Representation is different than assistance.
Assistance is when we review information and advise you on what needs to be done. It is then your responsibility to communicate with the IRS or state taxing authority and to provide them with any required documents or information. We provide this service for our tax clients as part of our standard guarantee. Engagement Agreements are beneficial so that everyone understands the scope of the assignment, level of services, the cost and expectations of each party.
We give clients, during the tax preparation process, the option to purchase an audit assistance plan through Protection Plus Audit Assistance that offers additional benefits to clients. We will tell you more about it when we are reviewing your tax return together.
Representation is when you hire us to act on your behalf and deal directly with the IRS or state to resolve tax issues. We will ask you to sign an Engagement Agreement, pay a retainer for services, and sign an authorization to allow us to receive information from the IRS about your tax account. We may ask you to sign a Power of Attorney, as well. This is a fee paid service for both clients and non-clients.
Judy Coker is an Enrolled Agent with a federally issued legal authority to represent a client before the Internal Revenue Service in all 50 states. She also helps people with state tax problems.
Late filed tax returns
We help people get caught up on their tax filing responsibilities. It is a complicated process, especially if you haven’t filed tax returns for a significant number of years or the IRS or state have assessed tax due based upon information received from third party reporting. This issue often comes with additional IRS and state income tax problems.
Just so everyone understands the scope of the work that you want us to do for you, there is an Engagement Agreement that details our assignment, what you can expect from us and what we expect from our clients. A retainer is required at the time of hiring and before we begin working on your assignment. The cost of the tax returns and investigation into the status of your tax accounts with the IRS and state are included in the engagement. Any outstanding fees must be paid before your tax returns are provided to you for filing.
An signed authorization will allow us to get information from the IRS or state about your tax account. That way we can learn some of what they know about you and what they have received from third parties.
We will advise you on the status of your tax accounts, discuss what the next steps are, and prepare the required tax returns.
Filing late return tax returns can come with a host of other tax issues, including both civil and criminal penalties. We understand the issues and have experience helping taxpayers through the process of getting caught up. It is often not as simple as a layperson may think to file late tax returns.
The fee charged for filing late returns does not include representation to help you with federal or state collection issues, unless you hire us to do so.
Notices from IRS or States
The IRS and state taxing authorities use computer matching programs that help them match income and some tax credit information they receive third parties with what was reported on your tax return. A computer generated notice is sent to you if there is a mismatch of information. Sometimes a human looks at the notice before it is sent out, most of the time only the computer knows.
All of the notices have numbers assigned to them. For example, the IRS mismatch notice is called a CP2000. The notices can be confusing for a layperson, even though the IRS is working to make them easier to understand.
A listing of IRS notices can be found on the IRS website. https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Understanding-Your-IRS-Notice-or-Letter
Please, please, please consult with an Enrolled Agent before you assume that the IRS notice or calculations are correct!. Remember, a computer may have generated the notice–not a human being. Also, the IRS may make adjustments to your tax return that could affect your claimed tax credits, deductions or dependents. These adjustments, if ignored or misunderstood, could cause problems for you in past year returns, state tax returns, or future year tax filings. Don’t take any chances, don’t sign any documents or send any money unless you understand what you are doing.
Paying balances due
Owing money to the IRS or state taxing authority is stressful, painful and, if you can’t pay them off, very scary. The governments have powers to take money, seize property, encumber your property for unpaid taxes and create problems with selling property or obtaining credit. They add interest and late payment penalty each month to your tax debt.
Here are a few of the ways we can help you resolve your tax debt with the IRS or a state department of revenue:
- Installment Agreements, full pay or partial pay, short term or long term;
- Collection Levies and Liens, read our articles about levies or liens for more information;
- Currently Not Collectible, stop collections until your financial situation improves;
- Offers In Compromise, settle for less than what you owe;
- Statute of Limitations, the legal date when you no longer have to pay a tax debt;
- Penalty Abatement, when the IRS or state removes penalties from your tax debt;
- Custom Solutions, there are other ways to resolve a tax debt, such as Audit Reconsideration or correcting previously filed returns and combinations of solutions.
We help taxpayers after a consultation where you get to know us, we get to know you and learn some facts about your situation. We follow a two step process in tax debt resolution.
- A FREE one hour consultation is the first step. We proceed with steps two and three if you hire us to represent you.
- The second step is the discovery phase. This is when we learn more of the facts and circumstances of your tax problem and your financial and personal situation. We will gather information from you, the IRS, and/or the state tax department. We will devise a tax debt resolution plan for us to review together.
- The third step is when you decide which pathway of tax problem solving you want to follow and we implement it. The cost of late filed tax returns, if part of the plan, is included with the fee for this step.
We will quote a flat fee for each step and ask that you agree to an Engagement Agreement detailing the terms of our representation and the payment of the fee for each step.
Unlike some of the other tax resolution services, we will help you if you owe less than $10,000.
There are several types of audits:
- correspondence where the IRS or state ask that you mail or fax them documents and fill out questionnaires;
- in-person where they ask you to bring your documents to an IRS office to meet with a Tax Examiner;
- the IRS agent visits you;
- a computer can’t match third party reporting with what you have on your tax return (CP2000).
We provide full-service representation for taxpayers being audited.
There are several avenues to appeal an IRS determination, depending upon the issues and the time that has passed since notices were sent to you. We offer representation to taxpayers who are eligible to appeal an IRS notice, lien or levy.
We are not licensed to represent taxpayers in Tax Court. We do refer people to Enrolled Agents who are licensed to practice in U.S. Tax Court or to tax attorneys. Timing is of the essence in pursuing tax court remedies! The U.S. Tax Court has information for taxpayers on it’s website.
Our Fee Rates for Assistance and Representation
We charge an hourly fee for assistance services to those who weren’t our tax client for the tax year in question. We waive the assistance fees for our current year tax clients, whether we prepared the return or not. Our hourly rate for assistance is $125 per hour, billed in increments of tenths of an hour, with the minimum billable time being .1 hour or 6 minutes.
Our hourly rate for representation is $125 per hour if we didn’t prepare your tax return. Representation services for our tax clients are offered at a reduced rate.
The fee for collection representation or preparing late filed tax returns is quoted on a flat fee basis depending upon the level of service and the pathways required to resolve the tax problem.
Costs for copying, mailing, research, travel or transportation, or other out-of-pocket costs are billed separately from the retainer. We may ask for a deposit to cover anticipated costs at the time you engage our services.
Retainers and deposits for anticipated costs are requested and placed into a holding bank account. Once we have issued a bill for our time (usually once every 30 days), the balance is transferred from the holding bank account into our general business account. Unused retainers are refunded to the client, less outstanding unbilled time and costs advanced on your behalf. We may request an additional retainer with an explanation of what we need it for if the balance in your retainer account drops below a certain level or is depleted.
Correspondence Audits: IRS Publication 3498-A https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3498a.pdf
Audits/Examinations: IRS Publication 556 https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p556.pdf
IRS Fast Track Mediation: IRS Publication 3605 https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3605.pdf
IRS Collection Process: IRS Publication 594 https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p594.pdf
IRS Appeals: IRS Publication 5 https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p5.pdf
IRS Collection Appeals: IRS Publication 1660 https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1660.pdf
U.S. Tax Court https://www.ustaxcourt.gov/taxpayer_info_intro.htm