How I Decide A Client's Attorney's Fees

If you owe the IRS back taxes, you know it is expensive and may be thinking:

"I really can't afford to pay the IRS, much less an attorney right now",

Sometimes you have to think about whether or not you need professional help, because if you owe the IRS, you have to remember: they do not represent you.


They will tell you that “if you don't pay your taxes by such-and-such a date, we can levy your bank account, we can garnish your wages, etc.”. 
You don't know what to do, you panic, and you make a bad deal.

Although what they're saying is true, what they don't tell you is that they must send you several notices (usually 5) that are separated four-to-five weeks apart.

Usually, only the last notice qualifies them to actually take that kind of collection action against you.You might be surprised that the fees that I charge are reasonable. So let me explain how I do this.

Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Your Right to a Hearing

The first thing I do (for free)is get you to sign a power of attorney. This allows me the right to inquire about your account with the IRS. We can do that over email or fax. 


I'll find out:

  • Exactly how much you owe
  • The type of tax that you owe
  • Any penalties and the interest beside the tax

In addition to that, I can order transcripts (official documentation from the IRS that spell out all of these details).

I'll get the transcripts and send them to you so we can talk about it. Then, I'll give you a preliminary strategy on the best way to deal with the IRS. This takes a little bit of your time but doesn't cost you anything.

I like to do that with my clients, because sometimes you don't need my help.

At this point, I'll tell you if you can do it by yourself or if you do need my help, then I quote you a fee.

Fixed Fees

The first thing I do with most of my cases are fixed fees.  In certain cases, (audits or more complicated matters for businesses)I will quote hourly. In general though, I hate to keep justifying every 15 minutes of my work time. 

For most cases, I have enough experience that I know how much time it's going to take me.

Sometimes I do it quicker, sometimes it takes longer than I thought, but I like to work with fixed fees so that you know exactly what I'm going to charge you.

If I make a mistake and under-charge you, that's on me. I won't raise the price that I quoted you.

I also offer you reasonable payment plans. 

When I charge fees I put myself in your situation. A lot of times you're tapped out and don't have money. You may be able to borrow some money or put something on a credit card for that sort of thing, and I understand that. 


You may be struggling and have no idea where you’re going to get money to pay the IRS much less an attorney. And you don’t want to be taken advantage of.

I treat you the way I would like to be treated. I need to be fairly compensated for my time, but those are all things I consider.

But, then I want you to put yourself in my situation. I'm going to give you some good, free advice. I'm going to contact the IRS, get all the information we talked about, and provide you with a preliminary strategy.

At that point you might want to handle it on your own, and if not, you can call me back at any time.

All I have is my knowledge, time, and experience, but I'm willing to give you some free advice and get you on your way. But if you do need my help, I want you to know how I think when I charge these fees.

Here are a couple of examples of what I typically charge:

Streamlined installment agreement for $50,000 or less:

Does not require you disclose financial information.

You don't have to have: 

     * bank statements
     * receipts
     * contracts
     * leases


If you qualify, usually I get on the phone with the IRS and get the best plan that I can. I usually charge less than $1,000 for these cases, and give you three or four months to pay.

A streamlined installment agreement for over $100,000:

When it gets up to $100,000 there are other issues, but my fee is not much more. 

We have to prepare or negotiate an installment agreement that requires:

  • Financials
  • Bank statements
  • Contracts
  • Leases
  • Analyzing the IRS allowed living expenses (as opposed to what you have)

Business Installment Agreement

Now, business installment agreements are totally different. For a lot them I have to charge an hourly rate. This is because there are a many issues that come up with businesses, especially those that owe payroll taxes.

The IRS is a lot tougher on those and they’re much quicker to levy your bank account. Those are negotiated a little bit more, and I can't give you a fixed fee.

When I do give a fixed fee for business or more complicated case, I usually limit my contract to six months. In the past I have quoted contracts that I thought would be resolved in six or seven months that ended up taking two years.

So after six months, we review the relationship and we adjust fees. But, most of the time I'll give you a fixed fee, several months to pay, and that’s it! We live with that arrangement.

Collection Due Process Hearing

Both businesses and individual taxpayers sometimes need to stop the IRS from levying their bank account or garnishing their wages, or trying to get money back.

For those we need a collection due process hearing. These are all considered when I quote my fees. So, when I do the flat fee it includes all of these issues.

Again, if any of this is of interest to you, and you’d like to setup a free consultation, go to or comment on this post and we’ll get back to you.

Innocent Spouse Relief

Sometimes when spouses file joint tax returns. one doesn’t know what the other is doing. Maybe the other one under-reports or doesn’t pay taxes.

Sometimes, the innocent spouse needs relief (especially if they are divorced or separated) and those cases usually start at ~$3,000 (with payment plans).

Often we can get your back your tax refunds that were kept by the IRS for tax years. If you get innocent spouse relief we can recover those refunds, and often times those will just pay for my fees.


 What most people want to know about Offer-In-Compromise is "can I offer them a lot less than what I owe?".

Some of them are more simple and others are more complicated.

There are different ways to base the reason for an Offer-In-Compromise, but typically those start as low as $2,500 & with $500 a month payments. For larger cases, of course, we're going to require more things.

In reality, I have to consider my time, my efforts, my expertise. But I consider your situation as well. Again I'll offer a free consultation to discuss these or other matters and if nothing else I'll figure out exactly what you owe, get get your transcripts, and give you a preliminary strategy.

So, I look forward to talking to you. Go to to request your free no-obligation consultation today.

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