A: Many taxpayers mistakenly believe the IRS will cut a deal because the government runs on deficits and massive spending. But you must provide supporting documentation for all your figures. Also, if you have assets, substantial home equity for instance, you must offer the value of those assets in your OIC calculations. Lastly, most taxpayers are unaware of the IRS' appeals program, which can be a game-changer.
Q: Do I need a lawyer to prepare my offer in compromise?
A: No. But representing yourself, you, even with a good offer, may get pressured into an installment agreement or a one-size-fits-all payment plan. I recommend using a local Oklahoma tax attorney who represents taxpayers before the IRS routinely and has high marks with the Better Business Bureau and a reputable peer review rating service like martindale.com. Most importantly, make sure your lawyer or tax professional will take your case on a flat-fee basis. There are unscrupulous national outfits that prey on taxpayers with big promises and low up-front costs with higher and higher recurring monthly charges.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER