A Comprehensive Guide to Hiring a Tax Resolution Specialist

John Hsu
Expert Contributor
Last Updated:
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If you’re having problems with your taxes, you aren’t alone. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), one out of 15 American taxpayers experiences some kind of tax problem. Nonetheless, it’s important to solve your tax problems before they get out of hand. If not handled promptly and properly, back taxes can quickly become overwhelming, and the IRS’ complicated procedures and requirements don’t make things any easier. If you find yourself burdened with back taxes, it’s a good idea to seek the assistance of a tax resolution specialist. Here’s a complete guide to hiring a tax resolution expert.

What Is a Tax Resolution Specialist?

A tax resolution specialist is a tax expert who represents taxpayers in their dealings with the IRS and helps them solve their tax problems. Whether you need to pay back taxes, handle an IRS audit, or fix other tax issues, the specialist will use his or her extensive knowledge of tax laws to serve as a liaison between you and the IRS.

A tax resolution expert may work in a private firm that provides tax resolution services, operate his or her own tax resolution firm, or work as an accountant who performs a variety of tax-related tasks. Since he or she represents clients before a government agency, a tax resolution expert is sometimes called a tax attorney.

Reasons for Hiring a Tax Resolution Specialist

With in-depth knowledge of tax laws and IRS procedures, a tax resolution specialist can provide valuable assistance and guidance to help you overcome your tax problems. However, hiring one may not be necessary or beneficial for every taxpayer. In some situations, it may not be essential. So when is it truly necessary to hire a tax resolution specialist?

  • You’re afraid of dealing with the IRS. The IRS can be demanding and aggressive towards people with significant tax problems. Therefore, it’s understandable that you may feel fearful of dealing with the IRS on your own. Fear can cause you to make costly mistakes and get into deeper trouble. This in itself is a good reason to hire a tax resolution expert. A tax professional will deal with the IRS on your behalf and find the best solution to your tax problem, giving you the peace of mind to focus on other important things in your life.
  • You owe the IRS a lot of money. If you owe a lot in taxes, you can expect the IRS to turn up the heat on you. In such a situation, you may want to hire a tax resolution specialist to lower the temperature in negotiations and handle the matter on your behalf.
  • You’ve received a levy notice from the IRS. Releasing or reducing an IRS levy requires a lot of work to be done in a short time. It takes a qualified and experienced tax professional who knows all the ropes to resolve a levy quickly.
  • You haven’t filed taxes for many years. If you haven’t filed taxes for a long time, the IRS may file returns on your behalf based on the information it has available. These returns are called Substitute-for-Returns (SFRs). Non-filer situations are usually not as bad as you think, and SFRs don’t always require fixing. A tax resolution specialist can help you clear the air by researching your tax records and determine the minimum that needs to be done.
  • A revenue officer is handling your case. If the IRS has assigned a revenue officer to your case, it means that you’re at risk of aggressive collection actions. Such an officer may even take what would be considered drastic measures in their pursuit. With extensive experience dealing with revenue officers, a tax resolution expert can help you calm things down in negotiations, defend your rights as a taxpayer, and prevent an IRS levy.
  • You’re facing an IRS audit. Being selected for an IRS audit can be worrisome and stressful. You’ll benefit from having a tax expert help you prepare for the audit and get the best deal possible.

How to Choose the Right Tax Resolution Specialist

While you’re legally allowed to represent yourself before the IRS, it can be a risky path to take if you aren’t familiar with tax laws or the IRS. For the less-informed taxpayer, a tax resolution expert is worth his or her weight in gold. He or she can help you find tax solutions you didn’t know existed, spot and take advantage of the IRS’ mistakes, get the best possible results in tax negotiations, and stay up-to-date with the latest changes in tax laws and regulations.

A Comprehensive Guide to Hiring a Tax Resolution Specialist

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Nevertheless, it’s important to know that tax resolution specialists can vary greatly in terms of expertise, experience, and effectiveness. With so many tax resolution firms and professionals out there, it can be difficult to find one that truly suits your needs. Before you decide to hire a certain tax professional, make sure he or she meets the following criteria:

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Qualifications and Credentials

To ensure that you’re well-represented, you have to choose a tax resolution specialist who meets certain academic and certification qualifications. Firstly, he or she must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or law. In some states, a tax resolution specialist is required to have a graduate degree or complete some graduate-level classes.

In addition, you should only hire a tax expert who is a Certified Tax Resolution Specialist (CTRS). CTRS is a designation that the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS) awards to tax professionals who have passed the Uniform CTRS Exam. An aspiring tax specialist needs to have at least one year of work experience before taking the CTRS qualifying exam. Certain continuing education requirements must be met in order to maintain the CTRS credential.


Another thing you need to consider when looking for a tax resolution specialist is experience. An experienced tax professional is familiar with the way the IRS works, knows the nooks and crannies of tax regulations, and has an extensive network of contacts that can be beneficial for your case. Additionally, he or she should have established methods for tax issues, which can speed up the tax resolution process.

You need to find out how long the tax resolution specialist has been in business and how successful he or she has been in solving the kind of tax problem you’re having. Also, it’s important to know if the tax expert is participating in any ongoing professional development activity. Tax laws and procedures are continually changing, and an inexperienced tax professional may not have the ability to adapt to the changes.


Tax issues and the methods of solving them can be very varied. A tax resolution expert who has an excellent track record in helping individuals and families solve their tax problems may not be as competent in fixing business tax issues. Also, someone who is experienced in handling domestic tax problems may not be familiar with international tax law.

While some tax professionals work in many different areas of tax law, others focus on just one or two niches. It’s usually better to hire a specialized tax expert because he or she typically offers more value. This kind of tax professional has a more in-depth understanding of your specific tax problem and can come up with more resolution options. As such, you should make it a point to choose a tax expert who either specializes in solving your kind of tax problem or has extensive experience doing so.

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When it comes to hiring a tax resolution specialist, you generally get what you pay for. While it may be tempting to hire the least expensive tax expert, you should give precedence to quality. A specialist who charges a low fee may take shortcuts and overlook important issues, possibly resulting in mistakes that lead to costly consequences. A high-quality tax professional, on the other hand, will invest more time and effort to understand your case and devise an effective solution. In many cases, hiring competent tax resolution specialists has resulted in more affordable tax payment plans and reduced penalties.

When you’re choosing a tax expert, you need to be cautious of professionals or firms that lowball their initial fees. They will quote entry-level fees at the beginning of the process, without letting you know that the process of Offer in Compromise can take up to six or seven months. Since the IRS rejects a large percentage of offers, it’s common for cases to end in appeal. At this point, the tax professionals will charge additional appellate representation fees.

Make sure you select a tax resolution expert who is transparent about his or her fees. He or she should let you know upfront exactly what costs will be incurred throughout the entire process of solving your tax problem.


Even if a tax resolution specialist is qualified and experienced, it doesn’t mean that he or she is the right person for the job. You also need to find out about his or her performance in real-world situations. Fortunately, this can be easily done with the wide availability of information on the internet. Client reviews and ratings give you honest information about the tax expert, as opposed to the biased content found on his or her website. You can find valuable insights about a tax resolution specialist on websites such as Better Business Bureau, Best Company, Glassdoor, Yelp, and here on Solvable.


There are numerous tax resolution experts at your disposal, but many of them are just carbon copies of one another. When you’re looking for a tax specialist to represent you before the IRS, you should choose one who uses a personalized approach to handle your specific case. Such a tax expert will spend time learning about your tax situation and have your best interest in mind throughout the resolution process. Since every tax case is different to a certain extent, you’ll be better off not using a tax professional who only offers generic tax solutions.

Actual Representation

A large part, or possibly the entirety, of your tax case can be handled remotely. This means that you may only have to send emails, make phone calls, or file documents online or via postal mail to resolve your tax case. However, certain situations may require physical representation. While many tax resolution specialists are willing to provide actual representation, you should ask the tax expert you’re planning to hire if he or she is able to do it, just to be sure.

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Detailed Outline

While you should avoid hiring tax resolution specialists who make outlandish claims and guarantees, it’s important to know how a tax professional will go about fixing your tax problem. Ask your prospective tax representative to outline a specific course of action and let you know what results you can reasonably expect. This will prove his or her competency and make you feel more confident about your case. It’s important that you encourage the tax expert to be honest when gauging the outcome of your case, even if the chances of success are slim.

Future Planning

Some tax resolution experts only focus on helping their clients solve current tax problems, but the best tax professionals will also try to keep you out of trouble with the IRS in the future. The way your current tax issues are handled can have an impact on your future tax situation.

A good tax specialist can help you identify and correct bad tax habits and provide valuable advice on how to achieve permanent back tax assistance, ensuring that you won’t run into tax issues in the future. This is the reason why it’s often worthwhile to spend more money to get a truly competent and committed tax resolution professional.

Choosing the right tax resolution specialist can be a daunting task, considering there are so many options available. You may have to invest a good deal of time and effort in order to find the perfect match, but you can rest assured that it’ll be worth your while. A good tax resolution expert can significantly improve your tax situation and help you save a substantial amount of money both now and in the future. If you’re having problems with the IRS, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.


John Hsu
Expert Contributor
Last Updated: