June 15, 2022

Best Tax Relief Companies


Need help with your IRS tax problems? Here is a list of the best tax relief services. Find out which companies are worth it.

A good number of Americans have tax debt. In 2020, tax debt was over $114 billion, including assessed tax, penalties, and interest.

Many fall into tax debt due to errors in filing and bookkeeping. Others simply do not have the means to cover their taxes. Whatever the reason, ignoring your tax debt is not advisable as you could have your properties seized, as many came to find out.

If you own a television, a computer, or a phone, you've probably stumbled on a tax relief ad before. And if you've ever struggled with taxes, you may have considered hiring such a company.

So, how do tax relief companies work? In essence, tax relief companies are supposed to minimize your tax debt if you pay a fee. How much of that is true? We're here to answer that.

Before we dive in, it's worth mentioning that your best bet will be to hire a company with experienced attorneys. They should understand tax debt and know the ins and outs of negotiating with the IRS.

Do tax relief companies really work?
It depends on the company and how much debt you're in. However, the IRS suggests against it, and claims that these companies will drag you into more debt that you can't pay off.

Regardless, if you focus on companies with good ratings and proven success with clients similar to you, you may get the best that tax relief companies have to offer.

What does a Tax Relief Company Do?

In simple terms, a tax relief company will help you get rid of your tax debt (well, most of it), for a fee. How do they do this? By negotiating with the IRS on your behalf so you don't have to go back and forth.

However, keep in mind that this doesn't always work. By the end of the negotiations, you may still be left with tax debt.

Here is a more detailed look at what exactly tax relief companies do and the services they may offer:

  1. Consultation. Most tax relief companies will start their cases with a consultation. This service is most often offered for free. During this phase, the company will review your case and let you know what your options are.

  2. Investigation. This step involves an in-depth review of all your tax records. It is usually a paid service, and it can cost a few hundred dollars. After the review, they will let you know what your best bet is for tax debt relief.

  3. Plan development. During this process, the company has already reviewed your tax debt. The next step is to find the IRS program you qualify for and make a detailed plan on how to proceed.

  4. Negotiation with the IRS. The company will negotiate with the IRS on your behalf. This means they will go back and forth with IRS, presenting them the tax debt relief plan, while trying to minimize your debt.

  5. Tax audit representation. Some companies will stand on your behalf during an IRS or state income tax audit.

What is the IRS Fresh Start program?
The IRS Fresh Start program is a blanket term that covers debt relief programs offered by the IRS. There are several categories to cater to different circumstances.

However, there are income and tax limits across all the options: joint filers must earn less than $200,000 annually, single filers must earn less than $100,000, and the tax balance must be under $50,000 by the end of the year.[1]

Best Tax Relief Companies

Now that we know what tax relief companies are, don't get discouraged by their reputation. Among tax relief companies, there are a select few with high customer ratings, good success rates, and a money-back guarantee.

There are many bad players in the field, so save yourself hours of research and check out these top tax relief companies.

Anthem: Best for Money-Back Guarantee

Anthem wins for the best money-back guarantee. Many tax relief companies don't offer this at all or offer it for a limited time only.

Anthem offers a no-time limit money-back guarantee. This means if their negotiations with the IRS fall through, and they're not able to reduce your debt, you'll be refunded for the services you paid for in full.

There is a catch, however! Sometimes the company will not be able to reduce your debt amount, but they could lower your monthly payments. Be careful—this may ease your current financial burden, but you'll end up paying more money to the IRS from interest charged over time.

One plus for Anthem is that they can settle tax debt in as little as one week in select cases. So if you're looking for a quick fix, this is a good option to consider.

  • Minimum debt accepted: $10,000
  • Accreditation: National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), California Tax Education Council (CTEC), National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), BBB
  • Cost: Flat-rate fee is given on a case-by-case basis, can be paid through a payment plan

Optima Tax Relief: Best for User Experience

Sick of sending tons of emails just to get an update on your case? Optima offers a client portal which lets you sign in with a password and easily track all your updates. Naturally, they get top marks for user experience.

Optima offers a full money-back guarantee within the first 15 days of working with the company. In addition, Optima offers free consultation services.

Keep in mind that the money-back guarantee does have a catch. You can get your money back only during the investigation phase. After the company starts working with the IRS on your debt, your services will not be refunded no matter the outcome.

  • Minimum debt accepted: $10,000
  • Accreditation: BBB, National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA)
  • Cost: $2,000 to $5,000; $495 for investigation phase

Tax Defense Network: Best for Spanish Speakers

Tax Defense Network works with both English and Spanish speakers. The company can help if you're experiencing difficulties due to language barriers.

Negotiating with the IRS can be a full-time job, even as an English speaker. For someone whose native language isn't English, it can become quite overwhelming, which is why Tax Defense Network offers services in both languages.

The tax professionals at this company are bilingual. They can help Spanish speakers to minimize their tax debt by communicating with IRS on their behalf.

  • Minimum debt accepted: $5,000
  • Accreditation: BBB, National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS)
  • Cost: $2,500 to $3,000

What's the most reputable tax relief company?
The most reputable company in the tax relief industry is Precision Tax Relief. They have a 4.96 customer review score on BBB, and 98% excellent reviews out of 1,513 reviews on Trustpilot. Learn more about their customer service and 30-day money-back guarantee below.

Precision Tax Relief: Best for Customer Service

Precision Tax Relief puts a lot of care into its customers from the very first communication. When a client gets in touch, they're greeted by a representative on the phone or in person (depending on their preference). The representative goes over their options with them, including pricing and advice.

The company also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you're not happy with their services within your first month, you can get the money you paid back in full. They also offer flat-rate and zero-interest payment plans.

Precision's friendly customer service is available via phone, email, chat, text message, and in person. It also offers a hefty library of tax relief terms that can help those with minimal tax debt get relief on their own.

  • Minimum debt accepted: No minimum debt; will let clients with small debt know if the service fee is not worth it for debt under $10,000
  • Accreditation: American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS), BBB
  • Cost: $2,000 on average

Community Tax: Best for Little Tax Debt

Community Tax accepts as little as $7,500 in tax debt. Generally speaking, most tax relief companies are geared toward those with debts over $10,000.

Community Tax is the best choice for small amounts of tax debt because it can help you minimize your debt with no fees. The company has a large online library that can easily be accessed in their mobile app. It includes guides to IRS pages that can help out those with a smaller debts.

Community Tax also offers a program called the Tax Assurance Program (TAP) for $39 a month.[2] This is an app that helps taxpayers stay up to date on their taxes. Users get access to IRS transcripts, annual 1040 tax returns, and tax account monitoring. Once you've settled your debt, the app can help you avoid needing tax relief services in the future.

  • Minimum debt accepted: $7,500
  • Accreditation: BBB
  • Cost: $2,000 to 5,000 average; $395 investigation fee

Tax Hardship Center: Best for Tax Preparation

Tax Hardship Center got a place on this list due to stellar customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). They offer help for tax liens, tax penalties, delinquent taxes, payroll taxes, wage garnishments, and more.

The company also offers a range of tax preparation services. Tax Hardship Center can file past and current due taxes for payroll taxes, individuals, and businesses.

Tax Hardship Center offers a 14-day money-back guarantee. If you are not happy with their services within the first two weeks, you can get all the money you paid in fees back. In addition, they have no maximum tax debt amount.

  • Minimum debt accepted: $7,500
  • Accreditation: American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS), National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), California Society of Enrolled Agents (CSEA), National Directory of Tax Professionals, BBB
  • Cost: $3,750 on average; $495 investigation fee[3]

Fortress Tax Relief: Best for Large Tax Debts

Fortress Tax Relief is best for a large amounts of debt because of its hourly rate. With companies that charge a percentage-based fee, you would likely spend a lot more if you have a lot of debt.

Although an hourly rate system is our recommendation for a bigger tax debt, make sure to get quotes from different companies. You won't know for sure if you're getting the best deal until you compare prices.

With Fortress Tax Relief, you can also rest assured that the customer service will be up to par. If clients with active cases do not get a response back within two business days, they are refunded $100 for that and every subsequent instance.

  • Minimum debt accepted: $10,000
  • Accreditation: BBB
  • Cost: $100-$200 per hour

How Much Tax Relief Do Companies Charge?

Tax relief company fees will depend on various factors. These include:

  • Your debt amount
  • Length of negotiations the company has with the IRS
  • Number of solutions the companies try
  • Specific circumstances of your case

Usually, these fees start at a few hundred dollars and can go up to $10,000.

Companies tend to have different pricing structures, such as hourly rates, flat rates, percentage-based, etc. You'll want to choose a pricing structure that works best for the amount of your debt.

For instance, if you have a lot of debt, it's best to go with hourly rates. For smaller debts, percentage-based or flat-rate companies should work. For even the smallest debts under $10,000, it's best to settle them yourself. Paying a company thousands of dollars is simply not worth it, and you will only end up in bigger debt.

How to Choose a Tax Relief Company

Choosing a tax relief company is not an easy task, especially when you consider the sheer amount of companies with fraudulent activity. With the wrong company, you are at risk of losing more money and falling deeper into debt.

To avoid scammers, there are a few factors you should consider before hiring a tax relief company.

Accreditation
Accreditation is always a good sign when it comes to companies that offer tax debt relief. This should be number one on the list of things you look for when trying to choose an option. The most common accreditation you will come across is BBB. Some others include:

  • National Association of Tax Professionals
  • American Society of Tax Problem Solvers
  • National Association of Enrolled Agents
  • California Society of Enrolled Agents
  • American Institute of CPAs

In addition to accreditation, you might also want to check the company's customer reviews and complaints.

Services/Tax Relief Options
Obviously, when you are hiring someone to help you with tax debt, you want to make sure they offer the services you need. Make sure you choose a company with a broad range since this will help maximize your chances of getting the help you need.

Minimum and Maximum Debt Amount
Another thing to consider is the minimum and maximum debt required to qualify for the company's services. Generally speaking, most people who have debt smaller than $10,000 will not require a tax relief company's services.

Many companies won't accept debts lower than $10,000. Not many companies have a maximum debt limit. But if you have a very large amount of debt, it's worth asking if a company has a limit before you work with them.

Price

A big factor in choosing the right company is how much you have to pay them for the service. We previously discussed what payment methods work for different debt amounts. You can use that as a rule of thumb.

However, it's always smart to get multiple quotes across tax relief companies so you see which option suits you best.

Money-Back Guarantee
Check if the company offers a money-back guarantee and their time limit on it. Knowing you can get a refund can help put your mind at ease. Plus, you can avoid going into more debt if the service didn't work out for you.

Bottom Line

Considering everything, are tax relief companies really worth it?

Depending on the company and your situation, tax relief companies can take a big burden off your shoulders. Yet, you need to make sure that the company you choose is reputable with a history of successful cases.

If you have a substantial amount of debt, consider hiring one of these companies to do the work for you. Dealing with the IRS yourself takes valuable time out of your day.

For small debts, starting from a few hundred up to $10,000, your best option is to work with the IRS yourself to settle it. The fees you end up paying to a tax relief company won't be worth it.

Lastly, if you do decide to go with a tax relief company, be sure to read customer reviews and compare quotes.

References

  1. ^ IRS. IRS Offers New Penalty Relief and Expanded Installment Agreements to Taxpayers under Expanded Fresh Start Initiative, Retrieved 5/18/2022
  2. ^ Community Tax . Tax Assurance Program, Retrieved 5/18/2022
  3. ^ Tax Hardship Center . Pricing overview, Retrieved 5/18/2022

Write to Arta Mekuli at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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