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When should I fire my tax professional?

Here is a link to a notice put out by the IRS reprimanding a tax professional for misleading clients regarding his practice and abilities.

Part of my practice is devoted to fixing mistakes by tax professionals who either failed to do the work they promised the client or they mishandled the client’s case.

  1. Does your professional respond to your inquiries? As a point of practice I want to respond to my client’s calls or emails within the same day or 24 hours at the latest. I may not have the solution to their problems within that time but I do make them aware that I will listen to any questions or concerns they have. Many clients have informed me that they they are frustrated when they get no response or a delayed response. For tax resolution firms it can be a few things. Either they are overloaded and cannot respond in time, or there is high turnover and the person previously assigned to your case does not respond because they no longer work there.
  2. Was there an error attributed to the tax professional, and did they take responsibility for it? There should be a concern when the work done by the person you hired harms you. There is a greater concern when they fail to own up to the problem. No one wants to admit they made a mistake but there is a reason professionals have malpractice insurance. It is to protect the client and the firms business from errors and omissions. The best policy is to acknowledge the error and compensate the client for the damage done as soon as possible. If they are not upfront with you, you should get a second opinion about the quality of their work. I have prepared “lawyer” letters that address failures or tax preparers and tax resolution firms that damaged their clients. In most cases they settle before a law suit needs to be filed.
  3. Do you know who is handling your case? I have had clients tell me that every time they called regarding their case someone new was handling it, and the new person did not know what the last person did. Have you called a “local” number to have someone from Florida or Southern California call you back? Many resolution firms are centralized. They often are referred to as “offer mills,” because they push the offer in compromise program as the only solution. They also claim they have” professionals” on staff but they often do not name them. As previously mentioned, these firms have high turnover, Their professionals do not stay long since the environment is primarily focused on marketing rather than resolution. It is better to go with someone local, who you can meet. You can get a feel for their experience and whether they value you as a client.
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