In this episode, Trucker CFO Colton Lawrence welcomes Robert Hazen back to the podcast. Robert is the Vice President of Tax Resolution Services for the Trucker CFO, and he joins Colton on this edition of the podcast to discuss the potholes that can await people who see and hear national advertising for services working in the tax resolution field. As you’ll hear Robert and Colton discuss, these national services can make it sound like they can make past tax debts and the other issues requiring tax resolution magically disappear. The reality is that tax debt is not like credit card or other debt. Quite often, people who access these national services end up disappointed, paying a lot of money with little or nothing to show for it. During this episode, you’ll hear about the process that the Trucker CFO utilizes in evaluating and addressing tax resolution for our clients.
Welcome back to The Trucker CFO Podcast, and thanks for connecting with us again here on PodWheels. Earlier this year, we introduced you to Robert Hazen, a member of the team at Trucker CFO who specializes in the area of Tax Resolution. Robert was the featured guest of The Trucker CFO, Colton Lawrence. Robert and Colton led an important discussion regarding the considerations that go into Tax Resolution, including what you need to know about addressing back taxes and the steps you need to take if you have missed tax deadlines or you failed to file your tax returns.
Robert is joining us on this edition of the podcast to once again talk with Colton on some of the key issues related to moving forward with the tax resolution process. Today, Colton and Robert will be examining what is often behind the curtain and not seen until it’s too late when it comes to the offers made by national firms working in the area of tax resolution.
Before we take you to Colton’s discussion with Robert, Trucker CFO and PodWheels would like to remind our listeners to please keep in mind that every tax and business situation is unique. In addition, the perspectives shared on this podcast should not be considered as tax advice. If you have questions regarding your specific tax situation, you should consult a qualified tax professional. Later in the podcast, we will share some information on how you can connect with Trucker CFO to discuss your specific tax, accounting and business advisory needs.
Now let’s hand it off to The Trucker CFO Colton Lawrence, who interviewed Robert Hazen through Zoom Audio.
Trucker CFO Colton Lawrence:
Hello everybody. This is Colton Lawrence, The Trucker CFO, coming to you today on The Trucker CFO podcast, and today we're talking with Robert Hazan, our Vice President of Tax Resolution Services. And with today's podcast, we want our listeners to understand who the national Tax Resolution firms are, and educate them on the questions they should ask and possible traps they should avoid. So Rob, let's start off with you explaining to us just who these national Tax Resolution firms are and what we want our clients to know about them.
Thanks for having me, Colton. So Colton, the national tax firms a lot of times you may see or hear their advertisements on national tv, on radio advertising that they can help the taxpayer resolve their tax problems. In case you can't tell, I'm pretty passionate about this. Through my career, I've seen plenty of clients that have wasted a lot of money while dealing with these tax resolution companies. Just wanted our listeners to know that a lot of times what you hear is not what you actually get. So, we wanted to just give some information, some questions to ask, and some things to look for in case they are thinking about or they are currently engaged with one of these tax resolution companies. The first thing to keep in mind, these companies, the people that answered the phone, they're set up to handle inbound phone calls, they generally will not talk to you unless you owe $10,000 or more. The first point of contact is a salesperson paid on commission. Their job is to only close sales. So they'll basically tell you what you want to hear. The paid salesperson will quote a fee without knowing what the problem is. At Trucker CFO, before starting a case, we contact the IRS and perform a compliance check. We'll find out if their balance is due. If they have unfiled tax returns. We'll find out how much longer the IRS has to collect the taxes and will order transcripts. These are all pieces of the puzzle which are imperative to help us know how to properly resolve the tax problem. If you have spoken to one of those national tax firms a lot of times, they'll quote your fee without even knowing what the problem is. If this is the case, a red flag should probably be going off in your head.
So Rob, on our last podcast that you and I did together, we talked about the tax resolution process. We went through a lot of the different options and programs that are out there to help people with their tax liabilities when they're in situations that they just can't pay it. And so I would refer our listeners back to that podcast if they have questions about that. But definitely one of the things that we want to point out with this podcast is that process that people can expect when they contact these firms. Obviously they're spending a ton of money to advertise on these national platforms and they've got to pay for those advertisements somehow. So first and foremost their prices are going to be significantly higher than what they're going to pay through Trucker CFO to do these same types of services. So if I am somebody who is in need of these services and I call up one of the national firms, you mentioned that it's probably going to be a sales person, but dive in a little bit more to what that looks like what they can expect on that first call when they call and talk to these national firms.
First of all you need to keep in mind that these are sales people. If they don't close the sale they're not going to get a paycheck. The IRS is very specific about who can practice before the IRS. If the taxpayer owes money to the IRS and wants someone to represent them, the IRS is very specific on who can represent them. It must be either an EA, a CPA, an enrolled agent, or an enrolled actuary. So these people that you're speaking to, they are likely not the ones that are going to represent you before the IRS. There's an EA, an attorney, or a CPA in the back office working for them. Keep in mind their job is to close the sale. So they're going to tell the taxpayer whatever they want to hear. A lot of times this is an issue because maybe the taxpayer doesn't qualify for a certain program. They'll tell the client whatever they want to hear so they can close the sale. One thing that I always tell clients is if they're getting pressure or they're feeling that pressure from that person on the other side, ask them who's going to be working on their case. It's not inappropriate to ask what type of license they hold. If they say that there's someone, a CPA, or an attorney, or an enrolled agent, ask if you can speak with them. I find it very unlikely that these people are going to charge less than $3500. If you're spending that type of money, you should be able to talk to that person at least once. Now, keep in mind it's okay to have assistance. It's okay to have back office. But if you are unable to have these questions properly answered, you should probably be concerned. Again the national firms, they're gonna charge a minimum of $3000. For your hard earned money you should at least be able to talk to someone and make sure that they're properly licensed.
So Rob, you make a lot of very good points there. Our listeners should know that if they are in this situation, they've got tax problems, they're probably in a pretty high stress situation. They're getting these letters from the IRS letting them know that they're gonna have their property foreclosed on. The IRS does everything they can to scare people into compliance. So when you call up these national firms, they are very susceptible to being coerced and tricked
by the talking points that these salespeople have, and they end up in situations where they paid more money than they really needed to to get these issues resolved. So if I am that type of individual who has already engaged with the national firm, I've already given them that $3000 to $5000 just to even take a look at my case. What are my options? What can I do to work with Trucker CFO to potentially get out of that type of an engagement?
First of all, we need to understand what the environment is like with the IRS right now. For Trucker CFO, for the national firms, for the local firms, dealing with the IRS is an absolute nightmare right now. They're still trying to recover from being shut down for almost a year due to Covid. Most of their staff was working remotely. They had up to a million pieces of unprocessed mail. During this time, they just frankly we're not able to process paperwork and answer phone calls. So it's a problem for everyone right now. So we do need to understand that whether it's us or one of the national tax firms, things are delayed right now. However, we should be able to expect some things to happen right now. One thing that I always ask the clients that are engaged with another tax firm is have they pulled the transcripts? If a listener has already paid one of the national tax resolution companies and they've given them a power of attorney, they should at least expect to have transcripts pulled by the IRS. This is done by getting a power of attorney, contacting the IRS, diagnosing what the problem is, finding out if there's unfiled tax returns, and coming up with some sort of resolution on how the tax problem is going to be resolved. There's really no other way to resolve a tax problem without having these transcripts. So the taxpayers should ask have transcripts been pulled and they should be able to provide those to you . If they told you that they're going to do a settlement and offer and compromise a fresh start program. Any of these options, they should have transcripts. If not, you may have a problem. Trucker CFO, all of our cases have a very specific direction. It starts with us pulling the transcripts. We then customize a plan and a specific solution to get the tax issue resolved and then we'll quote the fees and we stick to those fees.
And Rob, you make a very good point there because you and I know as tax professionals that when we pull these transcripts, there are a number of indicators on those transcripts that we can read and look at to help us in knowing what those different options are and what avenues we can take to help resolve the tax situation that the client might be in. And it's important to note, that until those transcripts are pulled, nobody can know or properly diagnose the situation that an individual is in. So when a salesperson is speaking to an individual on the phone and promising or over promising on what they can do for their situation, they are frankly being sold on something that that person can't actually know at that point in time . So again it starts with the transcript. We want our clients to know that if transcripts haven't been pulled and you've been promised a certain solution, you're frankly being lied to.
Yeah, that's probably one of my biggest pet peeves Colton, because I hear all the time where the client will speak to the salesperson on the other line, and they're given a fee to resolve their problems but they have no idea what the problem is. That should certainly be a red flag if that has happened to you.
Alright Rob, so leading into our next question, we've kind of established that these transcripts are really important. That our listeners need to be wary of any type of solution being presented to them before they have had their transcripts pulled. But from that point what should our clients expect if they have engaged with one of these national tax resolution firms, what should they expect from the firm in terms of them moving towards a resolution of their issue.
So one of the biggest things that I hear about all the time and if you have a tax problem you've probably heard of the Fresh Start Initiative. The Fresh Start Initiative, that's just turned into a catchy slogan, and many firms used it because who wouldn't want a fresh start when dealing with the IRS. Now the Fresh Start Initiative started almost 10 years ago and it was a guideline to help the IRS collect tax. They lowered the amount needed to compute an offer and compromise, they raised the amounts owed before tax would be filed. They expanded the time that taxpayers can pay their taxes in an installment agreement. But in order to resolve an IRS issue, a specific program needs to be used. It needs to be an offer in compromise. It needs to be an installment agreement, currently not collectible, a partial pay installment agreement. So a Fresh Start Initiative really doesn't cover any of these things. In fact if you were to go to the IRS website and type in Fresh Start Initiative, it comes up as blank, there's nothing there. So you need to have an actual solution to the problem. Unfortunately a lot of these national firms pitch the Fresh Start initiative as actually something that will help them resolve their problems. So if you hear them talking about the Fresh Start Initiative, it may be time to be concerned.
Rob we touched on this exact issue in a little bit more detail in our prior podcast. But absolutely, there are specific plans that are in place given the different situations that taxpayers are going to be facing. And what we are hoping to accomplish with this podcast is helping folks understand what to be aware of, make sure they understand what those options are, and make sure they understand that if they're in a situation where they are throwing good money after bad and are not getting answers from these national firms, they end up just being a number, we want to make sure they understand what their options are and that Trucker CFO is there to help them.
Colton. I actually ran into a case very similar to this yesterday. The taxpayer paid a national firm $3500. When I asked for the information about their tax problem, they sent it over, they only owed $1800. So this taxpayer paid this national firm $3500 to set up an installment agreement on an $1800 tax liability. They would have been better off just to pay off their tax instead of engaging this national firm. I want to make it very clear as well. I don't think that all national tax resolution companies are bad. There are some companies that do a good job. Every case is different. But I do see very often cases where thousands of dollars have been thrown at these national tax resolution companies and nothing has happened. Unfortunately, I see a lot of cases where the clients were taking advantage of. Let's be honest, no one wants to be in trouble with the IRS. The IRS can make your life miserable. They can levy your bank account, they can garnish your wages, they can file tax liens. A lot of times people think if there's a solution, if there is a slick time salesperson giving them hope they'll often bight. So if we've talked about something during this podcast that is making you a little bit concerned, give Trucker CFO a call. We're happy to take a look at the case. Unfortunately you're probably not going to get your money back from the tax resolution company, but you're probably also not going to get your tax case resolved. So give us a call, we're happy to take a look at it and we're happy to give the IRS a call. See if there's something that we can do to finally get this tax issue behind you.
Rob, there's a lot of reasons why we would recommend our clients give us a call. From the fact that most of our clients are in the transportation industry and we are transportation professionals, we know their business. We know not only tax preparation, we know bookkeeping, we know accounting, and we know tax resolution. And you are one of the foremost experts in tax resolution combined with transportation. So, for all of you listeners out there, if you have any concerns about your tax situation, if you're receiving those letters, give Trucker CFO a call. We want to help put a plan in place before we collect any money from you and help you understand what your options are so that you can end up with the best outcome possible. Well, Rob before we close out this podcast, I just want to turn the time over to you for any closing comments.
You know, it's funny, Colton is we're ending up the year. A lot of times people will use the beginning of the year as a New Years resolution to finally get these tax problems resolved. A lot of people want to lose weight. They want to eat better and some people want to get their tax problems resolved. It's a perfect time to do it. The IRS is certainly ramping up their collection efforts. The letters are coming. I've seen the levees are being hit, and the IRS is certainly waking up. So a lot of people set this as a New Years resolution to finally get their tax problems resolved. So give us a call here at Trucker CFO, and we're happy to get some sort of plan in place for you.
Well, thanks Rob. I appreciate having you on the podcast. As always, it's great information. And for all of you listeners out there that may have these tax problems, as we've mentioned many times, Give us a call. We want to help out, we understand you, we understand your business and we're here to take that pressure and that stress off of you as we head into 2022.
Thanks again for listening to this edition of The Trucker CFO Podcast. As we noted at the top of the podcast, please keep in mind that every tax situation is unique, and the perspectives shared on this podcast should not be considered as tax advice. If you have questions regarding your specific tax situation, you should consult a qualified tax professional.
Now before we close the podcast, we would like to talk to you about Trucker CFO.
Do you have a team of tax, accounting and business advisory professionals who understand the complexities of the trucking industry? There are a number of ways you can contact the team at Trucker CFO. Visit the company’s website at TruckerCFO.com. From the home page, you can fill out the contact us form, which will send an email to a Trucker CFO representative. Also through the Trucker CFO website, you can also connect to the company through the find a time to talk button to set up an appointment, or you can use the chat feature. If you would rather email Trucker CFO directly, you can reach out to the company through the following address, [email protected]. That’s [email protected].
You can also call Trucker CFO toll-free at 1-800-533-4230 and hit option 2 for sales. That toll-free number once again is 1-800-533-4230 and choose option 2.
Thanks again for joining us on The Trucker CFO Podcast. As always, Colton Lawrence and the entire Trucker CFO team wish you the best for continued safe travels and good health as you work to keep the American economy on the move.