Tax attorneys, also referred to as tax lawyers, are attorneys that specialize in tax representation before the IRS and various state revenue agencies. As with other types of attorneys, tax attorneys possess a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and will have successfully passed a state bar examination. However, a reputable tax attorney should also have additional coursework or training focused on federal and state tax laws and procedures. In many cases, a tax attorney will have a background in accounting, be a CPA or have an LL.M. (Master of Laws) in Taxation. An LL.M. is an advanced law degree that focuses on individual and corporate taxes, taxation of trusts and estates, tax controversy, elder law and estate planning.
A tax attorney can help with both civil and criminal actions brought forth by the IRS or state tax authorities. In addition, a good tax attorney can help set up a new business properly based on the nature of the organization and can even help with estate planning if needed.
In some cases a taxpayer may be able to solve tax problems by himself without the help of a tax attorney but this may not be the most prudent option unless the taxpayer has no other alternative. Given the intricacies of the IRS and the labyrinth of codes and procedures they have adopted, the taxpayer may indeed be best served by working directly with a licensed tax attorney with experience dealing specifically with the IRS.
In most cases, a tax attorney specializes his or her focus on tax issues and more accurately, tax relief. Some services they also assist with include audit representation, reducing fines and penalties, lifting wage garnishments, removing tax liens, and ending bank levies. Many small businesses additionally seek help from a tax attorney for any payroll tax concerns or self-employment tax issues.
While most small businesses have typically used a tax accountant for tax filing services, a tax attorney can be equally helpful. Like an accountant, a good tax attorney can help you avoid tax problems before they begin and may be able to foresee potential legal problems before its too late. In addition, a tax attorney can provide legal protection where a tax accountant cannot.
What makes tax law so confusing is not only its complexity, but also its dynamic nature, with changes typically being implemented every year. Therefore, a tax attorney should be well versed in these annual changes, modifications and updates in order to advise a client as appropriately as possible. A tax attorney can also assist with financial planning as they can advise on specific tax shelters, the setting up of a trust, and choosing appropriate investments with specific tax advantages.
How to Choose A Tax Attorney
The proper selection of a tax attorney should be based on thorough research. A taxpayer should read about a potential tax attorney’s credentials, ask friends or colleagues for referrals, and inquire about the tax attorney’s experience. To select a good tax attorney, it’s important to find someone with extensive experience specifically related to working with the IRS and a track record of success in helping to reduce tax debts and other liabilities. References are a great way to ensure you are selecting the right person for the job. A good tax attorney should be a member of the American Bar Association in addition to their respective state bar. Don’t forget to ask what you should expect to pay up front and make appropriate financial arrangements before the legal work begins.
Can A Tax Attorney Help Me?
If you’ve found yourself in a predicament that leaves you feeling lost, concerned or even frightened of the IRS, consulting a good tax attorney is one of the best decisions you could make. Remember, tax penalties and fines don’t simply go away and in fact, they continue to build over time; waiting and hoping they go away solves nothing. It’s always in your best interest to solve tax problems as soon as possible while they are still small because when dealing with the IRS, small problems typically lead to big ones given time. Waiting until your problems are completely out of hand could leave you in an incredibly costly predicament and in some cases criminal action could be taken against you, resulting in jail time and extremely high legal fees. Therefore, investing in a good tax attorney before your problems get completely out of hand just makes good common sense.
So, what are some of the specific circumstances where a tax attorney can be extremely helpful? Below are some examples:
- You carry a tax debt that the IRS is attempting to collect via a wage garnishment, tax lien or bank levy
- You’ve got years of unfiled tax returns and need the legal assistance of a tax attorney
- You have an estate that is taxable and therefore need legal and estate planning advice from a tax attorney. This could also mean filing an estate tax return
- You are starting a new business and therefore need to set up the most advantageous structure in order to minimize taxes
- You are engaging in international business and therefore need a tax attorney to help with contracts, foreign tax treatment and even the structure of the business
- You plan on suing the IRS with the help of an attorney
- You are needing a review all of your options with a tax attorney before you are seen by the US Tax Court
- You are in need of tax attorney representation due to a criminal investigation brought against you by the IRS
- You’ve committed tax fraud and therefore need to confidential protection a tax attorney provides given the attorney-client privilege
Tax Attorneys at Optima Tax Relief
At Optima Tax Relief, all of our tax attorneys have extensive experience related not only to tax law, but to accounting as well. This is a very powerful combination, especially when you consider the IRS is the most powerful collection agency in the world! Below we’ve highlighted just a few of the outstanding professionals on our team.
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