IRS Resolution Services
IRS Resolution Services

Packaging IRS Resolution Services as part of your advisory practice

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How do you determine the services you’ll offer to clients?

When I initially started ASE Group in 2016, I began by offering the services I knew best: bookkeeping and tax prep. Was there demand for it? Sure, but was something missing? Absolutely. About two years and $20,000 of wasted marketing dollars later, I started listening more actively to what clients were saying – and weren’t saying – during consultation calls. 

Their previous accountant made them feel like a number. When they received a tax notice, they were left to figure out how to resolve it on their own, or needed someone to tell them what they didn’t know before it became a problem. Clients wanted to know someone was thinking of the things they had no clue about.

When I started listening to what clients wanted, I realized I needed to build my service offerings to best suit the needs of the clients I wanted to work with. What they were lacking from their previous bookkeeper, tax preparer, or tax resolution specialist was advisory.

At ASE Group, we’ve learned that the secrets to sustainability are standardization, the power to pivot, and adding advisory to your service offerings. Advisory felt like the buzzword of 2020 and 2021 (second to COVID-19), but it’s true. Firms of the future aren’t just preparing tax returns or bookkeeping (a robot could do that … and they are!). If you’re looking to build a firm that’ll have staying power, advisory is the path because clients need support that’s more proactive than reactive.

Advisory services can mean a lot of things to firms and clients, but in its simplest form, we define advisory as the support clients need outside of compliance to address the things they aren’t even aware of. This includes helping clients navigate tax law changes and understanding how the law impacts them, planning for, and minimizing, tax liabilities, and answering the tough questions. Advisory equates to peace of mind for clients, and believe it or not, they’re willing to pay for it.

Resolution clients are seeking advice and guidance to solve their current problem, and ensure they don’t find themselves in the same situation again.

As a firm that offers IRS Resolution services in addition to compliance and traditional advisory, I think it’s important to understand how it all ties in. Tax resolution at my firm isn’t solely about fixing tax problems; it’s also avoiding these problems moving forward. When a client finds themselves in need of resolution, they may be feeling nervous, tired, embarrassed, or helpless. Most importantly, they’re ready to not feel that way anymore – and that’s exactly how we position tax resolution as part of our advisory service offerings. Resolution clients are seeking advice and guidance to solve their current problem, and ensure they don’t find themselves in the same situation again.

Our tax resolution service is a four-step process:

  1. Discovery – This is when we connect with the IRS and/or the state to determine the status and amount of outstanding tax liabilities, and confirm the missing tax returns to be completed.
  2. Compliance – In this phase, we’ll complete missing tax returns (or amend incorrect tax returns) that are necessary to get the client back in compliance.
  3. Resolution – Here, we’ll resolve the tax liabilities in the most advantageous manner for the client. This could be an installment agreement, offer-in-compromise, penalty abatement, or any other appropriate method of resolution.
  4. Peace of Mind – It’s in this phase that we help the client minimize the likelihood that they’ll need tax resolution again. Our goal is to have a client only need tax resolution once, and advisory forever. We achieve this through monitoring the implemented resolution and taking on an active role in helping the client manage future tax liabilities and tax filings. 

Each of these phases start with advisory, from obtaining transcripts to facilitating tax return preparation, creating the resolution roadmap, and restoring the client’s peace of mind – quite  possibly the most important phase – through subscription-based advisory. By the time we get to this phase, clients will gladly invest in an ongoing relationship because they see the value of having timely advice and support from a trusted professional.

Regardless of what you may call resolution services in your practice, if you’re offering or considering offering these services, surprise! You’re doing advisory! You’re filling in the gaps, providing valuable solutions to client challenges, and creating a roadmap to avoid similar issues in the future. If you haven’t already done so, don’t hesitate to package these services as part of your advisory offering.

Editor’s note: Al-Nesha Jones is a member of the Intuit® Tax Council, and recently provided content to “The Path to Advisory,” a guide to creating and managing an advisory practice. The PDF includes checklists, charts, and many other activities. Download it today. There is also an Executive Summary available for download.

2 responses to “Packaging IRS Resolution Services as part of your advisory practice”

  1. I really enjoyed this article! I use these four steps as well to outline the process with clients during resolution advisory services.