FAQs

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FAQs

When is the best time to address tax problems? Right now!

If you wait to deal with your tax problem, the situation will only get worse. A tax problem intensifies with time as penalties and interest snowball and enforcement action escalates that leads to more stress, less time, less money and fewer options. Your first consultation with the tax professionals at Equity Search is free.

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

In the meantime, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions our team receives.

Tax Resolution Representation FAQs

Why do I need professional help with my tax problem?

In our experience, we see that most individuals and businesses facing tax collection and financial problems do not have a true grasp of how the IRS and State tax collection process works, nor do they have the experience to deal with these matters effectively. They often don’t take prompt action, nor the right steps, to resolve the problem – and wind up with a worse problem. An experienced professional knows how to lead you through the process, take the necessary proactive steps, continually communicate, and negotiate with the IRS, and work toward the optimum, realistic outcome for your case. Negotiating successfully with the IRS so that an agreement that furthers the taxpayer’s interests is reached is something of an art.

Qualified tax representation professionals thoroughly understand the options and understand how to make them work effectively. They should work hard to understand your unique situation, and based on years of experience, tailor a plan specifically for you. If they use Power-of-Attorney, they can represent you so that you don’t have to deal with the IRS yourself.
We have seen many taxpayers ignore their problems, follow inappropriate advice, enter unrealistic payment agreements, file for ill-advised bankruptcy, or attempt offers in compromise that have little or no chance of success – only to find the problems has gotten worse. The worst cases we see are victims of companies that offer quick fix or ‘pennies on the dollar’ promises.

What specialized knowledge does a tax resolution professional have?

A true professional has the knowhow and tricks-of-the-trade that won’t be found anywhere else.
They understand all the options available to you, and can customize a solution based on your unique problem. They know what the IRS or State taxing authorities want, and won’t waste time trying to sell a solution or options that they know, based on experience, will not be acceptable.

A good tax resolution firm is like any other good business—it is always looking at ways to make a process faster, easier, and more efficient for their clients and offer better service. Over the years, a firm that has handled thousands of cases has examined patterns and uncovered better ways to serve its clients. It will be aware of effective ways to improve a business’s overall financial picture. It knows the IRS office personnel from having worked with them over the years. It knows the intricacies of the tax code that apply in each unique case. It can make the involved calculations required to submit an Offer in Compromise – one that actually has a chance of being accepted. It knows how to help you get financing as one means to help resolve your tax debt, while recommending ways to change your finances to secure a better financial future.

A professional can get your financial situation arranged to your advantage before contacting the IRS with a proposal, putting you on a path to greater success. They should work hard to understand your unique situation, and based on years of experience, tailor a plan specifically for you. If they use Power-of-Attorney, they can represent you so that you don’t have to deal with the IRS yourself.

We have seen many taxpayers ignore their problems, follow inappropriate advice, enter unrealistic payment agreements, file for ill-advised bankruptcy, or attempt offers in compromise that have little or no chance of success – only to find the problems has gotten worse. The worst cases we see are victims of companies that offer quick fix or ‘pennies on the dollar’ promises.

How involved can a tax resolution professional be in handling my case?

Let’s face it: the first thing any taxpayer wants when visiting the IRS in person or talking with an IRS officer on the phone is to get the conversation over with as soon as possible and get out of there! It’s easy to understand why, given the pressure in this situation, you will be susceptible to being overly optimistic about what you can do. It’s easy to make promises. But then, there’s the aftermath. You can’t meet your end of the deal because they took more money than you can afford, and now the problem has grown worse, with penalties and interest growing and maybe even new tax liabilities.

When a tax resolution professional has the right authority to do so, you do not have to deal with the IRS. We take the problem off your hands. We represent you, we make the necessary phone calls, we meet with the IRS on your behalf if necessary. But it’s more than just anxiety relief. Because your representative understands the processes, the IRS does not intimidate him or her, and they can be confident in going after whatever is needed to get the best deal for you.

Who can represent me in dealing with IRS or State tax problems?

With few exceptions only CPA’s, Enrolled Agents, or Attorneys are authorized to represent taxpayers. The taxpayer must sign IRS Form 2848 Power of Attorney (or similar State form) (POA) with the name of the specific CPA, EA, or Attorney they authorize to represent them. These are the only individuals that the IRS or State will discuss your case with. Employees of tax rep firms who are not listed on the POA have no standing to talk to the IRS or State on your behalf.

Can't the IRS help me resolve my problem?

IRS officers are trained to be polite and professional. But remember that their job is also to collect taxes, and unfiled tax returns and they cannot and will not inform you of all the options available to you. If you want the best possible solution, it’s best to hire a qualified tax professional.

At Equity Search our objective is to help you get the most out of every dollar by designing a strategy and related plans that will enable you to prevent the reoccurrence of the present situation

What is the IRS stance on professional tax representation?

You have a legal right to be represented in dealing with the IRS The IRS authorizes CPAs, Enrolled agents, and Attorneys to represent taxpayers. Most IRS officers like to deal with experienced tax professionals because they realized that an experienced representative knows what the IRS can and cannot do and it is the representative not the IRS office that has to deal with the emotions of the delinquent taxpayer. Tax representation is an accepted practice.

Can you deal with the IRS for me, so I don’t have to?

Yes! We handle your case from start to finish. When we represent you, you no longer have to deal with the IRS and State-we do it on your behalf. We handle the paperwork; we make and take the meetings and phone calls and the IRS calls us not you; allowing you time to focus on the other important matters in your life.

What should I look for in a tax professional?

Anyone can claim they are a tax consultant—and many do, even those without solid credentials. When choosing someone to help you with tax problems, look carefully at experience and credentials:

Is resolving tax problems their full-time job? Some Tax “professionals” handle tax resolution as a side business in addition to doing tax returns, audits and other accounting or legal work. Equity Search clients benefit from our exclusive focus on tax problem resolution and financial solutions.

How long have they been in business?
Tax advisors who practice without years of experience and training can make a problem worse. We have seen many taxpayers follow inappropriate advice, enter unrealistic payment agreements, file ill-advised bankruptcy, or make offers in compromise that have little or no chance of success, only to find the problems has gotten worse. The worst cases we see are victims of companies that offer quick fix or pennies on the dollar promises. Equity Search has been solving tax problems since 1984.

Will the person you are interviewing on the phone or in person be handing your case? Whose name appears on the power of attorney? Have they or anyone in their practice previously worked with the IRS?
This experience provides an in-depth, insiders’ perspective. Equity Search was founded by former IRS Revenue (Collection) Officers. Do they have easy access to accountants, lawyers, and other professionals to whom they can collaborate on your tax problems? A solid network of reliable professionals is essential to some tax resolution cases. Equity Search has long-established relationships such as these in many professional areas.

Do they have access to funds in the event this is necessary to help you?
Sometimes funds are needed to resolve a problem or to fund an offer. Equity Search has these resources available to help you.

Will they handle the entire case on your behalf?
A tax professional who will not handle the case on your behalf is not providing a complete solution. Do-it-yourself approaches are mostly unsuccessful, and other solutions often don’t keep your best interests in mind. Equity Search fully handles your case on your behalf, and works to find the best solution for your unique situation.

Do they handle both Federal and State tax problems?
Before hiring a tax consultant, make sure they can handle your specific tax problems, including both Federal and State. Equity Search handles both.

Have you checked their references?
References are an excellent indicator of past success. Equity Search has lists of references available to you. Finally, consider whether the tax consultant is looking at your case for the long haul. Tax problems are often symptoms of other issues, and the biggest payoff will come to you from a professional who has their eye not only on solving the immediate problem, but helping ensure financial success far into the future.

What if I'm already working with someone on my tax problems?

Even if you’ve already begun working with someone, another EA, or even an attorney or CPA, a 15-30-minute consultation with us can help ensure that you’re on the proper course toward resolving your tax problems and future financial success. Any reputable professional would support this courtesy of a second opinion.

What if I live outside of an area where you have an office?

No matter where in the United States you live, Equity Search can represent you. Contact with the IRS is typically via telephone, fax, and mail. We represent customers across the nation, in various time zones, every day.

What is an Enrolled Agent?

An Enrolled Agent, or EA, is specially certified by the IRS to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. Enrolled Agents can generally represent any kind of taxpayers, any types of tax matters, in any IRS offices.

Enrolled Agents earn the right to practice in two ways:

  1. Through a rigorous examination administered by the IRS
  2. Through years of experience as an IRS employee.

Tax Solutions FAQs

I haven't filed returns for a number of years. What happens now?

The bottom line is, get the return filed as soon as possible. The IRS is less concerned if you owe $50,000 on a return that is filed, than if have years of unfiled returns. When you file your returns, interest and penalties may be assessed—beyond that, the IRS rarely prosecutes filers of delinquent returns.

Filing soon can protect you against further penalties, and help prevent the IRS building a criminal case against you. Most criminal intent falls off when you file a return, and if you can’t pay, make a contact to say, “I can’t pay.”

Likely, you’ll owe tax after the returns are filed, and may need to enter into an installment agreement or make an Offer in Compromise. The best approach is to hire a qualified, experienced professional to help you file the returns and deal with IRS collection issues.

After you file your returns, Equity Search can help you determine how to manage the payment process, and can begin the tax resolution process (e.g., Offers in Compromise, Installment Agreements, and so on). The IRS will not generally consider these agreements if you have returns outstanding.

When people come forward to file their returns, they find that an enormous burden has lifted. They stop the “snowball effect” of money owed, and they can begin dealing with their problem. You can trust Equity Search’s experience. Call today, get the process started, then relax.

How do I get copies of information to file my outstanding returns?

If you need W-2 and 1099 information to file a return, you can use IRS Form 4506.  Alternatively, call the IRS at (800) 829-8815 to request a copy of the form. You can also request a Transcript of Account at this number, a report that describes the amount of money you owe, the assessment date, all the payments that been posted and other information.

At this number, you can also order copies of your old tax returns, including attached W-2s or transcripts of your returns (with information such as gross income, exemptions and so on). Once Equity Search has your Power of Attorney on file with the IRS we can get this information for you, often much faster than doing it yourself.

Can filing bankruptcy eliminate my tax problems?

Bankruptcy is an effective option for some, but not all, tax problems. Sometimes, certain taxes are not forgiven in bankruptcy. Complicated rules apply, and personal situations come into play. If you are contemplating bankruptcy as a solution to IRS problems, the best approach is to get professional advice from a firm that deals specifically with tax problems. If your taxes are not dischargeable through bankruptcy, you’ll still have to deal with the taxing authorities. Equity Search finds that, in most cases, we can reduce or eliminate taxes that might survive bankruptcy.

Does the IRS treat different kinds of taxes differently?

The IRS deals harshly with businesses that have failed to pay their payroll taxes. Still, with proper representation, and given the appropriate circumstances, even payroll tax liabilities can be reduced.

Offer in Compromise FAQs

What is an Offer in Compromise?

When a taxpayer can’t pay a tax debt in full, or if there is a dispute with the amount the IRS claims the taxpayer owes, the taxpayer may propose to resolve the matter with an Offer in Compromise. An Offer in Compromise, if accepted by the IRS, settles a taxpayer’s liability for less than the full amount owed. The goal is a resolution that is in both the government’s and the taxpayer’s best interest.

If the IRS agrees to your Offer in Compromise, it may agree to accept less than full payment under certain circumstances, including:

  • doubt as to liability
  • doubt as to collectability
  • hardship

To maximize the possibility that the IRS accepts an Offer in Compromise, it is important to work with a tax consultant who understands the intricacies of this negotiation process. It is more or an art than a science. Even issues completely outside of the control of a taxpayer can affect the IRS decision. Equity Search has handled hundreds of Offers in Compromise with great success. They can help determine whether an Offer in Compromise is the best approach to solving a problem, and they know exactly how to present a case to maximize the chance that the offer will be accepted.

Why would the IRS agree to accept less money than it is owed?

The goal of an Offer in Compromise is a resolution that is in the government’s and the taxpayer’s best interests. The IRS considers the following as reasons for a compromise:

  • Doubt as to liability: Taxpayer demonstrated that it is not clear whether the amount of money the IRS claims is owed is accurate
  • Doubt as to collectability: Taxpayer shows the IRS that, based upon your assets and income, you can’t afford to pay them the full amount you owe in a reasonable period.
  • Effective tax administration offer: In rare cases, the IRS may allow you to pay less if you can show that it would be unfair to require you to pay the whole amount even if you had the means to do so. For example, if you were retired, and could only pay your debt by selling your home.
How do I know if an Offer in Compromise is the right solution?

The only way to determine whether an Offer in Compromise is the right solution is to examine your complete financial situation and all appropriate tax solution options. An experienced tax professional will look at your complete financial situation and tax problems, and help you find the best solution. Equity Search offers free consultations to help make this determination.

What happens after my Offer in Compromise is accepted?

After an Offer in Compromise is accepted, the taxpayer must pay the offered amount. Afterward, tax liens and levies are released, and the taxpayer gets a fresh start. You also need to make sure to file and pay all tax returns on time for the next 5 years.

Can a person currently involved in an installment agreement still make an Offer in Compromise?

Yes. In cases where hardship is demonstrated, the installment agreement can sometimes be stopped.

How long does it take before the IRS accepts or rejects an Offer in Compromise?

This process can take some time, from six months to more than a year. The IRS ordinarily withholds collection action while they consider an offer. However, unless the negotiations are handled properly, payments could be mandated that will not reduce the amount of the offer, and could even result in an increase in final payment. Equity Search can ensure that these negotiations are handled properly from the beginning so that you don’t pay any more than absolutely required.

Fees and Payments FAQs

What are Equity Search's fees?

Our fees are determined on a case-by-case basis. The initial consultation is free, and fees can be discussed at that time. Remember, when you call Equity Search for your free, confidential consultation, you will speak to a tax consultant, not a salesperson.

After the initial consultation, a payment arrangement is made that includes certain fixed fees and a final fee that is contingent upon the amount of reduction or savings in your tax, penalty, interest or other liability. The fee system is explained to you in detail before your representation begins, and any questions you have will be answered.

Why is Equity Search’s fee system different from the service firms that bill on an hourly basis?

Unlike many professional service firms, Equity Search does not bill on an hourly basis, or draw its fees from sizable retainers left on deposit.

Charging on an hourly basis, except in rare circumstances, places clients at a disadvantage by creating a new liability at a time when most are often already facing difficult financial circumstances. Hourly billing results in an unpredictable total monthly bill, creating uncertainty as to monthly cash flow requirements. And with monthly billing, a client is always reluctant to pick up the telephone to discuss their case for fear of adding to the total debt. When a firm bills hourly, there is no real financial incentive to save the client money.

What about do-it-yourself kits? Or companies that charge a flat rate?

Some tax services take a do-it-yourself approach, offering to send you nothing more than forms you can obtain from the IRS on your own. Some will then submit the forms for you. There is nothing here that you couldn’t do yourself, for free. A do-it-yourself approach is often ineffective. Not knowing the various options, being unable to navigate the intricacies of the negotiation process, and wanting a short-term quick fix usually bring a taxpayer right back to the beginning. The result: the taxpayer spends more money, more time and undergoes more stress then necessary, and in the end, they turn to a qualified professional. Most of our clients want success and a final solution … not recurring problems.

A firm charging a flat-rate or subscribing to a do-it-yourself philosophy is not a firm supported by years of education and experience involved in determining effective tax solutions. Some companies accept client fees, and then expect the clients to handle their own cases. Not Equity Search. And although we handle tax problems on our clients’ behalf, our services go much further. We look at the complete financial picture, create a plan, find the best solution to remedy any problems, handle the tax problems on their behalf, and then advise our clients on the best possible approaches to ensure future success. Our clients tell us they feel as if we are part of their family, and we like to think of ourselves as a part of theirs.

CONTACT US

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Address:

8321 Old Courthouse Rd

Ste 220

Vienna, VA, 22182

Phone:

(888) 447-7457

Hours:

Mon-Fri: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sat-Sun: Closed

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Proudly serving clients nationwide, including: Washington D.C. metro area, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.