Optima Tax Relief Review: A Detailed Overview

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Sep 17, 2019

What Is Optima Tax Relief?

Optima Tax Relief is a tax resolution company whose team of tax pros works on your behalf to help resolve your tax debt situation.

In conversations we had with company founder and CEO Dave King, he told us what makes Optima Tax Relief different from other companies is their customer-centered approach.

King told us he founded the company in 2011 after having a negative experience at another tax resolution firm where the bottom line was a big motivation and not the customer.

“I wasn’t quite happy with the integrity and service they provided their clients,” he said. “They weren’t a client-first business.”

He launched Optima Tax Relief with an emphasis on the customer, he said.

In this review, we’ll explain how their process works, talk about the cost and analyze customer reviews and complaints to help you determine if Optima Tax Relief is right for you.

How Optima Tax Relief Works

Quick Facts
Specific Services: Offer in Compromise (OIC), Penalty Abatement, Installment Agreement, Partial Pay Installment Agreement (PPIA), Tax Lien Discharge, Tax Lien Subordination, Tax Lien Withdrawal, Wage Garnishment Release, Bank Levy Release, Innocent Spouse Relief, Currently Non-Collectible, Statute of Limitations, Collection Appeal, and Administrative Appeal

Pros: In business since 2011, large staff (100 tax attorneys, CPA’s and enrolled agents; 550 non-licensed employees), high ratings from reviewers

Cons: Minimum debt requirement, high fees compared to other leading companies

Bottom Line: 88% of reviewers would recommend it to a friend
Minimum Fee Average Fee Minimum Debt
$500 $4,000 $10,000


When you seek out Optima Tax Relief, you’re in a position where you owe the IRS money. In some cases, you’ve got an outstanding tax debt that you’ve yet to pay because you don’t know quite what to do about it.

In other cases, the IRS may be actively pursuing you to pay a debt or they might even be garnishing your wages to pay your debt (the “collections” phase).

Optima Tax Relief exists to help you negotiate the various options available and claim to be the largest tax resolution firm in the industry with more than 100 licensed representatives (tax attorneys, CPA’s and enrolled agents) supported by 550 non-licensed employees. These are the people who will work with you through the Optima’s two-step process.

First, rather than paying a huge sum of money upfront, you’ll pay a smaller fee to have the company investigate your case, which, according to their site, includes the following steps:

  • Establish communication with IRS
  • Review case summary options

Once this investigation is complete—it takes between two and four weeks—Optima will present you with your options as well as a pricing estimate for their services.

If you accept one of the options, it will take between three and nine months to resolve your case.

What Happens to Your Tax Debt?

Resolving your tax situation doesn’t mean that Optima Tax Relief (or any company, for that matter) will make your tax debt disappear.

Rather, their goal is to get you in good standing with the IRS and set you up with any number of IRS-provided solutions that will put you on the path to paying back your tax burden.

The solutions are split into three categories: tax negotiation, tax resolution, and tax settlement.

The first situation includes installment plans, offers in compromise and penalty abatement (getting the IRS to remove fees or penalties incurred for filing late).

The second situation includes a variety of solutions that include tax relief for spouses, ending wage garnishment and criminal tax defense up to a certain amount.

The final situation is when Optima negotiates a settlement with the IRS in which the IRS agrees to take less than what’s owed. These settlements are granted in specific situations, though, and aren’t a guarantee.

This approach means that Optima accepts a wide variety of taxpayers. However, there are certain situations in which Optima may not be able to help you.

According to King, if you’re headed to court for tax fraud or tax evasion, Optima Tax Relief can’t help you.

As far as how much Optima can save you or how much they save, on average, there are no promises, King said.

Each set of resolutions they present customers are based on that customer’s financial picture, as your finances dictate the various options for which you can qualify.

Optima Tax also offers year-round tax "protection” that includes tax filing on your behalf. Prices for this service range from $29.99 to $69.99

Pro tip: You have to have at least $10,000 in tax debt to get their help.

How Much Does Optima Tax Relief Cost?

Optima Tax Relief’s pricing comes in two parts. First, they’ll come up with a flat fee to investigate your case.

The Optima website doesn’t list the investigation fee but, based on customer reviews in the past year, the going rate seems to be around $500.

Then, they’ll present you with the options for which you qualify. Based on the options you choose, Optima will craft a flat fee for their services that is based on how long they anticipate the process taking, King said.

Customers indicated that these costs range anywhere from $1,000 to as much as $20,000. According to estimates from SuperMoney, the average fee for resolving your case is $4,000.

“Most tax pros give you an open-ended contract and they bill per hour,” King said. “Folks make a decision with us knowing what they’ll be charged. They start out understanding how much it will cost for our services.”

Based on our research, there is no set price for an investigation or a resolution. Rather, Optima Tax Relief is giving you the advantage of knowing how much everything will cost upfront.

Also, they aren’t demanding you pay the entire fee upfront but split it into two steps: first, the investigation, then the options.

How Optima Tax Relief’s Fees Compare to Other Companies

To try and give you a picture of how Optima’s fees compare to other companies, we turned to SuperMoney’s estimations of the average and minimum fees that various tax relief companies charge.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pricing and minimum debt requirement for some of the top tax relief companies according to Consumer Advocate:

Minimum Fee Average Fee Minimum Debt
Optima Tax Relief $500 $4,000 $10,000
Community Tax $250 $3,500 No minimum
Anthem Tax $250 $2,750 $10,000
Tax Defense Network $495 $3,750 $5,000

What we see here is some variation in what each company offers. Community Tax and Anthem Tax have a lower initial fee than Optima and Tax Defense Network. Community Tax is the only company that doesn’t have a minimum debt requirement.

As far as average fees go, Optima is at the top of the range of companies we listed. Remember, though, the average cost of a company's services is just that—it’s not a guarantee of how much your bill will cost.

Each of the companies goes through the same process. You submit your information, they investigate, then come back to you with options for resolution.

Because these companies are relatively similar in their process and, to a certain extent, their pricing, we believe the most effective way to go about choosing the right company for you is to call each one and pay close attention to how you’re treated.

Does the phone rep make a lot of promises? Do they pressure you into paying for their services?

Don’t be forced into a payment you don’t want to make or a decision you aren’t comfortable with.

Do Tax Relief Companies Really Work?

Bonnie Lee, an enrolled agent who runs Sonoma-based tax firm Taxpertise, takes a pretty measured approach to tax resolution companies.

The best ones, she said, are those that exhibit “honesty and integrity” and give you “someone who will explain how the process works, then follow up with you and answer your phone calls and emails.”

She cautioned against using firms that require a large fee upfront before doing any work. Interestingly, she noted that the upstanding companies will always do a financial analysis before giving your options for resolution.

“Before hitting you up with a fee in the thousands of dollars range, they will perform an analysis of your finances to determine the amount the IRS will accept or even if it will accept a smaller offer,” Lee said.

This is something that, based on our research, Optima does.

Our second expert is Craig Smalley, an enrolled agent who is the founder and CEO of Orlando-based tax firm CWSEAPA.

Smalley takes a more negative approach to tax resolution companies. He says that many tax resolution companies are in it for the money.

“It is best to find either an EA or CPA, that doesn’t work for one of these big companies, is familiar with collections, and possibly prepared your tax return in the first place. They will typically do what is in your best interest,” Smalley told us.

Smalley went on to say that he believes firms like his are more customer-centered whereas big companies put profits over solutions that work best for you.

As you can see, both Lee and Smalley own their own tax businesses. They’re both enrolled agents. Yet, they gave us drastically different views of tax resolution companies.

In our opinion, they both make valid points. There are good and bad companies in the tax resolution world—King said precisely the same thing when he talked about why he started Optima.

Making sense of these contrasting opinions can be tough but fruitful. One of the ways to do that is to read through customer reviews from people who actually used Optima, which is what we’ll do next.

Analysis of Optima Tax Relief Reviews and Complaints

At the time of publishing, Optima Tax Relief had more than 330 reviews with an average rating of 4.4 stars. Eighty-eight percent of those who left a rating would recommend the service to a friend.

Pros:

  • Reviewers said the process was easy and that they were grateful.
  • In a couple of situations, Optima Tax Relief was able to lower tax bills by more than 90 percent.
  • Overall, the company received 267 5-star reviews.

Cons:

  • A number of reviewers said that they paid a large sum for post-investigation services only to find out Optima wasn’t able to lower their tax bill.
  • There were 37 1-star reviews.

What’s important to understand about both sides of these reviews is that Optima doesn’t guarantee that they’ll lower your tax bill and they don’t guarantee success.

So, while there are supporters and detractors on both sides of the argument, realize that paying them any amount of money isn’t a guarantee that your tax situation will get fixed.

The Bottom Line: Is Optima Tax Relief Worth It?

In our analysis of this company, we found information that indicates that Optima Tax Relief is different than other tax relief companies.

King, the company’s CEO and founder, said he started the company using a business model that was customer-focused. And, as Lee pointed out, there are legitimate tax relief companies out there.

Yet we also found information that would indicate you may not have a great experience with Optima. Reviewers said they paid a lot of money and received little results from Optima.

When it comes to companies who can help you with your tax situation, there are no guarantees.

You’ll need to keep an objective perspective on the offer that Optima gives you. While there may be multiple options for resolving your tax situation, none of them are promises.

And keep in mind, every tax debt case is extremely unique to each taxpayer as many moving variables come into play

The bottom line: It’s important to understand that no tax relief company, including Optima Tax Relief, has additional leeway or “magic powers” on top of what you, as a taxpayer, have with the IRS.

The proposed solutions and programs offered by these companies, including penalty and interest abatement, offer in compromise, installment agreements, and fresh start initiative, are available to you directly to explore and enjoy without the requirement of a third party.

Additionally, The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that assists taxpayers in understanding tax laws and their rights, available programs and options, and how to resolve any outstanding tax issues.

With the said, should you decide to hire a firm to assist you with your tax debt with the IRS, you’re essentially buying convenience, knowledge, tax attorneys, and experience.

The main question to ask yourself is whether you want to spend the time educating yourself and dealing with the IRS directly or would you rather pay someone else to do it.


Customer Reviews

Start your review of Optima Tax Relief:
  • 428 Customer Reviews
  • 89% Recommend This Company
4.5 out of 5
5 star: 81% 4 star: 7% 3 star: 0% 2 star: 0% 1 star: 9%

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We have a zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews, and companies cannot control or alter any reviews at any time.

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  • I don't think it's necessary

    • By Tara Olson ,
    • Corona, CA,
    • Mar 17, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Extremely Poor Experience with Optima

    • By Robert Urban,
    • Tampa, FL,
    • Dec 26, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I contacted Optima based on an ad on the Mark Levin radio program. I thought it would be legitimate based on the popularity of the show and that they would vet their advertisers.

    I had an extremely poor experience with Optima. I contacted them in mid-September of 2016. I gave them the necessary information they requested.

    We went over the process. I told them under no circumstances did I want their fee to exceed 10,000 dollars. I was told in a recorded phone conversation that it would not exceed 10,000 dollars. They asked for a deposit of 995.00 dollars, which I paid for by credit card.

    They later called to explain the "very serious" situation. They told me my final bill would be closer to 13,000 dollars. I asked them about the recorded phone conversation; they told me they didn't realize my situation was so severe.

    I told them I gave them all the information they requested, and they verified the numbers. I asked them what they could do for me if I paid the additional money, they said they couldn't promise anything. I asked what their previous experience was in similar cases.

    They told me each case was different. I exchanged several emails where I asked specific questions and they would always respond to call and we could discuss things over the phone. I told them I wanted their replies in writing. Finally, I disputed my charge with my credit card company on the basis of misrepresentation.

    My credit card company, Bank of America, initially sided with me, but Optima fought the chargeback. They called the 995.00 an "investigative fee" which was nonrefundable, and my credit card company then sided with them.

    So I am out the 995.00 dollars. Some of the people I dealt with at Optima include: Chris Do, Natalie Ochoa and Benjamin Arteaga.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Scam

    • By Kevin Welch,
    • Alabama,
    • Dec 31, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Optima is a scam. They do nothing that you cannot do for yourself. If you qualify, go and get the forms and fill them out. If you need help filling out the forms, walk into a local accounting office and ask for it. You will spend thousands less and get the same result. I lost 6,500 to these guys and it was my fault. They tell you one thing on the phone and then have you sign a document that claims there is no guarantee. Total scam.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Wonderful

    • By Lori,
    • Arizona,
    • Feb 13, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    These people are wonderful at doing absolutely nothing except basically make payment arrangements. They never tried to lower any of the taxes, I wasn't even given the option for a fresh start program, and they didn't stop wage garnishes until it was too late. They never return calls, and your case is shuffled around to different people who have no idea what is going on.

    One thing they are great at is deducting their fee from your bank account.

    They are full of lies and give you the runaround. Thanks for nothing freaking snakes. Oh yes, one more thing, I now have to hire someone else to do the job right.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Optima is shady

    • By Gregory Turner,
    • San Francisco, CA,
    • Feb 16, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I paid over $4,000 to Optima Tax Relief because they promised to lower my balance with the IRS. But the only thing Optima did was set me up on an installment agreement, which I could have done myself.

    And to add insult to injury, Optima deleted the review that I posted on Yelp as if I was some type of troll. Can you believe that? They didn't even bother to reach out to me nor contact me. They just deleted me if as if I didn't even exist. Shame on Optima.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Optima Tax Relief is NOT a relief!

    • By Missy Payne,
    • Austin, TX,
    • Apr 5, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Optima Tax Relief is supposed to be helping my case. I say supposed to help because they are not. My case has been going on for two years! I don't ever hear anything from them until I get my ex to email them and he hardly ever gets a reply. The $4k we paid them up front has been money down the drain. They say our case has been passed on to someone else, etc.

    I will NEVER recommend this so called company to anyone! If I could give a rating of zero, I would.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Rip-off in every sense of the word

    Overall Experience:

    DO NOT waste your time and effort dealing with this company.

    I have some serious tax problems that include wage garnishment. I contacted this company and went over everything with them. They told me OK, to send them $1,000.00, and they would start to work on getting the garnishment stopped and all my other tax problems resolved.

    They told me time and again that getting the garnishment lifted would be no problem, but I would have to pay them another $12,000. I told them that I was unable to do that until they got the garnishment lifted. I was told not to worry about making the payments to them for right now. TWICE.

    The next thing I know, I'm not hearing from them after being contacted every week for a month with them wanting all kinds of paperwork including Power of Attorney. I submitted all of that when asked to. I finally called to see what was going on with my situation and was told that because I hadn't made the scheduled payment that my account wasn't being worked on. This was the first I had heard of it. They didn't even have the common decency to honor their word, nor to even inform me of their decision.

    Next, I was told that since I had paid the $1,000.00 up front that they would at least file all my back tax returns and this year's. That was last week. Today I get a call telling me they're not going to file my tax returns for me. So I'm right back at square one with zero service for my original $1,000.00 and having to look for another solution to my problems.

    These people are nothing but liars and thieves. DO NOT do business with them!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Don't use this company!

    Overall Experience:

    This company could not get my amount lowered, barely were able to file the taxes they were supposed to file for me (and I still think they are incorrect), and could not even get the installment payments scheduled with the IRS like they promised. Honestly, I don't know what I paid for!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Fraud and negligence of the highest order

    • By Anonymous,
    • Philadelphia, PA,
    • May 24, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Optima Tax, in my opinion and experience, is nothing but a fee collection company and a sham. They did not tell me that the IRS requested information. They ignored requests from the IRS which resulted in a lien being filed despite their promises that I would be protected from a lien as long as I was working with them. They did not file my tax return, which they said they would. The list of egregious malpractice goes on and on. Stay away from this company, or you will be sorry!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Waste of money

    • By Jason Lawson,
    • Charlotte, NC,
    • Jun 24, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I paid over $4,000 and they did nothing to reduce my $19,000 tax burden. Everything they did for me I could have done myself by calling the IRS. Optima is a total waste. I thought they would at least help me save what I paid them, but it was like they did nothing at all and now I am out the $4,000 I paid Optima and still owe the IRS $19,000.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Jun 26, 2017

      Company Response from Optima Tax Relief

      Hello, we truly apologize for the experience you've had with our firm. We strive to address and mediate every issue that is brought to our attention. We have attempted to locate you in our system but we were unable to find "Jason Lawson". We would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you directly to come to an amicable resolution.

      In order to locate your file, we would need to have some additional information such as, the name or email address that is on your file with us. If you feel uncomfortable giving out your information, can call our customer service line at (800) 965-3192, and ask to be transferred to our Quality Assurance Department? One of our specialists will be more than happy to speak with you directly about your concerns. We truly hope you provide us with an opportunity to turn your experience around. Thank you.


  • Do not waste your money, exceptionally poor service.

    • By Stan D,
    • San Francisco Bay Area, CA,
    • Jul 11, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Like most people that seek to use the services, you either owe or may soon owe the IRS money. I am a client. I almost hit a lien that they ignored, and I had negotiated with the IRS myself. They straight out stated that they could do nothing to help me. I thought I was paying monthly to avoid those type of letters from the IRS.

    Have my taxes been reviewed? I have no evidence. Has my 2016 taxes been prepared? I have no evidence. Have I paid them faithfully each month on time and in full? Yes, I have evidence of that.

    The bottom line is, the business is a ripoff. It has not met my expectation for the required fees. Find an accountant and a lawyer and work directly with the IRS. What do you have to lose? At least you will know what is happening with your case.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


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