Income tax debt is one of the more difficult types of debt to deal with. After all, the government has a way of securing any debt, and they will often collect their taxes before you get a chance to pay your other bills. If you are looking for income tax relief, how do you know who to trust when so many tax relief scams are operating?
For starters, winning a settlement on tax debt is more likely when there are extenuating circumstances. Perhaps you are claiming to be an innocent spouse, and had no idea that your spouse or ex-spouse was failing to properly pay income taxes.
Rather than provide tax advice, I would strongly encourage you to find competent licensed tax attorneys to provide the tax and legal advice that you may need. Of course, you need to understand where to look, since so many of these services that are advertised fail to deliver. Some are outright scams.
Many of these services claim drastic reductions in tax obligations. Most rely heavily on the Internal Revenue Service’s Offer in Compromise (OIC) program, which can be accessed by distressed tax filers with or without legal representation.
Here are reviews of a few notable tax relief representation companies. I have included information available from public sources to include complaints, reputation, identifying information and enforcement actions against them. You are encouraged to include your own comments about any of the firms listed here, since it is important for potential clients of these firms to see both the good and bad experiences that have been shared by current and former clients.
American Tax Relief LLC
BBB Rating: F
Enforcement Actions: On September 24, 2010 a federal judge in Chicago approved a temporary restraining order that prohibited American Tax Relief from making deceptive claims. The assets of the company as well as those of its owners Alexander Seung Hahn and Joo Hyun Park have been frozen by the court. The company’s website has been seized by the FTC.
Status: A court appointed receiver is expected to identify assets to be refunded to affected clients.
Company Review: FTC Claims American Tax Relief Ripped off 20,000 Clients
Roni Deutch, a Professional Tax Corporation
BBB Rating: F Enforcement Actions: California Attorney General Jerry Brown charged Tax Lady Roni Deutch with a $34 million lawsuit for fraud.
Status: The company continues to solicit new clients.
Company Review: Roni Deutch Scam One of Many, Roni Deutch Charged with Contempt
JK Harris & Company, LLC
BBB Rating: F
Enforcement Actions: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged JK Harris for materially misrepresenting their ability to help clients resolve unpaid income tax obligations. A $1.2 million settlement with JK Harris was approved to reimburse the state of Texas and the firms’ Texas clients. West Virginia filed contempt charges against JK Harris in 2011 for violating terms of a 2008 agreement.
Status: The company has altered their advertisements to avoid conveying any unrealistic expectations and continues to solicit new clients.
BBB Rating: F
Enforcement Actions: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit in May 2010 which challenged TaxMasters’ claims of providing substantial tax relief. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit in December 2010 accusing TaxMasters of consumer fraud and deceptive advertising claims.
Status: The company continues to solicit new clients and lawsuits are still pending against them.
Company Review: $195 Million Verdict Against TaxMasters for Defrauding Customers
Given the number of scams, you may be wondering how to get tax relief from a reliable provider. For starters, if you actually want an attorney to represent you, then hire an attorney directly. These big tax centers use underskilled workers to do the grunt work while the attorneys try to keep the regulators at bay. Try hiring a reputable attorney directly if you need help navigating the IRS bureaucracy.
Long is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Industrial Relations. He subsequently received his Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. His Certificate in Financial Planning was issued by Florida State University.
Long has achieved the Accredited Credit Counselor and Accredited Financial Counselor certifications through the Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education. Long originally achieved the Certified Credit Counselor designation through the National Institute for Financial Education.
In addition to years of nonprofit leadership, Long has been an innovator in the field of volunteer tax return preparation programs. He assists volunteer associations and nonprofit organizations who seek to integrate credit counseling and asset-building programs with free personal income tax preparation. His approach to using free credit reports as both an incentive and a screening tool for placement into asset-building programs has been shared with members of the National Community Tax Coalition, the EITC-Carolinas Initiative of MDC, Inc. and nonprofit groups across the Carolinas.
Long assists members of our armed forces in the Carolinas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Georgia and Germany with financial readiness. Please support our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors!
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