorable part of the experience is the building itself.
Located at 24000 Avila Rd., Laguna Niguel, California, the exterior of the Zigg has stood-in for futuristic headquarters in the Buck Rogers series and the original Death Race 2000 film. It was also an organ-harvesting facility in Coma, starring Michael Douglas, and the CDC in Outbreak. In movies, it isn’t usually somewhere you are happy to be.
Driving into the parking-lot, the first thing that strikes you is how barren and desert-like it is. The parking lot seems almost completely empty, despite being a large government office, lacking both cars and foliage. The un-shaded, cracked asphalt seems to expand for miles before it finally yields to what looks like a large Aztec temple, but unmistakably designed in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, by aliens from outer space. It is what you would expect to see when we finally walk on Mars only to discover that the Aztecs’ knowledge of astronomy was more than incidental, and Montezuma had been living there comfortably for centuries. (See Image Here.)
The building has several entrances on different sides. One gets the feeling that the one you pick matters- a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book in real life, where one entrance leads you to treasure, another leads you to an encounter with The Mummy, and the other one is a booby-trap which ends your book three pages in. All of these could be true depending on who represents you (self-plug here).
Once you get through the security line, I recommend that you ask the security guard for directions. This applies to taxpayers, representatives, and lifetime IRS employees. I don’t care how many times you have been in the Laguna Niguel office. The IRS attorneys and the IRS Special Agents are on the 4th floor, but good luck finding them. You don’t know which floor you entered on and the room numbers don’t align with the floors. I think the levels and rooms shift like that great indie move Cube. There are escalators. The longest ones you’ve ever seen and they seem to go so long that they must have taken you past several floors. There are elevators, but nowhere obvious. If you can find an elevator, that is the best thing because it will not only tell you which floor it is taking you to, but also tells you which floor you are on.
There were what looked like windows on the outside of the building. But, when you get in, its an indoor mall with no natural light and what tastes like synthetic oxygen. Do you remember the opening scenes of Joe Versus the Volcano, where there is a zig-zag death-march to the building to the tune of “16 Tons” and a lonely flower is crushed by the hopeless entrants, and the insides are full of life-sucking, flickering florescent lighting? Think that without the great soundtrack.
The good news, however, is that none of this will affect your case. I can speak very highly of my experiences with the IRS attorneys and agents in the Laguna Niguel office. In terms of resolving cases with the IRS, with the right assistance, the truth, and the weight of the proof on your side, you can get a fair result from the Ziggurat the same as you would in the Los Angeles office. Nonetheless, whenever I am in Laguna Niguel, I make sure I take a deep breath and enjoy the unique ambiance of the most IRS of the IRS offices.
The above post is satire, a tongue-in-cheek review of the IRS’s office in Laguna Niguel. The author of this post, Daniel Layton, is a former IRS attorney and former federal prosecutor. He is partner in Layton & Lopez Tax Attorneys, LLP.