Updated November 25, 2022

6 Best Tax Relief Companies (CPA’s Opinion)

Tax Relief

When it comes to obtaining tax relief options such as an offer in compromise, you want the best tax professionals on your side.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad tax relief companies out there — companies that are just out to take people’s money without actually working to resolve their case with their IRS and/or state tax authority.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has a dedicated webpage calling many of these companies “fraudsters,” pointing out that oftentimes these companies don’t even submit any paperwork to the IRS.

So as a CPA, I decided to put the record straight and objectively evaluate the major tax relief companies on the market today.

Have you had problems with a tax relief company?

If you’ve had trouble with a tax relief company, be sure to file Form 14157, Return Preparer Complaint, with the IRS.

Be sure to describe exactly what the tax relief company you worked with did (or didn’t do).  Be sure to mention if the company:

  • Guaranteed that your offer in compromise would be accepted (this is impossible to guarantee)
  • Told you that your case would take a relatively short amount of time to process but it actually took a lot longer
  • Misrepresented your financial situation in documents submitted to the IRS

If the IRS finds merit in your complaint, it may end up with the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate the potentially fraudulent tax relief company.

How I Chose the Best Tax Relief Companies

Having done tax relief for clients myself, I know what to look for when evaluating tax relief companies.  Here are my top three indicators.

1. Doesn’t bait and switch

One problem that I see over and over again in tax relief company reviews is that the company will “sell” the client on securing an offer in compromise for them — typically charging thousands of dollars upfront for this service — only to secure an installment agreement for them or having them placed in currently not collectible status.

Now, don’t get me wrong; sometimes, the best option for a taxpayer is an installment agreement or being placed in currently not collectible status.

And on the initial intake call, someone who knows what they’re doing should be able to size up pretty quickly what may or may not be possible for the taxpayer.

So when I see multiple clients complaining online that their tax relief company told them they could get them an offer in compromise but then all they got them was an installment agreement, that tells me that either:

  • The tax relief company is outright deceptive, telling leads they qualify for an offer in compromise when they don’t with the goal of extracting money from them, or
  • The tax relief company has a severe disconnect between its sales team and its tax professionals.  Oftentimes with large tax relief companies, the person closing the lead is a salesperson, not a tax professional.  And  if the salesperson works on commission (or partial commission), they may have an incentive to close as many deals as possible, which means promising the moon as often as possible.  This is a recipe for a dissatisfied client because while the sales team may claim the company can secure an offer in compromise for the client, the tax professional that handles the case will quickly see that this is not possible, leaving the client with unmet expectations.

2. Acts quickly on client files

Another common complaint about tax relief companies is that they collect the initial payment from clients, only to sit on their file for months without any action.

This is obviously an unacceptable practice given that the IRS will continue to take collection actions throughout this time, so this was another thing I looked at when evaluating tax relief companies.

3. Offers a guarantee

The last major thing I look at with tax relief companies is how good their money-back guarantee is (if they even have one at all).

The 6 Best Tax Relief Companies of 2022

Best Tax Relief Companies (List)

If you or someone you know has experience — good or bad — with any of these tax relief companies, please let me know in the comment section of this blog post.

Company Complaints Minimum Tax Debt Guarantee Sign Up
Choice Tax Relief

None that I could find

$10,000

30-day money-back guarantee

Precision Tax Relief

None that I could find

None

30-day money-back guarantee

Tax Defense Network

Very few reviews for this company, but one mentioned something of a “bait and switch” as a result of an aggressive salesperson.

$5,000

None

Community Tax

Some customers complain of bait-and-switch tactics.

I could not find any mention of a guarantee on the website.

$7,500

Tax Hardship Center

None that I could find

None

None

Anthem Tax Services

None that I could find

None

None

1. Choice Tax Relief

  • Choice Tax Relief
    Choice Tax Relief
    • Basics: Choice Tax Relief — based out of the Los Angeles area — provides a variety of federal and state tax relief services to individuals owing $10,000 or more in back taxes.
    • Pros: The company is BBB-accredited, and we couldn't find any bad reviews. It seems to take good care of its clients.
    • Cons: Choice Tax Relief is the youngest company on this list. While it may provide an excellent customer experience now in 2022, time will tell if its current level of service will continue as it grows.
    Honesty 9/10
     
    Responsiveness 7/10
     
    Price 7/10
     
    Accessibility 10/10
     
    Guarantee 8/10
     
    Transparency 8.5/10
     
    • MINIMUM DEBT:

      $10,000

    • LOCATION AVAILABILITY:

      All 50 U.S. States

    • INITIAL FEE:

      Yes

    • YEAR FOUNDED:

      2022

Choice Tax Relief is owned by CPA and tax relief YouTuber Logan Allec.  It also has licensed EAs on staff, an A+ BBB rating, and good customer reviews.

One thing I like about Choice Tax Relief is that it has a strong commitment to education.  Its blog, for instance, provides some of the best information about tax relief on the web.

On its website, Choice Tax Relief lists out its three commitments:

  • Commitment to Transparency
  • Commitment to Education
  • Commitment to Integrity

Of course, companies will say whatever will make them sound best on their website, but it actually turns out that — based on customer reviews — it sounds like Choice lives up to these claims.

Now, Choice is currently a much smaller tax relief company than most other companies on this list, so time will tell if they will be able to maintain this level of service as it grows.

2. Precision Tax Relief

  • precision tax relief review
    Precision Tax Relief
    • Basics: Founded in 1967, Precision Tax Relief primarily helps individuals with their tax debts with the IRS.
    • Pros: Unlike many tax relief companies, Precision does not charge an initial fee and operates under a flat-fee arrangement. In addition, Precision has been praised for its client service.
    • Cons: The company does not have a clear refund policy, and its representation with state tax debt is limited.
    Honesty 8/10
     
    Responsiveness 9/10
     
    Price 7/10
     
    Accessibility 10/10
     
    Guarantee 6/10
     
    Transparency 8/10
     
    • MINIMUM DEBT:

      $10,000

    • LOCATION AVAILABILITY:

      All 50 U.S. States

    • INITIAL FEE:

      None

    • YEAR fOUNDED:

      1967

One thing I like about Precision Tax Relief is that its CEO Scott Gettis and its managing partner Gene Haag are both enrolled agents.

At least on a surface level, this tells me that Precision Tax Relief is perhaps more about actually getting the work done rather than just marketing and running new clients’ credit cards.

It also claims to have been in business since 1967 — of course, the tax relief industry wasn’t exactly around in 1967, so I take this to mean that Precision has existed in some form (perhaps as a basic tax preparation office) since 1967.

On its website, Precision claims to be extremely transparent.  It says:

Our experts don’t shy away from the truth.  We tell you exactly what’s possible given your tax situation.

This is extremely important to me since one of my major complaints with the tax relief industry is that many companies will tell a lead upfront that they can secure an offer in compromise for them when in reality any true tax professional could tell that this is not possible.

Now, whether or not Precision lives up to this claim is a different story, but as far as I could find in my research, customers seem satisfied.  Unlike other tax relief companies, I could not find any reviews stating that Precision engaged in a bait-and-switch or left clients hanging for months with unresolved tax issues.

Also, unlike other tax relief companies on this list, Precision Tax Relief is a member of the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS), an organization that I myself am a member of and trust.

3. Community Tax

  • Community Tax Relief
    Community Tax
    • Basics: Community Tax is a tax relief company founded in 2010 by two attorneys (who happen to be brothers) as well as enrolled agent.
    • Pros: Community Tax fully discloses who is on its staff on its about page, and it does appear to have qualified professionals to work on clients' tax issues. It has many apparently legitimate good reviews on sites like BBB.
    • Cons: Some clients complain about miscommunications from Community Tax regarding important things like the pricing of their services as well as the timeline of when work will be completed.
    Honesty 7.5/10
     
    Responsiveness 7/10
     
    Price 5/10
     
    Accessibility 9/10
     
    Guarantee 6/10
     
    Transparency 5/10
     
    • MINIMUM DEBT:

      $5,000

    • STATES SERVICED:

      50

    • AVERAGE PRICE:

      $3,000

    • GUARANTEE:

      Yes, but terms not specified

Community Tax claims to take a three-step approach to tax relief:

  • Step 1: Consultation — This step is essentially the free consultation offered by practically all tax relief companies in order to get leads to pay the upfront fee to become a client.
  • Step 2: Investigation — This is where Community Tax submits Form 8821 to the IRS in order to gather information about your tax accounts.  I imagine this is also when Community Tax determines the best approach to take to your situation, that is, whether to try for an offer in compromise, currently not collectible status, or a mere installment agreement.
  • Step 3: Resolution —This is where Community Tax actually fills out the appropriate paperwork with the IRS in order to resolve your tax issue.

This all sounds well and good, but similar to Anthem Tax Services, however, Community Tax has some apparent customers expressing their frustration with the company on Yelp:

  • B.B. of Plano, TX claimed that Community Tax told him to pay $1,200 to the IRS that he did not actually owe.
  • Belle L. of Chicago, IL claimed that Community Tax charged her $2,000 to get her into “deferred” status (I imagine she meant currently not collectible status), even though she was already in this status.
  • Ivan M. of Belmont Cragin, IL claimed that Community Tax charged him $500 but did nothing else.

4. Tax Hardship Center

  • tax hardship center
    Tax Hardship Center
    • Basics: Founded in 2012, Tax Hardship Center helps clients and businesses resolve tax debts with the IRS and/or state tax agencies.
    • Pros: The company charges lower fees than competitors and has a relatively generous money-back guarantee policy.
    • Cons: Several reviewers complained about the company’s failure to return phone calls/emails or take specific actions on their cases despite promising to do so.
    Honesty 7/10
     
    Responsiveness 4/10
     
    Price 8/10
     
    Accessibility 4/10
     
    Guarantee 6/10
     
    Transparency 4/10
     
    • MINIMUM DEBT:

      $7,500 to $10,000

    • LOCATION AVAILABILITY:

      All 50 U.S. States

    • INITIAL FEE:

      $495

    • YEAR fOUNDED:

      2012

Tax Hardship Center is a smaller player in the tax relief field, but it appears to be popular with its customers.

It has fewer reviews than other companies, the reviews it does have are mostly positive.

Although Tax Hardship Center does not publish its fees on its website, Alice K. of Chicago, IL said that after calling around she felt that Tax Hardship Center cared and was reasonable priced.

As a website owner, one thing that kind of struck me as odd was that Tax Hardship Center has a page on its site called “Tax Hardship Center Review”.

Frankly, I would think that it would be fairly difficult for a company to do an objective review of itself, and I imagine Tax Hardship Center’s strategy here is to get this positive review (of itself!) to rank in search engines.

5. Tax Defense Network

  • tax defense network review
    Tax Defense Network
    • Basics: Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Tax Defense Network helps individuals with their tax debts with the IRS (and/or state tax agency).
    • Pros: The company appears to charge no initial fee and has a relatively minimum tax debt threshold for working with you.
    • Cons: Several reviewers complained about the company’s lack of responsiveness and expertise in handling their cases. The company also does not appear to have a refund/money back guarantee.
    Honesty 3/10
     
    Responsiveness 2/10
     
    Price 5/10
     
    Accessibility 10/10
     
    Guarantee 3/10
     
    Transparency 3/10
     
    • MINIMUM DEBT:

      Based on third-party sites, between $5,000 and $7,500

    • LOCATION AVAILABILITY:

      All 50 U.S. States

    • INITIAL FEE:

      None

    • YEAR fOUNDED:

      2007

Tax Defense Network has a pretty slick website, but it’s short on details about itself.  Its about page merely states that it’s a tax resolution firm that has saved clients billions in tax debt.

One potential drawback of Tax Defense Network is that it is owned by MoneySolver, a national financial services company.  Now, this may not be a bad thing at all, but personally I like it when tax resolution companies are owned by tax professionals whose names and professional credentials are on the line.

This all said, Tax Defense Network is also a member of the ASTPS, which is a plus in my book.

6. Anthem Tax Services

  • anthem
    Anthem Tax Services
    • Basics: Founded in 2010, Anthem Tax Services helps clients resolve their tax debts with the IRS and/or state tax agency. The company also provides personal and business tax preparation and bookkeeping services.
    • Pros: The company has a low initial fee and a relatively generous refund policy.
    • Cons: Anthem does not clearly lay out the process for its customers. Also, client reviews complained of poor communication and a disconnect between what was promised and the actual results.
    Honesty 4/10
     
    Responsiveness 3/10
     
    Price 6/10
     
    Accessibility 10/10
     
    Guarantee 5/10
     
    Transparency 4/10
     
    • MINIMUM DEBT:

      $10,000

    • LOCATION AVAILABILITY:

      All 50 U.S States

    • INITIAL FEE:

      Sites indicate an initial fee starting at $250, though fees can vary.

    • YEAR FOUNDED:

      2010

Anthem Tax Services’ website is frankly light on details, but one major selling point appears to be its money-back guarantee.  Here’s what they say about it:

If we don’t save you money or rework your payments, you get your money back — guaranteed.  The money-back guarantee does not apply to bookkeeping and tax preparation services or to the minimum deposit paid by clients.

Now, a money-back guarantee sounds nice on its face, but let’s actually break this down:

  • The money-back guarantee does not apply if Anthem merely “reworks” your payments: Let’s say that you are currently paying the IRS $400 per month on a payment plan.  Anthem is saying that if they so much as reduce your monthly payment down to $399 per month, you are not eligible for the money-back guarantee.
  • The money-back guarantee does not apply to the minimum deposit paid by clients: This indicates that there is some kind of nonrefundable fee that Anthem collects upfront.  Unfortunately, Anthem does not disclose what this amount is on its website.  However, one Yelp reviewer (Jacob L. of Cumming, GA) who claims to have cancelled Anthem’s services within three business days was still out $2,100 (though Anthem apparently refunded him $500).

Another questionable thing about Anthem is that on Yelp, it’s called “Tax Debt Settlers”.  I’m not sure if this is Anthem’s original name or if Anthem changed its name on Yelp so people couldn’t find its bad reviews on there, of which there are a few.

Several customers have claimed that Anthem has been unresponsive on their cases, and others have claimed that Anthem pulled a bait-and-switch, claiming that a very low offer in compromise amount was possible when it was not.

Tax Relief Guide

Negotiating with the IRS — and reaching an agreement with them — can be extremely confusing and time consuming, especially to everyday Americans who don’t have specialized training and knowledge about IRS practices and procedures.

What Is Tax Relief?

At the federal level, tax relief is, essentially, using the IRS’s own practices and procedures — found in the Internal Revenue Manual — in a taxpayer’s favor to allow them to either:

  • pay less than they owe to the IRS,
  • pay what they owe to the IRS over a longer period of time, or
  • both

There are state tax relief programs as well, and each state has its own rules about what it will and will not negotiate over when it comes to a taxpayer’s debt to the state.

In fact, many taxpayers have found that obtaining tax relief from the IRS can be a bit easier than obtaining tax relief from the state.

Do I Need to Hire a Tax Relief Company?

No, you certainly don’t need to hire a tax relief company.

Tax relief companies are service providers.

And the cold, hard truth is that apart from certain medical procedures, you could probably do anything yourself that you could also pay a service provider for:

  • You don’t need to pay a restaurant $300 to buy ingredients and cook, plate, and bring a decent meal to you; you know full well you could go to the grocery store and cook the same dish.
  • You don’t need to pay a real estate brokerage $30,000 to list and sell your house; you could sell your house FSBO (“for sale by owner”).
  • You don’t need to pay a lawyer $300,000 to defend your company in an intellectual property infringement lawsuit; you could represent yourself.

Of course, the difference is that professionals who have cooked thousands of meals, sold hundreds of homes, and defended dozens of clients with similar fact patterns as yours will probably do it better than you would due to their education and experience.

And on top of that, they will save you time because they are the ones who are doing the work — not you!

And it’s no different with tax relief companies; you don’t need to pay a tax relief company to negotiate your tax debt with the IRS, but a professional will probably do a better job than you could do on your own and will of course save you the hassle of doing it yourself.

How Do Tax Relief Companies Work?

Tax relief companies work to resolve your tax debt with the IRS in a manner that’s beneficial to you and agreeable to the IRS.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be able to reduce your tax debt down to a fraction of what you owe — or that they will be able to reduce your tax debt at all.

(By the way, if you reach out to a tax debt company that does come out selling you on getting “pennies-on-the-dollar” tax relief before they’ve thoroughly reviewed your case and current financial situation, run!  These are the kinds of tax relief companies that have unfortunately cast a shadow over the entire industry.)

At the end of the day, a good tax relief company will:

  • Talk to you to understand your goals with respect to your tax debt
  • Thoroughly investigate your situation with the IRS, generally by communicating directly with the IRS Practitioner Priority Service telephone line
  • Thoroughly investigate your current financial situation
  • Determine the best tax relief option for your debt
  • Discuss this option with you
  • Vigorously pursue this option

Remember, much of tax relief is a negotiation, and while tax relief companies can’t really guarantee anything, they can — if they’re good and reputable — put you in a better position with the IRS or your state taxing authority than the one you’re in right now.

Typical Tax Problems

While tax relief companies assist their clients with a variety of tax problems, the problems listed below are the most common.

Back Tax Debt

Probably the most common tax problem that tax relief companies help their clients deal with is the negotiation of back tax debt with the IRS and state governments.

Tax relief companies can use a variety of strategies to deal with their clients’ back tax debt, including

  • Offers in compromise
  • Currently not collectible status
  • Installment agreements

Penalties and Interest

It’s not uncommon for penalties and interest to cause a long-time, noncompliant taxpayer to see their balance for a given tax year increase by over 50% due to penalties and interest.

While interest is statutory and the IRS does not have the authority to forgive it, a good tax relief company can look into possible penalty abatement for any penalties that have accrued on your account.

Note that if a penalty is abated, the interest on that penalty is abated as well.

Unfiled Tax Returns

Sometimes people get behind on their tax filings — possibly for only a few years and possibly for a large number of years.

What you may not know is that technically the IRS only requires taxpayers to get in compliance for the past six filing years in order for them to entertain a negotiation regarding back tax debt.

So if you haven’t filed returns for longer than a six-year period, it may not necessarily be in your best interest to file all those years.

A good tax relief company can determine which tax years it is in your best interest to file returns for, file those returns for you, and negotiate with the IRS on any back tax debt that arises from these filings.

How Much Do Tax Relief Companies Cost?

Tax relief companies vary in their prices, but a typical pricing structure is to first charge a smaller fee to investigate the client’s situation to see what tax relief programs they are eligible for and then charge a larger fee based on the tax relief program recommended by the tax relief company.

For example, the cost of an investigation might be $500 for a relatively straightforward tax debt situation for someone owing $30,000 to the IRS.

Then, in the course of the recommendation, the tax relief company may determine that the client isn’t a great offer in compromise candidate but does qualify for a partial-payment installment agreement.

They may charge $2,500 or more for the partial-payment installment agreement placement.

These are just examples; many tax relief companies tend to approximate their fees at around 10% of a client’s tax debt amount.

Tax Relief Options

If you owe the IRS, you have several options available to you to deal with your tax debt.

At the end of the day, the IRS would prefer that taxpayers get back in the tax system and is willing to make some concessions to them when they do so.

Here are the major tax relief options available to Americans.

Offer in Compromise

An offer in compromise is a deal with the IRS to settle your tax debt for less than you owe.

Installment Agreement

An installment agreement is an agreement with the IRS to pay back your tax debt over time rather than all at once.

Currently Not Collectible Status

Currently not collectible status is a special “hardship” status granted by the IRS to those who can demonstrate that they are experiencing severe financial hardship.

While in currently not collectible status, you are not required to make any payments on your tax debt to the IRS, and the IRS’s ten-year statute of limitations on collection continues to run.

Tax Relief Companies FAQs

Why do some tax relief companies only work with those who owe at least $10,000?

Some tax relief companies only work with taxpayers who owe at least a certain amount of back taxes — such as $10,000 — because the cost of their services probably wouldn’t make sense for someone who owes less than that.

 
 

Author:

Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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