There are a number of important questions to ask your prospective tax resolution firm before hiring them on as your IRS battle-mates. In order to ensure that your tax attorney will be working in your best interest instead of simply charging you enormous service fees, you will need to treat your research process as you would a job interview.
Before you hire your tax representation, ask the tax resolution firm the following questions:
1. How long has this tax attorney/ tax resolution firm been in business solving IRS problems? The longer they have been handling negotiations with the IRS the better. A lawyer or CPA firm may just do tax law on the side and not be dedicated to knowing the ins and outs of IRS negotiations.
2. How many tax attorneys do they have on staff? (Some firms are only CPAs, some are nothing but former IRS agents, some are straight law firms with only one or two tax attorneys). If you don’t do tax resolution day in and day out, you don’t know all the loopholes, tricks and tools. Look for someone who is a certified tax resolution specialist, they have to take a special exam and have a number of years of experience and continuing education in this field. There are only about 200 in the entire country who actually do this as a living.
3. What is the tax attorney or tax resolution firm’s success rate with tax cases? Don’t take a generic number here. Ask about the success rate for cases like yours. Don’t expect a perfect score. For example in most cases the Offer in Compromise is a starting offer. Only about 2% are immediately accepted by the IRS. The more important number is comparing cases like yours. What is the total dollar amount negotiated in settlements divided by total dollars in tax, interest and penalties owed? In short, how much did these tax attorneys save their clients?
4. Do they offer a guarantee? Run away if they do. No one can guarantee anything.
5. Does the law firm or tax resolution company want all the money up front? If they do, run. Once tax professionals have your money, they have no incentive to go the extra mile for you. If your tax attorney, tax resolution specialist or CPA wants some “good faith money” that’s fine.
6. Do they give you a high pressure sales pitch? If they are pushing that hard, that’s a warning sign to stay away. In many cases when you get a sales pitch you are talking with a salesperson, not a tax attorney or tax resolution specialist who can help you.
7. Check out your potential tax attorney or tax resolution firm with the Better Business Bureau, but keep in mind the volume of people the company serves. If the company has 20 complaints over three years but has served 5,000 clients in that time, that’s a 0.4% failure rate, or said differently a 99.6% satisfaction rate. Even that can be misleading because the BBB only tracks complaints, not resolutions. Even if the client got a full refund from the tax attorney and 100% satisfaction, the client can’t withdraw their complaint once it is filed with the BBB. You could also Google the tax resolution firm’s name or individual tax attorney’s name with the words “complaint,” “rip-off” and “scam.” And if they are a tax attorney, check with your state’s bar to see if they have any complaints against them.
8. Ask for the names of the people who own the law firm or tax resolution company. If your contact is elusive on this, run. Bottom line, you need to know who runs the show. You need the name of the owner, NOT the senior tax attorney. If your IRS case goes south or the tax attorney handling your case is a problem, you need to know exactly who you can complain to or who to seek redress from.
9. Find out the name of the tax attorney or tax resolution specialist who will be taking your case. Find out how quickly they respond to your inquiries. Do they answer their phone or email promptly? Ask for references of satisfied customers for that specific tax attorney or tax resolution professional. (Given the confidentiality of tax resolution work, a personal reference for a tax attorney might be hard to come by.)
10. Does the tax attorney or tax resolution firm have experience in multi-jurisdictional issues? Because the IRS is a federal agency, there are three people permitted to practice before the IRS. You have to be an active licensed member of the state bar, a certified public accountant actively licensed or an enrolled agent. No matter where they live, they can represent the taxpayer before the IRS is all 50 states.
11. Will this tax attorney or tax resolution specialist go with you to an in-person audit? Although 90% of tax resolution work is done over the phone, electronically or via FedEx, sometimes you need a tax attorney to literally hold your hand in an audit. But don’t choose a tax attorney just because they have an office near your home. An accident of geography doesn’t mean they are the right tax attorney for the job. In many cases a national firm such as ours can make sure you never have to darken the door of an IRS audit.
12. How can they help you if the IRS wants to come to your home or business?
13. Is the firm just a tax form filler? Just because they prepare a lot tax returns doesn’t mean they are ready to battle the IRS. There are a number of tax resolution and “tax attorney” scams that do nothing but type up an Offer in Compromise and just mail it to the IRS. That’s all the service these “tax attorneys” provide. These companies are at best, a waste of time and money and at worst, a one-way ticket to big trouble.
14. What are their prices? Don’t be penny-wise but pound-foolish. Don’t just lock onto a tax attorney or tax resolution firm’s low price. Look for value and the number of services you get. Will this tax attorney or tax resolution professional give you preparation of all IRS forms, all backup documentation, and all negotiation with the IRS?
Once you’ve gotten all the information that makes you confident that you have found the right tax resolution firm for you, you can focus your attention on winning your case instead of wondering whether your tax representation is adept at representing your best interest.
Read more questions to ask in order to understand your type of tax problem and to pick the right tax attorney.
Tax Resolution Services is the only national tax resolution firm certified by the ASTPS to negotiate tax settlements with the IRS. We are a nationwide professional tax solution company with a team of tax attorneys and IRS specialists who can help you find tax relief. Free tax consultation – sign up on our website or call us at 866-IRS-PROBLEMS (866-477-7762).
More Tax Help, IRS News and Tax Relief Tips:
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- Settling IRS Tax Debt: What Taxpayers Don’t Know About Tax Resolution Could Hurt Them
- Tax Resolution Services, Co. Works With Bill Handel to Offer Expert Tax Advice
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- Michael Rozbruch Interviewed in Opportunist Magazine
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