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Questions To Ask Tax Relief Agencies

Saturday, January 22nd

Questions to Ask Tax Relief Agencies

The only thing worse than owing back taxes is having a so-called tax-relief agency rob you blind without providing anything resembling actual tax relief.

Most consumers feel intimidated when it comes to dealing with the Internal Revenue Service, so they seek out professional help from a tax-relief agency. The problem with this strategy is that not all tax-relief agencies are created equal. Some are staffed by qualified professionals who can truly help a taxpayer, while others simply exist to scam consumers out of money.

So how do consumers tell the difference between the two? The first important step is to make sure to ask the right questions to any tax relief agency one is considering using.

One question that can be asked is whether anyone at the agency is certified through the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers, or ASTPS. A non-profit agency, ASTPS consists of professionals who represent taxpayers before the IRS. It only gives certification to agents who are able to pass a written exam, provide evidence they have experience in the tax industry and be a licensed certified public accountant or tax attorney.

Another question to ask is if the agency is able to provide references from prior clients who used and were satisfied with the service they received there. In addition to references, search for independent reviews of the tax relief agency. Professional reviews can guide a person to tax relief companies that are the most beneficial.

It's also is worthwhile to check the Better Business Bureau's website to see if the company has had any complaints lodged against it, and if so, of what nature. Using a company which is a member of the Better Business Bureau can be to a consumer's benefit should there be issues with the service received by that company. The BBB will intervene to work out a solution.

Ask about the company's fee structure and be sure to get it in writing. A common complaint about some tax-relief agencies is they say one thing when it comes to their fees, and then employ other tactics once the customer has been reeled in. The Federal Trade Commission advises that agencies which require up-front payment should be avoided.

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Tax Relief Company FAQ

Tax relief is a means of reducing what you owe to the IRS and state in back taxes. Your debts can be negotiated and payment plans may be established to help you pay it in a more manageable amount and timeframe.
You'll probably need to owe at least $10,000 in state and/or federal taxes to be eligible for tax relief. There usually aren't any other requirements.
You could work directly with the IRS to work out a 3-year payment plan, but that usually only applies if you've filed all of your previous years' tax returns and you owe less than $10,000 in taxes. Using a tax relief service eliminates the guesswork and walks you through the entire process from start to finish. Plus, you don't have the stress of meeting with the IRS: your representative at the tax relief company does all of that for you!
Most services offer a free initial consultation, to determine which of their plans (if any) are the right fit for your situation. Once you've chosen a tax relief strategy, the provider will probably charge up to 20% of what you saved in debt as a service fee, but that varies from one company to another.
Your representative will go to work on your behalf, using a variety of methods to work with the IRS and state taxing authority. These may include Offer in Compromise, Penalty Abatements, Tax Lien Subordination and more. Some services will assign you a dedicated representative who will keep you updated on your case's progress.
As you'd expect, it depends on the complexity of your situation. However, a general rule of thumb is between two and six months for a tax relief plan to be fully executed.
Some tax relief services offer their customers a satisfaction guarantee - but it's often a very small window of time compared with how long it takes to see a significant change in your tax debts. It's a good idea to look at the reputation of any service you're considering, to see what previous clients have said about the effectiveness, and reliability of the programs offered.
Most of them are. It's not difficult to find tax relief partners that have been helping consumers for decades. That being said, there are opportunistic scammers who would like nothing more than to convince you that they're legit and then take your money without offering any tax relief whatsoever. You should research the provider before signing on the dotted line, which includes looking up their rating from the Better Business Bureau.
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