Be careful of shady tax professionals and watch for common warning signs, including charging a fee based on the size of the refund. A major red flag or bad sign is when the tax preparer is unwilling to sign the dotted line. Avoid these “ghost” preparers, who will prepare a tax return but refuse to sign or include their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number as required by law. Taxpayers should never sign a blank or incomplete return.

Shun tax preparers who offer to inflate your tax refund by including deductions and other tax-reducing items which is not your true situation; because, sooner or later you will be sharing a jail cell alongside them; and, that is NOT a pretty place to find yourself.

Our wise mothers already warned us that ‘if something seems too good to be true then it most like is just that.’

Also, offers in compromise (OIC) is an important IRS program to help people who can’t pay to settle their federal tax debts [so also are the many installment payment plans offered by the IRS]. However, “offer in compromise mills” [AKA those late-night infomercials offering a quick fix for pennies on the dollar] can aggressively promote offers in compromise in misleading ways to people who clearly don’t meet the qualifications, often costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. Please, consult an experienced and knowledgeable Tax Pro who will not trick you with an unreasonable sales pitch and put you out of your already scarce resources by providing false hope.

Just remember, there are legitimate, legal, and manageable ways to work through any IRS debt with the help of a competent tax professional on your side. Do it the right way and you only have to do it once; and, better yet, save yourself the unnecessary problems which follow when you do it wrong.