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What is the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations?

What is the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations?

They say that death and taxes are the only two certainties in life. However, taxes are only collectible for so long. The IRS Collection Statute of Limitations is a critical aspect of tax law that often confuses taxpayers and professionals alike. This statute dictates the timeframe within which the IRS can collect unpaid taxes. While it offers protection to taxpayers, navigating its complexities requires a nuanced understanding. Let’s delve into what the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations entails and its implications for taxpayers.

What is the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations? 

The IRS Collection Statute of Limitations is outlined in Section 6502 of the Internal Revenue Code. It establishes the timeframe during which the IRS can pursue the collection of unpaid taxes. Generally, the statute allows the IRS ten years from the date of assessment to collect the owed taxes.  

How Long is the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations? 

The IRS has a 10-year statute of limitations for tax collections, beginning when the IRS first assesses your tax liabilities. In other words, the IRS cannot collect tax debt that is older than 10 years. You should keep in mind that the first IRS notice you receive is not necessarily when your liabilities are assessed. Specifically, there is a Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED), which marks the last day the IRS can collect tax debt. After the CSED, the IRS cannot legally collect your tax debt, which means that your tax debt essentially disappears.  

If you want to find your CSED, you can count 10 years from the date on your Notice of Federal Tax Lien. You can also request a transcript of your IRS account to find the date your liability was assessed and filed. However, keep in mind that there are several actions that can delay the statute of limitations, thus pushing out your CSED.   

Which Actions Extend a CSED? 

There are several qualifying events that can extend a CSED, including the following.  

Filing for Bankruptcy 

When an individual files for bankruptcy, the Collection Statute of Limitations is typically tolled, meaning it is paused or suspended for the duration of the bankruptcy proceedings. The IRS will pause the statute of limitations while your bankruptcy filing is pending, starting from the filing date until the court decides. The CSED will remain suspended for an additional six months.  

Living Abroad 

Living abroad can also have implications for the Collection Statute Expiration Date. The IRS will pause the statute of limitations while you live abroad for six consecutive months or longer. The CSED could remain suspended for six months after you return to the United States.  

Requesting an IRS Installment Agreement 

The IRS will pause the statute of limitations while it reviews your installment agreement application. If the agreement is rejected, the CSED will remain suspended for 30 more days. This is also the case if your installment agreement defaults. If you appeal your rejection, the CSED will remain suspended until a decision is final.  

Submitting an Offer in Compromise 

When you submit an Offer in Compromise (OIC) to the IRS, the CSED is typically tolled or suspended for the duration of the consideration period, which can last several months or even longer. Once a decision is made, the suspension ends. If your offer is rejected, your CSED will remain suspended for 30 more days.  

Requesting Innocent Spouse Relief 

When a taxpayer requests Innocent Spouse Relief, the CSED is typically tolled or suspended for the duration of the IRS’s consideration of the innocent spouse claim. However, the suspension will only apply to the spouse applying for relief. The IRS will extend the CSED until you either receive a waiver or the 90-day petition expires, whichever happens first. If you appeal the tax court decision, the statute of limitations will be suspended until a final decision is made. In any of the above case, the IRS will also extend the CSED an additional 60 days.  

Requesting a Collection Due Process (CDP) Hearing 

When a taxpayer requests a CDP hearing, the IRS generally suspends the CSED. The IRS will pause the statute of limitations while it reviews your request to stop a levy or remove a lien until a determination is made or until you withdraw your request. Additionally, if there are less than 90 days left in collections when a final decision is made, the IRS will extend the CSED 90 more days. 

Military Deferment 

A military deferment can also have implications for the Collection Statute Expiration Date. The IRS will pause the statute of limitations during military service and for an additional 270 days afterward. If you serve in a combat zone the CSED will be suspended for up to 180 days after military service.  

Being Sued By the IRS 

While this event rarely happens, the IRS will pause the statute of limitations during the court proceedings.  

Can I Ignore My Tax Debt Until the IRS Collection Statute Expires?  

You might be enticed to just wait out the IRS collection statute of limitations. However, this strategy is generally not recommended since it would mean ignoring your growing tax bill and IRS notices. Under these circumstances, simple actions like getting a job, purchasing a home, registering a vehicle, and operating a business would be very difficult. Working with the IRS will typically be your best option, but doing so alone can be tedious, intimidating, and stressful. Working with a credible and experienced tax relief company can help save time, money, and stress. Optima Tax Relief has over a decade of experience helping taxpayers get back on track with their tax debt. 

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation

Common IRS Penalties & How to Avoid Them

common irs penalties and how to avoid them

Owing the IRS doesn’t just stop with your tax balance. If your tax obligations are not met, you could face penalties that can make your debt even more unmanageable. Understanding common IRS penalties and how to avoid them is essential for taxpayers to stay on the right side of the law and minimize financial consequences. Here are some of the most common IRS penalties and how to avoid (or reduce) them.  

Failure to File  

One of the most common penalties imposed by the IRS is the failure to file penalty. If you don’t file by the tax deadline, or the requested extension deadline, and you owe taxes, you will be charged with a failure to file penalty. This penalty is 5% of your unpaid tax for every month or partial month that your return is late. Like the Failure to Pay penalty, it caps out at 25% of your balance. To avoid this penalty, it’s crucial to file your tax return on time, even if you are unable to pay the full amount owed. Filing for an extension can also help avoid this penalty, but it’s important to remember that an extension to file is not an extension to pay any taxes owed. The deadline to file your 2023 tax return is April 15, 2024. 

Failure to Pay  

In addition to the failure to file penalty, the IRS also imposes a failure to pay penalty for taxpayers who do not pay their taxes by the due date. The 0.5% penalty is applied to any unpaid taxes for every month or partial month the tax is not paid. However, it will not exceed 25% of your unpaid taxes. There are some scenarios in which this penalty can increase or decrease. One example is if the IRS sends a notice with an intent to levy. In this case, you have 10 days to pay your taxes. If you do not, the Failure to Pay penalty increases to 1% per month or partial month. However, if you set up a payment plan, the penalty is reduced to 0.25% per month or partial month.   

Underpayment of Estimated Tax  

If you don’t withhold enough taxes throughout the year, you need to make quarterly estimated tax payments. If you don’t pay the correct amount of estimated tax, or if you pay late, you may be penalized. Estimated payments are due every April 15th, June 15th, September 15th and January 15th of the next year. The penalty can change quarterly. As of Q1 of 2024, individuals are charged 8% on underpaid tax while large corporations are charged 10%. You can avoid this penalty by meeting one of two requirements:  

  • Pay 90% of the tax you owe for the current year in four equal estimated payments, or through paycheck withholding  
  • Pay 100% of last year’s tax bill, before withholding or tax credits. If you have an AGI of more than $150,000, you should pay 110%.   

Accuracy-Related Penalties

Taxpayers who file inaccurate tax returns may be subject to accuracy-related penalties. Common reasons for receiving this penalty are if you don’t report all your income or if you claim deductions or credits you don’t qualify for. The two types of this penalty are:  

  • Negligence or Disregard of the Rules of Regulations Penalty: This penalty is common among those who do not follow tax laws or are careless when preparing their return. Examples include not reporting all income or not checking tax deductions that result in a refund that seems too good to be true.  
  • Substantial Understatement of Income Tax Penalty: This penalty is given to those who understate their tax liability by 10% of the tax required to be shown on your return or $5,000, whichever is greater.   

Both of these accuracy-related penalties charge 20% of the portion of underpaid tax that resulted from negligence, disregard, or understated income. Avoiding this penalty is rather simple. Taxpayers should ensure that their tax returns are accurate and complete. Furthermore, they should maintain documentation to support their income, deductions, and credits claimed. 

IRS Penalty Abatement 

Penalties imposed by the IRS can significantly increase the amount owed by taxpayers and can be financially burdensome. However, under certain circumstances, taxpayers may be eligible to have these penalties reduced or eliminated entirely through penalty abatement. Taxpayers may request penalty abatement for reasons such as reasonable cause, statutory exceptions, or administrative waivers. 

  1. Reasonable Cause: One common reason for requesting penalty abatement is demonstrating “reasonable cause.” This means showing that there was a valid reason beyond the taxpayer’s control that prevented them from complying with tax obligations. Examples of reasonable cause may include serious illness, natural disasters, or death in the family, among others. Taxpayers must provide documentation or evidence to support their claim of reasonable cause. 
  1. Statutory Exceptions: Some penalties may have statutory exceptions that allow for penalty relief under specific circumstances. For example, certain penalties may be waived if the taxpayer can demonstrate that they acted in good faith or relied on incorrect advice from the IRS. 
  1. Administrative Waivers: In some cases, the IRS may offer administrative waivers for certain penalties. These waivers are typically granted on a case-by-case basis and may be available for first-time offenders or taxpayers who have a history of compliance with tax laws. 

Penalty relief may be requested via phone or by mailing Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. If the IRS denies your request, you may be able to appeal the decision. 

Get Help Avoiding and Reducing IRS Penalties  

Remember, the IRS charges interest on penalties and interest will continue to increase your balance until it’s paid in full. Since interest on underpayments begin on the tax due date, it’s important to act as quickly as possible to resolve your tax issue. If you can pay your balance in full, you should do so immediately. If you cannot afford to, you should look into options including payment plans or tax relief. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over $1 billion in resolved tax liabilities.   

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation 

Top 5 Tips to Avoid an IRS Audit

Top 5 tips to avoid an irs audit

The Senate recently approved nearly $80 billion in IRS funding, with $45.6 billion specifically for enforcement. This new funding is expected to result in more tax audits. There is no sure way to avoid an IRS audit. However, there are some things that the IRS has generally viewed as “red flags.” These could increase the chances of an audit for taxpayers. Here are our top five tips to avoid an IRS audit.  

File Your Tax Return 

Currently, you must file a tax return if your gross income meets certain thresholds based on your age and filing status. If you meet the minimum income requirement and you do not file a federal income tax return, or file late. In 2024, you can be penalized 5% of your unpaid tax liability for each month your return is late. However, the penalty will not exceed 25% for your total tax balance. Additionally, you will incur a 0.5% per month for failure to pay penalty, up to 25%.

While both penalties have a cap, interest will continue to accrue until the balance is paid off. It is compounded daily at the federal short-term rate, plus an additional 3% for individuals. In 2024, the underpayment penalty is 8% for individual taxpayers. In addition, the IRS may prepare a substitute for return (SFR) on your behalf. They do this by using your W2 and 1099 forms for that tax year and even your bank account records. The SFR will likely result in a larger tax bill, since tax credits and deductions will not be claimed. In short, choosing to not file a return each year will not excuse you from paying taxes.  

Report All Income 

Underreporting income is one of the most common reasons taxpayers get audited. Remember, the IRS receives copies of all your W-2 and 1099 forms for the year. If incomes do not match up, they will investigate your tax situation. The IRS could then give you the IRS negligence penalty. This can cost you an additional 20% of the underpaid amount in penalties. That said, it’s always best to report all earnings the first time around. 

Use Common Sense with Business Expenses 

The IRS reminds taxpayers that business expenses should be “ordinary and necessary” to produce income for your specific trade or business. In other words, items like office equipment and advertising costs are fine, but you should not try to deduct your daily lunch expenses. You should always avoid comingling personal and business expenses. 

Keep Good Records 

Keeping good records that support your reported income is critical. This can include invoices, canceled checks, mileage logs, and other documents. The IRS recommends keeping records for three years after filing. Bookkeeping can be a tedious process, so it may be best to hire a professional if you are not up to the task. 

Know How to Report Losses 

The IRS will likely audit individuals and businesses that report multiple or consecutive losses. If your business claims a loss for several years, the IRS may classify it as a hobby instead of a for-profit business. Once this happens, you will not be allowed to claim a loss related to the business and you will have to prove that your “business” has an acceptable motive to earn a profit. 

Tax Relief for Taxpayers 

Odds of an audit increase when the IRS notices any red flags. The audit process can be tedious and taxing. Failing an audit can result in a huge, unforeseen tax bill. It’s best to seek assistance from experts who can help you avoid an IRS audit. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations.  

Contact Us Today for a No-Obligation Free Consultation 

** Optima Tax Relief is a tax resolution firm independent of the IRS** 

What is the IRS Dishonored Check Penalty? 

What is the IRS Dishonored Check Penalty? 

Dealing with the IRS can be an unnerving task for many taxpayers, especially when unexpected penalties arise. One such penalty that often catches people off guard is the dishonored check penalty. Understanding this penalty and how to avoid it is crucial for taxpayers to navigate their financial obligations smoothly. In this article, we explore the details of the IRS dishonored check penalty, its implications, and proactive measures taxpayers can take to prevent it. 

What is the IRS Dishonored Check Penalty? 

The IRS dishonored check penalty, also known as the bounced check penalty, is imposed when a taxpayer’s payment to the IRS is made with a check, and the check is returned unpaid by the bank due to insufficient funds or other reasons. When this happens, the IRS will typically send Letter 608C, Dishonored Check Penalty Explained. This penalty is separate from any penalties or interest that may apply to the underlying tax debt. It’s also important to note that the IRS will not attempt to resubmit a check. That said, the payment will be considered unpaid. 

Implications of the Penalty 

When a check is dishonored by the bank, the IRS imposes a penalty. The penalty is 2% of the check amount if it exceeds $1,250. If the check amount was less than $1,250, the penalty is the lesser of the following: 

  • $25 
  • The check amount 

Additionally, interest may accrue on the unpaid tax amount from the original due date of the tax return until the date of payment. Furthermore, repeated instances of dishonored checks can result in increased scrutiny from the IRS. It may also lead to additional penalties or enforcement actions. Therefore, it’s essential for taxpayers to address any issues promptly to avoid further complications. 

Preventive Measures 

To avoid the IRS dishonored check penalty, taxpayers can take several proactive measures: 

  • Ensure Sufficient Funds. Before writing a check, verify that sufficient funds are available in the designated account to cover the payment amount. 
  • Double-Check Information. Accurate information, including the payee name, amount, and date, should be provided on the check to minimize the risk of errors that could lead to a dishonored check. 
  • Consider Alternative Payment Methods. Instead of using personal checks, taxpayers can opt for electronic payment methods. These include direct debit, credit card payments, or the IRS’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). These methods offer faster processing and reduce the likelihood of payment issues. 
  • Set Up Payment Plans. If paying the full tax amount upfront is not feasible, taxpayers can explore setting up an installment agreement with the IRS. This allows them to make monthly payments until the tax debt is fully paid, reducing the risk of bounced checks. 
  • Monitor Accounts: Regularly monitor bank accounts to ensure that payments to the IRS and other creditors are processed successfully. Promptly address any payment discrepancies or issues that arise. 

Penalty Abatement 

If you had expected the payment to clear, you can request penalty abatement from the IRS. You’ll need to submit a written explanation or proof that there was no reason to believe the check would not clear. It’s best to wait until after you receive Letter 608C to submit this. 

Tax Help for Those Who Receive IRS Letter 608C 

The IRS dishonored check penalty can result in additional financial burdens for taxpayers already facing tax obligations. By understanding the implications of this penalty and taking proactive measures to prevent it, taxpayers can avoid unnecessary fees and complications in their dealings with the IRS. Ensuring accurate payment information, maintaining sufficient funds, and exploring alternative payment methods are crucial steps in mitigating the risk of bounced checks and related penalties. By staying vigilant and addressing payment issues promptly, taxpayers can navigate their tax obligations more effectively and minimize the impact of penalties on their financial well-being. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations.  

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation 

How Does the IRS Collections Process Work?

How Does the IRS Collections Process Work?

The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes owed to the United States government. When taxpayers fail to pay their taxes on time, the IRS initiates a collections process to recover the outstanding debt. This process can be complex and intimidating for those unfamiliar with it. Understanding how the IRS collections process works can help taxpayers navigate their obligations and avoid potential consequences. 

Assessment of Taxes 

The IRS begins by assessing the amount of tax you owe. This assessment can occur through various means. For example, if you file a tax return reporting income and deductions, or if the IRS conducts an audit to determine the correct amount owed. Once the tax liability is determined, the IRS will send you a notice detailing the amount owed, including any penalties and interest that may have accrued. At this point, the collections process has begun, and it will only end when one of two things happens. The tax bill needs to be paid or settled, or the statute of limitations needs to run out.  

IRS Notice and Demand for Payment 

After assessing the tax liability, the IRS sends a Notice and Demand for Payment. This notice outlines the amount owed and provides instructions on how to pay. It is important for you to respond promptly to this IRS notice to avoid further collection action by the IRS. Keep in mind that interest will accrue until the tax balance is paid in full. The current rate is 8% per year, compounded daily. Unfortunately, those who do not pay their tax bills will also need to deal with the failure to pay penalty. This is 0.5% for each month, or partial month, that the tax goes unpaid. The penalty can cost up to 25% of the total amount owed.  

Payment Options 

The IRS also accepts various forms of payment, including electronic funds transfer, credit card, check, or money order. You can pay the full amount owed in a lump sum. If paying in full is not possible, there are options for tax relief.  

Installment Agreements 

An IRS installment agreement is a formal arrangement between a taxpayer and the IRS to pay off a tax liability over time. With a short-term installment agreement, you will need to pay your full tax bill within 180 days. This option is available to those who owe less than $100,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest. With a long-term installment agreement, you can pay your full tax bill in over 180 days. This option is available to those who owe less than $50,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest.   

Offer in Compromise 

An Offer in Compromise (OIC) is a program offered by the IRS that allows taxpayers to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount owed. It’s a viable option for individuals or businesses who are unable to pay their tax liability in full or would suffer undue financial hardship if forced to do so. It’s important to understand that the chances of the IRS accepting an OIC is not high. This form of tax relief is reserved for taxpayers who have suffered severe, long-term financial troubles, making it impossible for you to pay your tax bill. 

Currently Not Collectible Status 

Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status, also known as hardship status, is a designation used by the IRS for taxpayers who are experiencing significant financial hardship and are unable to pay their tax debt. When a taxpayer is granted CNC status, the IRS temporarily suspends collection activities, such as liens, levies, and garnishments, until the taxpayer’s financial situation improves. 

IRS Notice of Federal Tax Lien 

Once the tax debt remains unpaid, the IRS files a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Filing the NFTL makes your unpaid tax debt public and establishes the IRS’s legal claim to your property. The IRS will also send you a copy of the notice. A federal tax lien will make it very difficult for you to sell or transfer property without satisfying the IRS’s claim. Furthermore, the lien may affect your credit score and ability to obtain loans or credit. 

To release the Notice of Federal Tax Lien, you must satisfy the tax debt in full, either by paying the amount owed, entering into an installment agreement with the IRS, or settling the debt through an Offer in Compromise. Once the tax debt is paid or otherwise resolved, the IRS will issue a Certificate of Release of Federal Tax Lien within 30 days. This removes the lien from your property and releases the IRS’s claim. 

IRS Final Notice of Intent to Levy 

If you still make no effort to pay your taxes, the IRS will issue a Final Notice of Intent to Levy. This notice typically comes 30 days before the levy is initiated. When the IRS levies, it means they seize your property to satisfy a tax debt. Levies can take various forms, including seizing wages, bank accounts, vehicles, real estate, retirement accounts, or other assets.  

You have the right to appeal a levy action by requesting a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing with the IRS Office of Appeals. During the CDP hearing, you can dispute the validity of the tax debt, propose alternative collection options, or present evidence of financial hardship or other extenuating circumstances. The IRS may release a levy if you apply for a payment arrangement, demonstrate financial hardship, or present an Offer in Compromise. Once the IRS releases the levy, you regain control of your assets, and the IRS stops collection actions related to those assets. 

Legal Action 

In extreme cases, the IRS may take legal action against delinquent taxpayers to enforce collection of unpaid taxes. This can involve filing a lawsuit in federal court to obtain a judgment against the taxpayer or pursuing criminal charges for tax evasion or fraud. Legal action should be avoided whenever possible, as it can result in significant financial penalties and even imprisonment. 

Tax Help for Those in IRS Collections 

The IRS collections process is a complex and multifaceted system designed to ensure compliance with the tax laws. While dealing with tax debt can be stressful and intimidating, understanding how the process works can help you navigate their obligations and avoid serious consequences. By responding promptly to notices from the IRS and exploring payment options, taxpayers can resolve their tax issues and move forward with peace of mind. When in doubt, seeking the help of a credible tax professional is a good option. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over $1 billion in resolved tax liabilities.  

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation 

What You Need to Know About IRS Notice CP2000

What You Need to Know About IRS Notice CP2000

Receiving a notice from the IRS can be anxiety-inducing for anyone. Among the various notices the IRS sends, Notice CP2000 stands out as one that often causes confusion and concern among taxpayers. However, understanding what Notice CP2000 entails and how to respond to it is crucial for resolving any discrepancies with your tax return. In this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of IRS Notice CP2000 and provide guidance on how to address it. 

What is IRS Notice CP2000? 

IRS Notice CP2000 is formally titled the “Notice of Proposed Adjustment for Underpayment/Overpayment.” It is sent when the IRS identifies a discrepancy between the income, payments, and credits reported on your tax return and the information reported to the IRS by third parties, such as employers, banks, or financial institutions. The notice typically outlines the proposed changes to your tax return and explains the adjustments the IRS believes are necessary. 

Why Did You Receive Notice CP2000? 

There are various reasons why you might receive Notice CP2000. Common discrepancies that trigger this notice include: 

  • Underreported income: The IRS has information indicating you received income that was not reported on your tax return. 
  • Overstated deductions or credits: The deductions or credits claimed on your tax return exceed what the IRS expects based on the information provided by third parties. 
  • Mismatched taxpayer information: Discrepancies in taxpayer identification numbers, filing status, or other key information can also prompt the issuance of Notice CP2000. 

How to Respond to Notice CP2000 

Receiving Notice CP2000 does not necessarily mean you are being audited. It is essentially a proposal for adjustments to your tax return based on the IRS’s records. Here’s what you should do if you receive this notice: 

Review the Notice Carefully 

Take the time to thoroughly read through the notice and understand the proposed changes to your tax return. Pay close attention to the specific items that the IRS is questioning. 

Compare with Your Records 

Compare the information provided in Notice CP2000 with your own records, including W-2s, 1099s, and other relevant documents. Verify whether the discrepancies identified by the IRS are accurate. 

Respond by the Deadline 

Notice CP2000 includes a response deadline. It’s essential to adhere to this deadline to avoid further penalties or interest. You have the option to agree with the proposed changes, partially agree, or disagree entirely. If you agree, you should send the notice back to the IRS with the payment they are requesting. If you partially agree or completely disagree with the notice, you should respond pleading your case. Do not amend your tax return. 

Provide Supporting Documentation 

If you disagree with the proposed adjustments, you must provide supporting documentation to substantiate your position. This may include bank statements, receipts, or other evidence to support your tax return. 

Await the IRS’s Response 

It usually takes the IRS anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks to respond, so be patient. If the IRS rejects your response, you can submit an appeal.  

Seek Professional Assistance 

If you’re uncertain about how to respond to Notice CP2000 or need assistance in resolving the discrepancies, consider consulting a tax professional or accountant for guidance. Be prepared to show them your notice, any responses you’ve submitted, copies of your tax returns, and proof of eligibility for deductions and credits. 

Tax Help for Those Who Receive IRS Notice CP2000 

Receiving IRS Notice CP2000 can be unsettling, but it’s essential to address it promptly and accurately. By understanding the reasons behind the notice and following the appropriate steps to respond, you can effectively resolve any discrepancies with your tax return. Remember to carefully review the notice, compare it with your records, and provide supporting documentation as needed. Seeking professional assistance may also be beneficial in navigating the process and ensuring compliance with IRS requirements. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over $1 billion in resolved tax liabilities.  

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation