About Optima Tax Relief
Do you owe more to the IRS than you can afford to pay? If so, one of Alan Thicke’s commercials for Optima Tax relief might have caught your eye.
In business since 2010, Optima Tax Relief is a full service tax resolution firm that specializes in resolving and reducing IRS or state tax debt.
Through Optima’s “revolutionary” 2-phase resolution program, they can help reduce the overall balance you owe to the IRS, prevent you from losing your home or other assets, avoid having your bank account levied, prevent wage garnishment—and help you enjoy a little peace of mind again. This process includes:
- Establish communication with the IRS and review your case summary options. Generally lasts 2-4 weeks.
- Resolve your problem by complying with the IRS to achieve the best resolution. This part of the process can last 3-9 months.
If you’re under the IRS’s microscope, this all probably sounds like a welcome change! But can Optima Tax Relief provide a solution to your IRS problem, or will you be more frustrated with less money after everything’s said and done?
We’ll begin by taking a look at the tax relief industry as a whole.
Why Are There So Many Tax Relief Companies?
As of 2009, the IRS estimated that “8.2 million Americans owed over $83 billion in back taxes.” And of those who needed to make payments on their debt, the IRS charged each individual an average of $10K in penalties and interest!
When it comes to taxes, you’d better pay them on time, or the IRS will be diligent about collecting their debt, whether this involves taking your home, garnishing your wages, and more.
This is where tax relief companies like Optima Tax Relief come in, who basically acts as an intermediary between you and the IRS. They’ll make sure all your paperwork is in order, speak directly with an assigned IRS representative for your case, and attempt to find a resolution, which might involve a reduction in your debt, lower interest and fees, reasonable payment plans, avoiding wage garnishment, and more.
Because of the widespread problem of back taxes, there are hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of popular tax relief companies in direct competition with Optima Tax Relief, including Tax Defense Network, Government Tax Lien Network, 911 Tax Relief, and many more.
But here’s the truth: Outside of their customer reputations, there really isn’t anything that sets one of these tax relief companies apart from one another. They all do pretty much the same thing, so Optima’s 2-phase resolution process doesn’t seem quite as “revolutionary” as the company claims.
From this perspective, what are Optima’s customers saying?
Client Feedback for Optima Tax Network
At the time of our research, Optima Tax Relief based out of Santa Ana, CA, had an A rating with the Better Business Bureau based on 84 closed complaints (as of 10/1/15). There, common complaints revolved around lack of communication (sometimes months without any feedback on a case), high fees (one complainant stated theirs was $23K) with nothing to show for it, and repeated requests for more money.
On the other hand, there were 119 customer reviews for Optima on TrustPilot, where the company had an 8.7-star average rating. Common compliments cited solid customer service and effective resolutions with the IRS.
This doesn’t mean all reviews were positive though. Similar to those found on the BBB, numerous TrustPilot reviewers claimed that Optima provided no resolution to their problems (we’ll come back around to this momentarily), and that their fees were excessive (as well as repeated requests for more money).
Based on 7 Yelp reviews, Optima Tax Relief had an average rating of 4.5 stars, with many of the same compliments and complaints found elsewhere online.
Finally, according to the company, Optima was ranked the #1 Financial Services Company by Inc. Magazine, although no additional details were provided, and we didn’t locate any third-party verification of this online.
You probably noticed that a lot of Optima Tax Relief’s customers referenced fees. Just how much are these, anyway?
Optima Tax Relief Pricing & Fees
Optima Tax Relief provides all prospective clients with a free, no-obligation consultation.
From there, fees are variable. This means that what you ultimately pay depends on the details of your case (usually the more you owe or the more complex your case, the higher your fees will be).
Based on many of the complaints we read on the BBB’s website though, it appears that most clients are charged an initial $995 fee to begin the case. From there, we read about fees ranging anywhere from $4K to $23K.
Optima’s services do come with a 15-day money back guarantee, which you can request by contacting the company at 800-536-0734.
Customer reputation and fees aside, is a tax relief service like Optima your best option when dealing with the IRS?
Pros & Cons of Tax Relief Services
First, consider how much you owe the IRS. If you owe less than $10K, you can contact the IRS directly and request an installment agreement, which by law, they can’t deny.
Yes, you’ll likely be assessed a small penalty and interest, but if you owe such a small amount, this can end up being much less expensive than a tax relief company’s fees. You can even directly request an Offer in Compromise (OIC) to reduce the overall amount you owe!
Next, as we mentioned at the beginning, there are hundreds of tax relief companies out there that all provide essentially the same services, so it’s important that customer reputation plays a role in your decision. To help, Consumer Affairs provides an in-depth list of the top tax relief companies.
Finally, as noted in the FTC link above, just because a tax relief company agrees to work with you, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you qualify for relief through the IRS. Optima Tax Relief expressly notes this on their website by stating, “Each individual case is unique and we may not be able to save you anything at all.”
Should You Choose Optima Tax Relief To Represent You?
In many instances, you’re taking a gamble with tax relief companies, regardless of how positive their online reputation might be. And because you’ll be paying upwards of $1,000 just to sign on with Optima, it might save you a great deal of money (and time!) by first reaching out to the IRS on your own.
At the very least, this might give you an idea of what kind of resolution the IRS is willing to offer, which could help your case move along more quickly if you decide to enroll the help of Optima Tax Relief.
Have you used Optima Tax Relief? Were they able to reduce your tax burden or help out in another way? Whatever occurred, tell the world about it by writing your review below!
5 out 7 people found this review helpful
I don't think it's necessary
Bottom line, you can save $995 by contacting the IRS yourself. Speak to whomever is handling your case. They are there to help you. Also save another 7995 by not falling for their scare tactic, saying the IRS is looking into your taxes for the next 2 years for a possible 75 grand. Spoke to the IRS, NOT TRUE. When I spoke to Optima Tax Relief, they could not answer basic questions and told me what I already knew, that I am getting audited for 2012. I suggest you try to deal with the IRS because if you have nothing to hide you can and will find a solution. Don't waste your money.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend