When it comes to something as important as resolving your tax liabilities, it is important to conduct research on the tax resolution firm(s) you are considering before agreeing to purchase their services.
What sort of things should somebody do as part of conducting their “due diligence”?
First of all, visit the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.com and look for any complaints or outstanding issues that they have with clients.
Second, you may actually want to turn to an unlikely source for information on certain companies: Your IRS Revenue Officer. Revenue Officers will not provide an unbiased opinion, of course, and many of them will even tell you not to secure representation (which is a violation of IRS policies for them to say, but they still do it). However, your RO has probably worked with most of the large, national tax resolution firms and can give you their personal opinion on the firm if you ask.
Third, before signing a contract for taxpayer representation, be sure to confirm that the firm that will provide your representation will assign your case to a licensed representative. You should be guaranteed that your representative is a licensed attorney, licensed Certified Public Accountant, or a licensed Enrolled Agent, before you sign any contract. The IRS will not allow non-licensed representatives to negotiate for a taxpayer, but you would be surprised at how often large firms have unlicensed assistants doing the actual IRS negotiation.
Fourth, be sure to ask if the individual selling you the tax resolution service if they have ever been involved in actual IRS or state tax negotiations. Many times you will get a delayed answer because that answer is “no.” Be weary of salespersons that will base how they can help you from a sales script. Any case-experienced salesperson should be able to walk you through the case proceedings from start to finish.
Understand that hiring a representative to negotiate on your behalf is not a guarantee that your case will be resolved. You will need to work closely with your representative to ensure that your best
interests are always held in high regard. Although your representative should do nearly all of the interaction with the taxing authorities, your participation with your representative is vital to the resolution process.
You will want to confirm that the fee you are paying for the service you are purchasing is a flat fee. If you cannot get this guarantee in writing, it is not a flat fee. Many salespersons will state flat fee over the phone but will not guarantee this in writing. If you do not understand the terms and conditions of your representative’s contract, you may be trapped into receiving unexpected requests for additional fees.
It is very important for you to keep in mind that most of the time when you are speaking with a tax resolution firm, you are speaking to a commissioned sales rep on the phone. These sales reps usually have zero actual tax experience, and much of what they tell you may have been passed to them from OTHER untrained personnel. This is important to understand because it is not
uncommon for these salespeople to give blatantly incorrect information to people simply so they can close a sale.
Armed with these tips, you should be better positioned to make a wise decision regarding hiring professional tax relief services. Search our directory on this site for a competent, licensed practitioner near you.