A brief guide to income tax attorneys
Filing your income taxes with or without the help of a CPA or other financial professional is an annual custom for many Americans. Sometimes, financial difficulties can leave you unable to pay your taxes or facing a dispute with the IRS. In these cases, you may need the help of an income tax attorney who can help you negotiate a settlement. Here are some things to keep in mind if you should need legal advice in this department.
The American tax code is famously complex and difficult to understand. Not only are you liable for federal taxes, you probably pay state and city taxes in addition. The laws surrounding income tax collection are so tricky that many people who can afford help use some form of tax preparation service to help them make sure they’ve completed the paperwork properly.
While income tax attorneys are familiar with IRS regulations, you do not need one’s help to complete your paperwork. You will need legal counsel only when you when you have a dispute with or involving the IRS. Some reasons for you to seek out an income tax attorney include:
• Failure to pay your taxes
• Failure to file your tax forms
• Inability to pay taxes the IRS requires
• You are charged with tax evasion or filing fraudulent returns
• You are a victim of tax fraud
• You intentionally decide not to pay your taxes as an act of protest
When these or similar problems emerge, you will probably want to consult an income tax attorney who can help you sort through the complexities of tax law.
If you are unable to pay
Sorting through your tax issues is like many other aspects of business. Documentation and keeping orderly records create an orderly chain of evidence. For many people, income tax attorneys can be helpful in establishing their inability to pay their tax burden in full.
One way to settle your case is to file for an “offer in compromise.” This procedure establishes that you do not have the funds necessary to pay your federal taxes in full. You do not need an income tax attorney to prepare your paperwork, though it may be helpful to receive legal counsel or help from a financial professional. Getting this can of advice can help you think realistically about how much you can afford to pay and what kind offer the IRS is likely to accept. While your request is being processed, collection efforts will temporarily cease.
More drastically, you can attempt to file for bankruptcy. This procedure also helps to stop collection efforts temporarily. However, keep in mind that even if you successfully negotiate a bankruptcy settlement, it may not absolve you of your entire tax burden. The IRS generally has up to 10 years to collect any money you owe them. A bankruptcy lawyer may be more helpful than an income tax attorney if you choose to pursue this path.
There are many areas in which you can be charged for tax fraud, particularly if you are managing a business. In many cases, you will be informed ahead of time that an investigation or charges against you are pending. Some charges which may require the help of an income tax attorney to resolve include:
• Business fraud, in which companies deliberately mislead their clients or investors
• Embezzlement of funds
• Money laundering
• Not paying the withheld federal taxes of employees
• Concealing income or illegally using overseas bank accounts
All of these charges can leave you open to audits or criminal charges which can result in large penalties and prison time. Income tax attorneys can help you defend yourself against any charges you feel are unjust.
Some people are the victims rather than the perpetrators of fraud. For example, your identity may be stolen by people who then collect your IRS refund. In such cases, the IRS may think you have failed to file properly and harass you for payment when in fact your are the injured party. An income tax attorney can help prove that you have complied with the law. If you are one of many people who have been harmed by such fraud, a class-action lawsuit can help you recover your funds.
How to find an income tax attorney
Whether you are accused of not paying your taxes or trying to negotiate a smaller payment to the IRS, you may have trouble understanding the complexities of tax law. If so, you will probably want to seek out the services of an income tax attorney who can help you resolve your case.
Finding a lawyer is not a matter to be taken lightly. Some income tax attorneys make promises which seem too good to be true in their advertising. Do not be swayed by what you read online or what you’re told. Before you try to find a lawyer yourself, ask friends and family if they can recommend an income tax attorney they’ve worked with familiar with your kind of case. A state or local bar association may also be able to provide a referral to a specialist in your field for a small fee.
Even if you are facing severe threats, interview as many income tax attorneys as you need to before you settle upon someone to represent you. Trust your instincts and be sure to rigorously question anyone offering to help represent you. Some things to ask about include:
• the lawyer’s level of experience and specialization in your field
• what you can expect from the legal process
• what the timeline of your case will be
During your first meeting with any income tax attorneys, be sure to get a written estimation of their services. You are already facing financial difficulties and should avoid any further complications. Getting documentation and creating a trustworthy relationship with any lawyer at the outset will help prevent you from paying unexpected fees later on.