The average tax debtor in the US owes at least $16,849 to the IRS. If you’re stuck with a bill anywhere near this, you probably feel worried about your financial future. Interest and penalties might already accrue on your debt, and there’s no telling how long it will be before the IRS comes after you for payment.
If you can’t pay your bill in full, it’s probably time to consider hiring a tax debt lawyer. They’ll negotiate with the IRS on your behalf, which may lessen your financial burden.
But don’t settle for just any tax debt attorney—interview at least two or three candidates before making your final decision.
To avoid wasting money on someone who can’t help, ask these three essential questions to decide if a lawyer is right for you.
1. Do You Know the Tax Laws?
You want a lawyer with a deep understanding of tax law. They should be able to explain the rules in a way that makes sense to you without using any jargon.
Do a few Google searches to verify they know what they’re talking about. If you can’t find any proof of their claims, keep looking.
2. How Will You Help With My Tax Debt?
Tax problems are multidimensional. They can affect your finances, credit score, and ability to get a job. You need a lawyer who understands the full scope of your problem so they can address each part.
Let’s say you’re unemployed and dealing with tax debt. Having a lawyer to negotiate a payment plan with the IRS wouldn’t be helpful in this case. Instead, you need someone who can apply for an extension on your taxes, get a tax refund from the government, and file for bankruptcy.
3. Are You a Specialist?
A tax specialist is an attorney who works exclusively in taxation. They’ve spent years practicing tax law, so they’re experts on how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) treats your money. They know the ins and outs of filing, assessment, collection, and resolution.
A general practice attorney can handle any legal issue. These attorneys can help with your taxes but will also represent you in a personal injury case. Although they’re not experts at solving tax problems, their rates are more affordable for cases that aren’t too complicated.
However, cases involving garnished wages, liens, or divorce should be handled by a specialist.
How to Find the Right Tax Debt Lawyer
If you’re like most people, finding a good tax debt lawyer can be stressful. The last thing you want is for the person representing you to make mistakes that could cost you more money (and time).
So how do you know if you’re hiring a lawyer that’s any good? Don’t forget to include these three questions during your consultation, along with any others that you feel are important.
And while you’re navigating the complex legal process, read a few of our lifestyle articles for tips on handling stress.