Looking to relieve tax debt? Get informed, not exploited
If you’re in financial distress, a company claiming to relieve tax debt may seem like the answer to your prayers. But as the old adage goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
More than 18,000 consumers found that out the hard way after they paid money to American Tax Relief, a company that falsely claimed it had significantly reduced the tax debts of thousands of people and falsely told individual consumers that they qualified for tax relief programs that would significantly reduce their tax debts. Under the settlement, the Federal Trade Commission recently began mailing more than $16 million in refund checks to the cheated consumers, representing only 16 percent of the amount they lost on average.
Even more troubling is that American Tax Relief wasn’t the only company bilking consumers in recent years. Several other tax relief companies have been forced to shut down for similar run-ins with regulators and state attorney generals, including TaxMasters, JK Harris and Roni Deutch.
So, if you’re having trouble meeting your tax obligations, be sure to get informed about the options that exist, not exploited. The team at ShindelRock recommends the following steps.
- Don’t panic
Finding yourself unable to meet financial obligations is enormously distressing, but you are not alone. Try not to panic. Take a step back and consider your options. Opportunities for tax relief do exist, but if you hear something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Get informed, not exploited
Be wary of any company claiming you “qualify” for tax relief services. Only the IRS or your state comptroller can make that decision. And think twice if a company requests the entire fee for services upfront with no explanation of how services will be billed or whether a refund of unearned fees will be made. Additional information and helpful tips from a taxpayer and consumer perspective can be found on the IRS (www.irs.gov) and FTC (www.consumer.ftc.gov) websites.
- Find a good CPA
A qualified CPA can help you navigate all of the tax relief options available and deal with taxing agencies on your behalf. At ShindelRock, our team of sophisticated tax experts includes several Masters of Taxation and an IRS Enrolled Agent, all of whom are adept at understanding and minimizing even the most complex tax matters.
Remember: Even in the most distressing financial situations, there is always a way forward. During these times, it’s important to be informed and aware of your options—and not fall victim to companies making false promises. If you’re looking for tax relief support, the team at ShindelRock is prepared to inform, support and guide you in the right direction.