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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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