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Attorney: Get local help for tax problems

READ MORE: Attorney: Get local help for tax problems
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- You may have seen ads on TV advertising help for people with tens of thousands of dollars of tax debt. The problem is putting your trust in those companies can cost you big time.

The offers seem too good to be true. They are. So says Wilmington attorney Rick Graves, who sees people come into his office all the time after being burned by companies like American Tax Relief. By the time they come in, Graves says their tax debt is the least of their worries.

"Probably every week, at least several times a month, I have clients who come in after dealing with one of these national companies," Graves said.

The Federal Trade Commission recently filed a lawsuit against American Tax Relief saying it has been engaging in "deceptive practices" in its advertising. The FTC said the company's owners live lavish lifestyles and prey on the desperation of the financially distressed.

"Once you talk to them, before you pay them everything sounds great," said Palmer Watkins, who was scammed by another company promising tax help. "They go through every little piece, and once you pay them, what happened to me was over a year and a half they have like five things they need, but you never get to the end of that. Then the person you're dealing with leaves. Then you have a new person."

Watkins put his trust and his money into a company called Tax Care Pros. He says he never actually met with anyone. He only spoke to them on the phone.

"That's the biggest thing, I would say. What I spent on them and got nowhere, I could have spent locally and shake someone's hand and know what you're getting," Watkins said.

Graves says he just wants to make sure no one else gets had by companies like this in the future.

"Hey, Wilmington residents. Don't get scammed by companies like American Tax Relief," Graves said. "Use professionals here that will always be here for you."

The moral of the story is be aware. Don't get tricked, and if it seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Graves is bad company.

Graves is bad company.

Absolutely... Please don't

Absolutely... Please don't fall for these so called "tax resolution" companies. You will be giving your financial information to telemarketers whose first concern in how much you have available to PAY THEM...

Whether it is Roni Deutch who says you'll be "respected" by the IRS but has some of her own "business problems" to wit:

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has brought a lawsuit charging Roni Lynn Deutch with misleading advertisements that allegedly fail to include key eligibility requirements in order to resolve back taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under its Offer in Compromise program. The Offer in Compromise program enables taxpayers to resolve debts by entering into an agreement with the IRS for reduced payments, in which a majority of people do not qualify – a fact allegedly not evident in Deutch's ad. In 2006, Roni Lynn Deutch agreed to pay $300,000 to settle the lawsuit for deceptive advertising practices. A total of $200,000 was apportioned to affected victims of Deutch's deceptive practices, and $100,000 in fines.

On August 23, 2010, the office of the Attorney General of California announced that the office was filing a $34 million lawsuit against Roni Deutch for allegedly "orchestrating a 'heartless scheme' that swindled thousands of people facing serious and expensive tax collection problems with the IRS.

Then, there's Fatrick Schlox, who is a master at baiting members of the public in tax trouble... his problems:

Daniel Cadis of the New York Times reports [May 14, 2010] that Taxmasters, Inc., a company that claims it can help taxpayers get “pennies on the dollar” settlements with the IRS, has been accused of misleading it’s clients:

A national company that claims it can help people in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service has been misleading its clients, charging them hefty fees and failing to deliver on its promises, the Texas attorney general charged Thursday. The attorney general, Greg Abbott, said he was filing a civil law suit against Taxmasters Inc., a company based in Houston that advertises on cable television, claiming deceptive trade practices.

The lawsuit says the company persuaded clients to pay thousands in fees through an Internet installment plan and told them that work would begin immediately on their cases. The clients later discovered that no action had been taken. A Taxmasters spokesman said the company would work with the state to resolve the complaints.

In the last decade we have had at least 300 taxpayers hire us to clean up the mess created by dubious tax help outfits like Taxmasters and J.K. Harris.

Their modus operandi is as follows:

■They promise you that only they can resolve your tax problem and keep you out of jail. Of course, they can only do this if you hire them NOW.

■They tell you that they have inside information about how the IRS works. This phony claim is designed to get you to hire them before you consult with a qualified CPA, attorney or IRS Enrolled Agent.

■Once you hire them and pay them a sizable fee, they will ship the information out to a processing unit where low level clerks are assigned to “handle” the case.

■Without asking you anything about the nature of your tax debt or your current financial condition, they promise you that they have special contacts at the IRS who will facilitate a settlement of your debt for mere “ pennies on the dollar.”

Taxpayers beware… and always work with a qualified TAX ATTORNEY, CPA or ENROLLED AGENT.

The IRS has two options "on the books" to provide tax relief, the Offer in Compromise and the Partial Payment Installment Agreement. To a non-attorney, accountant or enrolled agent they MAY look complex, but really, they are NOT.

Just like Mr. Graves, I have "rescued" clients scammed by these national firm hucksters. It's only too bad that the hucksters cleaned out their cash which could have made their tax resolution easier.

Tax Help

Can you please post or send some good firms in your area?

irs no good

i pay a lot to irs. but irs want back taxes.irs no good.