Before hiring someone to help you resolve your tax problems, consider the following 9 questions.
1. Do I know who I’m dealing with? Am I speaking to someone on the phone who I will never meet face to face, who could be here today and gone tomorrow and who is using all kinds of sales tricks, pressure and fear tactics on me, or should I work with someone local who is accountable to a state licensing agency?
2. Is this person looking out for my best interests and how can I tell? Most of the people you see on TV and hear on the radio tell everyone that they qualify for an Offer in Compromise when in fact, very few people actually qualify.
You could pay several thousand dollars for an Offer in Compromise that will be rejected by the IRS and you will never get your money back, either. Once you pay the firm your money, you can rarely reach one of my clients recently paid several thousand dollars to have income tax returns prepared for several previous years. The returns were never prepared and the client could not reach anyone to ask for his money back.
Another client told me that an outfit from Renton, Washington called him on the phone trying to get him to pay the caller to solve his tax problems. My client told him that he had a lawyer working on the case.The caller told my client that “lawyers can’t solve your tax problems, only we can solve your tax problems.” If you get a call like that, you can be certain that you are dealing with a charlatan or con man.If you are talking to someone who has no qualifications, who uses sales tricks and pressure to get you to sign up with him/her, you are speaking to someone who is not looking out for your best interests; but rather his own self interest. Only a lawyer has an ethical duty to serve your best interests that is enforceable by the state bar association.
3. What are your qualifications for solving my tax problem? My name is Steve Talbot and I am a tax attorney. I graduated from Willamette University School of Law in Salem, Oregon, and from the University of Florida where I studied tax law, earning an LL.M. degree in taxation. After law school, I returned to the Northwest. In order to limit my practice to solving tax problems for my clients, I opened offices in Vancouver, Tri Cities, Spokane and Moses Lake. After several years I found that most of my clients were in the Portland –Vancouver and Tri Cities areas. I have made my Vancouver office my home office. I’ve been in private practice since 1992. I have dealt with every kind of tax problem imaginable and I have found that there is no such thing as a hopeless tax problem.
4. Why Should I Hire a Lawyer Instead of Anyone Else? Only a lawyer can tell you what all your options are because solving tax problems requires knowledge of tax law, as well as administrative law, IRS procedural law, bankruptcy law and family law (because some spouses are not liable for the other spouse’s tax debt). Only a lawyer can advise you on all areas of law that are important to solving IRS and state tax problems. Lawyers have an ethical duty to serve your best interests. Lawyers are accountable to you and the state bar association.
Face it, tax problems are legal problems and solving them is much more than simply filling out forms which is all the big advertisers do. Think about it, how can the big advertisers afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars to do all that TV advertizing? Easy, they hire low level people with little or no training and offer poor service for big bucks.
Also, it could be very dangerous for you to speak to anyone other than a lawyer because only your conversations with a lawyer are fully protected by the “attorney client privilege”, and can never be used against you in a criminal case. If you admit something harmful about yourself to a nonlawyer, the government can find out about it and use it against you in court.
The IRS is now threatening criminal action for not filing tax returns and for understating your income. I have several clients who are being investigated for tax crimes. One client is 70 years old and his estranged wife turned him in for violating a court order. It seems that he used the US Mail to hide several million dollars in bonds, contrary to a court order. Now he is charged with tax fraud and mail fraud!
But the good news is, if you begin to correct your tax problems before the IRS begins investigating you, you may be able to avoid criminal penalties. So you need to take action now and not delay.
It is more important than ever that you have competent legal advice about your tax problems. The IRS has increased its collection action by ten times at least. I am seeing more wage and bank levies than I have ever seen. I am seeing audits of “little” guys that I’ve never seen before. The IRS thinks that if they go after the little guys, the big guys will get real scared. That is why you need someone who is as aggressive as they are and who won’t roll over when the IRS tries to push you around! Non-lawyers don’t know how to be aggressive, they don’t have the training or experience to stand up to the IRS. Before you hire anyone to solve your tax problems, ask these questions.
5. How much experience do you have representing taxpayers beforethe IRS and what is its nature? Don’t mess with anyone with less than 5 years experience in the areas of audit, appeals and collections. I have over 20 years of experience in all these and more areas of defense against the IRS.
6. What is your classification in part II of Form 2848? It should be an “A”. If it is “C” through “H”, you are dealing with a very low level person.
7. What is Form 8275 and when should it be filed? It can save you from being audited.
8. What is Form 9465 and how can it help me? It can prevent the IRS from seizing your bank account or garnishing your wages.
9. What is Form 1127? It can save you from incurring penalties when you can’t pay your taxes.