Tax relief specialists are experts in IRS standards and procedures offering services to help you with your tax issues. Tax relief is an umbrella term for any professional services rendered to address your outstanding tax liability, deal with the IRS’ inquisition into your financial details, or help you navigate local, state, and federal tax law intrigues.
A tax relief specialist will help you navigate the IRS waters and end up with the best outcome. Government tax relief refers to the programs and policies in place to ease taxpayer burdens, particularly after a natural disaster or economic crisis. Tax relief specialists help taxpayers communicate with the IRS and state tax authorities to address everything from improving your tax preparation to helping you speed along your ongoing tax audit.
Why Do I Need a Tax Relief Specialist?
Have you ever been audited by the IRS and been subjected to collection actions by your state tax authority? Or made aware of any number of penalties you’ve accrued as a result of inaction, simple mistakes, or even a fundamental math error? Tax relief specialists offer their services to clients needing help interacting and communicating with the IRS and interpreting the obtuse nature of tax law.
For example, find yourself in debt with the IRS for reasons you don’t understand. You may be able to ask a tax relief specialist to help you appeal the IRS’ decision to levy collection actions against your tax account and prove that you do not owe taxes. Or, if you do owe taxes and cannot pay your debt, a tax relief specialist can help you navigate the potential of a partial payment plan or an offer in compromise.
Tax relief specialists can also provide preventative services. These services include minimizing your tax liability, discovering mistakes in your tax return, and preparing your return from scratch. It can also be helpful when altering your tax planning to address changes in your personal or professional life, such as a divorce, the birth of a new baby, or impending retirement. Knowing what kind of specialist to hire is also essential if you need a tax relief specialist for the present, the past, or the immediate future.
Common Types of Tax Professionals
There are multiple types of tax professionals. Under most circumstances, unlimited representation for tax preparation services and other forms of tax-related services come from certified public accountants (CPAs), tax attorneys, and enrolled agents. Tax preparers with no professional credentials who participate under the Annual Filing Season Program have limited representation rights.
While tax attorneys specialize in tax law, a certified public accountant is a credentialed and state-licensed accountant who passed a CPA exam, specializing in accounting, financial advice, taxes, financial planning, and financial auditing. On the other hand, an enrolled agent is a professional authorized by the IRS through a three-part Special Enrollment Examination exam. Many enrolled agents are former IRS employees.
Among these three types of professionals, further individual specializations narrow down what kind of service you might be looking for and what kind of professional you need to seek out. For example, CPAs may individually specialize in tax auditing practices, investment income taxes, the appeals process, tax preparation services, or maintaining records for tax-related purposes. Meanwhile, enrolled agents might know how the IRS operates and what to expect.
Still, they may find their strengths among tasks such as client representation and business income tax returns. While tax attorneys are highly qualified, some specialize in estate taxes and estate planning or international taxation, while others specialize in litigation and appeals. Specialization matters. If you are primarily interested in tax preparation services, find an IRS-certified tax preparer through the agency’s Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers.
Identifying Qualified Tax Specialists and Tax Preparers
CPAs, EAs, and tax attorneys will usually possess several qualifications, separate credentials, and memberships in specific tax-related organizations to distinguish themselves and further denote their specialization. The IRS provides a list of specific tax professional associates that belong in partnership with the IRS, including the National Association of Tax Professionals, the AAA-CPA, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Asking the Right Questions
Once you’ve found a few potential tax relief specialists to work with, take your time to ask questions before choosing the right one. A few basic things you might want to know include:
- How long have they been specializing in their field of expertise?
- How might they tackle a case like yours, and will they do so personally?
- What are their credentials?
- Have they had frequent experience with your particular issue (i.e., collection actions, IRS office of appeals, federal tax audit)?
When looking for tax professionals to work it, it also helps to keep a few red flags in mind. These include:
- Asking you to sign an unfinished tax return.
- Refusing to sign a return.
- Insisting on claiming your refund before wiring it to you.
- Promising a much larger tax refund than before.
- Guaranteeing any outcomes, especially an offer in compromise.
- Refusing to e-file documents.
When Might I Need a Tax Professional?
Have several significant changes in your personal and professional life that may alter your filing status, number of dependents, income tax returns, or potential deductions? Have you received mail from the IRS calling to attention a significant tax debt? Have you received a notice of intent to file a federal tax lien or a levy? Are you facing a potential IRS audit on your business or person?
If you have a question that the IRS cannot reasonably answer, it is in your best interest to see a tax professional. No amount of advice, online or elsewhere, is equal to the expertise and opinion of a tax professional, given the full context of your situation and circumstances. There are many reasons to contact a tax professional, but here are some main ways:
- Assisting you in developing an appeal to tackle an unjust decision by the IRS.
- Being a personal representative in an ongoing audit.
- Guiding you through the murky waters of tax debt resolution, IRS negotiations, long-term payment plans, and offers in compromise.
It’s essential to trust your gut. Your chosen tax professional should be someone you can trust to get the job done, with the experience and competency needed to tackle your unique situation.