If you find yourself dealing with tax issues, a tax resolution firm could be your fastest route to the SOLUTION.
Is a Tax Resolution Firm The Answer?
Tax Resolution is the process of developing and implementing a solution to solve a taxpayer’s IRS problem. This plan may include submitting an offer in compromise, setting up an installment agreement or requesting penalty abatement. You supply the tax resolution company with the information needed to create the best plan, and the tax resolution professional will help you make the best choices based on your individual tax situation. Some firms utilize enrolled agents and some are accounting firms that are knowledgeable and skilled in the US tax code and in many cases will represent you before the IRS. When you owe back taxes or are facing a liability that exceeds your ability to pay, a tax resolution firm may seem like a great way to get relief fast. The FTC has this to say about tax relief firms:
“Tax relief companies use the radio, television and the internet to advertise help for taxpayers in distress. If you pay them an upfront fee, which can be thousands of dollars, these companies claim they can reduce or even eliminate your tax debts and stop back-tax collection by applying for legitimate IRS hardship programs. The truth is that most taxpayers don’t qualify for the programs these fraudsters hawk, their companies don’t settle the tax debt, and in many cases don’t even send the necessary paperwork to the IRS requesting participation in the programs that were mentioned. Adding insult to injury, some of these companies don’t provide refunds, and leave people even further in debt.
Some taxpayers who filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that, after signing up with some of these companies and paying thousands of dollars in upfront fees, the companies took even more of their money by making unauthorized charges to their credit cards or withdrawals from their bank accounts.
If you owe back taxes and don’t know how you’re going to pay the debt, the FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, says don’t panic, take a deep breath, and consider your options. If you are having trouble paying bills, it’s often better to try to work out a payment plan with the creditor yourself than to pay someone else to negotiate a plan for you. The same is true when you owe money to the IRS or your state comptroller.”
According to the IRS, you can apply for an Installment Agreement, OIC, or penalty or interest abatement without the help of a third party. If you prefer third-party assistance in negotiating with the IRS, only certain tax professionals — Enrolled Agents (federally-authorized tax practitioners who can represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS), Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), and attorneys — have the authority to represent you . Their services should involve a face to face meeting where they explain your options and their fee structure. In any scenario, you need to be sure that the firm you are hiring is qualified and reputable. OCCAM can help you.
The FTC’s website says, “If you owe taxes, but can’t pay the IRS in full, consider submitting an Installment Agreement Request (Form 9465) with your return. In certain situations, the IRS can’t deny a request for an installment agreement if you owe less than $10,000. That said, you should still pay as much as you can with the return. You will be charged interest and possibly a late payment penalty on any tax not paid by its due date, even if your request for an installment agreement is approved. You can avoid IRS collection notices and actions, like a Notice of Federal Tax Lien or an IRS levy, by establishing an installment agreement upfront and making your installment payments.
If you owe back taxes, there are several IRS tax relief programs to help, including the agency’s Fresh Start initiative:
- An Installment Agreement is generally available to people who can’t pay their tax debt in full at one time. The program allows people to make smaller monthly payments until the entire debt is satisfied.
- Under its Fresh Start initiative, the IRS raised the threshold for streamlined installment agreements from $25,000 to $50,000 in tax debt, and the maximum repayment term from five to six years. Taxpayers who owe less than $50,000 may apply online with the IRS and don’t have to complete an IRS Collection Information Statement (Form 433-A, 433-B or Form 433-F).
- An Offer in Compromise (OIC) lets taxpayers permanently settle their tax debt for less than the amount they owe. The OIC is an important tool to help people in limited circumstances; taxpayers are eligible only after other payment options have been exhausted.
- Under its Fresh Start initiative, the IRS expanded the OIC program to cover a larger group of struggling taxpayers. However, the IRS will not accept an offer if it believes the liability can be paid in full as a lump sum or through an installment agreement. The IRS offers guidance on choosing a tax professional for an OIC on its website.
In very limited circumstances, the IRS may offer penalty abatement to people who haven’t paid their taxes because of a special hardship. If the taxpayer meets very narrow criteria, the IRS may agree to forgive the penalties. Interest abatement is even more limited and rarely provided. While these programs may eliminate penalties or interest, you still owe the taxes. If a tax relief company promises it can eliminate interest and/or penalties for you, be wary: there is limited relief available, no matter who represents you before IRS Collections. Their services should include a face-to-face meeting with you where they explain your options and their fee structure.”
In many cases it is advisable to seek out competent, professional help when dealing with the IRS. Reputable companies exist that can evaluate your situation, recommend the best course of action and represent you before the IRS. When dealing with any outstanding debt, it is best to know your rights and have a firm grasp on your options before addressing it. If you are facing an audit, owe back taxes or haven’t filed, a professional tax resolution firm may be the fastest, most effective way to go. Like any other debt relief service, it is extremely important that you know exactly who you are working with and know that they are not just reputable, but competent. Most companies in in this space require special licensing, especially if they are representing you before the IRS. Many of the firms are Certified Pulic Accountants or Enrolled Agents of the IRS. If you owe taxes and need help, make sure they have been thoroughly vetted through OCCAM and are the “real deal”. These services can be expensive and you cannot afford to be duped into believing they can help if they aren’t truly reputable.
If you are asked to make an upfront payment for representation in a tax collection matter, carefully review the refund policy before signing any agreement. Also check to see if a default billing rate — a flat rate applied to the work of all employees at a firm, not only the tax professionals — will apply if you cancel the company’s services. A high default billing rate may quickly use up a large portion of your upfront payment, even early in the representation.
Let OCCAM guide you to a reputable provider that can answer your questions and will give you straight answers on your best path forward.