Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hiring A Tax Attorney vs. Negotiating with the IRS on your Own

Earlier this week we posted a new entry to my law firm’s Tax Relief Blog describing the benefits and advantages of hiring a tax attorney versus negotiating a settlement with the IRS on your own. You can check out a snippet of the blog entry below, or check out the full version at the Roni Deutch Tax Relief Blog.

Being faced with a huge back tax liability can be scary to say the least. The IRS can use aggressive collection tactics such as bank levies and wage garnishments to take your money. Fortunately, the IRS has a number of settlement programs designed to help taxpayers resolve their IRS tax debts including Offers in Compromise and placement into Currently Not Collectible status. Although taxpayers have the right to negotiate directly with the IRS, it is often a good idea to hire a professional, such as an attorney, to represent you in the negotiations. However, there are some instances where a taxpayer may be better off working directly with the IRS.

Knowledge and Experience

The biggest reason to consider hiring a tax lawyer to negotiate a tax debt settlement with the IRS is because of the knowledge and experience they bring to the table. Tax attorneys may spend years studying the IRS tax code and honing their negotiation skills. They usually have experience in successfully helping taxpayers resolve their debts. Negotiating a settlement will require a lot of knowledge of complicated IRS laws and tax codes. Therefore, if you are going to do it on your own, then you will need to spend a decent amount of time researching tax law before you begin. You might even want to purchase a few books on tax debt resolution so that you can be as familiar as possible with the process.


Another reason to consider hiring a tax attorney is the convenience it brings. Not only can negotiating with an IRS agent be stressful, but it also requires a lot of work. In order to qualify for most tax settlement programs, you will need to present the IRS with full financial disclosure and convince them you cannot afford to pay for basic living expenses in addition to a tax payment. Compiling all of this data, calculating the correct expenses, and presenting a case to the IRS is a very complicated process, and can easily take weeks of effort to complete.

The only exception is if you are trying to get placed on a Streamlined Installment Agreement, which does not require a financial disclosure as long as the taxpayer’s debt is under $25,000 and they intend to repay the entire tax liability within five years. Therefore, if you meet the conditions for a Streamlined Installment Agreement then you may be able to negotiate your own settlement. However, if you are hoping to qualify for an Offer in Compromise or a standard Installment Agreement then you might want to consider speaking with an attorney.

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