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“Getting to Know You”

The song title is famous and by taking the same approach the Tax Law Office of Luis E Vasquez is achieving the same results—getting well known and respected in the Orange County market by listening to the needs of each individual or business client.
“We take the time to listen to our clients’ situations before setting up tax strategies. The office also maintains those relationships into the future by developing tax plans for the coming years. We get to know the client first and then help them in their unique situation instead of asking for money up front to just start a conversation. We do our best to get the desired results with the various tax agencies in the least amount of time compared to other firms,” says founder Luis E (Steve) Vasquez.
The Tax Law Office employs three people. Vasquez, who founded the firm in 2003, his business office manager and wife, Tonya, and their assistant Henry Quinteros. Their primary practice areas are tax planning and preparation, tax resolution services, small business services including formation, planning and tax preparation as well as bankruptcy petition filing. Although their base is in Southern California, the firm handles clients in more than 20 states. “Some of our clients will move out of state for work or family but they still want us to handle their tax returns. We have to be prepared to help them no matter what state they are in so we make sure that we have that ability through our software applications and tax training,” Vasquez says. Certain states require certification to prepare taxes in that state. As an attorney, Vasquez is certified to prepare taxes for all states. Tonya Vasquez and Quinteros are certified in California and New York to prepare tax returns.

The firm serves a large variety of clients, from newlywed couples to large families spanning several generations to small businesses. They are based in the Santa Ana/Irvine area near the John Wayne Airport to be centrally located to their client base, which spans as far north as LA County, as far east as San Bernadino and Riverside County, and San Diego County to the south.
“We had a couple that used to live in Orange County and moved to San Francisco for work purposes. We saw a cab drop them off in front of the office, they came straight from the airport to the office for their tax appointment. They really wanted that one-on-one interaction so they flew in to see Steve and to spend the weekend with family and friends. He has the personality that keeps clients coming back to him and they trust him to make sure everything is done correctly in regards to their tax returns,” says Tonya Vasquez.
The office serves a wide base of clientele including the Latino community. They are members of the Latino Tax Professionals group and go to their National Conference every year to make sure they are well prepared to handle some of the unique situations to that client base including solving tax controversies. They also assist small businesses with everything from corporate taxes, payroll taxes and sales tax issues. “We want to be an office that can handle all of your tax needs,” says Tonya Vasquez, who manages the small business clientele.
The firm has plans to expand the business to provide a total package of services that will help businesses grow. “We have client businesses from so many varied industries including aerospace, video gaming, IT, construction, auto and real estate that we learn something new with each client. We want to continue that into the future.”
Business reviews, like the numerous ones they’ve received on Yelp with a perfect 5-Star rating, reflect this dedication to their business clients. One client wrote, “I am currently using Steve Vasquez’s tax services for filing back Taxes for my C-Corp (for IRS and FTB). My experience with Steve have been very positive and exceeded my expectations. I realized how overwhelming it is to deal with the IRS and especially the FTB. I did some research and contacted professional tax preparers, bookkeepers, tax resolution companies and other Tax attorneys. After meeting with Steve, I knew that he would be able to address my concerns and help me resolve my situation with the IRS and FTB. Plus, his knowledge of tax law is very impressive as a tax attorney. He filed my taxes, dealt with the IRS over the phone and in person. Steve was spot on in advising me what would happen next from the IRS and FTB. He truly is the ultimate and very personable professional.” –Leonard Mangalindan, Maximum Fitness Gear, Inc.

Learning Before Earning

Clients dealing with the IRS or various State Tax Agencies are understandably nervous, often frightened. One of the benefits of working with an experienced tax attorney is the peace of mind knowing you are working with a top level professional in the tax industry. Knowledge and experience not only allows his firm to represent people but to become an effective legal advocate.

Vasquez says, “That’s one of the reasons we offer a free one-hour consultation. I don’t look at the money right up front. We want to find the best resolution for their circumstances and provide the best value for it. A lot of tax resolution firms will say, ‘Put us on retainer and we’ll see what we can do.’ We basically say let me see what the situation is and then we’ll try to fix it accordingly. And then we can talk about money. I want to make sure that whatever the circumstances, I want to fix it as best as possible and do the best for you first.”
Sometimes the client cannot be helped. Vasquez says, “It happens a lot. You owe a certain amount of money and we can help with a payment arrangement, an offer of compromise, or put you into non-collectible status. It’s best not to try to handle the IRS alone.” The honesty and open communication often causes those same clients to return for help with other legal matters.“
Every once in a while a potential client doesn’t believe that I’ll invest an hour of my own time to discuss their case to see what we can do. And we invest that hour without billing the potential client. We explain that we need to find out exactly what’s going on before we bill for our services,” Vasquez says.One satisfied client says, “Steve offered me a free consultation for tax issues caused by my ex-husband. Solved my problems without charging me to come in. Amazing attorney! Thank you!” – Gi. G.

From Business School to the Business of Law

Vasquez attributes much of his success to inspiration from his mother. He says she was self-employed and often at a disadvantage because she lacked experience in business and legal matters. When he was in business school he would offer her advice. One of his professors suggested that he would make a good attorney. He says he at first laughed off the idea, but the concept stayed with him. He started getting educated on the tax and legal side of business. Those interests plus his experience helping his mother encouraged a dramatic change in career paths.
After graduating in business from the University of California at Berkeley, he earned his Juris Doctor from Southwestern University, where he earned an American Jurisprudence Award. He is also now certified to appear in U.S. Tax Court.
After law school he worked for one of the “Big Four” accounting firms in Los Angeles. Later he worked for a small Orange County tax preparation firm before starting his own business in 2003.His business grew through referrals and he had several hundred clients. He met his future wife in 2008 and after reviewing the business she knew that his business could grow through aggressive marketing. She developed a website and began working on other advertising, marketing and public relations efforts. She quickly became the office manager. “Now we have twice as many clients since she took over,” Vasquez says.

“It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true—to me my clients are like family. I answer my own phone most of the time—unless I’m with someone. That’s a huge thing. I’m available by e-mail and by cell phone, too. Again, I’m very hands on. In this business you need to be available for your clients at all times. There are tax matters that require immediate action such as wage garnishment, foreclosures, and I need to be available at all times.”

Enjoying Victory Regardless of the Challenge

Vasquez says, “I enjoy winning. When I get results and when my client is happy with those results there’s nothing like that feeling. If I don’t feel like I’ve done something at the end of the day or week then I don’t feel like I’ve done anything. When I come home Tonya can tell if I’ve had a good day or a bad day. One of the best days was when I got a $50,000 liability gone in a ten-minute conversation. I felt so good about that.”
A recent case illustrates the point. A potential client came in. He had hired another firm and they called Vasquez to mitigate the situation because he had a five and a half million dollar liability. But the client faced other serious challenges. “I looked at the case and said, ‘I don’t care about the million dollars. I have to keep you from going to jail first. We have to do this in stages. We have to make sure we report everything that has to be reported and to follow all the documents to make sure you are in compliance. If you don’t report, you can be highly liable and could go to jail.’ That’s what I was looking at. I told him that once we took care of those matters we could probably get the liability reduced to $500,000 – $750,000, which we did. That put him in full compliance and significantly reduced his financial liability with the IRS. Now he’s listening to me.”
Most attorneys would agree that the biggest challenge with tax law is that it is constantly changing. Tax law specialists have to be on top of a constantly shifting legal environment. “People come to us for the answers and we have to have them. Now that we have the clients we have, some of them for more than a decade, they look to us for advice on tax planning, estate planning, major purchases or things in which they need sound financial advice.”

Law Offices of Luis E Vasquez
1820 E Garry Avenue Suite 108
Santa Ana, Ca 92705
(949) 756-1394 f (949) 756-1398

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