IRS Tax Attorney: When and Why to Hire a Tax Lawyer

Anna Kuehl
Expert Contributor
Last Updated:
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If you’re struggling with tax matters like outstanding bills, IRS liens, or wage garnishments, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning as the tax debt issues continue to pile up. However, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers deal with serious tax debt issues every year, from overdue returns to tax levies on their property.

Fortunately, there could be a straightforward solution to your problem. Tax attorneys have the knowledge and experience to assist with everything from appealing IRS audit decisions to negotiating tax settlements and navigating tax forgiveness programs.

Not sure if a tax attorney is what you need? We’ll walk you through the basics of what a tax lawyer does and how these professionals differ from certified public accountants (CPAs). Find out how a tax lawyer can help resolve your tax issues, and learn where to find the best IRS tax attorney for your situation.

Is Going With an IRS Tax Attorney Near Me the Right Solution?

If you’re thinking about hiring a tax attorney, your first question might be whether you should work with a lawyer in your local area. In most cases, there are a few upsides and some serious downsides to hiring a local tax attorney. If you go local, you might get the following benefits:

  • You can meet with your tax attorney in person and schedule face-to-face conversations.
  • You can drop off copies of tax documents and IRS notices in person if your tax lawyer requests paperwork.

Hiring a tax attorney near you can also come with several drawbacks:

IRS Tax Attorney: When and Why to Hire a Tax Lawyer

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  • You might be stuck hiring from a very limited pool of tax attorneys. That means the lawyer you hire might not have experience with your individual situation and may not be able to provide the best possible resolution for your circumstances.
  • Your local tax lawyer might not have strong relationships with the IRS, which means they may not be able to make a strong enough case while working on your behalf.
  • You could spend hours driving back and forth to meet with your tax attorney in person when you could use that time to work, relax, or spend time with your family instead.

Why limit yourself to your local area when you can work virtually with one of the best tax firms in the country instead? Instead of hiring an IRS tax attorney near you, focus on finding a highly rated tax lawyer, regardless of their location. When you focus on quality instead of location, you can look forward to the following perks:

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  • You can hire a tax attorney who has extensive experience with situations like yours and who has an ongoing relationship with the IRS. When you hire an experienced and knowledgeable attorney, you can expect to get the best possible resolution for your situation.
  • You can have meetings over the phone or ask questions via email, so you can communicate with your tax lawyer from the comfort of your home or from your office. If you need to have a face-to-face meeting, you can schedule a video chat. You won’t have to waste time driving to their office or take time off work to meet in person.
  • You can scan or photograph any tax notices or documents you receive and submit all supporting paperwork electronically. If you need to submit an original document for any reason, you can send paperwork by mail.

Best IRS Tax Attorneys

Finding the best tax lawyer to resolve your tax debt, isn’t always easy, but our tax firm listings make the process much simpler. We rate and review some of the most knowledgeable and experienced tax firms in the nation. Here’s how we identify the best tax attorneys:

  • Solvable score: We rate every tax firm using a scale of one to 10. To determine the rating, we look at expert ratings from tax professionals and feedback from actual customers.
  • Customer reviews: When you’re looking for a tax lawyer who can help with your situation, reading reviews from other people in similar circumstances can help. We provide customer reviews and calculate an overall star rating for each of our top tax firms.
  • Better Business Bureau ratings: The BBB provides letter grades for the businesses it lists, and A+ is the top score a company can receive. When the BBB reviews companies, it considers the firm’s size, its history of handling customer issues, and its advertising policies. We share the BBB’s unbiased third-party ratings for each of our top tax firms to give you added peace of mind.

J. David Tax Law

It’s clear that you can trust J. David Tax Law, with its 9.2 Solvable score and dozens of customer reviews with an average of 4.5 stars. This tax law firm only employ tax attorneys and also has excellent third-party ratings, including an A+ rating from the BBB. The firm has been in business for five years and served over 1,700 clients in 2018.

Unlike larger firms that offer a wide variety of tax preparation services, J. David Tax Law focuses on complex legal issues. The firm employs tax lawyers who handle cases dealing with incorrect tax return filing, wage garnishment, business and payroll tax issues, and state tax matters. J. David Tax Law also assists with criminal tax debt and represents clients in court.

If you’re looking for a tax attorney who can resolve cases quickly, J. David Tax Law could be the ideal choice for your situation. The firm specializes in rapid resolutions and can have wage garnishments lifted in as few as two days.

With a Solvable rating of 9.6 and a BBB rating of A+, is one of the top-rated tax firms in the business. This firm has been in business for 10 years and employs tax attorneys who can handle cases ranging from incorrect filing to small business tax debt and wage garnishments.

Unlike some other firms, has a low minimum tax debt requirement, which means its knowledgeable tax professionals can help a larger number of taxpayers. The firm resolves cases in an average of six to eight months, and if offers payment plans that last up to 12 months to make budgeting easier for taxpayers. However, also handles high-dollar tax cases for people with substantial tax debt and works with offshore account holders.

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If you’re seeking a tax relief firm to help you negotiate with the IRS or resolve complex issues like payment plans, offers in compromise, or penalty abatement, could be a smart choice.

Community Tax

With a Solvable rating of 9.4, an A+ BBB rating, and over 100 customer reviews with an average rating of five stars, Community Tax is a top-rated tax relief firm. The firm has resolved over $400 million in tax debt during its 10 years in business, and it works with customers across the nation except for those who live in Maryland and North Dakota. Although its specialty is releasing IRS tax liens, the firm also employs tax attorneys who can assist with issues like wage garnishments and offers in compromise.

To demonstrate its willingness to help taxpayers, Community Tax offers some of the most flexible payment plans in the business. The firm offers payment plans with terms that depend on the needs of each individual case, and it also offers a generous refund policy. You can expect a full fee refund if the firm can’t provide a solution, giving you added peace of mind.

If you’re looking for a tax attorney with an excellent record, extensive experience, and generous payment policies, Community Tax could be the right choice for you.

Hurricane Tax

It’s easy to see that Hurricane Tax is one of the top-rated tax attorney firms, with its 8.6 Solvable score and 75 customer reviews that have an average of four stars. Although Hurricane Tax is a relatively new firm that’s been in business for just three years, it’s already generated impressive results. In 2018, the firm resolved over $35 million in tax debt and served over 1,300 clients.

Hurricane Tax prides itself on being a full-service tax relief firm that employs tax attorneys, CPAs, and EAs. However, the firm specializes in complex issues like releasing tax levies and liens and lifting wage garnishments. Hurricane Tax can also assist with IRS installment agreements and resolves cases in an average of two to six months.

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If you’re searching for a tax lawyer who offers easy-to-understand pricing that won’t break the bank, Hurricane Tax could be the right firm for you. Hurricane Tax offers flat-free pricing and doesn’t charge a retainer fee.

Honest Tax

Whether you put more stock in customer reviews or third-party ratings, Honest Tax has both. The firm has a Solvable score of 8.4 and over 130 customer reviews with an average of four stars. Honest Tax has an A+ BBB rating, which demonstrates the firm’s honesty and transparency. The firm is also endorsed by Ben Stein, who’s known for his informed commentary on economic issues.

Honest Tax has been in business for 14 years and helps with issues ranging from incorrect filing and small business tax to inability to pay and both individual and business tax audits. The firm specializes in ending wage garnishment and resolves tax liens at the state and federal level.

If you want to hire a tax attorney that provides a full range of IRS tax debt issues and offers a flexible payment policy, Honest Tax could be the right firm for you. Honest tax provides a 10-day refund policy for peace of mind and offers payment plans that span up to 38 months.

Tax Law Advocates

As one of the most knowledgeable firms in the business, Tax Law Advocates has three decades of experience resolving tax debt. The firm boasts an 8.2 Solvable score, over 40 customer reviews with an average of four stars, and an A+ rating from the BBB, making it one of the top-rated tax law firms.

Although the firm specializes in legal issues, Tax Law Advocates has tax lawyers, CPAs, and EAs on its staff to assist with a wide variety of issues. The firm has extensive experience with stopping wage garnishments, and it specializes in releasing tax levies and audit representation.

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If you want to hire a tax attorney with extensive experience resolving state and federal tax issues across the nation, Tax Law Advocates could be the right choice for you. Tax Law Advocates also offers payment plans to put tax relief within reach for a wider variety of taxpayers.

Alleviate Tax

Like many of the top-rated tax relief firms, Alleviate Tax has a Solvable score of 8.2 and customer reviews with an average of four stars. The firm is also BBB Accredited, which means that the firm meets the BBB’s strict requirements for resolving customer issues.

Alleviate Tax has been in business for two years and employs both tax attorneys and EAs. The firm specializes in tax debt resolution and can assist with issues ranging from delinquent tax filings and incorrect filings to wage garnishment and small business tax matters. Alleviate Tax has a history of providing outcomes like IRS installment agreements and offers in compromise.

If you’re looking for a top-rated tax attorney that also provides transparent pricing, consider Alleviate Tax. The firm offers flat-rate pricing rather than hourly fees, and it provides 12-month, interest-free payment plans.

Optima Tax Relief

With its Solvable score of 8.0, its A+ rating from the BBB, and its customer reviews that average four out of five stars, Optima Tax Relief is one of the best tax relief firms in the business. The firm has been in business for nearly a decade and employs tax attorneys, CPAs, and EAs to handle all your tax debt needs.

Optima Tax Relief offers all clients its signature two-phase process, which begins with communicating with the IRS on your behalf and then providing the best possible resolution out of the possible options. The firm can provide results in as few as three months, and its experienced tax professionals work with taxpayers in all 50 states.

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If you’re seeking a tax attorney who can help you save pennies on the dollar, Optima Tax Relief could be the right choice for your situation. The firm provides a 15-day money-back guarantee to offer added peace of mind.

Coast One Financial Group

With its Solvable score of 7.6 and its four-star average customer rating, Coast One Financial Group is one of the top-rated firms for tax debt relief. The firm provides services to taxpayers with over $10,000 in IRS tax debt as well as those who are being audited.

Coast One Financial Group has tax attorneys, CPAs, and EAs at your disposal and can provide assistance with both federal and state tax issues nationwide. The firm has been in business since 2013, and its tax experts have a combined 30 years of experience in the field.

If you’re looking for immediate assistance with your tax debt issues, Coast One Financial Group may be the right choice for you. The firm provides one-on-one phone consultations around the clock and can assist with everything from resolving back taxes and ending IRS penalties to stopping wage garnishment and releasing tax liens and levies.

What Do IRS Tax Lawyers Do?

If you’ve never worked with a tax attorney before, you might be wondering what these professionals do and how they can help you. Learn more about their areas of expertise and which issues they can help you resolve.

What Qualifications Do Tax Lawyers Have?

Tax lawyers have to complete extensive education before they can represent clients. Most earn a bachelor’s degree in a subject like accounting or business before completing law school. In order to work as a lawyer, these professionals have to earn at least a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Some also go on to earn a Master of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.) degree, which provides specialized preparation for working in tax law.

Finally, tax attorneys have to pass the bar exam administered by their state’s bar association. This exam requires rigorous preparation and proves attorneys’ competence at practicing law.

Throughout their careers, tax lawyers also have to complete continuing education credits to maintain their state licensure to practice law. Undergoing continuing education helps tax attorneys stay on top of legal changes and new tax code issues.

What Do Tax Attorneys Specialize In?

IRS tax attorneys specialize in handling a wide range of legal issues related to the tax code. They understand the intricacies of the federal tax code, and most also have in-depth knowledge of the tax code for at least one state. Tax lawyers typically have expertise in at least one of the following issues:

  • Audit Representation: If you receive a straightforward audit notice from the IRS, you may be able to handle it yourself. However, if you’re concerned that an audit could result in more complex issues like tax fraud, a tax attorney can provide experienced audit representation.
  • Criminal Defense: You should never deal with tax fraud allegations or criminal tax charges alone. A tax attorney can build a case in your defense and represent you in court if necessary.
  • Delinquent Tax Returns: Filing outstanding tax returns allows you to bring your account with the IRS current, but filing late can also lead to substantial interest fees and penalties. A tax lawyer can help you file delinquent returns without breaking the bank.
  • Installment Agreements: If you can’t pay your entire tax balance in a lump sum, an installment agreement could be a smart choice. A tax attorney can create a feasible installment plan and make your case to the IRS.
  • Offers in Compromise: When there’s no way for you to pay your tax debt, an offer in compromise can allow you to settle for less than what you owe. A tax lawyer can work with you to develop a reasonable offer and negotiate the terms with the IRS.
  • Penalty Relief: Penalties can drive up your tax debt significantly, making it even more difficult to pay your balance. An IRS tax attorney can determine whether you qualify for penalty relief and help you eliminate these extra fees.
  • Tax Levy Release: When the IRS claims your property or your accounts via a tax levy, there’s no time to waste. A tax lawyer may be able to find a way to remove your tax levy by proving economic hardship or starting an installment agreement.
  • Tax Lien Release: If the IRS places a tax lien against your property, selling assets like your car or your house can become impossible. A tax attorney can work with the IRS to release its lien on your property and find another solution for repaying your tax debt instead.
  • Wage Garnishment Removal: When the IRS threatens to start collecting its debt by taking a percentage from your paycheck, you need to take action quickly. A tax lawyer can make a case for stopping wage garnishment and help you propose another course of action to the IRS instead.

How Can an IRS Tax Lawyer Help You?

Tax lawyers can help you both before you have a tax debt issue and after the IRS has contacted you to resolve tax matters. They can handle the following:

  • Researching Cases: Tax lawyers investigate IRS cases to identify problems and determine potential solutions. They know which documents to review, where to find problems, and how to handle IRS notices.
  • Communicating With the IRS: As a taxpayer, talking with IRS tax representatives can be confusing and frustrating. Signing IRS Form 2848 allows a tax attorney to represent you before the IRS, so you can leave IRS communication to your lawyer. Tax attorneys understand how to communicate with the IRS effectively, so their efforts can provide much more efficient resolutions.
  • Negotiating Tax Settlements: Tax attorneys can help you negotiate complex resolutions like installment payments, offers in compromise, wage garnishment removal, tax levy or lien release, and penalty abatement. All of these issues can be challenging to negotiate on your own, as they require an in-depth understanding of tax law.
  • Representing Clients in Court: Although many tax debt cases can be resolved through negotiation with the IRS, tax attorneys have the power to represent clients in court when necessary. For example, if you’re involved in a tax fraud case or if your audit case leads to criminal charges, you may need a legal representative.
  • Saving Clients Money: Many of the strategies that tax lawyers use allow clients to pay the IRS less than what they actually owe. As a result, tax attorneys can help you save hundreds, thousands, or even more.

IRS Tax Attorney vs. CPA

If it’s your first time hiring a tax relief firm, it’s normal not to know whether you need to hire a tax attorney or a CPA. Find out more about both roles, and discover the pros and cons of working with a tax attorney and a CPA.

What Qualifications Do CPAs Have?

CPAs follow a very different educational path from tax attorneys. Most CPAs have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and some complete combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Others opt for a separate master’s in accounting of Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. No matter what degree program they choose, CPAs need to complete at least 150 semester hours before they can earn a license.

To complete their licensing requirements, CPAs generally need at least two years of accounting work experience. Then they take the standard exams administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). These accounting professionals have to take a total of four standard exams to earn a CPA license, and they’re required to complete continuing education courses to keep their licenses current.

What Do CPAs Do?

Because they aren’t licensed to practice law, CPAs typically handle more straightforward tax issues. They’re generally responsible for the following:

  • Tax Return Preparation and Filing: While you may be able to file simple tax returns independently, a CPA can help with more complex tax returns. Consider hiring a CPA to prepare and file business taxes or returns that reflect large investments or a high net worth.
  • Minimizing Tax Liabilities: If you don’t know every aspect of the tax code, you might be overpaying on your taxes. A CPA can apply their in-depth knowledge of the tax code to minimize your liabilities and help you save on your tax returns.
  • Developing Long-Term Tax Plans: If you’ve set major financial goals, minimizing your liabilities and estimating future tax payments can help you achieve your objectives. A CPA can work with you to develop a tax plan that helps you accomplish short- and long-term goals.

Pros and Cons of Working With a CPA

Hiring a CPA to assist with your tax matters makes perfect sense in some situations. You can benefit from working with a CPA in the following ways:

  • CPAs offer experienced help with basic tax preparation. If you simply need to file your individual or business taxes or if you need to make estimated quarterly payments, a CPA can provide efficient and effective service. A CPA can also assist you with filing outstanding tax returns and paying straightforward back taxes.
  • CPAs help you minimize your tax burden now and in the future. CPAs are experts at understanding federal and state tax code, and they can use their knowledge to ensure that your tax burden is as small as possible while still following the law. CPAs can also help you create a strategic plan to minimize your tax liability in the future.
  • CPAs can save you money if you have straightforward needs. Since CPAs offer simpler tax services, they charge lower fees than tax attorneys typically do. Hiring a CPA can help you save if you need tax preparation and planning but nothing more complex.

However, working with a CPA also has some downsides. The biggest disadvantages include:

  • CPAs can’t resolve complex tax debt issues. In most cases, CPAs specialize in straightforward tax matters. They don’t usually have experience with complex issues like wage garnishments, tax liens, or penalty abatement.
  • CPAs can’t provide legal assistance. Since CPAs don’t have legal training and aren’t licensed through their state bar association, they can’t advise you about any legal issues. If they encounter legal problems or questions while preparing your taxes, they’ll typically refer you to a tax attorney.
  • CPAs can’t save you money on back taxes. Because CPAs specialize in tax preparation and future planning, their assistance isn’t as effective when it comes to back taxes. CPAs don’t specialize in offers in compromise or other tax resolution methods that require legal knowledge and negotiation.

Pros and Cons of Working With a Tax Attorney

Working with a tax attorney can offer substantial benefits. Some of the biggest perks include:

  • Tax attorneys can resolve complex tax issues. If you’re dealing with a serious tax debt issue, you need an experienced professional on your side. Tax attorneys specialize in resolving high-level tax problems like wage garnishments, tax liens and levies, and penalty abatement. These knowledgeable tax professionals can also investigate your case thoroughly and advise you about the best course of action for your situation.
  • Tax lawyers can save you pennies on the dollar. If you can’t afford to pay your back taxes, it’s easy to assume that you’ll be in debt forever. However, tax lawyers can negotiate agreements with the IRS, such as offers in compromise, that allow you to pay less than your total balance. As a result, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars while resolving your tax debt at the same time.
  • Tax attorneys can guide you through an audit. Receiving an audit notice from the IRS is never pleasant. If you’re not sure how to handle the agency’s requests or if you’re concerned about revealing incriminating information, talk with a tax lawyer. Tax attorneys understand how to negotiate audits and can assist you through the process with minimal stress.
  • Tax lawyers can represent you in court. If your tax debt leads to criminal charges or tax fraud issues, you need a legal expert to guide you through the process. Tax lawyers have the knowledge and experience necessary to build an effective case, represent you in front of the IRS, and even defend you in court.

Hiring a tax attorney can have some drawbacks, too. Be prepared for the following downsides:

  • Tax lawyers don’t prepare your taxes. When you’re looking for a tax professional to prepare your tax return, an attorney isn’t the right person to ask. If you’re looking for assistance with tax planning and filling, most tax lawyers will refer you to a CPA instead.
  • Tax attorneys charge higher upfront fees. Because the issues they handle are so complex, tax lawyers generally charge higher fees than CPAs do. Since tax attorneys’ settlements and resolutions can help you save substantial money on your tax debt, however, you may end up with a positive bank balance after hiring an IRS tax lawyer.

Cost of an IRS Tax Attorney

The cost of working with an IRS tax lawyer can be anywhere from $500 to $10,000 and over. The following factors impact the cost of your case:

  • Case Type: Tax lawyers handle a wide variety of case types, and some require much more investigation than others. For example, more straightforward delinquent filing cases may cost less than more complex issues like audit defense and representation.
  • Resolution Type: Tax attorneys can provide a number of different resolutions, depending on the options that are available in your individual situation. A simpler installment agreement may cost less than a more complex offer in compromise.
  • Case Length: While tax attorneys can resolve some cases in days or weeks, others take months or close to a year to resolve. Longer cases generally cost more to resolve, but you should always ask your tax lawyer to confirm.
  • Fee Structure: Each tax firm has its own fee structure. Some charge hourly rates, while others charge a flat fee per case. In other cases, tax firms charge separately for the investigation and resolution portions of the case. Still others charge retainer fees. Ask plenty of questions up front to make sure you know how much you can expect to spend when seeking help from a tax lawyer.

Do IRS Tax Lawyers Give Free Consultations?

Most tax attorneys offer free consultations before they start working with you. This complimentary discussion allows you to talk with a knowledgeable tax expert and decide whether you want to work with them. A free consultation also helps you understand what your tax resolution options are without spending any money.

In most cases, free tax consultations include a brief meeting or phone call with a tax attorney. They’ll ask you to explain your circumstances and share any notices or other communication you’ve received from the IRS. Then they’ll discuss some of the tax resolution options that may work for you. At this stage of the process, many tax attorneys can estimate how long your case is likely to take and what the total fee will be.

After receiving a free tax consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to begin working with your tax attorney of choice. You may need to provide an up-front payment, sign an agreement, and share additional tax documentation to begin moving forward.

Although most tax attorneys offer free consultations, each firm has its own policy. Always ask about the consultation fee first so you know what to expect. If the firm doesn’t offer free consultations, do the math to determine whether you’ll save money even without the complimentary discussion.

Are IRS Tax Lawyers Affordable?

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth it to hire a tax attorney, it depends on your individual situation. Some tax lawyers can help clients save pennies on the dollar with resolutions like offers in compromise, and others save clients millions every year.

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To determine whether it’s affordable for you, compare the cost of the attorney fees with the amount you’ll save on your tax debt. If the cost of the fees is less than the balance of your tax debt, then you can consider tax attorneys affordable.

If you’re dealing with serious tax matters like an audit appeal, a tax settlement, or tax forgiveness, it’s in your best interest to seek out help from a knowledgeable professional. Tax lawyers can help you resolve complex tax issues and put your tax problems behind you. Find an experienced tax attorney and take steps toward resolving your IRS tax debt today.

Bar Associations by State

When you hire an IRS tax attorney to resolve your tax issues, it’s important to make sure you work with a reputable professional. Reviews and ratings can tell you a lot about how tax lawyers work with clients, but only the attorney’s bar association can tell you whether they’re in good standing. Check your attorney’s listing on their state bar association website to make sure they’re the reliable professional you expect.

Anna Kuehl
Expert Contributor
Last Updated: