Dealing effectively with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or other state or local regulatory authorities requires specialized knowledge and experience. Only licensed tax attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents can represent you before the IRS. Similarly, not all individuals who are licensed representatives have the expertise to represent you effectively and defend your rights. Your tax preparer is most often not your best choice.
Four Steps to Hire the Right Person
When hiring a tax problem resolution specialist, inquire about the persons qualifications. Review the educational background specific to resolving your problem. Inquire as to specific professional affiliations your representative may have. Having good marketing advertisement is not acceptable proof that a person is qualified to help you. Check your representative’s background. Is he or she a member of the Bar Association, Institute of Certified Public Accountants, American Society of Tax Problem Solvers?
Know your representative’s limitations. Has he or she dealt with the IRS in the past? When? How often? Did he or she work for the IRS at one time? Does the attorney have experience as a Certified Public Accountant or (at a minimum), a background in accounting? What is the practitioner’s reputation in the industry? Is there a proven track record of helping individuals or businesses with IRS problems? If it is a firm, exactly who in the firm will be handling your case?
Assess the cost
You know you need professional help but can you afford it? Should you hire a CPA, enrolled agent or tax attorney? Most practitioners charge hourly rates. Most will require a retainer and often require full payment up front. Once you’ve found practitioners that meet your requirements, choose several and conduct your assessment, including the cost. They will not hesitate to tell you their pay requirements. Sometimes, you can give them a brief description of the situation over the phone and they will tell you what it will cost to handle your tax problem.
What Can You Expect
Ask what your representative can do for you. Ask exactly what will be done to resolve your tax problems. How long will it take? Get a plan in writing and work with the tax relief practitioner to achieve your best outcome.