10 Best Tax Relief Companies of 2018
Getting into trouble with the IRS can be frustrating and intimidating. Taxpayers often need help to get out of a tough space. We review the Best Tax Relief companies.
Tax relief firms attempt to reduce the amount of back taxes, interest, and/or penalties that are owed by their clients. They operate as educated middlemen between taxpayers and the tax authorities. Employing their specialized knowledge of IRS procedures and tax relief programs, they attempt to settle their clients’ tax debts on advantageous terms. Nearly all tax relief firms deal with debts owed to the IRS, but some also handle state tax matters.
People who owe substantial back taxes, interest, and/or penalties may benefit from hiring a tax relief firm to attempt to reduce the total amount of their tax bill. Tax procedures are complicated, and while there are legitimate ways that tax obligations can be reduced, accessing them is a painstaking process. Since tax relief firms require payment up front, however, consumers should make sure that their tax debts are large enough to make hiring a professional really worth their while.
The most important thing for consumers to consider in hiring a tax relief firm is its reputation for integrity and competence. No reputable tax firm makes guarantees about its success in reducing a given consumer’s tax bill. Nor do they offer a money-back guarantee beyond the initial investigation fee. So consumers have to take it on trust that the firm they hire will actually do what it promises, which is to make a good-faith attempt to reduce their tax debts.
Consumers should pay close attention to the qualifications of the employees of the firms they consider hiring. Some firms have CPAs. Some have lawyers. Some have tax professionals with various professional certifications. Some have former IRS agents. Generally speaking, the more serious and substantial a person’s tax situation is, the more credentialed the representatives at his or her tax relief firm should be.
Top 8 Companies
- 2017 BBB Torch Award for Ethics
- 15-day money back guarantee
- Free consultation
- Negotiated with the IRS on behalf of thousands of clients
- One of the largest and most reliable tax relief firms
- Rated A+ by the BBB
- Free consultation
- Saved taxpayers over 120 million in back taxes, penalties and interest
- Member of National Association of Tax Resolution Companies
- Charges flat fee, 35% less than average
- Los Angeles-based
- Expedited tax relief with prompt service
- Stop wage garnishment in 24-48 hours
- Only accepts cases with reasonable chance of success
- Average OIC settlement 5% of total debt
- Former IRS employees on staff
- Wide range of tax relief services
- CPAs and EAs are also available
- Appearances in mainstream media, like CNN Money and Fox News
- Full range of tax relief services
- High-dollar tax indebtedness relief
- Founded in 2001
- Staff includes attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents
- Business payroll tax issues
- 9.5 Trustpilot rating
- Over 20 Enrolled Agents on staff
- Tax relief for individuals and businesses
- Free tax debt consultation available
- Rated A+ by the BBB
- Prepare and submit Offers in Compromise
- Solves state tax problems
- Tax attorneys and enrolled agents on staff
How We Compare Tax Relief
An informed consumer seeking to hire a tax firm for tax relief should take an firm's experience with tax matters into consideration. Considering the expert knowledge required to navigate the tax world, firms with more experience will have an edge over the competition. In order to evaluate an firm's experience, we looked at how long they have been in business, what specialties their employees have, and their professional memberships and accreditations. All this information should give consumers an idea of which firm is better equipped to deal with their particular tax problem, especially consumers with complicated tax issues who are looking for specialized assistance.
While a tax firm's age may not necessarily predict how suited they are to doing a particular job, an firm that has been in business for longer is more likely to have seen a taxpayer's problem before and may be better prepared to deal with it again than an firm that has only been in business for a few years or months.
A tax firm will hire a full roster of people with different specialties to be able to offer their clients the most complete assistance possible.
Tax attorneys are lawyers who specialize in tax law. With legal advice, they can help you avoid complex tax problems, but they can also help you solve them. Like all lawyers, tax attorneys have Juris Doctor degrees and have been admitted to the state bar. The best tax lawyers will also have additional preparation in tax law, sometimes through a separate LL.M. degree in taxation.
A certified public accountant, or CPA, has a state license to provide accounting services. To receive this license, accountants must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. Additionally, they must meet a certain number of continued education hours to keep their license valid, as well as other state-specific requirements.
An Enrolled Agent or EA is a tax professional who is licensed by the US Department of the Treasury and allowed to represent taxpayers before the IRS in matters of tax audits, appeals, and collections. Enrolled agents are able to perform accounting tasks, but unlike CPAs, they specialize in taxes.
Some tax firms will hire former IRS agents, because they are uniquely suited to handling the intricacies of federal taxes by virtue of their years-long experience in the Internal Revenue Service. Some of these former agents are able to become enrolled agents without taking the certification exam.
The American Society of Tax Problem Solvers has a certification program for tax attorneys, CPAs, and EAs. Certified Tax Resolution Specialists are specifically trained in tax relief or tax resolution. To qualify for this certification, tax specialists must have a certain number of continued education hours, as well as a minimum of 1 year of experience handling tax resolution cases. A CTRS is especially suited to handling your tax relief case.
Professional associations gather employees of a profession together and provide resources and support to their members. Tax specialists who join professional associations in their field will have access to the continued education courses required to keep their licenses up to date, as well as information on the newest developments in the tax world, making them more prepared to handle complex tax issues. Some of the professional associations available to tax relief specialists are:
- National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA)
- National Conference of CPA Practitioners (NCCPAP)
- National Society of Accountants (NSA)
- National Society of Tax Professionals (NSTP)
- National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP)
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
- American Academy of Attorney-CPAs (AAA-CPA)
Tax relief firms help taxpayers settle their tax debts when they are unable to pay the IRS or the state tax agency. By following official procedures that are often little known to the public, the tax firm is able to reduce, postpone, or even eliminate the debt owed by the taxpayer. We judged the companies by comparing the tax relief services they offer, as well as other tax-related services that may be of interest to consumers. We also determined whether or not the tax firms ranked only offer relief services for federal tax issues, or whether they also address state tax problems. Another factor in our evaluation is whether or not the tax firms offer their clients free consultations. These meetings are used to assess potential clients' tax situation and determine if the firm is a good fit. Some tax firms also offer free appeals, in the sense that they will not charge clients for filing appeals if the original request is denied by the tax agency. We also took into consideration how easily consumers may be able to get in touch with the company. To this effect, we collected information on their customer support business hours, as well as the ways clients are able to reach them. Almost all tax firms are available by phone and email, but some are reachable through a live chat on their website as well.
Tax Relief Services
Some of the tax relief services a tax firm may offer are:
- Tax Reduction
- Installment Plans
- Collection Postponement
- Innocent Spouse Relief
- Tax Lien Release
- Tax Levy Release
- Penalty Abatement
In addition to tax relief services, tax firms provide other services that may be of interest to individual taxpayers, as well as businesses. Some of these services include:
- Tax Preparation
- Tax Counseling Services
- Tax Planning
A company's reputation is very important when deciding which tax relief firm to hire. To evaluate their reputation, we took into account their rating with the Better Business Bureau, as well as the number of positive and negative customer reviews posted on their profile. We also looked into their rating with TrustPilot.com. Finally, we searched for previous consumer litigation and regulatory actions taken against the companies by the local, state, and federal governments. However, as some litigation is confidential except in the case of a judgment, this search may be limited. Consumers thinking about using a tax relief company should also be aware of potentially fraudulent practices among some companies. The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about what they should watch out for.
The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering honest and ethical relationships between businesses and their customers. The BBB collects customer complaints and reviews and ranks businesses according to a grading system.
Trust Pilot Rating
Trust Pilot is a Danish website that publishes customer reviews and ratings for online businesses.
Customer Questions & Answers
Do I qualify for tax relief?
Anyone who owes more than they can afford to the IRS can potentially employ the services of a tax relief firm. But in order to even be considered, you must be 100% up to date on your yearly tax filings. Tax relief firms can then offer you different services depending on your particular situation.
How much does tax relief cost?
The cost of tax relief differs according to the pricing structure employed by the provider you choose. What's more, very few providers advertise specific prices of any kind, since they vary with the client's individual tax problems. Most providers offer a free consultation. Once you sign up with a particular firm, they'll generally charge a flat fee to start the investigation (which can have a money back guarantee period) and then quote you a fee for how much it will cost to go through the whole process, based on the complexities of your case.
How long does tax relief take?
It usually takes tax relief firms two to six months to negotiate with the IRS, depending on the specific challenges and complexities of each case. The company should be able to give you a firm timeline once they have competed the investigation phase.
Am I responsible for my spouse's tax debt?
Technically, if you chose "married filing jointly" at tax time, yes, you will be equally held responsible for that year's filing. There are exceptions, though. You can claim "Innocent Spouse Relief" if your significant other falsely submitted information to the IRS or failed to report income. "Separation of Liability Relief" applies to couples still married but separated and protects them in the event the other party reported items improperly. Finally, "Equitable Relief" helps those whose return was correct, but not completely paid.
What assets can the IRS seize?
The IRS has enormous power and reach and can truly make your life miserable if you ignore them. If you owe taxes and are not attempting in good faith to resolve the situation, the IRS can garnish your wages, freeze your bank accounts, take your home, vehicle, or personal property, and even close your business.