Civic Tax Relief ReviewTax Relief
- Civic Tax Relief
- Basics: Based in Costa Mesa, California, Civic Tax Relief provides tax resolution and compliance services to individuals and businesses alike.
- Pros: The company has a number of positive reviews and appears to charge reasonable fees relative to its competitors.
- Cons: Several reviewers complained about the gap between Civic promises and its actual results as well as the company’s poor communication skills. Civic also has a relatively skimpy 15-day money-back guarantee.
- MINIMUM DEBT:
- LOCATION AVAILABILITY:
All 50 U.S. States
- INITIAL FEE:
- YEAR fOUNDED:
Civic Tax Relief is part of the massive tax relief industry that helps Americans with IRS and state tax debts, which the IRS estimated to be around $114 billion as of 2020. The company boldly claims that it has helped its clients resolve over $75 million of tax debt and has around 27,000 satisfied customers to date.
I always view these claims with skepticism, especially given the historical scrutiny of the industry’s business practices. So I decided to do a deep dive into the company’s services and customer reviews. Below are my thoughts on Civic Tax Relief.
How Does Civic Tax Relief Work?
On its website, Civic lays out a three step process for resolving your tax debts, which it bills as “easy as 1-2-3”:
In general, the company’s process is no different than its competitors. That said, while Civic’s description of the tax resolution process as “easy-as 1-2-3” may be a clever marketing campaign, it oversimplifies the real timeline and difficulty in resolving these cases.
Given that taxpayers must meet specific criteria to qualify for IRS tax relief programs such as an offer in compromise, Civic should be upfront and realistic with its clients on the chances of resolution, especially with respect to debt reduction/elimination.
To retain Civic’s services, you must first request a free consultation with one of the company’s “in-house experts.” This expert, however, is likely a salesperson who is trained to get you to sign up for Civic’s services (and pay the associated fees) with promises of substantial tax debt reduction.
To be fair, Civic has a disclaimer on the bottom of its website (in small font) that “individual results may vary based on situations” and that it does not guarantee tax debt reduction or a specific time period for paying the debt.
- BBB Accredited: A+ Rating With 5/5 Rating
- Guarantee: 30-Day Moneyback Guarantee
- Reasonable Fees: Lower than Industry Averages
Still, a number of BBB complaints and reviews suggest that Civic may have promised debt reduction/elimination without analyzing whether the clients qualified for such relief from the IRS.
For example, one former client in a BBB complaint claimed that the company could reduce his IRS debt to “almost nothing,” a primary reason the client decided to retain its services. According to the former client, “[Civic] didn’t do anything but get me a higher payment plan” despite promises to the contrary.
My guess here is that a salesperson assured the client that it could eliminate his tax debts without fully knowing the details of his case. If this is true, the client’s experience highlights the disconnect between what tax relief companies promise and what they actually can deliver.
If you decide to move forward with Civic, the next step is the Discovery phase.
During the Discovery phase, the company claims it will “fully understand your case” and “stop the bleeding” in as little as two weeks.
Although Civic does not detail what “stop the bleeding” involves, my guess is that the company would take actions that require immediate attention, including stopping IRS bank levies and wage garnishment.
During this stage, the company will likely also inform the IRS of its representation of your case and begin developing options to resolve your IRS tax debts.
During the resolution phase, Civic claims that a case advisor will “do what it takes” to resolve your case or “find a solution to get your life back on track.”
Civic does have a number of instances where it helped clients substantially reduce their tax debts with the IRS (and/or state tax agency).
Some customer reviews, however, seem to undermine Civic’s claims that it will help “get your life back on track.” In particular, two general themes emerge from the reviews. First, former clients complain of poor communication with the company once the fee is paid. For instance, in one review, one client claimed that two representatives “ghosted” her for months; she had to leave countless emails and voicemails in order for someone to provide an update on her case.
Several reviewers on BBB also claimed that, upon receiving its fee, the company failed to advance their case with the IRS and/or made careless errors in the course of its representation. For example, one customer who worked with Civic complained that the IRS received a levy due to the company’s untimely handling of her case. The client also claimed that the company erroneously assured her that, under its negotiated installment plan with the IRS, the monthly payment would be $430, when the actual payment was $1,650 per month.
Again, this review suggests that the company’s quality of its services is far below the promises its representatives make in the initial consultation phase. These negative reviews taint and arguably overshadow the company positive reviews on the BBB website.
How to Qualify for Civic Tax Relief
If you want to retain Civic’s services, you must first request a free consultation with a “trained tax professional.”
The company does have a minimum threshold of $10,000 to work with you. Apart from this threshold, the company does not appear to have any other specific requirements.
Civic Tax Relief At a Glance
|Services||Tax resolution services |
Tax return preparation
|Fees||$3,500 to $5,000, based on customer reviews|
|Minimum Debt Required||$10,000|
|Turn Around Time||Between 3 and 9 months|
|Refund Policy||Within 15 days of signing up with Civic (limited to investigation fee)|
|Dedicated Case Manager||Yes|
|Speed of Service||Not disclosed|
|Location Availability||All 50 U.S. states|
|Phone Number||(800) 790-1507|
Civic Tax Relief provides similar services as other tax relief companies, including:
- Offer in compromise
- Installment agreement
- Wage garnishment/bank levy
- Tax audit services
- Currently not collectible
The company also offers tax preparation (including back tax filings) services.
Civic Tax Relief Cost
The company does not disclose the fees on its website. Based on customer reviews, the fees are as follows:
|Investigation Fee||Civic charges an investigation fee, but no information on the amount is available|
|Resolution Fee||Fees typically range from $3,500 to $5,000|
The company does charge an initial investigation fee to properly evaluate your tax debt case, but I found no information on the amount of the fee.
Based on BBB customer reviews, Civic’s fees typically range from $3,500 to $5,000, although they can be higher depending on your case.
How Much Could You Save with Civic Tax Relief?
The amount you can save with Civic depends on your specific tax case.
Based on several reviews on BBB and its website, the company has helped its clients meaningfully reduce their tax debts with the IRS (and/or state tax agency). At the same time, a number of reviews claimed that Civic did not do much to address their case despite promises in the beginning of the engagement to reduce/eliminate their tax debts.
Civic Tax Relief Pros and Cons
- Some positive reviews: Although Civic has received some negative feedback, the company also has a number of positive reviews of its services on BBB.
- Reasonable fees: Based on customer reviews on BBB, the fees are between $3,500 and $5,000, which is reasonable when compared to its competitors.
- Gap between promises and results: Some reviewers claimed that Civic’s actual services fell short of promises the company made during the consultation phase.
- Poor communication in some instances: A few customer reviews show that Civic representatives were not responsive to clients and failed to provide them with updates on their case.
- Skimpy refund policy: You can only get your money back if you request it from Civic within a mere 15 days of retaining the company. The refund is only limited to the fee paid during the investigation phase.
Is Civic Tax Relief Legit?
Based on my research, Civic has a 15-day money back guarantee policy. The refund, however, is limited to the fee you paid during the investigation phase.
Civic Tax Relief Complaints and Customer Reviews
The company has several positive reviews on BBB. That said, the company has been subject to at least 12 complaints within the last 3 years and has a number of negative reviews on the site related to its customer service and quality of services provided. Below is a representative sample of the BBB reviews:
|Reviewer||Issue||(Assuming Reviewer’s Claims are True)|
|Brian S. |
|When Brian reached out to Civic to resolve his tax debts, the company told him it could help him and that he was a “good candidate.” |
Despite the company’s promises, Brian complained that all Civic did was negotiate an installment plan to repay his tax debts, which he claims he could have done himself.
Ultimately, Brian believes that “[Civic] lied to squeeze $3500+ out of me.”
|Assuming Brian’s account is true, his claims are troubling. Specifically, Civic’s promises at the outset are potentially misleading in that they gloss over the difficulty in actually securing tax debt reduction/elimination. |
Of course, Brian’s case may not have in fact qualified for debt reduction/elimination in the first instance. Still, the company should be more transparent on the possibility of this outcome. Civic’s assurances that Brian was a “good candidate” suggest, at a minimum, that the company failed to alert Brian to this potential outcome. In the worst case scenario, the company’s promises may have been an aggressive sales tactic to get Brian to retain the company’s services.
|Patrick H. |
|When Patrick contacted Civic to help him with his tax debt issues, he admitted that he was skeptical about the company. |
However, as his case progressed, Patrick claimed Civic representatives were “professional,” “knowledgeable” and “also very understanding.”
Additionally, given his precarious financial situation, Patrick appreciated the fact that Civic offered a reasonable payment plan, which his assigned case manager helped him work through.
|Patrick’s experience, if true, serves as a counterweight to other negative reviews about the company’s poor client service. Having a tax debt with the IRS (and/or state tax agency) is stressful enough – an advocate with the traits that Patrick described in his review is important to navigating the process. |
Brian’s comments on Civic’s reasonable fees is also a refreshing departure from the non-transparent billing practices of some tax relief firms.
|Mary M. |
|Mary M. worked with Civic for over 3 years to resolve her tax debt. |
Despite paying thousands in fees, Mary complained that she could never get the help or response to her case, which eventually resulted in the IRS “levy[ing] everything.” Mary claims that she ultimately reached out to the IRS to negotiate a reasonable installment plan herself.
At the end of the day, Mary felt like “[Civic] will quickly take your money and not do…a thing.”
|Mary’s claims, if true, are very concerning. It is true that few taxpayers will actually be eligible for tax debt reduction or elimination. |
That said, the fact that Civic failed to take steps to postpone IRS levies or negotiate a repayment plan with the IRS shows the company did not even do the bare minimum with Mary’s case.
Notably, Mary had to reach out and negotiate with the IRS herself, which leads me to believe that she became worse off than before she contacted Civic to take on her case.
Alternatives to Civic Tax Relief
Below is a comparison of Civic Tax Relief’s services with other established tax relief companies:
|Civic Tax Relief||Precision Tax Relief||Optima Tax Relief||Fortress Tax Relief|
|Minimum Debt Required|
|Turn Around Time|
|Dedicated Case Manager|
|Speed of Service|
|Tax Relief Phone Number|
Is Civic Tax Relief Worth It?
In my opinion, Civic is not worth the time or money.
Civic does have several positive reviews on BBB, suggesting that the company may be helpful to resolving your tax debts with the IRS (and/or state tax agency) in some instances.
That said, the company did have a number of negative reviews and complaints filed with BBB. Importantly, these reviews and complaints all focused on the company’s poor client service and failure to properly advance their clients’ cases, suggesting that Civic may have fall short in these critical aspects when handling your case.
Who Civic Tax Relief Is Best For
Civic is best for people who have a relatively simple tax debt case requiring minimal attention and follow-up with the IRS (and/or state tax agency).
Who Civic Tax Relief Is Not For
Civic is not for people with more complex tax cases that require a consistent team, attention, and frequent updates on their cases. At least a few negative reviews focused on the company’s poor client service and failure to advance their case.
Ultimately, the fact that the negative reviews focused on the same general themes (i.e. poor client service and failure to advance their clients’ cases) suggests the company fell short at least some of the time in these aspects. Given what is at stake with these tax debt cases, these reviews signify that there is a risk that Civic may mishandle and/or fail to properly advocate for your case.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is tax relief a good option?
In some cases, tax relief can help you meaningfully reduce or even eliminate your IRS/state tax debts. In other cases, however, you may only be able to get an installment plan. If your case is complex, you should consult with a competent tax practitioner well versed in tax resolution matters to determine the best course of action.
- What does a tax relief company do?
Tax relief companies help clients with their IRS and state tax debts. This tax relief can come in the form of an offer in compromise to reduce/eliminate debts, an installment plan with monthly payments, and postponing IRS bank levies and wage garnishment.
- How much does Civic Tax Relief charge?
The fees you pay to Civic will depend on the nature of your case. Customer reviews on BBB, however, show a typical range of between $3,500 and $5,000.
- When was Civic Tax Relief founded?
The company was founded in 2017 and maintains its headquarters in Costa Mesa, California.
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.