Looking for Tax Relief Companies? Here are 4 Red-Flag Signs of Tax Debt Relief Scams

Tax debt is stressful. It’s scary. And dealing with the IRS on your own can be all-consuming. Hiring the right tax relief company can help you ease that stress and save you time and money in the long run.

But far too many “tax relief companies” act with bad intentions. They prey on your stress because that’s where you’re most vulnerable. Scammers are everywhere in the tax resolution business, and they make fortunes by taking advantage of good people in bad situations.

It’s absolutely appalling. Something had to be done about it.

When Dave Weishaus and I founded Boxelder Consulting in 2015, we aimed to bring integrity back to the industry and provide real tax help to good people. No lies, no tricks, no sleight of hand. Honest advice, quality case work, and compassion would be our standard. That’s what our clients deserve.

Since then, we’ve grown as a company, and we’ve grown in experience. Bad actors are still out there — they always will be — but with the right information you can identify scammers and steer clear.

If you’re worried that a “tax relief company” could be a scam, here are a few red flags to watch out for:


4 Red Flags to Help You Spot and Avoid Tax Relief Scams

1. Did they contact you first?

If a company or representative contacts you first, without your solicitation, that’s already reason to be skeptical.

As we’ve covered before, predatory tax firms use outbound call centers to find their leads. These companies usually target vulnerable taxpayers who have public liens on their property. They’ll use scare tactics to pressure you into bad deals and sell you on quick fixes over long-term resolution.

An easy rule of thumb: if a tax relief firm contacts you first, they need you more than you need them.

Boxelder doesn’t rely on a boiler-room call center. We have no retainer sales goals, and we never use lien records to find potential clients.

The vast majority of our clients come from referrals and organic search traffic. Quality work speaks for itself.


2. Did they make big promises without first investigating your finances?

If a company guarantees it can wipe away your tax debt — or even just part of it — without digging into your finances first, be skeptical.

As great as a “guarantee” sounds, it simply isn’t possible in the world of tax relief. Any tax attorney worth his weight would need to review a case before determining the best possible tax relief solution.

For instance, not all taxpayers qualify for Offers in Compromise (OICs) with the IRS. OICs have very specific conditions, and there’s no way for us to know whether you meet them without first conducting an initial investigation.

At Boxelder, we’ll gather the information we need and speak with the IRS on your behalf — all before you commit to payment. Most importantly, we won’t make any promises that we can’t keep. As a licensed tax attorney, it is my legal and ethical obligation to tell you the truth.


3. Do they charge large fees up front, before doing any work on your case?

Some companies will charge thousands of dollars in non-refundable fees to “set up your OIC,” or “remove your tax lien” before doing any work on your case.

Then, they’ll delay for months and eventually claim that your application for an OIC was denied. Case closed.

Boxelder charges a low, flat fee to conduct our initial investigation. And we won’t charge you a cent more until we have a concrete plan for resolution. 


4. Do they have positive reviews online? How many?

Ultimately, the best way to tell a legitimate tax relief company from a scam is to read its reviews online. If a company is doing great work for its customers, they will let you know!

Some of Boxelder’s best reviews come from people who never paid us a cent. Since we offer free, in-depth tax consultations with real advice, some clients come away with everything they need to handle their tax problems on their own. We don’t ever bait clients into a sale just for a quick buck. Integrity matters, and it shows in our reviews.

But make sure to be diligent when reading reviews. Quantity matters as much as quality. A company with a 4.7-star average rating and 300 reviews is probably more trustworthy than one with a 5-star rating and only 4 reviews. After all, some companies will change their name and rebrand completely just to wipe away bad reviews.

Boxelder has hundreds of positive reviews online, as well as official accreditation and an A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau. Our customers vouch for us because they know we do great work and want to share their experience with others.


The Bottom Line

I think the best measure of a tax relief company is this question: are they going to help solve my problems, or am I the solution to their problems?

Integrity matters. Honesty matters. Boxelder will not sell you on a sub-optimal resolution plan. Come visit our office and meet our amazing team of licensed professionals. To learn more about our process, give us a call at 303-317-6111 for a free consultation, or click the button below.

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About the Author

A company founder standing by Colorado's Front Range

Tom Conradt

Co-Founder, IRS Collections Defense Attorney

Tom Conradt is the co-founder of Boxelder Consulting & Tax Relief, and has been practicing IRS Collections defense law for the past ten years. Graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tom is the lead IRS Collections Defense Attorney and heads the tax resolution department. Tom’s favorite part about working at Boxelder Consulting is hearing about the relief that clients experience after they sign up and start seeing immediate results on their case. Tom enjoys all the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer, including skiing, hiking and climbing. He is also looking forward to the return of indoor pickup basketball.

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