I’m not about to tell you that we’re perfect, because we’re definitely far from that. What I will tell you is that I am very frustrated. I’m frustrated with the tax negotiation industry and I’m frustrated with the IRS. Frankly, the IRS doesn’t give a damn about protecting the public from unscrupulous tax scam artists who care only about separating you from your money. It’s disgraceful. It’s especially disgraceful because these tax scam artists are tax negotiation firms.
The Congress couldn’t care less and the press doesn’t seem interested either. I’m hoping and praying that an Attorney General like Jay Nixon of Missouri or New York’s Eliot Spitzer goes after these slimeballs. Until then, the only thing you can do is be very, very careful. In my professional opinion, at least 2/3’s of the companies out there will absolutely rip you off. At least 2/3’s of the tax negotiation firms will take your money regardless of whether they can help you or not. They’ll lie to you and tell you they can get all the penalties and interest wiped out. They’ll lie to you and tell you they’ll settle with the IRS for “pennies on the dollar” when they know damn well you don’t possibly qualify for the Offer in Compromise program.
How do they get away with this? Easy. First, most of the people you talk to are salespeople. They have NO license to protect. You don’t actually speak to the attorney or the EA or the CPA that these firms claim to have on their staff. Nope, you speak to some slimy salesman who doesn’t have a license. Some of these firms make up titles like Tax Resolution Specialist. What a scam! Second, if you go to these firms websites, take a close look and you’ll find that they fail to list any of the people working there. Wonder why? Easy answer, folks. They contract out their work and the firm itself has NO responsibility whatsoever. In fact, many of these “firms” aren’t tax firms or law firms or CPA firms at all. Many of them just collect leads and sell them to tax negotiation firms.
We NEVER take on any client that we don’t believe we can truly help. I’m writing this on May 13, 2005. Today alone, I spoke with four potential clients to whom I gave free advice, but didn’t even offer a contract. Why? Because I couldn’t do anything for them. But, I absolutely guarantee you that 99% of the tax negotiation firms that advertise on the internet would take their money regardless of whether they could help them or not. And that stinks.
I could make a helluva lot more money if I did business the way most of my slimy competitors do business, but I still have to look at myself in the mirror every morning and I still have to be a role model for my two young sons. I wish to hell I understood how these other guys do it, because it makes me sick to my stomach every day. When I started in this business 13 years ago, things weren’t like this. I’m honestly embarrassed to even be in this field today.
So, what should you do?
1) Stay away from any firm that won’t let you speak to the people who are on the Power of Attorney before you sign a contract;
2) Stay away from any website that doesn’t clearly give the names and bios of the licensed (Enrolled Agents, CPAs & Attorneys) employees;
3) Ignore guarantees, promises and so-called testimonials. They’re nothing more than meaningless hype;
4) Ask tough questions. If the answers don’t make sense, don’t hire the firm. What kind of tough questions? Are you an EA, CPA or attorney? When they say, “I’m a tax resolution specialist”, ask them, is that a state or Federal license?
5) DO call the companies on my Respected Tax Resolution Firms list. I have personally screened these practitioners. They’re competitors, but they’re fair and honest.
6) Finally, use your good common sense. You know when something isn’t right. You work too hard for your money to give it away to some slimeball that makes promises you know he can’t keep.