Calculating the Average Cost of a Tax Attorney

Jill Bridges
Expert Contributor
Last Updated:
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Calculating the average cost of a tax attorney is a stressful situation. Even if you’re scrupulous about paying your taxes, it can be easy to make a mistake that puts you in hot water with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and fixing your tax issue can be difficult if you don’t know what steps you need to take.

If you’re facing a problem with the IRS and want to make sure you respond correctly, hiring an experienced tax attorney can be a good solution. However, before you hire an attorney, it’s important to get an idea of how much you will need to pay. Here is some information to help you understand the average cost of a tax attorney along with some tips for hiring the legal professional that’s right for you.

Why Hire a Tax Attorney?

Because of the costs associated with hiring an attorney, many people choose to represent themselves when interacting with the IRS. While this is certainly possible, it generally isn’t advisable. Trying to handle your tax issue without the help of an attorney can put you in a worse situation than where you started.

There are a variety of situations where you should consider getting help from a tax attorney. Let’s examine these issues in more detail so you’ll know exactly when you should seek legal help for your tax issues.

Calculating the Average Cost of a Tax Attorney

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Paying Back Taxes

While almost everyone is required to pay taxes, many people find it difficult to fulfill these obligations on time. If you’ve failed to pay your taxes on time, it can result in major consequences such as bank levies and property seizures. Fortunately, to help people pay their taxes, the IRS offers something known as the Fresh Start Program.

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With this program, you’ll have access to different solutions to help you pay for your back taxes, including payment plans. You can also negotiate a compromise, which will lower the amount of money you owe to the IRS. If you’re interested in negotiating a compromise with the IRS, hiring a tax attorney can be a great idea.

Your attorney can examine your situation to help you determine if a compromise is possible. The average cost of a tax attorney, must consider they can also negotiate a payment plan if the IRS decides that it cannot accept your proposed compromise. Hiring a tax attorney is one of the easiest ways to get your back taxes in order.

Dealing With an Audit

For most tax-paying adults, there’s nothing more intimidating than being audited. However, many people are unaware that there are different types of audits, some of which require assistance from a knowledgeable attorney and others that can be handled on your own.

For example, correspondence audits are usually very simple and may be handled without ever needing to consult with an attorney. That being said, allowing a tax attorney to handle your audit is one of the best ways to make it through this stressful process.

Once you hire your attorney, they will communicate with the IRS instead of you handling this correspondence yourself. Not only can this reduce your stress levels, it can also improve communications and possibly speed up the process of your audit. If the IRS wishes to audit you in person, your attorney can help protect your interests and potentially negotiate an audit settlement.

Handling Criminal Charges

Many problems with the IRS can be resolved simply by paying whatever money you owe. However, if the IRS determines that you have attempted to evade your taxes or have committed fraud against the agency, then you may find yourself facing criminal charges. In these circumstances, you absolutely need help from a tax attorney.

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If you are convicted of tax fraud or tax evasion, the consequences can be potentially devastating. In addition to expensive monetary penalties, either of these issues can result in lengthy prison sentences, and the IRS is almost always successful at winning convictions in these cases.

Hiring an attorney is the best way to protect your legal interests when you’re facing these charges. An experienced attorney will be able to argue your case in court and may be able to negotiate a plea with the IRS that will limit your penalties or prison sentence. On the other hand, if you don’t have an attorney, your chances of being convicted increase, and you will be forced to deal with the results.

Average Cost of a Tax Attorney

Now that you know the range of circumstances where you might need to hire a tax attorney, it’s a good idea to research the typical costs for hiring these legal professionals. Unfortunately, there’s no concrete way to determine what your costs can be before actually speaking with your attorney.

Different tax attorneys will charge different prices, meaning your final costs will largely depend on the professional you decide to hire. However, by examining a few factors, it is possible to get a general idea of what you will pay for your tax attorney.

Complexity of Your Case

The largest factor that will influence the cost of your tax attorney is the complexity of your case. If your tax issue is very simple, your tax attorney won’t have to do much work to resolve the problem, which means that your costs will be relatively affordable. On the other hand, if you’re facing a complex tax problem, then it may take your tax attorney a great deal of time and effort to rectify the situation. Naturally, this will increase your overall legal costs.

Before you start searching for your tax attorney, think about how complex your case will be to get a starting idea of what you can expect to pay for your legal expenses.

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Paying Flat Fees

Depending on the nature of your tax problem, you may be able to hire an attorney for a flat fee. Some tax professionals offer flat rates for certain services such as negotiating a payment plan.

Most people prefer flat fees because it means they know exactly what services they’ll receive and how much they will be required to pay. A flat fee is especially beneficial if you need to handle a relatively simple tax problem. However, you should be aware that flat fees are usually expensive. This means you will have to decide if the value of solving your tax issue makes up for the cost of the flat fee.

Some flat fees are based not on the services that are provided but on how your case is resolved. For instance, if your tax attorney is unable to fix your problem, you may not have to pay the fee at all. Other fees can depend on when you hire the attorney. If you contact your attorney on short notice, you can expect much higher fees than if you had hired them well in advance.

Tax Attorneys and Hourly Rates

In most circumstances, your tax attorney will charge you an hourly rate. This means your costs will be directly related to how much time your attorney spends working on your case. Like most legal issues, the hourly rates that are charged can be influenced by several different factors.

If you’re trying to hire an experienced attorney, which is recommended when you’re dealing with a serious tax issue, then you can expect to pay considerably more than if you were hiring a newcomer to the field. The stature of the firm where your attorney works can also impact your hourly rates. Even if your attorney is inexperienced, their rates can be high if they work for a prestigious firm.

Your location can also have a big impact on your hourly rates. If you live in a big city, hiring an attorney will be much more expensive than if you live in a small community.

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While it’s hard to say how much your hourly rates will be without considering all of these factors, you can expect starting rates of $200, with the prices climbing depending on your attorney’s experience and your geographic location.

Retainers and Consultation Fees

If you’re like most people seeking an attorney, you probably want to meet with a few different professionals before you make your final decision. While this is usually a good idea, you should expect to pay a consultation fee to every attorney you meet.

An attorney’s time is their most valuable asset, and most attorneys will charge a consultation fee to discuss the basic facts of your case. A $100 fee is common, but it can also be more than that. Some attorneys do offer free consultations.

Once you’ve decided which attorney you will hire, you should also expect to pay a retainer fee. Basically, a retainer is the money that your attorney will charge you to start working on your tax case. As the case proceeds, your attorney will bill against this fee. Usually, the retainer fee is kept separate from the lawyer’s operating account, and money will only be transferred over after services have been rendered.

Make Sure You Aren’t Paying Too Much

When you’re attempting to resolve a tax issue with the IRS, your legal costs should be one of the last things on your mind. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a little research to make sure you aren’t paying too much. After all, you don’t want to get your taxes in order only to find you’re now in back taxes to your attorney. Fortunately, controlling your legal costs should be easy if you follow a few easy tips.

The easiest way to make sure you’re paying the right price for your tax attorney is to research the range of attorney fees for legal professionals in your area. Find out what the most expensive and least expensive attorneys cost in your area. Your ideal price should be somewhere in the middle. Paying too little for your attorney may mean you won’t get the effective representation you need, and paying too much can reduce the benefits of having an attorney on your side.

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Make sure to do your due diligence, and you should be able to find a tax attorney who fits your budget while providing the dependable representation you deserve.

Tips for Finding an Attorney

If you’ve never hired a tax attorney before, you might not know how to find the professional who is right for your case. Although it may take some effort, finding a high-quality attorney is much easier than you might believe, especially if you follow a few simple steps.

One of the best ways to find a qualified tax professional is by asking your family and friends for a referral. It’s likely that someone in your life has dealt with a tax issue in the past, and if they resolved this issue successfully with the help of an attorney, they should be able to get you in touch with this professional.

Another way to find a quality tax attorney is by contacting your CPA. Most CPAs know the tax professionals in your area, and your CPA should be able to recommend a few attorneys who will be able to handle your tax problem.

You can also search for back tax assistance firms in your area. These firms will have several attorneys on staff, all of which should have the expertise necessary to resolve your issue. If you choose to hire an attorney from a back tax assistance firm, make sure that the firm has been licensed by the IRS.

Once you’ve found an attorney you want to hire, there are a few qualifications that you should look for. First, make sure that the attorney specializes in tax issues. This will make certain that they know how to correctly handle your problem. Second, only hire an attorney who is fully licensed or credentialed.

Deal With Your Tax Problem

If you need to fix a serious tax issue with the IRS, your best solution is hiring a knowledgeable tax attorney at an affordable price. Take a look at some of the back tax assistance companies that we’ve reviewed for your convenience so that you can finally put your tax issues where they belong — in the past.


Jill Bridges
Expert Contributor
Last Updated: