Tax resolution is dead

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. Several years in fact.

Some people may think it’s just a matter of semantics, but there is a lot more to it than that.

But the more thought I put into it, the more I know I’m right: Tax resolution is dead.

What the hell am I talking about?

I’m talking about terminology, public perception, and professionalism. The term “tax resolution” has become tainted in many respects, due the actions of a small number of large companies. The phrase now evokes images of boiler room sales people cramming a canned sales pitch down the throat of somebody that can’t even rub two dimes together.

I personally quit using the phrase over a year ago to describe what it is that I do. When somebody asks the inevitable question in our social system, “What do you do?”, my answer, also referred to in the sales world as an “elevator speech”, is pretty simple. I do not consider myself a part of the tax resolution industry, rather, “I represent small business taxpayers in front of the IRS to remove the stress and anxiety of audits, seizures, levies, and other collections action. I deal with the IRS for you, so you can continue doing what you do best, which is running your business.”

Contrast that to, “I do tax resolution.” Which sounds more professional to you?

My friend and mentor James Orr has ingrained into me the concept of always being on “the right side of the desk”. When people call you, even if that phone call was sparked by your marketing, that puts you on the right side of the desk. When you have positioned yourself as a professional, rather than a shark hunting for prey, you are on the right side of the desk. When you “represent people”, rather than “settle debts”, you’re on the right side of the desk.

I personally think that this approach is even more important more those of us that are Enrolled Agents. Why? Because nobody knows what we are! “Attorney” and “CPA” are common, everyday words — everybody knows what they are. Enrolled Agents have to explain what we are. Instead, let’s remove that explanation from the equation, and get right to the core benefit we provide our clients.

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In my writing to you, I’ve continued using the term “tax resolution” because it’s the common phrase we all understand. However, I’ve decided not to do that anymore. Not just because of the negative publicity from the past few years, but also because it does not adequately describe what we do. Numerous phrases are much more descriptive: taxpayer representation, IRS collections representation, audit defense, and other terms are all much more descriptive of what we actually do, not to mention much more professional sounding.

These other phrases simply provide a better picture to our prospective clients of the benefits we can bring them. And isn’t that our real objective? We need to use language that most adequately describes what’s in it for our clients, because that’s really all they care about.