Tax Hardship Center Review 2022: Honest Review by a Tax AttorneyTax Relief
- 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.
- MINIMUM DEBT:
$7,500 to $10,000
- LOCATION AVAILABILITY:
All 50 U.S. States
- INITIAL FEE:
- YEAR fOUNDED:
Based in Westlake Village, California, Tax Hardship Center is a tax resolution firm that strives to make “education” and “transparency” its top priorities. Unlike other firms that “make big promises and don’t deliver,” the company claims to make the process clear “so you know where you’re at every step of the way.”
But is THC the real deal? After all, the tax relief industry is rife with deceptive business practices and the company would not be the first firm to make such promises around transparency and client service.
To find out, I decided to put on my tax attorney hat and do a deep dive of the THC’’s services and reviews. Below is what I found.
- BBB Accredited: A+ Rating With 5/5 Rating
- Guarantee: 30-Day Moneyback Guarantee
- Reasonable Fees: Lower than Industry Averages
How Does Tax Hardship Center Work?
THC lays out a three-step process for resolving your tax debts on its website:
The company’s process is similar to other tax relief firms, and I do get why providing an easy-to-understand process for a potential client overwhelmed with the IRS would make business sense. That said, it makes me wonder whether THC is glossing over the complexities of resolving tax debts by providing such a simplified process to potential clients.
Step 1: Free Consultation
To sign up for THC’s services, you will need to either request a free consultation on the website or call the company directly.
A so-called “tax resolution expert” will contact you, but this may just be a fancy term for a salesperson trying to get you to sign up for the company’s services. There is nothing wrong with a company selling its services. However, tax relief firms often land in hot water in instances where there is a large disconnect between what the salesperson is promising and what resolution these firms can deliver.
Usually, this disconnect is borne out in reviews from former clients of the firm. However, I did not come across any reviews of THC where customers complained of lofty promises of tax relief made by salespeople (only to have the firm under-deliver), which suggests THC representatives are not as aggressive and disconnected from the people that actually handle the cases as other tax relief firms. Of course, this is pure speculation, although the absence of reviews about this disconnect is telling.
Step 2: Investigation/Contact with IRS
If you decide to move forward with THC, you will be required to pay a $495 fee for the company to evaluate your case and determine the best option to resolve your tax debts. During this stage, the company will also establish initial contact with the IRS, presumably to inform the agency that it is representing your case.
Step 3: Tax Freedom
You will need to pay THC’s proposed “service fee” if you agree to the company’s course of action. During this phase, the company will execute on the plan developed under Step 2 and ensure your compliance with the IRS (and/or state tax agency).
THC bills this step as “tax freedom,” and several reviewers on BBB and Trustpilot did praise the company’s professionalism and helpfulness during the process. That said, there were also a number of reviews where former clients claimed that THC were less than forthcoming and helpful. For example, in one review, one former client claimed that she “lost 3K and 4 month [sic] of my time,” only for the company to fail to negotiate a payment on her behalf even 4 months after the fee was paid.
Of course, I have no way of verifying whether this client’s experience is accurate (THC even claimed that the client could not start the IRS payment plan until her 2020 and 2021 returns were filed). However, this review, if true, may signify that THC is committed to advance your case once it receives the fee.
How to Qualify for Tax Hardship Center Relief
If you are interested in retaining THC, you must first set up an initial phone consultation with the company.
THC does not disclose the minimum amount of debt required for the company to work with you, but a few other third-party sites indicated the minimum threshold is between $7,500 and $10,000. Beyond that, the company discloses no other requirements on its website.
Tax Hardship Center At a Glance
|Services||Tax resolution (business and individual) |
Tax compliance (business and individual)
|Fees||Based on third-party sites and client reviews, the fees can range from $3,000 to $3,750 (although fees can be higher depending on the case)|
|Minimum Debt Required||Between $7,500 and $10,000, based on third-party websites|
|Turn Around Time||Varies|
|Refund Policy||Within 14 days from the start of the Investigation phase|
|Dedicated Case Manager||No (there appears to be a dedicated team, based on client reviews)|
|Speed of Service||Varies|
|Location Availability||All 50 U.S. states|
|Phone Number||(877) 829-7099|
THC offers a similar menu of tax debt resolution services as other companies in this space, including:
- Offers in Compromise
- Installment agreements
- Currently not collectible
- Wage garnishment/bank levies
- State tax relief
The company also offers tax preparation/compliance (including back tax filings) and bookkeeping services for individuals and businesses alike.
Tax Hardship Center Tax Fees
The company does not disclose the fees on its website, but customer reviews and third-party sites show the following:
|Resolution Fee||Based on client reviews and third-party websites, fees can range from $3,000 to $3,750 (although they can be higher depending on the case)|
Based on client reviews and third-party websites, THC charges an investigation fee of $495. As described above, the fee covers the company’s initial evaluation of your case to determine the best option to resolve your tax debts.
There is limited information on the firm’s resolution fees. Based on client reviews and third-party websites, the resolution fees can range from $3,000 to $3,750, which is relatively low compared to THC’s competitors. That said, I imagine that fees can be higher depending on the complexity and length of your case.
How Much Could You Save with Tax Hardship Center?
The amount of money you can save with THC depends on your specific tax debt case.
In several reviews, clients claimed that THC were able to either reduce their tax debts and/or negotiate payment plans with manageable installment payments. That said, there were also a number of reviews where clients complained of the company’s lack of follow-up with the IRS and client.
Tax Hardship Center Pros and Cons
- Affordability: THC’s fees range between $3,000 and $3,750, which is relatively affordable compared to other firms in the tax relief space.
- Relatively Generous Money-Back Guarantee: Clients can get a money-back refund if they request it within 14 days of the start of the Investigation phase, which is a relatively generous amount of time.
- Poor client service: A number of former clients complained about THC’s failure to return phone calls/emails or provide updates on their cases after receiving its fees.
- Failure to follow through on promises: Some reviewers claimed that the company failed to take specific actions on their cases despite promising to do so.
Is Tax Hardship Center Legit?
THC has a rating of 4.53 (out of 5.0) rating on BBB and a rating of 4.7 (out of 5.0) on Trustpilot. The high ratings are due to a large number of positive reviews praising THC’s responsiveness and the favorable outcomes it was able to achieve for its clients.
The reviews, however, are not uniformly favorable. Indeed, a number of reviewers complained about the company’s poor client service and diminished commitment once THC received the fee. The following table lists some representative examples of reviews on the BBB website.
|Reviewer||Issue||(Assuming Reviewer’s Claims are True)|
|Terry W. |
|Terry reached out to THC to help resolve her IRS tax debts, which had ballooned to $15,000. |
Despite paying the entire fee, Terry claimed that she could not get her calls returned and was assigned to four different agents during the process. In one section of the review, Terry even claimed that the IRS contacted her directly in an attempt to get in touch with THC.
According to Terry, the company also kept contacting her to request additional fees to continue representing her in the case. Ultimately, Terry claimed that she took matters into her own hands and repaid the $15,000 tax debt.
|Terry’s claims, if true, are troubling. |
For individuals struggling with tax debts, the process with the IRS is often a stressful and bewildering experience. That’s why it is so important to have a responsive tax resolution team that is involved during the entirety of your case. However, based on her review, it appears that Terry never received this support, despite agreeing to pay the entire fee.
Additionally, the company continued to request additional fees to continue her case. Certainly, increased fees are justifiable in some circumstances where the case turns out to be more complex than anticipated. However, the company appeared not to advance her case at all here, despite the payment of additional fees.
If Terry’s claims are to be believed, THC’s lack of responsiveness and continual request for fees highlights that THC may be more committed to getting the fees than providing quality representation of your tax debt case.
|Susan M. |
|Susan reached out to THC after the first tax relief company she contacted gave her a fee quote of $10,000. |
According to Susan, the company charged her the initial investigatory fee of $495 and $2,900 to resolve her case. Although THC did not completely eliminate her debts, the company did appear to negotiate a reduced debt amount that was manageable to Susan.
|Susan’s claims, if true, highlight the firm’s relative affordability and skill in dealing with tax issues. |
Although tax relief firms advertise that they can completely eliminate tax debts, not many individuals actually qualify for such relief. In Susan’s case, it appeared that THC got the basics right and was able to achieve a manageable installment plan on behalf of its client.
|Anonymous BBB Complainant |
|This client reached out to THC for help with her IRS tax debts. The company informed this client that it would negotiate an installment payment plan with the IRS on his/her behalf. |
The client claims that, despite paying the full $2,000 fee, the company failed to respond to any of his/her questions or return his/her calls or emails. Ultimately, the client learned that THC never followed through on negotiating a payment plan with the IRS, resulting in the garnishment of this client’s wages.
|This client’s experience, if true, highlights a common complaint among the negative reviews on BBB – that is, the company is not responsive and does not follow through after it has received its fees. |
The client’s claims that THC failed to ever negotiate an installment plan with the IRS is especially disturbing. Although the criteria for qualifying for an Offer in Compromise or an elimination in tax debts may be stringent, tax relief firms can more successfully negotiate payment plans with the IRS. The fact that THC failed to follow through despite promising to do so signifies the company’s lack of commitment to truly helping its clients resolve their tax debts.
THC has a 14-day money back guarantee for its tax resolution services. It is not entirely clear at which point of the process the clock starts ticking for the guarantee, though the company website suggests that THC will refund your money if you make the request within 14 days from the start of the Investigation phase (as described further above).
Alternatives to Tax Hardship Center
Below is a comparison of Tax Hardship Center and other established tax relief companies:
|Tax Hardship Center||Precision Tax Relief||Optima Tax Relief||Jackson Hewitt Tax Resolution Services|
|Minimum Debt Required|
|Turn Around Time|
|Dedicated Case Manager|
|Speed of Service|
|Tax Relief Phone Number|
Is Tax Hardship Center Worth It?
In my opinion, THC is not worth the money.
The company did receive several favorable reviews, but also received a number of negative feedback on its services. More importantly, most if not all of the negative reviews focused on the company’s lack of responsiveness and follow through.
In my opinion, providing responsive client service is a critical hallmark of a good tax relief firm, given how stressful and bewildering the process can be for those clients in serious tax debt.
Who Tax Hardship Center Is Best For
THC is best for clients who are looking for a relatively affordable tax relief firm and who have simple tax debt cases.
Who Tax Hardship Center Is Not For
THC is not for people who prefer to take a hands-on approach to their cases. Based on a number of reviews, the company failed to return calls or emails or follow through on the actions it promised its clients.
As mentioned above, THC is a relatively affordable tax relief firm that earned several favorable reviews of its services.
That said, a number of former clients complained about the company’s poor client service throughout the process. As someone that believes that being responsive and proactive is critical to helping clients resolve their tax debts, the comments on THC’s client service outweigh any positive attributes of the company.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Tax Hardship Center?
Based in Westlake Village, California, Tax Hardship Center provides tax resolution services, including an Offer in Compromise, installment payments, and wage garnishment/bank levy removal services.
- How can I get my tax debt forgiveness?
Individuals with significant tax debt issues can apply to the IRS to have their debts reduced or even fully eliminated under qualifying programs. These programs include Offer in Compromise, Currently not Collectable, and other agency programs
You should do your due diligence if you are thinking about retaining a tax relief firm to represent your case.
- Are tax relief services worth it?
If you have a small tax debt, it may not be worth it to retain a tax debt relief firm because you may be able to resolve the case yourself. If, however, your case is more complex and requires negotiations with the IRS, then a tax debt relief company may be able to help you achieve an outcome that you may not have been able to negotiate yourself.
- Can you negotiate with the IRS without a lawyer?
You are not required to retain a lawyer to help you negotiate with the IRS. You can submit an Offer-in-Compromise or a request to place an account on Currently not Collectable without the necessary law degree.
Steve Ching, J.D., covers tax topics for Money Done Right. He is a practicing tax attorney and also has several years of experience at national accounting firms. Steve is passionate about writing and helping people understand and resolve their tax issues.
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.