Those in Trouble with the IRS Should Pick Their Defenders Carefully

For those in trouble with the IRS, picking the wrong defender can be dangerous.  Pick wrong and you could end up in jail or with a lifelong debt.

“The fakes and impostors are out there.  For those who are taken in by them the consequences can be devastating,” says Anthony Parent, Esq., founder of IRS Medic, a practice of tax attorneys that’s been working to resolve tough tax problems for businesses and individuals in the US and overseas since 2003.  “Every day in my practice I see the victims of unqualified and unethical tax defense practitioners.  Sometimes, by the time they get to me the cases have gone on for so long that there are not options left. The IRS takes action and that can be devastating.”

He points out that there are a variety of reasons people run afoul of the IRS and once the cycle gets started many are too embarrassed to seek help.  “By the time they reach out, they are often scared and desperate,” says Atty. Parent.  “They go to the Internet and pick the loudest practitioner they can find.  These impostors count on that desperation.  They’ve got exposure on the web, on national TV and radio and they know how to get into the in-boxes of those with outstanding IRS debts.  These impostors are good at marketing, but that’s all they do well. Once it comes to dealing with the IRS their lack of experience can have catastrophic consequences for their clients.”

Atty. Parent sees the tragic results of what these impostors do regularly.  Often, by the time he sees their victims it’s too late.  “These impostors have neither the experience nor the credentials to deal with the IRS. They will take a taxpayer’s money upfront and simply sit on the case.  By the time they get to me the IRS is so frustrated with their lack of action that they show the taxpayer no mercy.”

Who are these impostors?

Atty. Parent says most are not even attorneys or attorneys with no experience dealing with the IRS.  Others are CPAs posing as attorneys, or enrolled agents that present themselves as attorneys.  “Regardless of who they are, what they all have in common is that they make wild claims that they can make tax problems disappear with no consequences and no debt.  It simply doesn’t work that way,” he cautions.  “There is no magic wand that can miraculously erase all tax problems.  Ethical and qualified tax defenders know how to deal with the IRS to make those burdens less onerous; to offer solutions that allow delinquent taxpayers to work their way out of debt.  But that takes experience and a deep understanding of how the system works.  With patience.   With understanding.  With knowledge.  Dealing with an institution as powerful and wide-reaching as the IRS takes knowledge and preparation. Not bluster and wild claims.  If you’re looking for someone to help you out of a mess with the IRS, avoid anyone who claims instant and painless relief.

What should consumers look for when searching for help with IRS issues?

Here are some tips:

  • Look for an advocate for you, not the IRS. “Your adviser needs to care more about you than what the IRS agent thinks of him,” says Atty. Parent.  “A lot of impostors are either overly concerned with pleasing the IRS agent or so scared of them that they’ll throw the client under the bus when the going gets tough.”
  • Search for someone who concentrates on tax problems. “Look for an adviser who concentrates their practice on these kinds of matters,” he advises.  “They take it seriously.  They know what the IRS’ next moves will be.  They can spot red flags and recognize what they can do to lower your risk of getting the IRS angry.  In my practice we’ve seen things go bad enough times to know what will go bad in the future.”
  • Avoid an adviser who’s judgmental about your situation. “Your adviser can’t be critical about what got you into trouble with your taxes,” says Atty. Parent. “People are incredibly embarrassed when this happens.  They need to work with someone who’s empathetic and not critical.  Our tax system is bizarre and the best of people don’t understand it.”
  • Work with someone who has the right demeanor with the IRS. “When you’re dealing with the IRS, it’s a matter of balancing an understanding of where they are with a willingness to push back,” says Atty. Parent. “If you come in with the right attitude, you’ll often find the IRS agent will offer constructive advice.  They’ll tell you under their breath what to do if you go in with the right demeanor.  I also make it a practice to make their lives as easy as possible.  I’ll put things together with all the information they’ll need to support our position.  If you know not to give them a hard time, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt in discretionary matters.  But not everyone knows how to manage this.”
  • Make sure you have an advocate who’s available year-round. “IRS disputes need to be handled in a timely manner,” reminds Atty. Parent.  “You don’t want to work with someone who’s too busy preparing tax returns four months a year to respond to IRS demands.”
  • Work with a team. “You win with the IRS on the details, so you want someone with a team behind them who can stay on top of those details.  You need to be more organized than the IRS to get a deal and that takes an experienced team,” he says.
  • Understand it’s not done when you get the deal. “Getting the deal is only the first step,” says Atty. Parent.  “If the deal’s not processed properly all that work comes to naught.  You have to ride herd on the IRS to make sure the deal is put into the works.  Also, don’t expect the IRS to do what they say they’ll do.  You need to make them stick to their promises.  It may not be the agent’s fault if things don’t happen the way either of you expected.  Things go into the IRS system and they get lost.  You must have dogged determination to see they do what they say they’ll do.  IRS employees are overworked and there are lots of opportunities for them to make mistakes.  The opportunity for human error is so great and the consequences so big that follow-through on the adviser’s part is a must. Those of us with experience know that we have to finalize the deal to believe it’s over.”

Atty. Parent warns people that choosing the wrong adviser can lead to lifelong consequences.  “Dealing with the IRS is stressful and embarrassing.  Choose an ally with experience, proven results and an understanding of the system.  Avoid impostors whose only asset is their ability to do a lot of self-promotion and float empty promises.”

About IRS Medic

IRS Medic is a firm dedicated to helping US citizens with tough tax problems in the US and overseas.  The firm’s staff includes award-winning attorneys, detail-driven tax preparers, ex-IRS and enrolled agents.   They have helped taxpayers from California to the Caymans, from Kansas to Kathmandu and from Boston to Barcelona to end the IRS’ involvement in their lives.  Attorney Anthony Parent founded the firm in 2003 to help clients deal with difficult tax problems.  The firm headquarters are in Wallingford, CT. For more information, see www.irsmedic.com, or contact them directly.