Darrin Mish: Hello. My name’s Darrin Mish, and I’m a tax attorney based in Tampa, Florida. My practice is focused exclusively on the resolution of IRS tax problems, and tax planning, for clients throughout the United States and around the globe. What I decided to do here today was go ahead and create some videos to answer some common questions, or questions that are commonly asked of me, of taxpayers who are considering hiring Enrolled Agents to resolve their IRS tax problem. I want to make it clear that I don’t have anything against Enrolled Agents at all, or CPAs, or other tax attorneys, whatsoever. I’ve actually taught a number of Enrolled Agents in seminars throughout the country, how to resolve IRS tax problems, and I know of several good Enrolled Agents around the country. Click here to read or watch more IRS Help resources.
But my point is here that there are certain questions that you need to know, or you need to ask, of an Enrolled Agent or any tax practitioner, for that matter, before you consider letting them work on your IRS tax problem case.
And the first question for today is: how many cases are they currently working on? Now, that’s a double edged sword. Do they have too many cases so they can’t actually provide your case with the love and attention that it deserves? And there’s some big national tax resolution firms that will remain nameless on this video, but you know who I’m talking about. Go ahead and just Google a word like tax problem and they’ll come up.
Now the other question is: do they have very many cases at all? The good side of not having very many cases is they should have plenty of time to deal with yours. Now, the bad side, or the question you should ask if they don’t have very many cases is: why is that? Now, if they say it’s because, “Well, I just retired from the IRS and I have lots of time, and I’m just going to handle a few cases.”
OK. I guess that’s a decent answer. The problem is are they practicing on your case? Is this a full time endeavor for them, or is this more like a hobby or a side line, that they’re using to just go ahead and supplement their retirement? Just a question to consider.
Now, the next question is do they answer their own phone, or does their phone get answered at all? Now, I think that it’s important. If they’re answering their own phone, and I was there at one point. If they’re answering their own phone, that tends to tell you they don’t have administrative staff to do that. And so they’re going to reach a point, very quickly, where they have too much on their plate.
They’re just not going to have time to work on your case because they’re going to be worried about things like the phone ringing, and the next potential client that might be calling. So I think they’re going to have a hard time going ahead and dealing with your case in a timely and expeditious fashion. But that’s my opinion.
Have they spent years negotiating in a variety of different settings? And I think the answer for an Enrolled Agent, and probably even a CPA, is most likely no. The reason is that attorneys are actually skilled negotiators. We all know that. That’s why society doesn’t like us very much, is because a sharp attorney usually doesn’t end on the short end of the stick.
So I’ve actually had plenty of years experience dealing in the criminal defense realm, and in the IRS problem resolution realm. So those years of experience in negotiation really tends to serve my clients well. So when you speak with an Enrolled Agent, and you’re considering hiring them, ask them: do you have experience in negotiating? And if so, what can they tell you about those years of experience at negotiating.
Ask your Enrolled Agent: can you represent me in Tax Court if that becomes necessary? And I can tell you that almost certainly the answer is no. You don’t have to be an attorney to represent a taxpayer in US Tax Court. But if you’re an attorney, then you are admitted if you take the necessary procedures, or follow the necessary procedures, you will be admitted to the US Tax Court.
But if you’re not, you have to take a special exam, following the rules of procedure in the US Tax Court, to be admitted to represent a client in Tax Court. Even if your Enrolled Agent is permitted to practice before Tax Court, I want you to just think about that for a minute. Do you want a non lawyer going into a court of law to argue on your behalf?
How much experience can they possibly have doing that? Now, I actually know of one particular gentleman who is not a lawyer. He’s actually not an Enrolled Agent and he’s not a CPA, either, who is admitted to US Tax Court, and I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to have him represent me, should I need that. But I think that might be the only person in this country who’s actually uniquely qualified like that.
Now, the last question for today is: can that Enrolled Agent, or other tax professional, actually analyze whether or not bankruptcy is the very best option in your case? I think that answer’s probably no. Most practitioners, heck, most bankruptcy lawyers, don’t even that taxes can be discharged in certain circumstances in bankruptcy. So if most bankruptcy lawyers don’t know that, ask yourself how in the world is my Enrolled Agent or CPA going to know that? They’re not.
That’s just the simple fact of the matter. And even if they’re vaguely aware of the fact that bankruptcy can be the best solution in your case, or a solution in your case, what tools do they have at their disposal to be able to analyze that? Can they even explain when bankruptcy might be used as a tool to resolve your IRS problem? Probably not.
Now, I’m not sitting here saying that bankruptcy is the best option in every case. Far from it. It’s usually not the best option. But don’t you want a professional who can actually analyze every possible arrow in the quiver? Every weapon that might be at your disposal? Of course you do. If you don’t then you’re simply not getting the best representation possible.
Well, that’s all the time I have for today. If you’d like to see the other 15 questions that you should ask your Enrolled Agent before you consider hiring them, I would direct you to my website at getirshelp.com. Thanks for tuning in.