Best Way To Select An IRS Tax Advisor
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“Solving IRS problems has been my life’s work. After 30 years and 1,000’s of successful tax cases I can safely say, “I know the IRS Business like the back of my hand”. How would you like to never worry about the IRS again? Let my past knowledge and experience work for you”
– Joe Mastriano, CPA
Joe is a member of the Sugar Land Rotary, who’s mission includes promoting integrity, fellowship, and good will.
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Tax Advisors are a dime a dozen. Everyone on T.V. or the Internet claims they are an expert advisor in tax. Real “AdvisorTax” professionals have a lot of knowledge, and sound professional judgment.
Do you have a tax problem? Do you need help preparing or resolving tax issues? Scared of people misrepresenting their experience and what they can accomplish for you? Can you afford bad advice?
IRS Tax Advisor – Make Sure Your IRS Representation Is Right For You!
WARNING: Do not assume your current CPA, attorney, enrolled agent, accountant, tax advisor, or relative can represent you adequately. This is a highly specialized area. I know several CPA’s who are excellent accountants, and attorneys who are excellent at serving and defending their clients, yet fail terribly at representing their clients before the collection division of the IRS. This page will tell you the best way to select an IRS tax advisor.
Apply the following checklist to your current representative. It may save you a lot of money and headaches.
This site can save you from crooked, fraudulent, scamming, rip-off con artists, IRS crooks and their dishonest, illegal practices.
1. Reputation Of Your Enrolled Agent, Attorney, IRS Tax Advisor Or CPA Is Very Important
Do Internet searches under the name of the company you may want to hire and put the word “scam” “fraud” or “rip-off” after the company name, (YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO THIS) or after the name of the representative actually working on your case.
Many so-called “IRS Problem” solving companies are the subject of lawsuits and large number of consumer complaints. If they can’t give you referrals, hang up the phone FAST!
Even though this is confidential work, if they can put testimonials on their website, then those people should be willing to speak well of the company.
As a CPA, I can ethically give referrals for enrolled agents and tax attorneys, so why can’t they?
If the firm says your case will not be assigned to a specific a specific person or your case is assigned to a group, run the other way. This is a way to hide their “lack of responsibility.”
A team of $7.00 per hour accounting clerks will not benefit you. Be careful about references. Even bad accountants have a few people willing to say good things about them. Discuss exactly what you will be paying for and what results you can expect from the person assigned to your case.
Do not let a sales “rep” sign you up! This is professional legal representation, not auto repair! For professional representation, contact me.
2. Professional Credentials Are Ideal
Your representative ideally must have at least one of three credentials.
- A Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
- An EA (enrolled agent) or an
- An attorney.
However, they must also have the accounting, tax skills and representation experience necessary to be effective. Someone who has passed the CPA exam or the Enrolled Agents exam will have shown that they have the technical ability. Many ex-IRS collection division employees are given the EA (enrolled agent) title when they leave the IRS without having taken the exam!
I would not hire such a person, or even an attorney, unless they can show you they have worked on a large volume of tax returns and representation cases to overcome their lack of professional credentials or never having passed the EA exam.
Remember, this must be true for the person who will be doing the actual case work and negotiations. There will always be a licensed person “supervising” the case, otherwise they won’t be able to negotiate on your behalf.
What I am saying is that the person doing the tax work, filing out the IRS forms, being responsible for due dates, etc. must possess the above credentials. Do not short-change yourself, contact me.
3. Watch Out For The Common Tricks (More Tricks Are Listed Below)
Statements such as “we did an offer in compromise for someone who owed thousands of dollars and settled for hundreds of dollars can be misleading.
Offers are based on the taxpayer’s assets and ability to pay. So if someone doesn’t have equity in assets and no or very little income, the offer will settle for just a few dollars, with or without the representative’s help.
A better statistic would be something such as the following: The offer division wanted to include the accounts receivable, average balance in the bank account and an inherited pile of junk (worth nothing) from “Uncle Louie.” I fought the caseworker and manager to exclude these values. They still wouldn’t budge. I researched each item, case history, tax code, employee manual etc., and filed an appeal. I was then able to settle the case ON MY TERMS.
Now that would be impressive!
Beware of people who say that they will do your offer for pennies on a dollar. First of all, an offer is an agreement to settle for less than the full amount. Any accepted offer, since it would be for less than the total, will be for pennies on a dollar anyway. Maybe it would be 80 or 90 pennies, but still pennies on the dollar. The implication of course when someone says this, is that the offer will be for a “few” pennies.
The IRS is currently cracking down on people who use this phony statement.
Other phony statements are guarantees that the company will work faster than anyone else, or that they can get your levy removed immediately, or that they offer a money back guarantee or only taxation attorneys can represent you effectively. They go on and on.
THESE ARE ALL GIMMICKS! Negotiated settlements are always at the IRS’s discretion. No representative has an unfair advantage over another. Nothing will take the place of knowledge, experience and quality work ethics!
Another common approach is to make you think that if a representative has many titles and licenses, then they are highly qualified. Therefore, you should hire their company.
I of know at least one popular, well-educated ex-IRS agent who spends most of her time teaching classes and doing research. What good is someone’s credentials, experience, etc., if they are not be in the office every day personally working on their cases? Can they respond immediately to phone calls from you or the IRS ? Are you willing to suffer the consequences of missed calls and deadlines?
I wouldn’t. That’s usually when the levies and seizures happen!
One pitfall to avoid is to judge a company based on how good the web site looks. Some of the top sites will list many helpful pages explaining a lot of IRS rules. They give you links to forms and solutions after playing with your emotions by scaring you because of your IRS problem and then providing the solution.
First of all scare tactics are unprofessional and in bad taste. Second, all the extra stuff on the web page, including the links, are necessary for them to rank high up on the search engine. It’s NOT because they are a knowledgeable IRS representation firm. The look of the web site has nothing to do with the quality of their work.
Look through all the listings to find the representatives meet the criteria outlined here. Please stay away from the big national firms that claim to have helped thousands of people across the U.S. Don’t take my word for it, doing your own internet search should yield the complaints filed against them.
Your judgment of character after meeting or speaking at length with the potential IRS Tax Advisor is of great value! Contact me to see the difference.
4. Assess Their Experience
Ask your potential representative how many collection cases, tax returns or offers in compromise have they done recently. Ask representative to recall the cases that went their way and the cases that went the IRS’s way as well. They can discuss this as long as they this if they don’t break confidentiality by giving you the clients’ names.
The purpose of these questions is not to establish their track record, but to see if they do this work often. There should be no hesitation to recall from yesterday, last week, last month or last year the various calls, meetings, etc. they had with the IRS. If they can’t speak freely about the extensiveness of their casework, they probably do little of this type of work.
Without the this experience, you will fall prey to the collection officer forcing you to settle on the IRS’s terms, not yours.
Please hire an individual who has the knowledge, the experience, the credentials and the dedication to still be there for you many months later when the IRS still has questions! If this is the service you want, contact me.
Here is a list of some more tactics and a partial list of competitor companies. In general, when considering having any person or company represent you, please review their site carefully and look for statements that seem too good to be true, or seem to only have the purpose of making you think that they have an unfair advantage over the competition because of size, location, claim they are the best, the only ones who can legally protect you, create a fear that only they can solve or any other tactic that their sales people come up with to earn higher commissions. Then call my appointment setter. We don’t use phony tactics to get clients.
Common Tricks & Ways IRS Resolution Companies Mislead Potential Clients
The “We Have Offices In Your Neighborhood” Con
The IRS is federal and a licensee can represent you from one state to another without problems. Some companies try to get an unfair advantage by renting offices part-time in other states. They act as if they are nationwide, but these are sales offices. The actual work gets done by people in the main office where the licensee resides. Do not let a sales person sign you up for professional IRS tax services. Sales people are motivated by commissions and are not experienced enough to properly analyze an IRS case. IRS case resolution expertise comes after several years of professional experience. Make sure you talk to the experienced professional who will be working your case.
The World’s Largest, The Nation’s Leading, The Fastest, The Best, and Brightest, Tax Relief Company Scam
Some companies will claim that they are the largest, or the most prominent, or the best IRS tax resolution company or they have the best results of any other company in the universe. At least 10 sites I’ve seen claim that they are the leaders in the industry.
What industry? How do they know? Leaders in what way? Maybe they say they can release your levy in “only 3 days.”
Don’t believe it. Levies are removed at the IRS’s discretion, sometimes in under 3 days and sometimes not.
These statements are laudatory and unprofessional. In fact, they are against the code of ethics by which CPA’S are regulated.
These statements are self serving and cannot be proven. Their only purpose is to create a false trust, assuring that they will do better than some other company that represents you.
Why not ask them for a copy of the independent study that was done comparing all the IRS representation companies in the country. See what criteria was used! I know what I’ll do, I’ll get a well known local announcer on a radio program to say I’m the largest, then I will use that information to advertise that I am in fact the largest representation firm, (and of course, the fastest, let’s say 40% faster then everyone else). I must be the largest and the fastest, if the radio announcer or newspaper reporter said it, right?
Actually there are very large law firms and CPA firms that operate world wide. I bet they take in more IRS representation revenue then all the companies put together that claim they are the largest! Don’t fall for the “largest” firm CPA scam.
And forget the argument that says since we have 1 million customers, 689 complaints are acceptable. If a CPA or CPA firm gets customer complaints of any ratio to total customers, they stand to lose their license. All customers must be treated with respect and integrity. If the head of the company is not a professionally licensed CPA, attorney, or enrolled agent, run the other way!
We Have The Most Experience, Over 100 Years Combined Tactic
Examine company profiles (if they are responsible enough to list them) and ask questions. Many companies use trainees straight out of school with little experience. Others use non-licensed people for most aspects of the case and assign one licensee to probably hundreds of cases. These people are never available when you call. How do I know? I read the complaints from fraud and complaint sites. A very common complaint is if there is a problem, the company hides from the customer. Just Google the company and the individual you are considering hiring and put the word fraud, rip off, complaint, etc. after their name. See all the complaints? Remember it takes many years to fully learn how to deal with IRS employees. You can’t get the information out of a book.
We Are Members Of “The National Society Or Association Of The Best Reps In The World” Con
Who are they kidding? For a fee, most people can take courses and become members of societies and associations. It’s not a distinction for excellent dealings with the IRS. It’s not an honor that’s rewarded for treating your customers with the most respect and honesty. It says nothing of the experience, knowledge and ethics that a licensee should represent to you.
I used to know someone was was a CPA in “Who’s Who In Accounting”. This person held a responsible regulatory position in their state. Yet, she didn’t even know what the IRS considered to be the “trust fund” portion of a payroll liability! After over 30 years, and 1,000′s of tax cases, I can safely tell you that I’m not the only practitioner who knows that additional courses and memberships in associations can not give you the qualities it takes to properly represent taxpayers before the IRS. It will not give you the “art” of how to deal with IRS employees, either. Do not let unrelated, unprofessional titles, associations and memberships fool you.
“Only An Attorney Can Protect You From The IRS” Flat Out Lie
Beware of attorneys who tell you that you have to hire an attorney, because only an attorney has privileged communication. They also say that you can be put in jail for not filing a return. This is a way of stretching the truth to scare you into their false belief.
The IRS is interested in you filing your tax return and paying your taxes. They don’t care about gathering evidence to put you in jail. In over 30 years of professional practice working on thousands of cases, these concerns were never an issue. In a rare instance, if the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS has an open file on you, then it is advisable to hire a criminal attorney. I wouldn’t hire an IRS representation attorney who files tax returns and does payment plans. Only an attorney with the best criminal experience will do. Anyway, this situation is so rare, that I have never had to make a referral yet. Don’t be fooled. No representative’s type of license has any unfair advantage over another.
Many People Use The Following Search Terms To See If Someone Is legitimate
Web page, site, internet, blog, newspaper, radio, T.V. television, commercial, professional, unethical, legal, lawyers, advisors, consumer, pissed-off, relief, reviews, dishonest, report, complaints, attorney general, actions, sue, lawsuit, con artist, corrupt, stiffed, cheated, fraud, complaints, fraudulent, rip off, ripoff, rip-off, scams, scammed, artist, crooked, thief, stole money, steal, stolen, and rip off report.
IRS Collection Tax Secrets That Are Misleading
I’ve seen web sites where people list so called “tax secrets” about a stopping a collection action after filing an offer, new penalty abatement programs, putting down incorrect property values, etc. Don’t believe anything that makes someone appear to have “tricks,” “secrets,” etc. The IRS frowns on representatives who don’t advise their clients responsibly. They may take action against anyone not in compliance with IRS circular 230. The pages in this site will give you valuable, straight-forward information about the available IRS solutions for your situation.
The Enrolled Agent Is Better Than A CPA Or An Attorney Con. CPA Versus EA.
I’ve visited web sites of Enrolled Agents (EA) who attempt to compare themselves with CPA’s and attorneys. They claim that EA’s are licensed by the IRS and not individual states. Since the IRS is federal, they are better able to represent you.
That is false.
I’ve also found a state society of EA’s website that makes very misleading statements concerning CPA’s. Somehow they try to say that CPA’s are involved in matters other than the IRS and EA’s only deal with the IRS. They try to make you think that CPA’s are less suited to represent taxpayers before the IRS.
The truth is, EA’s who work for the IRS for about 5-6 years are given their EA license when they leave without ever taking the exam! The people who do take the exam only need a high school education! Granted, the exam is very hard and comprehensive. Sitting for the CPA exam requires more hours of accounting and related courses than is required for an undergraduate degree! Attorneys spend 3 years in law school! Comparatively, being an EA requires much less education.
Their respective state boards regulate the conduct of CPA’s and attorneys. Each month they produce reports showing who lost or may soon be losing their professional license.
An enrolled agent is not an accredited profession. It is a government issued license that the government regulates. Other than obvious criminal convictions, I’ve yet to hear about an EA who lost his license! I can go on and on, but I think you get the idea. As with any person you hire, an enrolled agent with the right case and tax experience, tax education and professional judgment will probably do an excellent job.
I’d stay away from any company claiming to have an unfair advantage because they are an EA. Actually, anyone bragging about an advantage because of anything less than their knowledge, experience, education, and an accredited professional license, would make me very suspicious.
The Only Hire Someone Who Charges A Flat Fee Trick
Some people try to narrow the possible picks of a representative to hire by dictating fees and other manners of practice. It is my personal opinion that people who charge flat fees lose their incentive to work harder or take out additional time to use other departments of the IRS to resolve your problem.
Why should they do more if they are not getting paid more? But as for my advice, if you find someone who you think is the best one to represent you, then hire them. Don’t try to judge how they practice by dictating a flat fee, or other method of practice, so that you feel better protected against theft.
Let’s see, “if they only charge a flat fee for the case, then I can’t get robbed too much, can I?” If you have any doubts about the company you want to hire, then don’t hire them – period!
Please hire a company who has the knowledge, experience, credentials, and the dedication to still be there for you many months later when the IRS still has questions and sends letters! Try Houston CPA’s, Houston tax attorney! Or contact me now.
- If you are considering hiring us, call Houston Texas CPA Joe Mastriano, 713-774-4467 Accountant Texas.
- Think your IRS matter is handled? Think again!
- For your analysis,