Many people fall behind on their taxes, start to receive notices from the IRS, and/or find themselves in a troublesome situation with the Internal Revenue Service. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you may receive advice about seeking out a certified tax resolution specialist. What does this mean? How can they help?
A certified tax resolution specialist (CTRS) is a tax professional—specifically, an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent (EA)—with proven experience and knowledge resolving problems with taxes. This is far beyond and above tax preparation, and includes things like:
- Tax audit representation
- Tax debt relief, including getting an approved payment plan via an installment agreement, and for qualifying candidates, settling for a lesser amount via an offer in compromise
- Penalty abatement, which can also help reduce your tax debt burden
- Liens, levies, and wage garnishment
- Attorney-led bankruptcy prequalification
- IRS mistakes, which can happen if the Internal Revenue Service attributes something to you they shouldn’t,
Any of the above issues can cause enormous stress and hardship. Even seasoned tax professionals can struggle with them. It’s important to understand that not every attorney, CPA, or EA will necessarily have in-depth knowledge or experience in tax resolution. By choosing a certified tax resolution specialist, you can be confident that your tax practitioner has proven their ability to handle even the thorniest of tax problems.
It’s important to remember that the IRS doesn’t want you to be burdened by debt, and they are willing to work with you to find a solution. A certified tax resolution specialist is someone who has a good understanding of what kinds of solutions the IRS will accept, and can help you find a way to resolve your tax issues while paying the lowest amount of tax legally allowed, and with as little disruption to your life as possible.
What is a Certified Tax Resolution Specialist?
In order for a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or enrolled agent to become a certified tax resolution specialist, they must pass a rigorous certification course that includes educational, experience, and examination requirements.
The candidate must have completed 16 hours of continuing professional education covering tax problem resolution (tax preparation education does not count). They must also have a full year of experience handling cases of tax resolution. Finally, the candidate must pass a comprehensive two-part exam about IRS tax problem resolution, including both objective questions and a sample case problem that the applicant must prepare for resolution.
In addition, candidates are required to exhibit high moral and professional character, and to adhere to an ethical code. They are to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own, and work to find a favorable solution for their clients.
Afterward, certified tax resolution specialists must maintain continuing professional education covering tax resolution.
How a Certified Tax Resolution Specialist Can Help You
There are some tax problems that you can solve on your own, such as when the IRS finds a minor discrepancy on your return and sends you a CP2000 notice. However, even minor issues can be very stressful and require some expert knowledge, in which case you might find it very beneficial to talk to a certified tax resolution specialist.
No matter how large or how small your tax problem is, hiring someone with knowledge and experience can dramatically ease your pain. Here are some situations that a certified tax resolution specialist can help you with:
- Missed tax filings: Routine failure to file can feel like a big mountain to overcome—especially if you’ve skipped filing for many years—but it isn’t always that bad. A tax resolution specialist can dig through your records and get everything straightened out.
- Owing the IRS a significant sum of money: A big debt with the IRS often comes with aggressive collection techniques, which can be extremely stressful. Hire an experienced tax resolution specialist to negotiate on your behalf and keep the situation from getting worse.
- Comingled business and personal finances: For small business owners or self-employed individuals, combining business and personal finances can lead to tax return inaccuracies that will land you in hot water. Untangling the mess and making corrections is best done by a professional so that the problem does not get worse.
- Innocent spouse relief: Realizing your current or previous spouse caused you to face penalties and tax debt can be a huge shock. An experienced tax professional can help set the record straight and find relief from undeserved penalties.
- Wage garnishment relief: The IRS calculates how much to take from your paycheck, often leaving you unable to pay bills. A certified tax resolution specialist can help negotiate the amount and work on a long-term solution to your wage garnishment.
- Lien relief: Typically, the only way to get a lien removed is to pay your tax debt, but in certain situations tax professionals can assist with having a lien withdrawn, subordinated, or discharged from a specific property.
- Levy release: This is a situation that requires fast action by someone with in-depth knowledge to prevent IRS seizure of your property. Getting this done almost always requires the help of a professional.
- Penalty abatement: If you have incurred penalties, you may qualify for First Time Penalty Abatement or Reasonable Cause Penalty Abatement. A tax resolution specialist can help you put together the documentation needed to show that you qualify for these programs.
- Installment agreement: For people who owe the IRS a large tax liability, the IRS may approve a payment plan to resolve the debt. A tax professional can help create a payment plan that is realistic for you and will not cause you additional hardship.
- Offer in Compromise: For qualifying candidates, the IRS might accept less than the total amount they owe if the candidate can adequately show why a lesser sum is warranted. A certified tax resolution specialist can help put together a compelling offer that is well-documented.
- Currently Not Collectible: If you have a sizeable tax debt but currently do not have assets or income, you can seek temporary relief from your debt with a Currently Not Collectible status. A tax resolution specialist can help determine if you’re a good candidate and put together the necessary documentation.
- IRS audits: If you or your business are facing an audit, a tax attorney can help you prevent a bad situation from becoming much worse. Someone intimately familiar with tax law and the audit process can help you make preparations and answer the IRS’ questions.
- IRS errors: If you believe the IRS has made an error and you would like to dispute their findings, the experience and knowledge of a certified tax resolution specialist can be indispensable. Knowing the right forms, the necessary documentation to defend your position, and how to argue your case will make the process much easier.
- State tax audits and errors: Just like the IRS with federal taxpayers, the office of the Comptroller of Maryland handles audits, collection, and compliance for Maryland state taxpayers. And just like the IRS, Maryland’s Comptroller can make tax computation errors, too. At S.H. Block, our Baltimore-based certified tax resolution specialists can help you resolve both federal and state tax issues.
This list is not exhaustive, so make sure you bring any other tax concerns you have to your tax resolution specialist to find the best course of action. A mark of excellence in tax services is the ability to help you understand your options in plain English, so that you feel empowered to make the right decisions to resolve your tax situation.
Contact S.H. Block Tax Services for Reliable and Effective Tax Problem Resolution
Find out what sets S.H. Block apart when it comes to tax problem resolution. We take the “high moral and professional character” certification requirements very seriously, and work hard to make sure you are receiving the best services for a reasonable flat fee. We will work with you so you always know what to expect from us and from the IRS, and you can read our Guide to Professional IRS Tax Resolution Services for an overview of the process.
We always start with a free consultation, so that you can talk to one of our tax attorneys and get an idea of what your options are and what the timeline may look like. To get started, call us at (410) 793-1231 or fill out our online contact form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.