Optima Tax Relief Editorial Review

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Updated on: Apr 26, 2019

Optima Tax Relief is a tax resolution company who 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 different from other companies like it is that they take a 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 Optima works, integrate how they claim to take a customer-first approach, talk about their pricing, compare it to other tax resolution services and then do an overview of the existing customer opinions about the company.

How Optima Tax Relief Works

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.

These are the people who will work with you through Optima’s two-step process. First, rather than you paying a huge sum of money up front, you’ll pay a small 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 you present, it will take between three and nine months to resolve your case.

Keep in mind, though, that resolving your tax situation doesn’t mean that Optima (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 and you reach out to Optima, Optima 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.

Optima Tax Relief’s Pricing

Optima’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 reviews in the past year from HighYa readers, 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’s based on how long they anticipate the process taking based on their past experiences with similar situations, King said.

HighYa reviewers indicated that those 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.”

Because of this, we can’t present you with a price quote for an investigation or a resolution. Rather, understand that Optima is giving you the advantage of knowing how much everything will cost up front.

Also, they aren’t demanding you pay the entire case fee up front. Rather, they split the payment 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 (min./avg.) and minimum debt requirement for some of the top tax relief companies according to Consumer Advocate:

  • Optima Tax Relief: $500/$4,000, $10K minimum debt
  • Community Tax: $250/$3,500, no minimum debt requirement
  • Anthem Tax: $250/$2,750, $10K minimum debt
  • Tax Defense Network: $495/$3,750, $5K minimum debt

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 which company is best 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.

Tax Experts Give Their Opinions About Tax Relief Companies

Throughout this review, we’ve given you Optima’s perspective about their services. This perspective will almost always be a positive one, and rightly so. Companies believe in their services and they believe they offer the best solution.

However, as a consumer, it helps to have the perspectives of those not affiliated with the company about which we’re writing. Because of this, we reached out to tax experts to get their opinions about tax resolution companies.

These opinions aren’t meant to sway you one way or another. Rather, we see them as a way for you to get a complete view of what a company can and can’t do for you.

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.

HighYa Readers’ Reviews of Optima Tax Relief

At the time of publishing, Optima Tax Relief had more than 230 reviews with an average rating of 4.3 stars. Eighty-five percent of those who left a rating would recommend the service to a friend.

Of the 11 most recent reviews, 10 were 5 stars and one was 4 stars. Reviewers said the process was easy, that they were grateful and that, in a couple of situations, Optima was able to lower tax bills by more than 90 percent.

Overall, the site received 181 5-star reviews. On the negative side, there were 33 1-star reviews. Many of these reviewers said that, once they paid a large sum for Optima’s post-investigation services only to find out Optima wasn’t able to lower their tax bill.

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.

Bottom Line: Can Optima Tax Relief Lower Your IRS Debt?

In our review of this company, we found information that indicates that Optima 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, if not results from Optima.

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

IF you’re someone who feels like you have the confidence to talk with the IRS about your options for paying off your debt or setting up a payment plan, there may be some wisdom in doing your own research and dealing with the IRS directly.

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Read 255 Optima Tax Relief Reviews - Can They Lower Your IRS Debt? Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 4.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 197 4 star: 22 3 star: 3 2 star: 1 1 star:  32
Bottom Line: 86% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 255
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  • Editor’s Note: It is our understanding that this company has been asking its customers to leave feedback on HighYa. We assure you that each of these reviews has still been subjected to the same verification & vetting process that all submitted reviews go through. Learn More Here
  • How grateful I am and relieved to have so much stress.

    • Sacramento, CA,
    • May 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I'm so relieved of stress, Optima Tax Relief was such a relief to me. I called them and they assured me they could help me and after we went through the steps they came through and if I had any questions they're always willing to help me with all my concerns. I can't stress enough of how badly I was stressing it was affecting my health. They got my debt settled at a fraction of what I owed and I also got to do payments, which made it easier for me because I'm on a budget.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • Needed help

    • Rio Rancho, NM,
    • May 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Needed help, Optima was there to help me, they worked hand in hand with me to get me a livable plan for my situation. If you need help, don't go at it alone, Optima can and will help you. They greatly relieved the stress I was feeling about my tax issues. They also offer follow up help for your future tax issues.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • Very helpful

    They were very helpful and had my garnishments reversed. They got me on a payment plan. They called and emailed me with constant updates on my case. Everyone was very nice and polite when you spoke with them.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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    • May 13, 2019

      Optima Tax Relief

      Thank you Ms. Senter, we appreciate you writing in! We are happy to have helped provide you with a great resolution especially as this can be such a difficult situation to be in! Wishing you the best.


  • Best decision ever

    • St. Louis, MO,
    • May 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    My experience with Optima Tax Relief was extremely positive. It was such a relief not having to deal with the IRS directly. Optima explained the process and followed through on everything they said they would do. I'm not sure if I would have been able to resolve my tax situation on my own. I wish I would have called them sooner! I would recommend Optima Tax Relief to anyone who has gotten in over their head with the IRS. They were the best decision I could have made.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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    • May 13, 2019

      Optima Tax Relief

      That's definitely the best part of working with us - you don't have to deal with the IRS, we do it for you! We're glad you found our team of professionals to be professional and capable, and that you're glad you didn't have to take care of the tax situation on your own. We are happy to have helped, and we wish you the best!


  • Worry-free

    • Virginia,
    • May 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Stress relief is what comes to mind. After I provided documentation, Optima handled the rest. Consistent communication with each step and team member that was involved in my resolution. Thank you!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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    • May 13, 2019

      Optima Tax Relief

      There's no price we wouldn't pay for stress relief! And it's great to hear that you found our services to be "consistent" and that our professionals were all "involved in [your] resolution," and that you're thrilled with the services we provided for you. Wishing you the best!


  • Tax problems

    • Maryland,
    • May 9, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had a tax problem, I call Optima Tax Relief. From day one they started, as soon as I finish the phone call. Then they kept up with me every month on every detail what was going on with my taxes they emailed me, they called me, they wrote to me, and everything was fine. After a few months, Optima Tax Relief called me and told me everything was done. And it was a good experience with them, they were polite and professional, and I would recommend them to a friend or anybody who has a tax problem.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • Wonderful

    • Austin, TX,
    • May 8, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Awesome job. Don't hesitate to use Optima. They took care of everything and saved me time, money and stress! I would recommend them to anyone. The cost upfront is a little bit but well worth it. Thank you!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • Better than I even expected!

    • Miami, FL,
    • May 8, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Optima has given me a new lease on life by removing the heavy burden of trying to deal with the IRS on my own and successfully negotiating a settlement I would have never been able to do by myself. Believe me, you will sleep much better at night knowing Optima is fighting the battle for you. The entire team from the first call to the last call was a pleasure and they made me feel like I mattered. This feeling is severely lacking in dealing with businesses today and it was wonderful to feel that again. Optima literally saved me thousands of dollars and gave me the chance at a fresh start. My only regret is that I did not call them sooner!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • Excellent service

    • Merritt Island, FL,
    • May 8, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Optima provided extremely professional tax advice, performed all coordination with the IRS, and they are staffed with outstanding on line technical support when needed. My decision to use Optima Tax services saved me tens of thousands in tax payments and brought calm relief allowing me to sleep peacefully. I would highly recommend to anyone who has serious tax issues to call Optima immediately.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 7 out 7 people found this review helpful
    Updated review

    Update

    • Cary, NC,
    • May 6, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    As of April 2019, Optima Tax Relief has finally contacted me for the full refund of my resolution phase, which was $2,515.

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

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    Comments (1)
    View all 1 commentsHide comments
    • Sep 21, 2018

      Kelly R.

      I'd like to talk with about this. Is there a way to reach you?

    • Previous review
    • Sep 20, 2018

    DO NOT just read the positive reviews

    Taxpayers, I know you're in distress because of a tax burden. But don't be fooled by Optima Tax. They give you false hope and will rip you off. Please don't just read the positive review because who knows if they are real!

    I have paid them over $3,000, and they have not done a single thing for my case. I was hiring them for an Innocent Spousal Tax Relief filling. After the initial payment of $495 for investigation, they said that they would do it if I paid $2500 upfront.

    A few months later, still nothing has been done. I started to bug them and now they refused to do the service.

    I asked them for a refund and they offered me a fraction of what I paid them.

    PLEASE, I'm speaking from being the victim of this company. PLEASE STAY AWAY from this company. If you want, leave me a comment, and we can get in touch so that I can tell you my real story.

    (read moreread less...)

  • Great service

    • Houston, TX,
    • May 2, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    This group was very attentive to my needs and have excellent follow up. They collected a lot of my tax information and got me tax breaks that it would have been very difficult for me to collect on my own. I would definitely recommend them!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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    • May 2, 2019

      Optima Tax Relief

      Great to hear, Mr. Harper! We ensure that our team has "excellent follow up" with our clients, and we're glad to hear you found the tax breaks totally worth it!


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