8 Tips for Finding Trustworthy Help with IRS Tax Debt
You know you need help resolving a tax debt. But who can you trust?
Choosing the right tax relief firm is a big decision. It’s like finding the right financial advisor or family lawyer. You may stand to save thousands or even six-figures in tax debts…
But if you choose the wrong tax relief firm, you could pay upfront, get nowhere and end up having to pay another firm. It happens all too often.
Tax relief firms can be predatory, unfortunately. They know people in tax debt are under emotional stress and financial strain. Dealing with IRS pressure can cloud your judgement and make you vulnerable to unfair sales practices.
But if you know what to look for, you can make a smart decision that saves you time and money. Read on to learn the top ways to judge a tax relief firm.
1. Ask how they charge for their tax relief services
It’s so important to understand billing methods before you choose a firm!
There are four main ways tax relief companies charge… and three of the billing methods you want to avoid.
Flat Fees, All-Inclusive (Best): Tax relief firms that charge all-inclusive flat fees are the ones you want. A flat fee should include all the work required to resolve your tax debt with the IRS. At Precision Tax Relief, we only charge this type of fee and our upfront quote is based on an expert upfront assessment of your case*. We never ask for full payment upfront and we offer no-interest payment plans.
Flat Fees, Non-Inclusive (Avoid): This is like the “flat fee, all-inclusive” but with an often-substantial catch. Many firms quote a low flat fee upfront but don’t tell you that all services aren’t provided. To find out if your flat fee is just the beginning of what you’ll pay, ask if it covers all services required to resolve your tax issue: bookkeeping, audit representation and filing your back tax returns are often excluded. Don’t get stuck with unexpected costs and delays!
Teaser Fees (Beware): Among the worst tax relief billing practices are “teaser fees”. Some tax relief firms quote what seems like a low “investigation fee”. Only later, when you’ve already invested time and money will you be informed of the full cost of resolving your tax debt case.
Ongoing Fees (Avoid): Some tax relief companies bill you by the hour. They make more profit the longer it takes to resolve your case. Plus, as a customer, you can’t be expected to know how long the case should actually take, so you have no idea whether the bills are fair. True experts at tax debt relief will know upfront how long it will take to close your case and will never need to charge ongoing fees.
*Our fee is based on the information provided by you in the consultation. Should the scope of services required to resolve your case change because of new or revised information, additional charges may apply.
2. Beware firms that charge for a first consultation
Some tax relief firms charge a fee for the first meeting. They may say they’re billing you to call the IRS to confirm your case details. The idea is that it takes some time to assess your case and tell you what to expect. They may say they can’t give you a quote for their full services unless you pay for that initial consultation.
It does take some time to assess your case. And it’s not unethical to charge for that time. But after decades in the tax relief business, we can assess your case quickly and accurately, and we don’t charge to do so.
If the tax relief firm isn’t willing to offer an initial meeting for free, you should be wary. It may indicate inexperience or too much emphasis on quick profit!
We’d rather be your tax advisors for life, and that starts with an initial free consultation in which you get a transparent, flat-fee (all-inclusive) quote.
3. Avoid tax relief firms who use high-pressure sales tactics
Trust your gut. If you feel pressured to commit on the spot, there’s something wrong. No reputable tax relief firm would pressure you to sign up for services urgently.
You may be offered a special, limited-time discount or freebie services… ONLY if you sign-up right away. Or they may play on your fears — after all, who isn’t nervous when dealing with the IRS?
These are classic high-pressure sales tactics and when you’re on the receiving end, stay strong. Firmly insist that you need time to make a decision. Then find a tax relief agency that gives you their best advice and then lets you make a well-thought-out decision on your own time.
4. Find out if you’ll be working with an experienced tax attorney
That is, find out if your case will be assigned to a tax attorney employed by their firm. Many firms dance around this question but if you probe, you’ll discover there is no tax attorney on staff.
Other tax relief firms have attorneys but they’re too junior. Some haven’t even passed state bar exams or have no actual experience negotiating with the IRS.
Don’t sign up for tax relief services until you get a clear answer. A good tax relief firm will have an experienced tax attorney on staff with plenty of tax resolution cases under their belt.
5. Ask about your case manager & their service standards
Resolving a tax relief case takes dedicated attention.
Before you sign up for services, confirm that you’ll be assigned an experienced case manager. Ask whether they’ll give you the lead’s direct line. This is important.
Too many tax relief firms operate like call centers. You’re given a general line and speak to someone different every time. This is frustrating for you (who wants to explain the details of their case over and over?) and slows down the entire process.
If the tax relief firm confirms you’ll have a dedicated case manager, ask whether that lead will be available to answer your calls and emails promptly. What are their service standards? Do they promise to respond within one business day? When the IRS is demanding payment for taxes, you want answers fast for peace of mind.
6. Take a look at their money-back and satisfaction guarantees
It’s one thing to make a promise and another to back it up. Ask whether the tax relief firm has a money-back or satisfaction guarantee.
We back our services with a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee and a Service Guarantee because we only take on clients we’re sure we can help.
The IRS ultimately decides the outcome of your case and we can’t guarantee any specific savings. However, we do guarantee that we will deliver the best results possible for each of our clients.
7. Confirm how long they’ve been in the tax relief business
Tax resolution is a specialized professional service. Tax law and IRS procedures are complicated. It’s one thing to set up shop and start charging for tax relief services. It’s another to demonstrate a long-standing track record of success as a tax relief firm.
Confirm how long they’ve been in tax relief and look for firms with a solid history behind them.
8. Check out each tax relief firm’s verified ratings and reviews
How did we ever live without online reviews? Reviews are one of the top ways people decide whether to do business with a company, and for the most part, reviews are far more reliable than advertising claims.
When you can see a high volume of reviews across multiple review sites, you have real data. You can see trends. Too many complaints or low star reviews and you have cause to doubt a tax relief firm.
Some reviews are more credible than others. Here, we’ll quickly explain the difference between verified and unverified customer reviews. (Hint: you should look at both but put more weight on verified reviews.)
Verified Sources of Tax Relief Firm Reviews
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is one of the most trustworthy sources of business reviews and ratings. A non-profit organization, their reason for existence is to advance marketplace trust and they’ve been operating for over 100 years!
You should definitely check out any prospective tax relief firm on BBB.
First, look at their rating or grade. BBB ratings are based on an evaluation of the business and the trustworthiness of its operations. (We have an A+ BBB rating.)
Next, look at their reviews. Customer reviews on BBB are verified (read about how BBB verifies here), unlike many other online reviews. And while no online review process is perfect, it is a lot more credible than anonymous, unverified online review forums.
Trustpilot is another leading source of online business reviews. Like BBB, Trustpilot reviews go through verification. If there’s any question as to the authenticity of a review, Trustpilot asks for proof that the review is from a real customer. You can find out more about how Trustpilot screens reviews here.
Unverified Sources of Tax Relief Firm Reviews
Google reviews are among the top you’ll find when you search a business. These are unverified — anyone can leave them. The same goes for Facebook reviews and Yelp reviews.
Unverified reviews are tricky, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) You’ll find patterns across the places online where people leave reviews. What is the overall tone across review sites? Positive or negative?
2) If a business can freely respond to a review, you can at least get both sides of the story. See how prospective tax relief firms respond to complaints and you’ll learn a lot about a business.
3) Be suspicious of anonymous reviews.
Ripoff Reports are the most notorious of unverified customer reviews and should be reviewed with caution. Prepare yourself for a short rant!
Ripoff Report doesn’t verify the identity of reviewers, who are anonymous. There’s no way of knowing whether a review is by an actual customer or a company’s competitors.
Where the truth of a review is questionable, Rip-off Reports do not ask for proof that the reviewer was, in fact, a customer or that their review is accurate.
In fact, Ripoff Report makes money on negative postings by charging a fee to look into whether it’s real. Their entire business model is built around charging businesses to repair reputations that have been damaged by anonymous reviewers.
There have been complaints and lawsuits around the world against Ripoff Report. The site is banned in the EU because of unethical business practices and it has an “F” BBB rating and two-star average customer reviews.
Take Ripoff Reports and other unverified reviews with a grain of salt. You’re better off choosing a tax relief firm based on the average overall ratings across multiple review sites.
Now You Know What to Look for in a Tax Relief Firm
When you have tax debt, you’re under stress. That pressure multiplies when the IRS makes demands and sets deadlines. It’s a problem you want behind you, fast.
But don’t rush the decision process — even if a firm promises incredible results and a low price to contract now. Give yourself time to make a smart decision.
Read what past customers have said across multiple review sites. And ask all the questions, including:
• How do you bill?
• Do you charge for an initial consultation and quote?
• Do you have an experienced tax attorney on staff?
• Who will be my case lead?
• Will I have direct access to my case lead?
• What are your service standards and response times?
• Do you have a money-back and/or service guarantee?
• How long have you been in the tax relief business?
When it’s all over, you want to be like Helen, one of our many happy customers. Here’s her review on BBB:
From my first call to precision tax relief I felt relief knowing I had found a company that would help me in this trying time. They handled every aspect of dealing with the IRS and kept me informed every step of the way. From letting me know what documents I needed to send them to answering any question I had no matter how trivial they seemed. I know I could called them any time with any concern in the end they helped me go from owing the IRS over 42,000.00 dollars to getting a settlement for only 50.00. I would recommend this company to any and all that are in the same predicament that I was in. Again thank you to Precision Tax Relief
(Read more verified customer reviews like this on BBB here.)
Why Choose Precision Tax Relief
At Precision, we want to be your tax advisors for life! Our entire business is built around earning and maintaining your trust. That means doing what we say we’ll do, when we say we’ll do it, for the price named.
The best customers are repeat customers who leave rave reviews and make referrals. Only those tax relief firms who treat each taxpayer as a lifelong customer can stay in business.
We’re proud of our A+ rating on BBB and our 9.9/10 rating on Trustpilot over 796 reviews — and growing! Rave, 5-star reviews from customers are everywhere online. Check out what past Precision Tax Relief customers have to say.
With Precision Tax Relief you also get:
• Affordable and transparent flat-rate, all-inclusive fees
• No fee charged upfront, and no-interest payment plans available to all clients
• A free initial consultation in which we’ll tell you exactly what we can do and what it will cost
• One of the leading US tax relief attorneys on staff (with an Avvo rating of 10.0)
• Direct access to a dedicated case lead who will answer calls and emails immediately or at latest within one business day
• A 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
• Experienced tax relief professionals at a firm with a track record dating back to 1967
If you have any questions, just ask! We’re completely transparent on how we work and the results we deliver.
There are many ways you can reach us. Monday – Friday: 6:30am – 6pm PST, call 1-855-212-5900 or click on the “WE ARE HERE” chat button.
After business hours, click here to request a callback or email firstname.lastname@example.org.