Before Hiring a Tax Attorney

Finding a tax professional to solve your tax problems is like the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Make the right choice and all your wounds will be healed. Make the wrong choice and you’ll be turned into a screaming shriveled skeleton. Whether it’s a tax attorney, certified public account or certified tax resolution specialist (CTRS), it’s important to choose your tax representative wisely.

Make sure the tax professional has lengthy experience helping taxpayers with Offers in Compromise (IRS settlement agreements where you settle with the IRS for an amount which is less than you owe in tax and penalties, sometimes a good bit less than what is owed).

The tax attorney has a Master’s of Law in Taxation (often referred to as an LLM in taxation). There is no substitute for an LLM. Tax law requires a dedication to continued study. The LLM shows that the attorney has dedicated at least one full year (on a full time basis) to studying tax law. Taxpayers should seriously consider whether they want to hire a tax attorney who does not dedicate the time to learn about tax law for their clients on a full-time basis.

To avoid paying a high hourly rate unnecessarily, go through this tax attorney/CPA/tax resolution specialist interview checklist first. This checklist will help you weed out the tax relief scammers, as well as the merely inept attorneys and CPAs out there who will leave you with their high fees, your original tax debt, plus additional penalties and charges.

Experience alone, or number of years alone, isn’t a sufficient criteria. He/She must have experience working with taxpayers who owe money to the IRS (large amounts of money), and who know how to represent taxpayers who are “non- filers” of their tax returns for multiple years.

The financial attorney is therefore the person who does not only foresee the potential financial troubles, but he/she is also able to offer advice to the small business owner in order to help him/her remove the peril. The tax attorney thus becomes not only a lawyer who represents the client who is facing tax issues, but also an adviser and a friend. A good tax attorney will offer the best advice in accordance with the new modifications of the U.S. tax law, thus helping the client avoid any expensive legal costs.

How a Tax Attorney Can Help

At your first meeting, your attorney will gather facts and information from you, evaluate all aspects of your tax issue with you, identify your options, and explain what you can expect. If your tax issue requires that your attorney represent you in dealings with the IRS or in tax court, at every stage of your case your attorney will represent you zealously — by gathering all necessary documents and evidence related to your tax issue, researching all pertinent issues, and working with tax agency officials — all with the goal of protecting your legal rights and financial concerns, and ensuring the most favorable outcome for your situation.

As your agent, a tax attorney can:

* Protect you from IRS error, abuse, and intimidation
* Interpret your tax liability
* File an amended tax return
* Deal with an IRS lien or levy or help you negotiate an offer in compromise
* Manage corporate tax or bankruptcy issues
* Sort out personal income tax, property tax or bankruptcy issues
* Protect your assets by helping you identify and avoid potential tax risks
* Manage complex business transactions such as liquidations or mergers
* Communicate with the tax authority, know its regulations, and stay on top of the paperwork
Keep in mind that when we talk of having representation in a tax proceeding, we are not talking about an accountant, not even a Certified Public Accountant.  Accountants can provide tax advice, prepare tax returns and other services, but they cannot provide legal advice unless they are licensed attorneys.  However, as some tax attorneys may also be accountants, simply because someone is an accountant does not automatically disqualify them from helping you.  Remember, first and foremost, you are hiring an attorney.

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