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Published: Apr 05, 2024 29 min read
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100% money-back guarantee if your tax situation does not improve*

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Specializes in tax issues over $20,000 (individual and corporate)

  • 18+ years of tax resolution experience
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Tax solutions for consumers with over $10,000 in owed taxes

  • 12+ years of tax resolution experience
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Customized tax solutions for those with $10,000+ in outstanding taxes

  • Free consultation with licensed tax preparers
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Specialize in individual & corporate tax relief over $20,000

  • 22+ years in service
  • A+ Rating with the BBB
  • 15 Day Money Back Guarantee
  • Helps resolve back taxes, fight penalties and liens, stop collection efforts, and file accurate returns

Owing the IRS can feel like a massive burden, especially when you’re already under financial stress. Fortunately, there are professional tax relief services for people who are dealing with significant tax debt.

To be clear: You can and should first discuss your tax debt directly with the IRS (see its website for details).

That's because not all tax relief companies are legit — or, for that matter, upstanding. Some providers may be unnecessarily expensive or even predatory, ultimately leaving you deeper in debt rather than helping you climb out of it.

But if your tax situation is especially complicated or you think you’d benefit from third-party guidance, you may want to consider contacting a reputable tax relief company. These firms typically employ several tax experts and financial pros with years of experience who can negotiate payment options with the IRS and state tax agencies (these options range from establishing payment plans to pausing collections during times of financial hardship, aka “currently not collectible” status).

Read on to find out more about Money's research into the best tax relief companies, which were determined by researching their cost, checking into their availability and reading their consumer reviews.

Our Top Picks for Tax Relief Companies

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Best Tax Relief Companies Reviews

Pros
  • Bilingual services offered
  • Affordable initial fees
  • Tax planning services help reduce the likelihood of future tax issues
Cons
  • No upfront fee information
  • Limited state tax debt relief options

Why we chose this company: Community Tax offers free consultations and affordable investigation fees that range between $295 (for personal cases) and $595 (for business).

Founded in 2010, Community Tax relief focuses on federal tax debt relief, although it also offers limited state tax assistance. Like similar companies, Community Tax handles applications for everything from installment agreements to offers in compromise.

Community Tax is one of the few companies on our list to offer bilingual assistance both online and through its representatives. In addition to tax debt relief services, Community Tax also boasts tax filing, bookkeeping and business accounting services. (On its website, the company calls itself a "one-stop shop for all your tax resolution and preparation needs.")

Consultations are free, and its A+ BBB rating is supported by positive reviews, many mentioning how representatives guided customers through the tax relief process.

The company services customers on a case-by-case basis, but generally those with $7,500 or more in tax debt or more than two years of unfiled returns are good candidates. Community Tax offers a 10-day refund on its initial investigation fees; customers may be eligible for a full refund if the company is unable to provide a possible resolution or didn’t complete the work necessary. That said, its initial investigation fees are some of the more affordable on our list, ranging between $295 and $595.

HIGHLIGHTS
Minimum debt required
Case by case, but generally $7,500
Certifications and memberships
IRS Continuing Education Provider
Cost
Starts at $295
BBB rating
A+

Visit Community Tax's secure website.

Pros
  • Money-back guarantee with no time limit
  • Some customers have reported cases resolved in as little as one week
  • Dedicated tax relief services for truck drivers
Cons
  • Customers have reported poor communication on cases that go on longer than a week

Why we chose this company: Anthem Tax Services’ full money-back guarantee — which promises all your money back if your tax debt isn’t reduced or eliminated — is among the best in the industry, though it does not apply to bookkeeping, tax prep services or the minimum deposit paid by clients.

With headquarters in California, Anthem Tax Services offers both IRS tax debt relief and corporate tax preparation services. The company says it can help people apply for IRS tax debt relief programs like offers in compromise (OIC), innocent spouse relief and “currently not collectible” status.

Crucially, Anthem also offers assistance with filing for wage garnishment and tax levy release — services not commonly offered by competitors.

Anthem’s money-back guarantee also stands out as one of the best in the tax debt relief industry, offering all your money back if it fails to secure any sort of resolution from the IRS (whether that's a reduction in payment amounts or debt forgiveness). However, that guarantee doesn’t include the initial investigation fee, which usually starts at $400, depending on the details of your case. Pricing on the website isn't entirely clear.

As for eligibility, Anthem takes on customers with as little as $10,000 in tax debt and offers free consultations.

As a general rule, the company charges a flat rate fee upfront, which can vary greatly per individual customer but generally starts around $3,000. The price may change if extra services are required along the way.

HIGHLIGHTS
Minimum debt required
$10,000
Certifications and memberships
National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), California Tax Education Council (CTEC)
Cost
$400 initial investigation fee
BBB rating
A+

Visit Anthem Tax Services' secure website.

Pros
  • 15-day money-back guarantee for new customers
  • Can help resolve complex business tax situations such as tax liens or accounts receivable levies
  • Free consultations
Cons
  • 15-day guarantee may be too short for serious tax debt issues
  • Minimum $20,000 tax debt required

Why we chose this company: Larson Tax Relief’s extensive business tax services — including payroll and federal tax issues, conflicts with your revenue officer and worker classification issues — make it a solid choice for those seeking business and corporate tax debt relief.

Larson Tax Relief provides all sorts of tax relief services, from personal IRS tax debt relief to corporate tax assistance, and says it can help with delaying or preventing bank levies.

In addition to the large number of positive reviews the company receives online, Larson stands out for its business tax services. The company can handle just about everything about business tax preparation, including paperwork for payroll taxes and corporate income taxes. This may be especially useful for small business owners or those with smaller accounting departments that need the support.

Though Larson requires a minimum of $20,000 in tax debt to take on your case, it does offer free consultations.

Larson says it charges a minimum fee of $200 to file tax returns, between $250 and $500 for research and discovery, and a minimum fee of $2,500 for tax representation services. The company has a 15-day money-back guarantee, which may be challenging if your case takes weeks to resolve.

HIGHLIGHTS
Minimum debt required
$20,000
Certifications and memberships
NAEA
Cost
Starts at $200
BBB rating
A+

Visit Larson Tax Relief's secure website.

Pros
  • Proprietary app provides free assessment of collection notices
  • Free consultations
  • Clearly outlined tax resolution process provides realistic expectations on the outcome of your case
Cons
  • Minimum $10,000 tax debt required
  • 15-day money-back guarantee may be too short for you

Why we chose this company: Optima’s app, which allows users to file a free tax extension and helps people understand what to do when they receive an IRS notice, makes it our pick for the tax debt relief company with the best mobile app.

Optima Tax Relief works with every type of IRS and state tax relief option, from payment plans to “currently not collectible” filings. It has several types of tax professionals on staff, including enrolled agents, tax attorneys and accountants, with years of experience dealing with these issues.

Notably, Optima has an app that lets you access free assessments of any IRS collection notice you receive and can also help you file for an extension.

Optima offers individual and business tax preparation services as well as free evaluations. During that free consultation, the company outlines its two-step approach. This includes setting up a protection plan involving filing paperwork to pause any immediate IRS action against you — which typically takes up to four weeks — and providing you with a case summary.

Optima’s investigation fee is generally about $295. Customers typically need to have a minimum tax debt of $10,000 in order to be a good fit for Optima's services.

HIGHLIGHTS
Minimum debt required
$10,000
Certifications and memberships
NAEA, IRS-approved Continuing Education Provider, NATP
Cost
Starts at $295
BBB rating
A+

Visit Optima's secure website.

Pros
  • Wide range of tax debt relief and preparation services
  • Robust tax education resources
  • Fully bilingual services
Cons
  • Three-day money-back guarantee

Why we chose this company: Tax Defense Network’s availability online and over the phone — in both Spanish and English — makes it our pick for the best tax relief company for bilingual services.

Tax Defense Network stands out for providing fully bilingual customer service. In terms of eligibility, the company also accepts customers who have tax debt as low as $5,000, making it more accessible than many competitors.

Aside from the full range of IRS and state tax debt relief options that its competitors also work with (think: payment plans, offers in compromise, innocent spouse relief and so on), Tax Defense Network offers specialized business tax solutions such as close corporate filing services for when businesses need to shut down permanently. Its educational resources, including an offer-in-compromise calculator, are also more robust than other companies’.

Despite the company’s free consultations, its three-day money-back guarantee is much shorter than competitors' (many other companies offer at least 10 days). Regardless, its extensive certifications and memberships in national tax professional organizations help to support positive online reviews from current and former customers.

HIGHLIGHTS
Minimum debt required
$5,000
Certifications and memberships
NAEA, American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS), NATP, Association of International Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
Cost
Varies, but the average fee is $3,500
BBB rating
A+

Visit Tax Defense Network's secure website.

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Other Tax Relief Companies We Considered

Below are some companies that we thought were worth looking into but that ultimately didn’t make our list. Though they may not be the best for every situation, the following companies may still offer services that some people may find useful, depending on their circumstances.

Precision Tax Relief

Pros
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • No-interest payment plans available
  • Free consultations
Cons
  • No audit representation

Aside from tax debt relief, Precision offers assistance with securing wage garnishment and levy releases, which can provide a significant amount of financial relief if granted by the IRS. Individual and business tax preparation services are also available to clients so people can avoid tax debt issues in the first place.

Precision stands out for offering interest-free payment plans for its services. Its 30-day money-back guarantee is also fairly generous, as many — but not all — tax debt issues can be resolved within the span of three to four weeks.

Fees and rates are not advertised upfront, but they are provided during the free consultations.

  • Minimum debt required: $10,000
  • Certifications and memberships: NAEA, ASTPS, AICPA
  • BBB rating: A+

Visit Precision Tax Relief's secure website.

Victory Tax Lawyers

Pros
  • Flat-rate pricing
  • Free consultations
Cons
  • No money-back guarantee
  • Minimum $25,000 tax debt required

Victory Tax Lawyers tends to focus on tax controversy issues rather than general debt relief. However, Victory Tax does handle common IRS tax debt relief options like offers in compromise and installment agreements.

Victory Tax offers assistance to both individuals and businesses, including services such as tax prep, tax levy and lien defense and audit representation. Notably, it also assists with Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) filings, which must be filed if you have a certain amount of money in bank accounts in non-U.S. countries.

Note that Victory Tax only works with cases involving a minimum of $25,000 in tax debt, which is considerably higher than other companies on this list.

  • Minimum debt required: $25,000
  • Certifications and memberships: ASTPS, the California State Bar and U.S. Tax Court
  • BBB rating: A+

Visit Victory Tax Lawyers' secure website.

Tax Relief Guide

Understanding and navigating tax relief options can be overwhelming. The following guide to tax relief includes explanations of basic concepts you need to know, as well as information on the many programs that tax relief firms can help you apply for.

What is tax relief?

Tax debt relief refers to a handful of steps and strategies that can help people pay or reduce their tax liability, especially when seeking help with IRS debt or state tax debt. These include payment plans, settlements (called offers in compromise) and wage garnishments.

While state and federal tax collectors offer similar plans, local regulations can vary widely. It’s important to check your state’s comptroller’s office to find out which specific options are available to you.

It’s crucial to note that anyone can negotiate options for paying back taxes directly with the IRS. However, there are situations when hiring professionals can be a worthwhile investment.

What are tax relief services?

Tax relief services — also known as tax resolution firms — use their knowledge of federal and state law to review your paperwork and financial situation, and then identify the best alternative. That process typically involves filing various documents and communicating with the IRS on your behalf.

Some companies employ tax attorneys who can, in some particularly complex cases, act as intermediaries in your negotiations with the government.

How do tax relief companies work?

Tax relief companies work with the IRS on taxpayers’ behalf to reduce the amount of back taxes they owe.

However, it’s worth pointing out that you can do pretty much everything that tax relief companies do by speaking directly with the IRS free of charge. The tax relief industry is a tricky one — it has a reputation for upcharging customers or doling out false promises, so please tread carefully.

For instance, if your tax debt issues are just a matter of accidentally missing last year’s tax payments, you might be better off simply reaching out to the IRS yourself. In that situation, there’s little these companies can do that you can’t.

But if your tax debt case involves a large balance, multiple bank accounts, significant assets, years of unpaid taxes or other particulars that complicate your tax situation, a tax relief company may be able to help by sorting through your paperwork and identifying the best options available. In very rare cases, it may even be able to find things that the IRS missed or negotiate a lower tax bill.

How much do tax relief companies charge?

Tax relief companies generally use one of two common pricing models: a percentage of the debt owed and flat hourly rates. The most cost-effective choice for you will depend on the size of your tax debt and how complicated your case is.

Here's how the two structures work:

  • Percentage-based. Most companies that operate on a percentage basis have rates that range from 10% to 15% of your tax debt. If, for example, your debt is $10,000 (which, by the way, is many companies’ required minimum debt) you can expect to pay a minimum of $1,000 to $1,500.
  • Flat hourly rate. A company that charges a flat hourly rate might be more affordable if the amount you owe is high, but your case is relatively straightforward. The average hourly rate for tax relief companies can range from $240 to $1,000.

It’s not uncommon for firms to charge different prices for specific services, so it’s crucial to ask for as much information upfront as possible. Get these quotes in writing, and make sure they include the possibility of any additional fees and all available payment options. Then save them in a safe place until your debt is long resolved.

Common tax problems

Tax problems can result from mistakes made during filing or simply not filing a tax return at all.

Below are some explanations of the most common tax issues that tax relief companies and tax agencies may be able to handle for you:

Back taxes

Back taxes are taxes owed due to unfiled tax forms or errors made during filing. These can accrue interest, which can cause your tax debt to balloon to unmanageable levels. The IRS publishes the interest rates for penalties quarterly; check the website for the most up-to-date information. (For instance, the underpayment interest rate is 8% for the second quarter of 2024.)

One way to avoid incurring back taxes is by using tax preparation software annually. Though you likely qualify to file your taxes for free, be sure to check out our article on the best tax software if you’re in need of additional help.

Wage garnishments

When your tax bill is due, the IRS will send you a series of collection notices. If you continue to not pay and ignore these notices, the IRS may decide to collect portions of your debt directly from your wages by garnishing them.

In this case, your employer will rely upon Publication 1494 to determine the portion of your wages that is exempt from garnishment based on your marital status and number of dependents. Garnishment usually continues until the debt is satisfied, but tax relief companies may be able to assist by securing alternative payment arrangements.

Tax liens

Similar to a wage garnishment, a tax lien is a public notice issued by the IRS to financial institutions and other relevant parties declaring its right to your property to satisfy your debt.

Tax levies

A more drastic variation of a tax lien, a tax levy means that the IRS is enforcing its legal right to seize your property in order to cover your debt.

Tax audits

If the IRS spots irregularities in your taxes, the agency may choose to audit you, meaning it requests more information about your return and then examines it to ensure it’s accurate. This is rare: Overall, 0.38% of income tax returns were audited for fiscal year 2022.

Tax debt relief options

The following tax debt relief options are available to anyone and come directly from the IRS. Some state agencies may offer similar programs for local taxes. Before reaching out to tax relief companies, it’s always a smart idea to check the IRS website or speak with an official IRS representative over the phone about your options.

Remember that most of the tax resolution services that private companies offer involve reviewing your case details and identifying the best option for your situation based on the information they find. They don’t have access to any information that you could not obtain yourself, and they cannot guarantee any specific result.

If your tax situation is pretty straightforward — meaning you don’t have multiple sources of income, a complex stock portfolio, et cetera — you’re usually better off speaking right to the IRS.

Here are some of the tax debt resolution options that the IRS offers:

Offers in compromise

Offers in compromise (OIC) can allow you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. Under this arrangement, the IRS considers factors such as your ability to pay, income, expenses and assets to determine whether you are eligible.

Per the IRS, offers in compromise are only considered if the agency has reason to believe that the lower amount is the most that can be collected “within a reasonable period of time.” This makes OIC one of the least commonly offered tax settlement options.

Innocent spouse relief

This type of tax debt relief applies when your current or former spouse makes errors when filing your joint taxes. Innocent spouse relief exempts you from tax penalties that might apply as a result of these filing errors. This only applies if the IRS determines that you had no reasonable way of knowing about the omission or errors.

Installment agreement

If you don’t have the money to cover your tax debt in a single payment, the IRS may offer an installment agreement, or installment plan, in which you pay your debt over time. There are two types of IRS installment agreements: short-term (meaning you pay in 180 days or less) and long-term (meaning you make monthly payments for as long as you need to pay your debt).

While there isn’t a specific amount you must owe to apply for an installment agreement, online applications are accepted for amounts up to $50,000 (long-term) or $100,000 (short-term), making it one of the more common and accessible options for individuals who want to directly negotiate with the IRS. That said, you may have to pay setup and processing fees.

Penalty abatement

Sometimes known as “first-time penalty abatement,” this tax relief option is commonly available for lesser tax penalties such as failing to make a payment on a single tax return or missing a filing deadline. The main requirement to be eligible for this type of relief is having no penalties for the previous three tax years. In addition, you must have filed or at least requested an extension on your current taxes.

Currently not collectible

Currently not collectible (CNC) status means that both you and the IRS agree that while taxes are owed, you are unable to pay them. As a general rule, you can apply for CNC status when paying your taxes represents an undue burden on your necessary living expenses. (This may include being unable to pay essential bills like utilities or rent or not having enough money left over for groceries as a result of your tax debt payment.)

If the IRS grants you CNC status, it will review your finances regularly until it determines that you’re able to pay your debt. Additionally, any future tax refunds you receive may be used to pay down your debt while in CNC status.

Other services offered by tax relief companies

Audit defense

Some licensed tax professionals offer guaranteed assistance in the event that your tax returns are audited. Think of it as you would car insurance: You pay the tax professional an additional amount upfront, and the company agrees to use its resources to help you resolve any tax audits that might come up during a certain time period.

Warning about tax relief scams

One of the main reasons people dread tax seasons is because they fear learning how much they owe the IRS. It's safe to say actually having tax debt can incredibly stressful, which can make any offer to get rid of it seem enticing.

However, as the Federal Trade Commission warns, not all tax relief companies have your best interests at heart. In fact, they may take advantage of your frenzied state.

Tax debt relief companies’ red flags

Because only the IRS can actually determine whether you qualify for its government relief programs, you should steer clear of any tax relief company vowing to lower your debt. If the claims seem too good to be true, they probably are.

Assurances that you qualify for one or more programs — without even taking a look at your case — or promises that a firm can definitely settle your tax debt in a specific time frame should raise red flags right away.

Many sketchy tax relief companies don’t even bother filing the necessary paperwork to apply for relief programs; instead, they lie to customers and pocket their money without having done any work.

What's more, according to FTC reports, some companies have even made unauthorized charges to customers’ credit cards long after the cases were closed.

Here are some things to look out for when evaluating tax relief firms:

  • Company representatives make guarantees or promises without looking at your case details
  • The company fails to ask for specifics about your tax debt situation
  • Upfront payment is demanded in exchange for “guaranteed” results
  • The firm contacts you first by cold call, unsolicited mail and/or email
  • The company uses delay tactics such as asking you for the same documents over and over again

Other IRS-related scams

You should also be aware of other IRS-related scams, which are rampant year-round. (A reputable tax relief company may even provide you with guidance on how to avoid these scams.)

Trustworthy tax relief companies will avoid making specific promises and be transparent about their costs and process, often offering free consultations that outline exactly what services you'll receive should you become a paying customer.

Make sure that the company you choose is accredited with one or more tax professional organizations, such as the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Association of Enrolled Agents or the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, to reduce the chances of falling for a scam.

Alternatives to using tax debt relief companies

Direct negotiation with the IRS

As mentioned above, if your tax debt is comparatively small — generally, less than $10,000 — you should strongly consider negotiating with the IRS yourself. If filling out your tax returns is a relatively straightforward process, applying for any of the IRS’s tax debt relief programs is probably considerably cheaper than paying for a tax debt relief company’s services.

You may also get peace of mind from communicating directly with the IRS rather than dealing with a third party.

Tax relief lawyers

On the other hand, if you feel your tax debt situation is more complicated, working with tax relief lawyers might be the way to go. Some, but not all, tax debt relief companies employ lawyers. A tax lawyer is far more specialized than a certified public accountant (CPA) or an enrolled agent, which can be useful when your case involves nuances in tax law or might lead to criminal charges.

Tax debt relief programs

The IRS also offers a number of tax assistance programs designed to help individuals file their taxes on time, among other things.

These aren't focused on tax debt, but they do all include IRS help:

Tax Relief Companies FAQs

How far back can the IRS audit you?

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The IRS typically limits its audit to tax returns filed within the last three years. However, it may extend this period if a significant error is identified. Generally, the IRS does not go back more than six years, but it's always a good idea to keep copies of your tax returns and related financial records for at least seven years, as the IRS can request documentation related to previous tax years during an audit. Note that the IRS has no time limit if you’ve committed fraud.

What is the IRS Fresh Start Program?

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The IRS Fresh Start Program was an initiative in 2011 and 2012 from the IRS that helped taxpayers obtain relief from their tax debt. This program introduced easier qualification requirements for programs as extended payment plans, offers in compromise and penalty relief to help taxpayers who were unable to pay their tax debt in full.

Do tax relief companies really work?

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Tax relief companies may be able to help individuals who owe back taxes to the IRS or state tax authorities. These companies typically offer services such as negotiating a settlement or payment plan on behalf of their clients. However, it's important to note that not all tax relief companies are reputable and many may engage in fraudulent or unethical practices. Before hiring a tax relief company, it's important to do your research and make sure you're working with a reputable and legitimate

What is an offer in compromise?

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An offer in compromise is a tax debt relief option offered by the IRS that allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the total amount owed.

Who can I call to ask tax questions for free?

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If you're looking for general information on a number of federal tax topics, the IRS has several telephone numbers you can call. 1-800-829-1040 allows you to speak with a live representative, while 1-800-829-4477 allows you to access pre-recorded messages on over 100 different tax topics.

Latest News About Tax Relief

Although the IRS was previously letting many past-due tax bills slide during the pandemic, the agency has now restarted collection efforts in earnest. This year’s tax season started Jan. 29, and individual income taxes are due for residents of most (but not all) states on April 15.

Of course, you have a plethora of options for tax preparers. But before you pay a hefty fee to file your taxes, check out whether you’re eligible to join the pilot of the IRS’s Direct File program. This new tool, currently in test mode, allows some Americans to file their taxes for free.

How We Chose the Best Tax Relief Companies

If you’re looking for professional assistance with your tax debt issues, consulting a tax relief company is likely at the top of your mind. While it is entirely possible (and, in some cases, advantageous) to negotiate with the IRS on your own, consulting a professional can sometimes provide greater peace of mind.

We used the following criteria to choose the best tax relief companies:

Availability

When people think of tax debt relief, they mostly think about the IRS, which is a federal agency. However, tax debt can also impact people at the state level. We focused on picking companies with experience in both federal and state tax issues — and that were available nationwide.

Cost

We chose companies that offer free consultations and flexible payment plans, making their services accessible to all who want them.

Credibility

To ensure that you only work with companies with a solid track record, we looked at their records with the Better Business Bureau and customer reviews on websites such as Trustpilot.

We also only picked companies with at least one certification, accreditation or membership in major tax professional organizations.

Summary of Money’s Best Tax Relief Companies