Free tax consultation

Tax problems can be particularly confusing and scary. Whether you’re dealing with a tax levy, penalties, or another tax issue, the first thing you should do is get a better understanding of what’s going on. To do this, you might want to speak with a tax professional, such as a Seattle tax attorney.

If you’re worried about the cost of an initial consultation, rest assured that many tax professionals, including those from Seattle Legal Services, PLLC, offer these first consultations at no charge. 

But how do these work and is there a catch? Read on to find the answers and see if scheduling a free consultation can help with your tax problem.

When You Should Have a Free Consultation With a Tax Lawyer 

You should probably find a tax attorney near you for a free consultation if you have a tax problem involving a lot of money or if your tax challenge is one you don’t understand (and could potentially involve a lot of money). Here are some tax issues that often benefit from a free consultation with a tax attorney:

What’s the Difference Between Free and Paid Consultations? 

No-charge consultations offer an opportunity to talk to a tax attorney and get a rough idea of what kind of tax problem you’re dealing with and whether the tax firm you’ve contacted can help resolve it. In contrast, a paid consultation offers a more in-depth examination of your tax issues and what you should do about them.

For example, if you receive an IRS CP14 Notice, a free consultation could help you better understand where the IRS is in the unpaid tax collection process and whether you need to take immediate action in response to this letter. Is the IRS about to take money from your bank account? Or is there time to contact the IRS to find an agreement on how to pay your unpaid taxes with say, a payment plan?

In this scenario, the free consultation will likely assure you that your bank account, car, or home isn’t in immediate danger of being taken by the IRS, but that you need to act promptly to work with the IRS to figure out how to pay your back taxes. However, the free consultation won’t provide a detailed financial analysis of your tax situation and how to go about implementing the best tax solution for your situation.

Depending on the facts of your case, a free consultation might help you learn that an offer in compromise might be an option for you. However, the free consultation won’t actually help you apply for one with the IRS.

If you do end up having a paid consultation, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a bit over $1,000. In many cases, the tax attorney will apply that cost to your overall legal fees if you decide to hire them to represent you.

So to reiterate, a free consultation is a great way to get a better understanding of what you’re dealing with and whether the firm you’ve contacted is one you want to hire. If you already know you want to hire a particular tax resolution firm or you need more in-depth advice on how to deal with your tax challenge, then a paid consultation might be a better choice. 

Why Does Seattle Legal Services Offer Free Consultations? 

There are two main reasons why Seattle Legal Services offers free consultation. First, it makes it easier for prospective clients to get in touch. If faced with an unexpected tax balance, the last thing someone wants to do is spend even more money without fully understanding the scope of their predicament. By offering free consultations, Seattle Legal Service lowers the barrier to initial contact.

Second, it allows the tax pros at Seattle Legal Services to decide if their services are a good fit for the client and if they can provide tax representation in a cost-effective manner. On the flip side, the client can decide if they like the tax professionals from Seattle Legal Services and if they feel continuing the relationship is a good idea. 

What to Expect During a Free Consultation with a Seattle Tax Lawyer 

Depending on your prior experience working with attorneys, some of your thoughts on what to expect are probably spot-on, while others might be a bit off. Either way, here are a few things you can probably expect during the free consultation:

  • Before the consultation, you may be asked to fill out a form outlining your tax concern(s) and provide basic financial information.
  • The consultation may occur in person but could occur over the phone.
  • The consultation can be with the tax attorney, but sometimes, it’s between you and one of the attorney’s employees.
  • During the consultation, you’ll explain your tax problem, financial situation, and ask any questions you might have.
  • The tax professional you speak with will help identify any immediate actions you might need to take before losing certain rights, like filing an appeal.
  • You’ll learn about what options you have and what to do next. These options can include resolving the tax matter on your own with some basic research, making a phone call to the IRS, or hiring a tax law firm.
  • In some cases, you might be told that you don’t need to hire the tax firm you’re consulting with or that you’re better off going with a different firm that can better settle your tax problem.

What you shouldn’t expect is a detailed examination of your financial situation, including tax documents. A tax professional might look at a tax notice you received in the mail or skim a tax return, but a full financial analysis with a detailed assessment and recommendation is usually reserved for a paid consultation. In other words, a free consultation usually helps you decide what you need to do next while a paid consultation helps you decide how to take those next steps.

How to Prepare for a No-Cost Consultation

As mentioned earlier, the free consultation doesn’t typically involve a close review of financial documents like business records and tax returns. However, it’s still a good idea to find these and review them so you can ask more productive questions during the consultation.

You can have these with you during the consultation to look at if the attorney or other tax professional asks you a particular question. They might even ask to look at it themselves, so having it readily available is a good idea. If you’re not sure what to bring, you can always ask when setting up the consultation.

You also want to know the basic information about your situation, such as what tax agency or entity you’re dealing with, like the IRS, Washington Department of Revenue, City Finance of Seattle, or King County. You should also have a general understanding of your income and prior tax payments. Finally, you’ll want to create a list of questions to ask during the consultation. 

What to Ask During a Free Consultation 

Free consultations are a bit like dates or job interviews, and you want to use this opportunity to learn more about the person or firm you’ll be dealing with. Yes, you want to see if the tax firm can help you, but you also want to know if this is the firm you should use or if you should find a different tax attorney and firm to hire. Some questions to ask might include:

  • How much do you charge and how do you charge for your services? For example, does the tax lawyer charge an hourly or a flat rate? And is an upfront payment required before they begin work?
  • Who will work on my case? Sometimes, the person you talk with during the consultation isn’t the person who will handle your tax matter.
  • What prior experience do you have working on this particular tax issue and dealing with this tax agency?
  • If I have questions, concerns, or additional information, who will be my point of contact?
  • What happens next? You’ll ask this question at the end of the consultation and after you decide that you want to hire that particular tax attorney or firm. 

Free Consultation Red Flags 

If a free consultation results in you choosing not to hire the tax professional you consulted with, it’s usually because they charge more than you can afford, they can’t handle your particular tax issue (or lack the experience to effectively do so), or they just don’t feel like a good fit for you. That being said, there are red flags to watch for. If you observe any of these at any point during the consultation (or when setting it up), it’s probably a sign you should look somewhere else for tax help.

The first red flag is if there’s a hard sell. Good tax lawyers and professionals let their skills, experience, and prior work speak for themselves. They know that answering your questions, treating you professionally, and demonstrating their understanding of tax law should be enough to tell you what you need to know when choosing who to hire.

Another red flag is if you don’t get any clear or definite answers to your tax questions. Sure, there are tax problems where the answer is “it depends.” But even in this situation, the tax professional answering your question should explain why they can’t give a more exact answer and identify the different scenarios you could expect.

Also, don’t ignore responses that may answer your question but are hard to understand. Effective communication is critical to making an informed decision concerning your taxes. If you can’t understand the tax advice your tax professional gives you, that will be a problem. 

Considering a Free Consultation Seattle Tax Attorney? 

Your tax issue might require the help of a Seattle tax lawyer. Or maybe you can handle it yourself. But you won’t know for sure until you first talk to the tax professionals from Seattle Legal Services, PLLC. We offer free consultations which you can arrange online or by calling us at 425-428-5262. You can ask your questions, and we’ll go over your options and help you find the ideal resolution to your tax situation.