Attorney General: misleading overdue tax notices from National Tax Experts designed scare recipients
DES MOINES – A California tax relief company that mailed look-alike government overdue tax notices to Iowa taxpayers and businesses will cease sending the mailings to Iowans, through an agreement with Attorney General Tom Miller.
National Tax Experts, of Glendale, and company president Nicholas Johnson, will stop soliciting tax relief and tax preparation services in Iowa, and agrees to issue refunds to Iowa taxpayers or companies who request them.
The notices, listing various senders including the “Department of Taxation – Internal Taxation Services,” “Tax Settlement Department,” and the “Taxing Authority – National Processing Center,” warn recipients that they owe past due taxes and state tax liens. The letters include wording such as “immediate response required,” “investigation letter,” and “notice to collect.”
National Tax Experts mailings list legitimate tax lien information obtained from public records. Recipients are instructed to immediately call a toll-free number, and are connected to National Tax Experts.
National Tax Experts solicitations claim the company may be able to “prevent” the state from collecting on an unpaid state tax lien or reduce the amount by 90-95 percent.
“These threatening mailings are clearly designed to look like official government notices and scare recipients into calling a phone number,” Miller said. “Those who call are offered tax debt settlement or tax debt reduction services, but unfortunately most people don’t qualify for the programs or debt reduction described in the mailings.”
Beware of tax relief companies that seek to exploit a tax debt. These companies often claim that, for an up-front fee, they can substantially reduce or even eliminate unpaid taxes. They may also claim to help you qualify for federal or state debt reductions and tax relief programs, penalty and interest removals, and installment agreements.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urges people or businesses owing back taxes to be wary of tax relief companies—and their claims—and contact the appropriate state or federal revenue agencies directly:
- If you owe federal or state taxes or penalties, don’t ignore the problem.
- Read any notices from the IRS or state tax authority (such as Iowa Department of Revenue). Call the IRS or appropriate state agency to address any tax debt issues, which may be willing to offer a payment plan if you owe money.
- Consider contacting a reputable local certified public accountant (CPA) or tax attorney if you need expert advice.
- Ignore promises from businesses that claim you “qualify” for a tax relief program to resolve your tax debt. Only the IRS or state revenue agency can determine that.
- Think twice if the tax relief company requests the entire fee for services up-front with no explanation of how services will be billed. Ask about its fees and refund policy, and read the fine print—including initial fees and services provided and additional fees and services.