4 Things you should know about Law Firms that handle tax resolution and tax debt settlement.
TAX LAW FIRM (FOR TAX DEBT SETTLEMENT).
DO YOU GO WITH A BIG FIRM OR A SOLO?
When you have an IRS/DRS problem, how should you/your clients decide whether to go with a Solo-Practicioner or a bigger firm?
This blog focuses on the things to watch out for when hiring a bigger law firm to handle your tax problems. If you owe money to the IRS, then it is important to know where the money you pay a professional to help you with these issues is actually going.
The benefit to working with a Solo-Practioner Tax Attorney is that the service you will be getting is fairly easy to understand.
Choosing a Solo Practitioner is basically a “what you see is what you get” kind of situation. Does the solo attorney know what he is doing? Does he seem like he would do a good job advocating for you in front of the IRS?
Big firms? Not so. Consider the following:
1) A Larger Tax Resolution firm reduces its wage expenses by having one or more firm “paralegals” or other non-professional employees work the “can’t lose cases.”
For example, a Firm might notice that you have a big debt, but no assets, and that your income is low but your living expenses are high. You are probably a candidate for an offer in compromise.
There is no question in the interviewer’s mind that they can knock your debt down to less than 25% of its current balance. You’ll probably be happy with that, so they don’t need to put in the time to knock you down to 10% by getting a lawyer on the phone directly with the IRS. Maybe a lawyer could do a better job, but they know that the deal you get will appear to be a miracle.
So ask if your case will truly be handled end-to-end by a tax attorney. Ask who will be your point of contact. Check the retainer/engagement letter before you sign it to make sure that it matches up with whatever the firm’s website has promised you, or what the interviewer has promised you.
2) Who are you meeting with? A larger tax resolution firm uses interviewers.Some tax resolutions firms are not actually law firms. but some are.
Even the tax resolution firms that claim to be law firms usually have a staff that is more than 50% non-attorneys. Who are you being interviewed by? If the firm is holding itself out as a law firm, are you meeting with an Attorney? What is the Attorney’s credentials?
Ask your interviewer whether they are an attorney. If not, ask them where they went to school. Are they at least an Enrolled Agent, or a CPA? do they have a degree in finance or accounting?
Is the person who is interviewing you actually going to be working your case? if not… why can’t you speak to that person?
By the way….. Does the firm have a separate person whose role seems to be dedicated to discussing payment options with you? Realize they have this person for a reason. If a firm finds the need to have a person dedicated to collections, that’s a sign that the firm might have a track record on unhappy clients who decide to stop paying because they end up not getting what they bargained for.
Be wary if a different employee than the interviewer is called in at the end of the consultation to get you to sign an ACH form or a credit card authorization.
3) How many cases does each attorney handle?
So it’s understandable that a large law firm will use support staff. you don’t want your attorney wasting time filling in a form for you or making copies.
That would increase your fee (or would it? you should make an attorney explain him/herself when they tell you that a flat fee you pay is “for value, not time”)
One way to get an idea of how many “touches” your case will get from your attorney or how easy it will be to get your attorney on the phone to answer your questions is to know what his/her workload is. Attorneys should be upfront about this. If they aren’t willing to disclose it to you, then maybe it’s time to move on.
4) Turnover is important.
Some tax resolution firms seem to fit the following pattern: Staff Attorneys come and go, but the paralegals have been there forever. Try to casually ask questions about the staff to find out how long everyone has been there. If the support staff has been there significantly longer than the staff attorneys, there might be some cause for concern. If attorneys feel overworked and underpaid, then how good of a job will they do on your case? If the paralegals have been there longer, will the attorneys be relying on them for advice on how to solve your tax problems?
These are just four of the issues you should consider when thinking about hiring tax attorneys for any tough tax problems.