Oftentimes, when people call our office to schedule a consultation, they ask our intake staff what their fee will be. We tell our staff to never say something like “During your consultation, your attorney will give a fee quote. And if you feel that you won't get enough value for that fee, you are free to decline representation with no hurt feelings.” But that really doesn't tell you a lot, does it? So in this article, I'll mention some of the guidelines to give you an idea of what tax lawyer fees are.
Hourly Tax Lawyer Fees
First, not every tax lawyer firm will quote you a flat fee. Many of my peers in tax law prefer to charge an hourly rate. Hourly tax lawyer fees range from a low of $180.00 to some who charge as much as $950.00 to over $1050 per hour! Worse, we've seen little correlation between competence and hourly rate. High hourly rates appear as arbitrary number someone extrapolated by reading tea leaves.
And here's the rub, while an hourly attorney may offer a low buy-in with a smaller retainer, there is a perverse incentive for attorneys to overwork a case to generate more hours billed — even if those hours worked aren't actually helping you! We've taken over a lot of cases where the IRS wanted to move a case along, the client wanted to move a case along, but the attorney just wanted to make sure he was be “extra thorough” and did not allow the case to move along.
Should there not be a better way?
Flat, fixed and guaranteed tax attorney fees
Our tax firm helps anyone with tax problems. Whether it be IRS tax debt negotiations, tax audits, administrative appeals, or offshore disclosures. Or if they are tired of seeing so much of their income stripped away by the IRS due to lacking a proper tax plan.
From our own experience, the hourly structure does not work. Why? Because intentionally or not, the attorney will look to maximize the time spent on a particular case. And on the other hand, intentionally or not, the client will work to minimize time spent on a case. So the problem is that no one is focusing on the real problem: The IRS!
tax attorney lawyer fees
Failure to focus on critical action items can lead to a disaster.
Think about what can happen: client communication falls apart because clients want to avoid making work for the attorney, because they are not willing — nor were they expecting — to have to pay that much in tax lawyer fees. We know because so many of our current clients had a previous attorney that was not working out.
The problem is that the hourly tax lawyer fees makes him and his client adversaries. He is not on the same page as his client. Compare that with the flat fee model. We do enough of tax resolution and planning cases to know what we need to charge to meet our costs.
The client may not like our price, but they have the option to decline representation and seek an second opinion elsewhere. With no obligation. We've had many people who saw us years previous and declined representation, who later hired us because they found out that while our fee seemed steep initially, it was nothing compared to the damage the hourly tax lawyer fees can cause — and nothing compared to not getting the case solved as quick as possible.
The whole point is you hire an attorney to help you with a tax problem, not to get into another problem owing someone else money, right? You already have an IRS problem, you don't need an IRS attorney problem as well, right?
Tax lawyer fee factors
Anyway, let's talk about some factors that will help you avoid the highest tax lawyer fees.
Be wary of those national tax “resolution” firms. They claim to be attorneys, but if you can't find an actual tax attorney listed anywhere on their website, they may be lying to you. Because of their likely incompetence (how do you think they could afford that big marketing budget?) they are unable to solve your case, they will make it worse, and you will need real attorney help. If we are able to get to a case before anyone else does, that will lower your tax lawyer fees. And don't just rely on a BBB ranking. check to see when the ranking started. The default rating is an A.
Get to us quick. For example, if you are not levied we are not under the same time constraints when dealing with the IRS. Also, if you are audited, hire us first instead of trying to handle it with ineffective assistance. We will have to charge you more in tax lawyer fees to appeal the damage you or your previous help caused, and our legal options may be limited.
Be as organized as you can. If you have your affairs in decent order, then that shows us that you are very committed to resolution. We know we will have a great relationship. We know this is not possible for everyone, so if you are a bit disorganized, we have proven systems to help you get things under control. Have realistic goals. If you demand a particular resolution, then we won't even offer you a legal fee, you will not have to worry about tax lawyer fees — We won't take your case.
Complexity of the case. This is one of the biggest drivers of cost. As you can imagine, for handling some of the toughest tax problems around the world to the more common fact-patterns, there is a huge range in our tax lawyer fees. The more years, the more issues, the larger (potential) tax bill (or criminal liability), the more notorious the facts, these will all determine what your fee will be. Getting to us quick, before someone mucks up the case, will help keep complexity and tax lawyer fees to a minimum.
Attorney fees for value
Ultimately, your tax lawyer fees must deliver value. Our rule of thumb? We want our fees to deliver a 10-to-1 value. That is, for ever dollar a client spends on us, we deliver them ten dollars worth of value. The problem is that this is not always possible, as some things — like piece of mind — are difficult to quantify.
Set up an appointment to talk with us
If you would like to find out if we might be able to deliver you the value you are seeking, why not read up on our warranty and guarantee? And if you start to feel more comfortable, securely set up on appointment online with us to speak to a team member of our tax law firm. We have clients on every continent (except Antarctica) and enjoy a challenge.
By: Anthony Parent
Anthony E. Parent, Esq is a founding partner and force behind the IRSMedic website. His most proud professional achievement has been the development of a tax resolution system — with the help of his staff —that can solve any tax problem, no matter how complicated it is.
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