Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial research influence how products appear on a page. Personal Finance Where to Find Help With IRS Tax Problems Updated Dec 06, 2023   |   12-min read Written by Taylor Milam-Samuel Written by Taylor Milam-Samuel Expertise: Student loans, credit cards, debt, budgeting Taylor Milam-Samuel is a personal finance writer and credentialed educator who is passionate about helping people take control of their finances and create a life they love. When she's not researching financial terms and conditions, she can be found in the classroom teaching. Learn more about Taylor Milam-Samuel Reviewed by Erin Kinkade, CFP® Reviewed by Erin Kinkade, CFP® Expertise: Insurance planning, education planning, retirement planning, investment planning, military benefits, behavioral finance Erin Kinkade, CFP®, ChFC®, works as a financial planner at AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust. Erin prepares comprehensive financial plans for military veterans and their families. Learn more about Erin Kinkade, CFP® You can face several tax problems with the IRS, like an inaccurate bill, unpaid taxes, or unfiled returns. If you don’t handle the issue, it can become severe and result in a levy. With a levy, the IRS can seize your assets and withdraw funds to collect payment. Regardless of what you’re dealing with, you can find help. You can seek free help from the IRS or paid support from tax professionals like a CPA, enrolled agent (EA), or tax relief company. Once you seek assistance, it can ease the burden of navigating your tax issues alone. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get help with IRS tax problems. Table of Contents Skip to Section IRS tax problems that may require helpWho can help with IRS tax problemsHow do these options help solve IRS tax problems?How do you know which option is the best?An example of assistance with IRS tax problems Why it’s important to not ignore tax issues with the IRS IRS tax problems that may require help There are some IRS problems you can handle alone. For example, depending on your tax situation, you can file your taxes or pay a tax bill without assistance. However, some tax problems require additional help. If you don’t find a solution, the situation can escalate. If you find yourself in one of the following scenarios, it might make sense to seek assistance. You disagree with your tax bill. If you disagree with a decision from the IRS, you can file an appeal. It’s free to file, and you can do it yourself, but you might want professional guidance from a certified professional. You did not file taxes. If you do not file your taxes, the IRS charges a 5% failure-to-file penalty, up to 25%. You can submit the tax returns yourself, but consulting with a tax professional throughout the process might help.You can’t pay your tax debt. You can contact the IRS to request a payment plan or find another solution. But if you need more time to handle it, you can get help from a tax relief company. It’s best to resolve it quickly since the IRS charges 7% interest and a failure-to-pay penalty of 0.5% to 1%.You have an active tax levy. A tax levy means the IRS can seize your assets to repay your tax debt, including property, bank accounts, wages, and retirement accounts (employer-sponsored plans, such as 401(k)s, have exceptions). Levies can negatively impact your daily life and finances. You can take steps to stop the levy, but it’s advisable to seek professional help from a tax relief company. You filed your taxes incorrectly. If you filed your taxes incorrectly, you may find that you owe the IRS money or that the IRS owes you money. It’s essential to file an amendment to correct the issue. You can file the amendment yourself or hire a professional, like a CPA or EA, to help. If you feel overwhelmed with the cost or do not understand or have the knowledge about how to solve your tax issue, consider seeking professional help. Erin Kinkade CFP® You can receive free help from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) or paid help from tax professionals if you’re dealing with any of these issues. The good news is that tax issues are always solvable. Who can help with IRS tax problems Taxpayers can resolve IRS tax problems in one of three ways—contacting the IRS directly, working with a paid tax professional, or hiring a tax relief company. The best option depends on your circumstances and finances. It’s usually best to try and resolve the problem with the IRS first. But if that doesn’t work, you can move on to the next step: connecting with the free Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) or a paid professional. Here’s how to figure out the best strategy for your situation. IRS Even though the IRS is a government institution that collects taxes, it aims to create a fair system. To do so, the IRS offers resources to help taxpayers resolve issues for free. If you have a tax issue, it’s usually best to try and resolve it directly. Contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 or schedule an in-person meeting at the nearest Taxpayer Assistance Center. If you can’t find a solution, you can utilize the following resources: Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS): The TAS is an independent agency within the IRS to help taxpayers resolve disputes or other issues. The TAS can offer resources and guidance if you have questions or need help. IRS Office of Appeals: If you need to appeal an IRS decision, the Office of Appeals can help. Your situation determines which form to complete, and the process usually begins with a hearing. You can also choose to request mediation instead. IRS Centralized Lien Operation: If you have questions about a lien or need to pay a lien off, you can call 1-800-913-6050. Low-income taxpayer clinic: The clinic offers free help for low-income taxpayers who need assistance with tax issues, including disputes with the IRS. You must meet the income eligibility guidelines to receive support, which is typically below 250% of the current year’s federal poverty guidelines and the amount in dispute per tax year is below $50,000. Working with the IRS to resolve tax issues is usually the best first step, but that’s not always the case. Here’s what to consider as you decide how to proceed. Pros It’s free to work directly with the IRS to settle your tax issue You can avoid the hassle of researching tax relief companies or tax professionals Working with the IRS is the most straightforward way to resolve tax issues Cons You need to figure out the correct steps to take Depending on your income, you may only qualify for some assistance It can be confusing to navigate the tax system on your own To begin, review the resources above and figure out what steps make the most sense for your situation. If you’re dealing with tax debt or a tax levy, contact the IRS as soon as possible to establish a payment plan. Tax professionals Tax professionals, including CPAs, EAs, and tax lawyers, complete training and hold various certifications that indicate their expertise in taxes and other aspects of personal finance. Suppose you’re dealing with complex tax issues, like return amendments, IRS audits, investigations, or missing returns. In that case, working with a tax professional might make sense. Some tax professionals charge a flat rate, especially for standard tasks like filing returns. But with complicated tax problems, you typically pay an hourly fee ranging from $200 to $400 per hour. Here are the different types of tax professionals and their specialties. CPA: Certified public accountants (CPAs) must meet strict state requirements to practice, including rigorous coursework and passing exams. CPAs are highly qualified in accounting, including taxes. Enrolled Agent: Enrolled Agent (EA) status is the highest credential status the IRS awards. EAs must complete coursework and pass exams to earn the credential. Like CPAs, EAs have unrestricted practicing rights and can handle any tax issue. Tax lawyer: Tax attorneys specialize in taxes and can help clients handle audits, investigations, and other complex tax issues. As you determine if working with a tax professional is best for your situation, consider cost, complexity, and subject-matter expertise. Pros Tax professionals are highly trained and can handle various complex tax issues Tax professionals must go through rigorous training. Only qualified individuals can utilize the certifications, making evaluating legitimacy easier If you have a complex issue that you can’t solve on your own, tax professionals can help Cons Working with tax professionals is expensive, and hourly fees can range from $200 to $400 To get started, determine the type of tax professional that makes the most sense for your situation. For example, a tax attorney might be a great fit if you need help with an audit, while a CPA might be ideal for amending a tax return. Tax relief companies Tax relief companies are particularly effective at handling stressful issues like unpaid tax debt and levies. The company works on your behalf and negotiates directly with the IRS to resolve your tax problems. Working with a tax relief company might make sense if you’re struggling with debt collectors or property seizure and the IRS did not help. Or maybe you do not have the time or capacity to deal with your tax problem due to your work schedule, family obligations, or health concerns. In those situations, hiring a tax relief company is the right fit. Some companies charge a percentage of the total tax bill, while other tax relief companies charge flat rates that can range from $250 to $6,000. Ask about fees and how payments are structured before you sign up. If you plan to work with a tax relief company, comparing options and finding the best fit is essential. Here are some questions to consider as you shop for a provider. How is payment structured?How are reviews for the company?Am I assigned one professional or an entire team?What certifications do the employees hold? Find a tax relief company you trust and feel comfortable working with. As you decide whether it’s the best option, consider the benefits and drawbacks. Pros Tax professionals work on your behalf, and you no longer need to handle the details of your case If you’re dealing with the seizure of assets, the levy usually stops while the company works to resolve the issue You can receive professional guidance and advice on how to proceed Cons Not all tax relief companies are legitimate, and it’s essential to research before you commit. Tax relief company fees can add up quickly In some cases, it can prolong the resolution process To get started, find a tax relief company that seems like a good fit and complete the digital intake form or call the number on the company’s website. Most companies respond the same day and offer a free consultation to help determine the next steps. How do these options help solve IRS tax problems? How you resolve your IRS tax problems determines your level of involvement. If you work with the IRS, you are responsible for the entire process—completing forms, finding the best solution and advocating for yourself. Tax professionals, on the other hand, can complete forms on your behalf and advise you about the best options. Tax relief companies provide the most support and negotiate with the IRS on your behalf. Most tax solutions require that you file forms with the IRS, and there’s no or minimal cost. But if you work with a tax professional or tax relief company, you must pay for their services—either a flat fee or a percentage of the debt you owe. Regardless of how you proceed, you can typically resolve your tax problems with one of the following solutions. Installment agreement: If you owe taxes or penalty fees, you can establish a payment plan to pay the debt over time. Setup fees can range from $0 to $225 depending on the plan. Successful appeal: If you file an appeal and it’s successful, you either don’t owe any money or owe a reduced amount.Offer in Compromise: If you want to settle your tax debt for less than you owe, you can file an Offer in Compromise. It costs $205 to apply. If your application is accepted, the IRS will reduce your total debt. Lien withdrawal: If you have a tax lien, you can request that the IRS withdraw the notice from your public record. You usually have to pay the balance or establish a payment plan before you submit the request, but that’s not always the case. How do you know which option is the best? Determining how to proceed with IRS tax problems can be challenging, especially if you’re overwhelmed by lien notices or asset seizures. According to the Federal Trade Commission, your first step should be to contact the IRS. For tax debt, you can start by calling the helpline for individuals at 800-829-1040 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is usually the next step if you can’t resolve your issue. You can contact the TAS intake line at 877-777-4778. If you’re too busy or overwhelmed to contact the IRS or the TAS, you can hire a tax relief company to deal with the IRS on your behalf. For other tax issues, like missing tax returns or amendments, you should consider working with a tax professional, like a CPA or enrolled agent (EA). You can start by contacting the IRS directly. But if that doesn’t work, hire a trained professional. Ask the expert Erin Kinkade CFP® Be weary of scams when seeking help with IRS tax problems. Specifically, if you receive a phone call from somebody saying they are with the IRS—the IRS currently does not call to notify a tax payer of taxes owed. Check the company’s accreditation and ratings on the Better Business Bureau website and speak with at least three different firms or companies before making a decision. Here’s an example of what assistance with IRS tax problems may look like Your circumstances and type of tax problem will influence how you proceed. But let’s imagine you owe $30,000 in tax debt due to a mistake you made filing your taxes. You recently received a Notice of Federal Tax Lien document in the mail, which signifies that the government will begin to seize your assets to repay the debt. You agree that the bill is correct and you owe the money. You also understand that you can work with the IRS to establish a payment plan or pay the balance in full. But thanks to a hectic work schedule, you don’t have time or energy to deal with it. You can comfortably afford a fee of a couple thousand dollars to work with a tax relief company. The tax relief company works with the IRS on your behalf, files the necessary paperwork, and sets up an installment plan for repayment. As a result, the IRS withdraws the lien. In exchange, you pay the tax relief company a fee. Even though it’s only an example, this situation highlights the importance of considering your circumstances and finances before deciding how to handle tax problems. Why it’s important to not ignore tax issues with the IRS It might be tempting to ignore tax issues with the IRS, but there are financial consequences if you do. The IRS charges penalties and other fees that can add up quickly. The exact amount of the charge depends on the type of issue you have. For example, if you don’t file your taxes, you must pay the failure to file penalty, which is 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month the return is late. The Penalty can go up to 25%, so the sooner you resolve the issue, the more money you can save. On the other hand, the failure to pay penalty is a 0.5% charge for each month you do not pay your bill. But the rate increases to 1% if you receive a statement and don’t pay within 10 days. You’ll also have to deal with interest charges that compound daily. Paying your tax debt and handling other IRS tax problems can help you avoid penalty charges and ensure you don’t go further into debt.