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How to shop for tax relief companies
Discover and compare the top tax relief companies to find the perfect fit for your financial needs. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the key factors and features you should consider when comparing tax relief companies.
How do you compare tax relief companies?
There are many factors to consider when comparing tax relief companies. To start with, look for tax relief firms with an excellent reputation, tax attorneys and enrolled agents on staff, and competitive fees. If you also have state tax debt issues to deal with, make sure the firm you choose covers the states where you have tax debts. And make sure they offer a free initial consultation. This will give you the chance to ensure they are a good fit before investing any money in investigation fees.
Here is a summary of the seven main factors you should consider when comparing tax relief companies. The tools on this page can help you filter tax relief firms based on these factors.
1. Company reputation and experience
A company's reputation and experience are crucial indicators of its reliability and effectiveness in handling tax relief cases. To assess a company's reputation, consider the following:
- Check for any awards or recognition the company has received within the industry.
- Look for testimonials and case studies on their website or third-party review platforms like SuperMoney, Trustpilot, or Google Reviews.
- Consult forums or social media groups for opinions from past clients or industry experts.
- Assess the company's success rate in resolving tax issues for their clients.
2. Services Offered
When evaluating a tax relief company's services, take note of their areas of expertise and whether they cater to your specific tax issue. Some factors to consider include:
- The range of services they offer, such as tax negotiation, audit defense, or tax preparation.
- The types of clients they serve, including individuals, businesses, or both.
- Their experience handling cases similar to yours, including the complexity and size of the tax debt involved.
We discuss in more detail the different services tax relief companies offer in the section below. If you have complex tax issues, make sure the company you choose has tax attorneys and enrolled agents on staff that have experience dealing with taxpayers in your situation.
3. Accreditation and licensing
Valid accreditation and licensing ensure that you're working with qualified professionals who adhere to industry standards.
To verify a company's credentials:
- Look for membership in professional organizations like the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS), the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and the National Association of Tax Resolution Companies (NATRC)
- Confirm that the tax professionals on their team are licensed, such as tax attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), or enrolled agents (EAs).
4. Fee structure and transparency
Understanding a company's fee structure is essential to avoid unexpected expenses. Keep the following points in mind:
- Request a detailed fee breakdown, including any possible additional charges.
- Compare fee structures across multiple companies to find the most cost-effective solution.
- Beware of companies that charge excessive upfront fees or offer unrealistically low quotes.
5. Customer support and communication
Effective communication is key to a successful working relationship with a tax relief company. Evaluate their customer support by:
- Inquiring about their availability via phone, email, or online chat.
- Taking note of their response times and the clarity of their answers.
- Assessing their willingness to provide regular updates on your case.
6. Personalized solutions and case evaluation
A good tax relief company should provide a tailored approach to address your specific tax issues. To ensure they offer personalized solutions:
- Confirm that they conduct a thorough initial case evaluation to understand your financial situation and tax problems.
- Check if they develop customized strategies based on your unique circumstances.
- Make sure they set realistic expectations for the outcome of your case.
7. Moneyback guarantee and client satisfaction
A company's commitment to client satisfaction can be seen in its money-back guarantee policy. When comparing policies:
- Look for companies that offer a no-questions-asked refund policy within a specified timeframe.
- Take note of any conditions or limitations attached to the guarantee.
- Consider the guarantee as a sign of the company's confidence in its ability to deliver results.
If you follow these recommendations, you'll be well-equipped to make an informed decision when selecting the best tax relief company for your needs.
What tax relief services are there?
The best tax relief firms offer a variety of services, some of which you may know well but others you may have never heard of before. Here is a brief summary of the main tax relief options available so you can be ready for your initial consultation with the tax relief companies you are considering.
|- Administrative appeals||- Asset seizures||- Audit protection|
|- Audit representation||- Back taxes (unfiled returns)||- Bank levy release|
|- Bookkeeping services||- Collection appeal||- Corporate tax preparation|
|- Currently not collectible||- Free tax consultations||- Garnishment and levy release|
|- Individual state tax relief services||- Industry-specific tax services||- Innocent spouse relief|
|- Installment agreements||- IRS audit defense||- IRS-approved continuing educational services|
|- Offer in compromise||- Payroll tax negotiation||- Penalty abatements|
|- State and federal taxes||- Statute of limitations||- Tax audits|
|- Tax liens||- Tax preparation||- Wage garnishment release|
Let's look into each tax relief option in a little more detail.
An administrative appeal allows taxpayers to dispute IRS decisions or proposed actions without going to court. This option is typically used when there is a disagreement over tax liability or other penalties.
Asset seizures involve the IRS taking possession of a taxpayer's property to satisfy outstanding tax debts. This process is generally a last resort when other collection efforts have been unsuccessful.
Audit protection is a service that helps taxpayers prepare for and respond to IRS audits. This option is helpful for individuals or businesses that want expert assistance to minimize the risk of additional taxes, penalties, or interest.
Audit representation involves hiring a tax professional to act on your behalf during an IRS audit. This service is beneficial for those who are facing an audit and need expert guidance and representation.
Back taxes (unfiled returns)
Back taxes refer to unpaid or unfiled tax returns from previous years. Tax relief services can help taxpayers file these returns and potentially negotiate a reduced tax liability.
Bank levy release
A bank levy release occurs when the IRS removes a hold on a taxpayer's bank account. This option is applicable when the taxpayer can prove the levy causes undue hardship or the tax debt is resolved.
Bookkeeping services help businesses and individuals maintain accurate financial records, ensuring proper tax filing and minimizing the risk of audits or penalties.
A collection appeal is a formal request to contest an IRS decision regarding tax collection actions, such as levies or liens. Taxpayers can use this option when they believe the IRS has made an error or acted unfairly.
Corporate tax preparation
Corporate tax preparation involves the filing of taxes for businesses, including partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs). This service ensures that businesses comply with tax laws and regulations.
Currently not collectible
"Currently not collectible" is a status granted by the IRS when a taxpayer cannot pay their tax debt without causing financial hardship. This option provides temporary relief from collection efforts.
Free tax consultations
Free tax consultations are initial meetings with tax professionals to discuss tax issues and potential solutions. These consultations can help taxpayers determine the best course of action for their unique situation.
Garnishment and levy release
Garnishment and levy release involves stopping the IRS from seizing a portion of a taxpayer's wages or bank account to satisfy a tax debt. This option is used when the taxpayer can prove financial hardship or negotiates a payment plan.
Individual state tax relief services
Individual state tax relief services focus on resolving tax issues at the state level, including delinquent taxes, audits, or penalties. These services are helpful for taxpayers facing state-specific tax problems.
Industry-specific tax services
Industry-specific tax services cater to the unique tax needs of specific industries or professions, such as real estate, healthcare, or self-employed individuals.
Innocent spouse relief
Innocent spouse relief is a provision that protects one spouse from being held responsible for their partner's tax liability. This option is used when a spouse can prove they were unaware of their partner's tax misdeeds.
Installment agreements are payment plans negotiated with the IRS, allowing taxpayers to pay their tax debts over time. This option is helpful for those who cannot pay their tax liability in full but can make smaller, regular payments.
Frequently asked questions
What is Tax Relief?
Tax relief refers to programs and strategies designed to reduce the amount of taxes owed by individuals and businesses. This may involve negotiating payment plans, settling tax debts for less than the full amount, or obtaining forgiveness for penalties and interest. Tax relief aims to help financially struggling taxpayers regain compliance with tax laws and ease their financial burden.
How to pay fewer taxes to the state/IRS?
To pay fewer taxes, consider the following strategies:
- Maximize deductions: Take advantage of all available deductions, such as mortgage interest, charitable donations, or business expenses.
- Utilize tax credits: Claim any applicable tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, or education credits.
- Contribute to retirement accounts: Contributions to traditional IRAs, 401(k)s, or other qualified retirement plans can reduce taxable income.
- Plan for capital gains taxes: Hold investments for more than a year to qualify for lower long-term capital gains tax rates, and offset capital gains with capital losses.Seek professional advice: Consult a tax professional for personalized guidance on minimizing tax liability.
Will tax Relief companies help me?
Tax relief companies can be helpful for individuals or businesses facing complex tax issues or large tax debts. These companies employ tax professionals who can analyze your financial situation, negotiate with the IRS or state tax agencies on your behalf, and develop strategies to resolve tax problems. However, it's important to research and choose a reputable tax relief company to ensure effective and ethical services.
What is Penalty Relief?
Penalty relief refers to the reduction or removal of penalties imposed by the IRS for noncompliance with tax laws, such as late filing, late payment, or underpayment. Taxpayers can request penalty relief by proving reasonable cause for their noncompliance, like natural disasters, serious illness, or other extenuating circumstances.
How will unpaid taxes affect my credit score?
Although tax liens no longer appear on credit reports and don't directly impact your credit score, unpaid taxes can still have indirect consequences on your financial situation. If the IRS takes collection actions, such as wage garnishments or levies on bank accounts, it can cause financial strain and make it more difficult for you to meet your other financial obligations, such as loan payments or credit card bills. Missing these payments or carrying high credit card balances due to financial strain can negatively impact your credit score.
Furthermore, even though tax liens don't appear on credit reports, they become public record when filed by the IRS. This can create difficulties in selling or refinancing a property, as potential buyers or lenders may discover the lien during their due diligence process.
Therefore, it's crucial to address unpaid taxes promptly to minimize potential negative effects on your overall financial well-being.
What is tax forgiveness?
Tax forgiveness refers to the cancellation or reduction of tax debts by the IRS or state tax agencies. This can occur through various tax relief options, such as an Offer in Compromise, Currently Not Collectible status, or penalty abatements. Tax forgiveness is typically granted to taxpayers who can prove financial hardship or other extenuating circumstances that prevent them from paying their full tax liability.
What is the IRS Fresh Start program?
The IRS Fresh Start program is an initiative launched by the Internal Revenue Service to help financially struggling taxpayers resolve their tax debts more easily. The program aims to make it simpler for individuals and small businesses to settle their tax liabilities and avoid severe collection actions, such as wage garnishments, bank levies, or tax liens.
The Fresh Start program introduced several changes and expansions to existing tax relief options, including:
Installment Agreements: The program increased the maximum amount of tax debt eligible for streamlined installment agreements, allowing more taxpayers to qualify for payment plans without providing extensive financial information to the IRS. Taxpayers with debts up to $50,000 can now apply for a streamlined installment agreement and have up to 72 months to pay off their debt.
Offer in Compromise: The Fresh Start initiative made it easier for taxpayers to qualify for an Offer in Compromise by expanding the eligibility criteria and relaxing some financial analysis requirements. As a result, more taxpayers can negotiate a settlement with the IRS to pay less than the full amount owed.
Tax Liens: The program increased the threshold for the IRS to file a tax lien, raising it from $5,000 to $10,000. This change reduced the number of liens filed against taxpayers and made it easier for those with smaller tax debts to avoid this damaging collection action.
Penalty Relief: The Fresh Start program provided penalty relief for unemployed taxpayers who were unable to pay their taxes due to financial hardship. Eligible taxpayers could apply for a six-month extension to pay their taxes without incurring failure-to-pay penalties.