The radio announcer captures your attention with, “Do you owe more than $10,000 to the IRS? If so, call [XYZ] Company and they will: (1) resolve all your problems, (2) get IRS off your back, and (3) remove most (if not all) of your tax debt.”

Houston tax attorneysIt sounds too good to be true and it is too good to be true. What the radio ad fails to tell you are the following:

  • The company charges a large, up-front, non-refundable retainer.
  • The person who ends up handling your case is most likely not qualified. You really need a licensed CPA or attorney who specializes in tax procedure.
  • The “fresh start initiative” – one of their selling points – is nothing new; it has been around forever. It generally involves one of three things: (1) an installment agreement, (2) an offer in compromise (OIC), or (3) classification as “currently not collectible (CNC).”
  • An installment agreement merely means that you pay all or most of the tax anyway – just over a period of time. For smaller balances owed, you can usually arrange for an installment agreement yourself – even on-line – without the assistance of a representative.
  • Most folks are not eligible for an offer in compromise (OIC) because, to be eligible, one has to prove that he has very few, if any, assets and little or no income. And these submissions can take up to two years to resolve. Far less than 50% of submitted OICs are ever accepted by the IRS.
  • To qualify for “currently not collectible” (CNC) one has to prove that he is completely destitute and unemployed or unemployable. Very few people meet that description.
  • In most cases, the IRS is not going to go away without a huge legal battle.
  • Regardless of which collection alternative you pursue, the IRS has authority to – and will – file a notice of federal tax lien. This will inhibit your ability to obtain credit, get a loan, or sell real estate unless you pay the IRS off at closing.


–W. Patrick Cantrell, JD CPA


If you or a loved one need legal advice regarding your tax or business issue, contact our Houston tax attorneys at Cantrell & Cantrell today to discuss your case.