tax consulting services
March 13, 2012 4:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm in a situation with some unfilled taxes and potentially more back taxes then I can pay at the moment. I've seen ads for tax consulting services that help you talk to the IRS. I've also seen some negative reviews for some of them, but was wondering if someone has some positive experience with any of these and can make a recommendation? My throw away email is :
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Seeing a CPA is a lot better because they can represent you in court. The tax consulting services seem to prey on people who might not know better.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 4:58 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

See a tax attorney/accountant and call the IRS. They are very reasonable to talk to and will make many efforts to help you out.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:02 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The sooner you talk to the agency in question in cases like this, the better. You could very well not even need a CPA or attorney, although depending on the complexity of your taxes and your fluency with accounting, it may be a very good idea.

Always remember that the Taxpayer Advocate Service is on your side. They are not beholden to the IRS. They could very well be able to help you out.
posted by kavasa at 5:09 PM on March 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've been unable to pay my tax bill immediately more than once. I called the IRS and it was no problem to set up $100 per month payment. But the most I owed was about $2,000.
posted by Glinn at 5:10 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Find a CPA who is an Enrolled Agent, who will be able to represent you in all negotiations with the IRS. If a tax attorney is needed, the CPA Enrolled Agent will let you know, so it's important to start there.

Don't deal with a "service" unless the principals are CPAs with current certification and Enrolled Agents currently in good standing. This is a web directory that helps people find Enrolled Agents.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:11 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

But I second kavasa's advice to call the Taxpayer Advocate Service first. They are very helpful. (Unfortunately, my tax issues were so complicated I still had to go to an Enrolled Agent, but the TAS may be able to take care of everything for you.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:12 PM on March 13, 2012

1. I've filed taxes several years late myself (2 tax years, actually) and it was painful only because I probably did not do as good a job as an accountant would have done. If you owe, there will be additional fees and penalties for late filing, and for not paying on time, and there will also be interest for unpaid amounts. But it's better to file as soon as practical, but then you have to either pay or talk to the IRS and set up a payment plan. Basically I filed, and then owed, the IRS sends a notice "hey you need to pay this giant amount right now!" and you call and say "I can't, I'd like to set up a payment plan" and then you do. If the total amount you owe is $25k or less, it's pro forma that they let you set up a payment plan. More than that requires more talking. And be SURE to read the documents they send carefully, I've had payments intended for one old tax year get messed up and applied to another tax year, and then had that jeopardize my installment agreement, but calling the IRS sorted it out.

2. I don't get a good sense from these "we'll talk to the IRS for you" places. They all seem like they're magically going to make it go away, but ultimately talking to the IRS is what you need to do.

3. Again, get a good accountant/tax preparer and get your taxes done right, and file.

I've talked to the IRS A WHOLE LOT in the last 4 years as a result of this. And I'd say 7 out of every 8 calls the person on the line is kind, practical, and totally straight with me. 1 in 8 is more curt, and slightly rude, but ultimately also straight with me about what the process is.

Don't let fear of the IRS impinge you from doing what as a taxpayer is your responsibility. You have to be a fraudster, celebrity, tax protester, or loudmouth to get real negative attention from them.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have further questions, and good luck.
posted by artlung at 6:18 PM on March 13, 2012

I'm with Glinn, I too have owed money and just hashed it out with the IRS directly.

They made it pretty easy to set up a payment plan. I never even had to talk to a person, I did it all through their website. Here is the page with all of the links and info and forms if you need them.

Could a professional have gotten me a better deal? Probably. But they all just seem so scammy, and I never owed more than a few thousand dollars at a time. For the tiny amount that accrued in interest and fees, I was willing to risk DIY.

If I had a lot of money on the line, I would find a professional tax accountant and talk to them. NOT A CHAIN STORE LIKE HR BLOCK.
posted by ErikaB at 6:29 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Get an Enrolled Agent (EA). They are the first line of people who can help sort out back taxes and audits, and will refer you to a tax attorney if necessary. EAs go through an exam and certification process so that they can directly represent you to the IRS.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 6:56 PM on March 13, 2012

The NAEA Find an Enrolled Agent page is a place to find an Enrolled Agent.
posted by yclipse at 7:45 PM on March 13, 2012

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