I have some unfiled tax returns with the IRS. I met with a lawyer that specializes in help with IRS issues and he told me that the first step in their process is to get an IRS power-of-attorney from me and then get an IRS transcript to show my history with the IRS. Later in the conversation, he advised me that I should not get the transcript on my own because that could "open a can of worms" and cause issues for me.

Is there any truth to that or was that just a sales tactic?

  • 2
    Sounds like a sales tactic, but why do you need a lawyer and not a CPA?
    – Hart CO
    Sep 29 '18 at 15:25
  • @HartCO Because I have yet to find a CPA that will do the filings and the payments plans with the IRS. Everyone I have spoken to just wants to bring you current and then leave you on your own for the payment side. Sep 29 '18 at 15:28
  • @PropositionJoe Is there a reason you're leery of coordinating the payment plan yourself? Barring a really convoluted/unusual situation, they're quite easy to set up.
    – ceejayoz
    Oct 1 '18 at 1:22

To me, that sounds like a deceptive sales tactic. I can't imagine a scenario where it would make any difference if you pulled the transcript vs an attorney pulling it on your behalf, pulling transcripts is a fairly routine thing and it doesn't reveal anything they don't already know.

The reason most CPA's won't handle setting up a payment plan for you is that it requires limited power of attorney. They should be able to advise you on the steps necessary and the IRS makes it fairly straightforward to Apply Online for a Payment Plan

Similarly the IRS makes negotiating an Offer in Compromise (partial payment to settle full outstanding debt) fairly straightforward too.

If you're just trying to arrange a payment plan after getting your returns squared away you'll likely be fine without an attorney, but if you want an attorney involved for other reasons, I'd probably find one that didn't use fear-based sales tactics.

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