Tax relief services are designed to help individuals and businesses tackle thorny IRS tax-related issues and lower their tax bills. These firms work with the IRS on your behalf to obtain pennies on the dollar settlements, reduce penalties, set up installment agreements, amend prior years’ tax returns and more.
However, these companies can charge high fees, and not all are legit. To help you choose, we’ve analyzed over 10 companies and narrowed down the top 5 best choices for 2024. We weighed factors including transparency, costs, customer satisfaction and, most importantly, results.
Best 5 tax relief providers
Best for back taxes
Optima Tax Relief is offers tax relief services for people with tax debts over $10,000. The company offers a wide range of services, including Offer in Compromise (OIC) or partial pay installment agreement to lower tax debts to help those with outstanding back taxes.
Optima offers a free consultation and has a mobile app that allows users to file a free tax extension. While the majority of past clients report positive experiences with the company, it has a higher number of complaints on the BBB site compared to some other firms.
Best for complex tax issues
Larson Tax Relief offers personalized tax resolution services for individuals and businesses, including tax debt relief and audit help. The company specializes in resolving complex tax issues, such as unfiled tax returns, wage garnishments, bank levies and aggressive forced collections.
It has a relatively high minimum debt requirement of $25,000, and the company doesn't state its pricing — you need to call for that — but it doesn't charge a retainer fee and offers a 15-day money-back guarantee. The company gets high ratings from previous clients and has just a few complaints on the BBB site.
Best for IRS tax relief
Precision Tax Relief offers a wide range of tax relief services, including IRS negotiation (OIC, or Offer In Compromise), penalty abatement and protection against asset loss. The company has a flat-fee structure and offers flexible payment options, along with a 30-day money-back guarantee. It's best for individuals who owe a minimum of $10,000 to the IRS.
We chose this company as “best overall” due to its overwhelmingly positive reviews on Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Known for its transparent pricing and personal service, thousands of customers have praised the company for its professionalism and positive outcomes. It also has zero complaints on the BBB site, where it’s been registered since 2011.
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Best for a range of services
Instant Tax Relief is a highly rated tax relief service that specializes in IRS negotiations (OIC), penalty abatement, installment agreements and innocent spouse relief. The company offers its tax relief services nationwide and also has physical offices in Idaho, California, Washington and Texas.
Instant Tax Solutions is known for its expertise in IRS negotiation protection against asset loss. It offers a flat-fee payment structure and flexible payment plans for those who can't pay their fees in full upfront. The company has excellent reviews online from hundreds of customers and just a few complaints with the BBB.
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Best bilingual services
While it doesn't have perfect reviews, Tax Defense Network offers fully bilingual customer service, with a dedicated support staff to help native Spanish speakers. This benefit may be important, especially when dealing with complex tax issues.
The company also has a toggle feature on its website, allowing you to switch between English and Spanish. Additionally, the company has bilingual tax relief professionals, including certified public accountants (CPAs) and tax attorneys. While Tax Defense Network stands out for its bilingual services, it has a relatively high number of complaints on Trustpilot compared to other services.
Methodology: How we picked the best providers
We compared over 10 tax relief companies, including Anthem Tax Services, Community Tax, Fortress Tax Relief, Instant Tax Solutions, Larson Tax Relief, Optima Tax Relief, Precision Tax Relief, StopIRSDebt.com, Tax Defense Network, Tax Hardship Center and Tax Relief USA.
From there, we narrowed these providers down to the best options based on:
- Customer reviews. We looked at Trustpilot and the BBB websites and chose companies with the highest proportion of positive reviews compared to negative ones.
- Cost transparency. We called the companies on this list to ask about their fee structure and costs.
- Guarantees. We chose companies that offer service guarantees in case you change your mind.
- Reputation. We checked time in business, BBB affiliation and professional certifications of employees.
- Services. We compared companies to determine areas of specialty that may benefit clients.
What are tax relief services?
Tax relief services are companies that help people who owe money to the IRS or state or local government. For a fee, they can help lower your tax bills, stop collections and garnishments and settle your tax-related debts. They can also help with obtaining penalty relief, amending prior years’ tax returns and setting up installment payment plans.
While you may be able to do these things on your own — for example, setting up an OIC — tax relief firms employ a range of professionals, including former IRS agents, tax attorneys and CPAs who may be better equipped to deal with complex tax issues.
Tax relief does not handle debts outside of tax debt, if you’re interest in managing other debt you’ll need to seek out the best debt relief services.
How do tax relief services work?
Tax relief services work by offering you a free consultation over the phone to assess your tax situation. If you qualify, you’re provided a quote that should break down all costs and fees, although additional fees may accrue.
Fee structures vary by firm, with some charging an upfront percentage retainer of 10% to 25% of the tax debt owed and others charging a flat fee based on the amount of work involved. But generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 and up for an average case.
When working with a tax relief company, always get a firm quote upfront and make sure you understand which services are covered to avoid any surprises. Some firms may charge extra for additional work not covered by the original quote.
How to qualify for tax relief services
To qualify for tax relief services, you may need to meet certain criteria, which can vary. Some common qualifications for tax relief services are:
- Financial hardship. You may need to show financial hardship, such as a loss in income, unemployment or unexpected medical expenses.
- Tax debt balance. Some tax relief companies require that you have a minimum amount of tax debt to qualify, such as $10,000 or $25,000.
- Income level. For some programs, you may need to be below certain income thresholds, for example, $100,000 or less.
- Assets. You may not qualify for tax relief if you have a large amount of money in the bank or other assets.
To determine if you qualify, get a free consultation with a tax relief company that can advise you on your situation and options.
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Alternatives to tax relief services
If you don’t qualify for tax relief or want to do it on your own, consider these options:
- IRS Payment or Installment plans. As long as you’ve filed your tax return, you may qualify for an installment payment plan. Call the IRS for more information or go here to set up an installment plan online.
- Request an Offer in Compromise (OIC). This option is designed to let taxpayers settle their tax debt for less than the full amount owed if they meet specific requirements. Check if you qualify.
- Request a currently-not-collectible (CNC) status. A CNC status temporarily suspends IRS collection activities due to the inability to pay. To see if you qualify for CNC status, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040.
Because tax issues can be complex and costly, contact the IRS or a tax professional if you have questions or concerns about outstanding taxes.