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Published: Apr 17, 2023 30 min read
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  • 100% money-back guarantee if your tax situation does not improve*
  • Best for individuals with over $8,000 in tax liabilities​​​​
  • 100% free (no-obligation) eligibility analysis on IRS tax reduction programs
  • Assistance with federal and state-owed taxes
  • 10+ years of tax resolution experience
  • Rated A+ by the BBB
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  • Specialists in tax issues over $20,000 (individual and corporate)
  • 17+ years of tax resolution experience
  • Federally-licensed Enrolled Agents lead your casework
  • Specialized tax experts on IRS and state tax relief
  • Rated A+ by the BBB
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  • Tax solutions for consumers with over $10k in owed taxes
  • 12+ years of tax resolution experience
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  • Customized tax solutions for $10k+ in outstanding taxes
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  • Resolved over $500 million in tax liabilities

Massive tax debt can be a huge and stressful burden, especially when you’re already struggling. Fortunately, there’s professional help available for those who are thousands of dollars in debt to the IRS.

Tax relief companies employ a number of tax professionals who can help you negotiate payment options with the IRS and state tax agencies: from payment plans to pausing collections during times of financial hardship (called “currently not collectible” status).

Read on to find out more about the best tax relief companies, as determined by their availability, cost and consumer reviews.

Our Top Picks for Tax Relief Companies

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Best Tax Relief Companies Reviews

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 guarantees in the industry.

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
BBB rating
A+

Anthem Tax Services offers both IRS tax debt relief and corporate tax preparation services. The company helps you apply for all IRS tax debt relief programs, including offers in compromise (OIC), innocent spouse relief, and “currently not collectible” status.

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

Anthem’s money-back guarantee is also one of the best in the tax debt relief industry, offering all of your money back if it fails to secure any sort of resolution from the IRS — whether it’s a reduction in payment amounts or debt forgiveness. It’s important to note that said guarantee doesn’t include the initial investigation fee, which usually starts at $350, depending on the details of your case.

Anthem takes on customers that have as little as $8,000 in tax debt (lower than the typical $10,000) 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 — though the price may change if additional services are required along the way.

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 shorter than competitors'

Why we chose this company: Optima’s proprietary app, which allows users to file a free tax extension and also helps them understand what to do when they receive an IRS notice, makes it the company with the best mobile app in the industry.

Optima Tax Relief works with every type of IRS and state tax relief option, from payment plans to “currently not collectible” filings. The company’s staff is composed of several types of tax professionals, including enrolled agents, tax attorneys and CPAs.

Notably, Optima has a proprietary app that lets you access free assessments of any IRS collection notice you receive and also helps you file for an extension on your tax filing deadline.

Optima also offers individual and business tax preparation services as well as free consultations. During free consultations, the company outlines its two-step approach: 1) setting up a protection plan involving filing paperwork to pause any immediate IRS action against you — typically takes up to 4 weeks — and 2) providing you with a case summary.

Optima’s investigation fee is generally around $295, and you need to have a minimum tax debt of $10,000.

HIGHLIGHTS
Minimum debt required
$10,000
Certifications and memberships
NAEA, IRS-approved Continuing Education Provider, NATP
Cost
Starts at $295
BBB rating
A+
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
  • No bilingual service
  • Minimum $20,000 tax debt required

Why we chose this company: Larson Tax Relief’s wide range of business tax services — including payroll and federal tax issues, conflicts with your revenue officer and worker classification issues — make them an excellent choice for business and corporate tax debt relief.

Larson Tax Relief works with all sorts of tax debt relief services, from personal IRS tax debt relief to corporate tax assistance and even assistance with delaying or preventing bank levies.

In addition to the large number of positive reviews the company receives on customer review sites, 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 can be especially useful for small business owners or those with smaller accounting departments that need the support.

Larson offers free consultations, but does require you to have a minimum of $20,000 in tax debt to take on your case.

According to Larson, it charges a minimum fee of $200 to file tax returns, between $250 and $500 for research and discovery and a minimum fee of $1,750 for representation or power of attorney services. On average, it costs $2,400 to work with Larson Tax Relief.

Larson has a 15-day money-back guarantee that applies to all new customers — this is definitely on the shorter side since other companies offer 30 days. It might not be all that useful if your case takes weeks to resolve.

HIGHLIGHTS
Minimum debt required
$20,000
Certifications and memberships
NAEA
Cost
Starts at $2,400
BBB rating
A+
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-$500.

Community Tax relief focuses on IRS tax debt relief, although it also offers limited state tax assistance. Like other similar companies, Community Tax handles applications for everything from installment agreements to offers in compromise, but not innocent spouse relief.

Community Tax is one of the few companies on our list to offer bilingual assistance both online and through their representatives. In addition to tax debt relief services, Community Tax also offers tax filing, bookkeeping and business accounting services. Consultations are free and their A+ BBB rating is supported by numerous positive reviews and quick response time to customer complaints.

The company services customers with tax debt as low as $10,000 and their money-back guarantee varies from state to state, ranging between three and 10 days, and offering a full refund if your issues aren’t resolved. Initial investigation fees are some of the more affordable ranging between $295-$500.

HIGHLIGHTS
Minimum debt required
$5,000
Certifications and memberships
IRS Continuing Education Provider
Cost
Starts at $295
BBB rating
A+
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 Networks’ availability online and on the phone to both Spanish and English speakers makes it the best tax relief company for bilingual services.

Tax Defense Network stands out for providing a fully bilingual (Spanish - English) customer service, both online and over the phone. representatives) The company also accepts tax debt as low as $5,000 in some cases, making it more accessible than many competitors.

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

Despite the company’s free consultations, its 3-day money-back guarantee is much shorter than competitors — most companies on this list, for instance, offer 15 days. Regardless, its extensive certifications and memberships in national tax professional organizations help to support the numerous positive reviews from its 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
Starts at $250
BBB rating
A+

Other Tax Relief Companies We Considered

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

Precision Tax Relief

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

Precision Tax Relief primarily focuses on IRS tax debt relief, but can also handle state tax issues. It doesn’t offer audit representation for its clients.

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, to avoid tax debt issues in the first place.

Precision stands out for making it abundantly clear that any payment plans you agree to are always interest-free. Its 30-day money-back guarantee is also fairly generous, since 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 always provided during the free consultations. It should be noted that while Precision has no minimum debt requirements for its customers, the company states anyone with a tax debt of under $10,000 may not be getting the best value for their money from their services.

  • Minimum Debt Required: No minimum debt required
  • Certifications and Memberships: NAEA, ASTPS, AICPA
  • BBB ratings: A+

Victory Tax Lawyers

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

Victory Tax Lawyers are tax lawyers who focus on tax controversy issues, such as preventing or resolving tax-related criminal charges, rather than general debt relief. However, Victory Tax does handle common IRS tax debt relief options such as compromise and installment agreements, but not innocent spouse relief.

Victory Tax offers assistance to both individuals and businesses, including services such as tax preparation, tax levy and lien defense and audit representation. Notably, they also assist with Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) filings, which must be filed if you have bank accounts in countries other than the U.S.

Furthermore, they only work with cases involving a minimum of $20,000 in tax debt, which is considerably higher than other companies on this list.

  • Minimum Debt Required: $25,000
  • Certifications and memberships: Association of American Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS)
  • BBB Rating: A+

Tax Relief Guide

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

What is tax relief?

Tax debt relief refers to a number of measures and strategies that help individuals pay or reduce their tax liability.

Although the term originally referred to policies aimed at reducing the tax burden for both companies and individuals, it’s now often used to refer to payment plans, settlements (called offers-in-compromise) and wage garnishments.

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

It’s also important to note that anyone can negotiate these options directly with the IRS. However, there are situations when hiring professionals is a worthwhile investment.

Tax relief companies — also known as tax resolution firms — use their knowledge of federal and state law to review your documents and financial situation, and identify the best alternative. The process typically involves filing paperwork 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 owed. However, it’s worth noting that you can do pretty much everything that tax relief companies do by speaking directly with the IRS.

The key difference is that good tax relief companies employ professionals with years of experience, well-versed in tax law, who can more easily navigate complicated cases involving higher debt amounts.

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

However, if your tax debt case involves multiple bank accounts, assets, years of unpaid taxes and other particulars that complicate your tax situation, a tax relief company can help by sorting through your paperwork and identifying the best options available. In very rare cases, they could even identify things that the IRS missed and negotiate a lower tax bill.

As a general rule, if your tax debt is under $10,000, you might be better off attempting to negotiate with the IRS yourself. First, most tax relief companies have a minimum debt requirement — usually $10,000 or more. Second, if your debt is under that amount, you might do better paying the IRS in installments instead of increasing your debt load by paying for tax relief services.

Of course, no two people share the same circumstances and if you feel like you need tax help — regardless of the size of your debt — many tax relief firms offer a free consultation to get you started.

Common tax problems

Tax problems refers to a number of issues resulting 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 can handle for you:

Back taxes

Back taxes are taxes owed due to unfiled tax forms or mistakes 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, so it’s important to check the agency’s website for the most up-to-date information.

A good way to avoid incurring back taxes is by using tax preparation software. Be sure to check out our article on the best tax software, if you’re in need of a helping hand when filing your taxes.

Wage garnishments

When your tax bill is due, the IRS will send you a series of collection notices. If you ignore these notices for long enough, the IRS may decide to collect portions of your debt directly from your wages by garnishing part of them.

Your employer receives Publication 1494 to help 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, this is a public notice issued by the IRS to financial institutions and other relevant parties declaring their right to collect any proceeds from personal property sales before other creditors.

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 pay your debt.

Tax audits

If the IRS spots irregularities in your taxes, the agency may choose to audit you. While anyone can be audited, wealthier individuals — especially those who earn $10 million or more — are the most likely to be audited.

How much do tax relief companies charge?

Given the complicated nature of tax relief services, it’s safe to say that costs vary greatly from case to case. There are two common pricing models: a percentage of the debt owed and flat hourly rates. The most cost-effective choice will depend on the size of your tax debt and how complicated your case is.

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 (many companies’ required minimum debt) you can expect to pay a minimum of $1,000 to $1,500.

On the other hand, 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 $1000.

Some companies have individual prices for different services. For instance, they may charge a flat fee of $300 for a basic investigation, but upwards of $1,000 if you want to pursue a specific tax relief option such as an offer in compromise (OIC), which allows you to settle your tax debt for a lower amount than originally specified.

For these reasons, it cannot be overstated how important it is to ask for as much information as a company is willing/able to disclose before contracting its services. Ideally, you’ll want to get quotes in writing, including the possibility of any additional fees and all available payment options.

Tax debt relief options

The following tax debt relief options are available to anyone 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 good idea to check the IRS website or speak with a representative over the phone to obtain further information about these 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 relatively straightforward — meaning you don’t have multiple sources of income, a complex stock portfolio, etc. — you’re usually better off speaking to the IRS directly. Here are some of the tax debt resolution options that the IRS offers:

Offers in compromise

Offers in compromise are a way 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 if you are eligible.

Per the IRS, offers in compromise are only considered if it has reason to believe that the lower amount is the most that can be collected “within a reasonable amount of time,” which makes this 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 commits an error of omission when filing taxes. Innocent spouse relief exempts you from any tax penalties that might apply as a result of these filing errors. This option only applies if the IRS determines that you had no reasonable way of knowing about the omissions.

Installment agreement

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

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, although you must have also 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 currently 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 refers to scenarios such as being unable to pay essential bills like utilities, rent/mortgage, or even not having enough money left over for basic groceries as a result of your tax debt payment.

If the IRS grants you CNC status, your finances are reviewed every year 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 up front, and they agree to help you resolve any tax audits that might come up in the future, usually up to three years.

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 might want to consider negotiating directly 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 could be considerably cheaper than paying for a tax debt relief company’s services.

Tax relief lawyers

On the other hand, if you feel your tax debt situation is more complicated, working directly with tax relief lawyers might be the way to go. Be aware that some tax debt relief companies employ tax debt relief lawyers, but not all. A tax lawyer is far more specialized than a CPA or an enrolled agent, which can be useful when your case might lead to criminal charges.

Tax debt relief programs

The IRS Fresh Start Program — currently known as the Fresh Start Initiative — is a set of guidelines that makes tax debt relief more accessible. Instead of offering a specific type of relief, the Fresh Start Initiative lowers existing requirements to qualify for different IRS relief programs.

Income calculations used to determine eligibility for offers-in-compromise, for instance, have been modified in several important ways. The IRS will now only look at:

  • One year of future income for offers paid in five or fewer months, which is down from four years, and
  • Two years of future income for offers paid in six to 24 months, which is down from five years.

However, all offers must be fully paid within 24 months of the date the offer is accepted.

Tax debt relief companies evaluate the details of your case and check Fresh Start guidelines, helping you find the relief options that you qualify for.

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

Warning about tax relief scams

Tax debt can create a lot of stress, which can make any offer to get rid of it seem enticing. However, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns, not all tax relief companies have your best interests at heart.

Tax debt relief companies red flags

Since only the IRS can determine whether you qualify for relief programs, you should steer clear of any tax relief company promising to lower your debt or making claims that seem too good to be true.

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

Many fraudulent 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. According to FTC reports, some companies even made unauthorized charges to customers’ credit cards long after the case had been closed.

Here are some red flags to look out for when evaluating tax relief companies:

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

Other IRS-related scams

In addition to tax relief scams, you should also be aware of other IRS-related scams, such as the IRS text message scam that the agency recently warned about in a press release. A reputable tax relief company could 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 up front, and often offer free consultations.

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

Tax Relief Companies FAQ

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.

What is the IRS Fresh Start Program?

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

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. Due to the benefit of paying less than you owe, this is one of the least commonly offered tax relief options.

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.

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 some 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 firm.

Latest News About Tax Relief

From bribes to march madness pools, read our article on the 13 weird things the IRS considers taxable.

Also, check out our article on The Fair Tax Act to learn more about the proposed bill and how a national sales tax would look like.

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 to negotiate common tax debt issues yourself directly with the IRS, consulting a professional can often 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 picked companies that could deal with 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 need them.

Credibility

To ensure that you only work with companies with a solid track record, we tax looked at their record 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 such as the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), and many others.

Summary of Money’s Best Tax Relief Companies