Watch CBS News

4 signs you should consider tax relief, according to experts

Tax relief services can help you negotiate a lower tax debt with the IRS, but understand the fees before proceeding. Getty Images

With the 2023 tax deadline quickly approaching, millions of Americans are working to gather their tax documents and file their annual returns

For some, there are also back taxes to deal with — overdue taxes from past returns that have yet to be paid. These can complicate your returns quite a bit, particularly if you end up owing even more taxes for 2023.

If you owe back taxes or you expect to owe more than you can afford on this year's returns (or both), seeking professional tax relief services may be able to help. 

"Tax relief looks like many different things for different people or businesses," says Reem Khatib, partner at Tax Law Advocates in Santa Ana, California. "For some it may look like filing many years of missing tax returns getting in good legal standing with IRS, then getting on an affordable manageable plan for years to come. For others, it may be tackling an existing tax debt that is not manageable, and eliminating it — either immediately or over time."

Tax relief can also help you with IRS collections or audit attempts. Are you unsure if tax relief could help with your tax situation? Below, we'll break down four signs you should consider it now.

Start exploring your tax relief options online here.

4 signs you should consider tax relief

Here are four indicators that you may benefit from a tax relief service, according to the experts we spoke to.

You have tax debts

Having tax debts is the top reason you might want to call in a tax relief service. Khatib says they can be particularly helpful if those debts are racking up "too much penalty and interest for your payments to ever make a difference." 

In this case, a tax relief service may be able to negotiate a settlement of your tax debts or get you on a payment plan, among other strategies. If you have multiple tax debts that keep piling up, bankruptcy may be another option.

See if a tax relief service can help you here now.

You're getting IRS notices or facing collections or liens

If you're getting regularly contacted by the IRS regarding your debts, then it's likely time to call in a pro, too. These might include overdue notices, collections letters, notices of levies, liens, or wage garnishments, and more. Whatever they are, they're all a sign you need to seek help, says Karla Dennis, an IRS enrolled agent and founder of tax consulting firm KDA Inc. in La Palma, California. 

"You know you need a tax relief company when you are failing to meet your tax obligations and the IRS is sending you multiple letters," Dennis says. 

You're avoiding your taxes (and tax problems)

Avoiding your returns this year? Haven't filed returns in the past few years? "Taxpayers and businesses who haven't filed for a number of years or who have lost tax forms can benefit from tax relief services," Khatib says.

They can also be helpful if you just don't know where to start or, as Dennis puts it, "You're not dealing with the situation and you keep putting it off or when you're feeling overwhelmed and don't know what to do." 

In this scenario, a tax relief pro can help you map out a plan and help you feel more confident in how you approach your taxes and tax liabilities.

You're experiencing life changes that could impact your taxes

You should also think about calling in a tax relief service if you're going through big changes — "significant life events such as divorce, job loss, or a business closure that can affect your tax situation," says Paul MIller, a certified public accountant and managing partner at Miller and Company LLP in New York. 

If you're in this bucket, it's important to talk to a tax pro early — ideally as soon as you know a life change is coming. The earlier you get help, the better you can plan ahead and minimize your tax impacts. 

Finding the right tax relief help

If you do opt to seek tax relief help, make sure you choose the right company. First, they should have deep experience in the area of tax help you need, as well as positive customer reviews. 

You should also look for companies that are "transparent about their fees, process, and expected outcomes," Miller says. "And verify that the company's staff members, such as tax attorneys or enrolled agents, are properly licensed and qualified."

Before deciding to work with a company, check their profile with the Better Business Bureau, as this reflects how they handle customer feedback. You should also watch for potential red flags.

These include "promises of guaranteed results or unrealistic outcomes, high-pressure sales tactics or aggressive marketing, and a lack of transparency regarding fees or unclear contracts," Miller says. "Poor customer service or difficulty reaching company representatives are also red flags."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.