Optima Tax Relief is a legitimate tax relief company that provides services nationwide through an online portal. If your tax problem is relatively simple, you may be better off addressing it on your own, but if you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of dealing with the IRS, Optima Tax Relief offers an option. You’ll learn more about the pros and cons in this Optima Tax Relief review.
Important note: if you’re considering any tax relief company, manage your expectations. Nobody can make all tax debt disappear. Professional help may get you a better deal, but the outcome will depend on your situation. If you expect magic, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Optima Tax Relief
Optima Tax Relief provides online federal tax services in all but two states. They handle both federal and state tax issues, though they do not provide state tax services in all states. You will need a minimum tax bill of $10,000 to use their services.
Prominent company with a national presence
Industry-standard pricing and terms
Free initial consultation
In-house attorneys and tax accountants
No public disclosure of pricing
Refunds are only possible within two weeks of start.
Not all services are available in all states.
A few customer reviews complain of poor results and service
About Optima Tax Relief
Optima Tax Relief describes itself as the nation’s largest tax relief company. It claims to have resolved over $3 billion in client tax liabilities.
The Company is based in Santa Ana, CA, and has offices in Scottsdale, AZ, and Chandler, AZ. Online services are available nationwide (except Colorado and Minnesota).
Optima Tax Relief employs an in-house staff of enrolled agents, CPAs, and tax attorneys. Some tax relief companies may pass your case on to an outside law firm and keep part of your fee.
Optima Tax Relief was founded in 2010 by Harry Langenberg and Jesse Stockwell, both of whom remain with the firm as managing partners.
How Optima Tax Relief Works
Optima Tax Relief will work with federal and state taxes, but state tax services are not available in all states. You need at least $10,000 in tax debt to qualify for their services.
Optima Tax Relief works with many types of tax problems, including the following.
- Tax liabilities
- Back taxes
- Levies and liens
- Penalties and interest
- Wage garnishment
- Tax settlement
- Audit Defense
- Payroll tax negotiation
The company uses a three-step process.
- Consultation. You will have a free initial consultation with no obligation. A representative will review your case, lay out your options, and give you a realistic assessment of what Optima Tax Relief can do for you.
- Investigation. Optima Tax Relief will communicate with the IRS, examine your records in detail, and choose appropriate resolution options. You will have to authorize access to personal financial records.
- Resolution. The company will pursue the selected options and try to bring you into full IRS compliance. This does not mean you will have no tax debt. The goal is to reduce your debt as much as possible and work out a feasible payment plan for the rest.
There are many ways to resolve tax debt, and you will work with Optima Tax Relief to select the ones most appropriate for you. Here are some of the options available.
- Installment agreements will not reduce your debts but will make them easier to pay off.
- Offer in compromise is available to taxpayers experiencing financial distress.
- Penalty abatement or adjustment can reduce the penalties charged for previous issues.
- Extension requests may give you more time to pay without incurring penalties.
- Disaster-related relief provides tax breaks for people affected by natural disasters.
- Coronavirus tax relief may be available at both federal and state levels.
- Currently not collectible status may apply if you have no income or assets with which to pay your tax debt.
- The statute of limitations may apply in some cases dealing with older tax debts.
- Innocent spouse relief applies to taxpayers who are being held liable for a spouse’s mistakes or transgressions.
- A tax lien discharge removes a tax lien from a specific property, which may allow you to sell that property.
- A bank levy release means the IRS will no longer seize funds from your bank account. It usually occurs when you have agreed to a payment plan or other settlement.
It’s important to note that all of these devices are open to anyone. You do not need a tax relief company to apply for them. However, the process of assessing your eligibility, choosing options that are likely to be approved, and applying can be complex and challenging.
Professional assistance does not guarantee success, but it may improve the probability of success.
Optima Tax Relief provides federal tax relief services online in all states except Colorado and Minnesota.
State tax services are available online in all states except Arizona, Georgia, Delaware, and Connecticut.
The Cost of Optima Tax Relief: Is It Worth It?
Optima Tax Relief does not disclose pricing information on its website. Pricing information given here is sourced from third-party websites and customer reviews. Prices vary according to the specifics of your case and you may be quoted prices higher or lower than those discussed here.
Optima Tax Relief appears to assess fees at two stages of the tax relief process.
- Investigation: you can expect an investigation fee of $295.
- Resolution: Resolution fees can vary widely with the circumstances of your case. Reported fees vary from $995 to $5000 and may be higher for complex cases with large tax liabilities.
These fees are substantial, but they are consistent with fees across the tax relief industry. Optima Tax Relief isn’t offering a screaming great deal, but pricing appears to be fair relative to competitors.
While the overall pricing scheme appears to be fair, it is not transparent: there’s no consistent pricing formula disclosed on the company’s website. Some customer reviews contain complaints indicating that the customers believe they were overcharged, and some reviews report payments much larger than those referenced above.
Optima Tax Relief will refund payments for the investigation phase within 15 days after the initiation of the investigation phase. No refunds are possible after 15 days or for the fees paid for the Resolution phase.
Optima Tax Relief: Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are a useful tool, but they have limitations. It’s important to understand how to evaluate customer reviews. Some reviews may be based on unrealistic expectations, and some companies have been known to manipulate reviews.
Let’s look at what major review sites can tell us about Optima Tax Relief.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Optima Tax Relief has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). BBB ratings are based on the company’s responsiveness to complaints, not on the average of customer reviews.
The BBB site lists 686 complaints closed in the last three years and 209 in the last 12 months. The company has responded to all complaints and most appear to be resolved to the customer’s satisfaction
Optima Tax Relief gets 3.88 out of 5 stars from a total of 1,164 customer reviews on the BBB site. The reviews break down into two categories, very positive and very negative, with very few in between.
It’s important to remember that the BBB tends to attract negative reviews, as it’s a place where people traditionally go to complain when they are not satisfied.
On Trustpilot, Optima Tax Relief gets 4.1 out of 5 stars from 3,116 reviews. 89% of the reviews are five-star or four-star, and 9% are one-star, with negligible percentages in between.
Here are some typical positive reviews.
Here are a few sample negative reviews.
Results on most review sites seem to follow a consistent pattern: large numbers of positive reviews mixed with a smaller number of highly negative reviews. Most customers who leave reviews seem satisfied, but when things go wrong they seem to go seriously wrong.
Some of the negative reviews may come from customers who have unrealistic expectations, but this is impossible to ascertain. If you’re considering retaining Optima Tax Relief you should be aware that while reviews are generally positive there is a minority who have had very unsatisfactory experiences.
The Bottom Line: Is Optima Tax Relief Right For You?
Optima Tax Relief is a legitimate tax relief company with an extensive track record. Some customers have left negative reviews, but that’s true of almost any tax relief company, and the number represents a relatively low percentage of customer reviews.
Does that mean that Optima Tax Relief is the right choice for you? Maybe, maybe not. Even the best financial services companies aren’t always the right fit for a given client. To find out, ask yourself these questions.
- How much tax debt do you owe? Optima Tax Relief won’t consider your case unless your tax debt is $10,000 or above.
- Does Optima Tax Relief provide services in your state? If you live in a state that is not served by the company you’ll need to look for another option.
- How complex is your case? If you have a straightforward problem – for example, if you simply need to ask for an installment agreement or an extension – you might be better off doing it yourself. If you are overwhelmed even thinking about dealing with it, professional help is probably a good idea.
- Have you considered local alternatives? A tax attorney or firm in your area might offer you a competitive package, and you’d have personal contact. If you’re not comfortable dealing with a remote service or working through online customer service, this could be a better option for you.
- Have you shopped around? Comparing several alternatives is always a good idea when you’re in the market for a financial service. There are other tax relief companies out there, and most offer a free initial consultation. Comparing several offers is always worthwhile.
If you answered “yes” to all of these, you might be a good fit with Optima Tax Relief.
Remember that this is a nationwide company with many clients. Your interactions are not likely to be personal. A free initial consultation may feel like a sales call, and during the process, you are likely to be interacting with customer service representatives, not the tax experts doing the work.
If this is a problem for you, you might be better off consulting a local business or law firm with a physical presence in your area.