Hiring a Tax Attorney
If you’re considering hiring a tax attorney, you may be wondering two things: (1) whether you really need a tax attorney at all; and (2), if you do, how you go about choosing one.
What follows is information to help you decide whether you should hire a tax attorney to represent you and, if you decide you need one, questions you should ask a potential tax attorney.
Do You Need a Tax Attorney?
Generally if you feel like a tax-related issue is beyond your ability to deal with adequately on your own, you should at least contact a tax attorney for a consultation; there may or may not be a fee for this, so check with the lawyer before you show up or start talking about your problem on the phone.
Tax issues can be highly technical and complex, so if you find yourself in a situation where you’re guessing about what to fill in on a tax form or how much to pay, it’s time to research tax attorneys.
More specifically, if you find yourself in any of the following situations, you should consult a tax attorney:
- You owe a considerable amount of taxes to the IRS (more than $10,000).
- You want to sue the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- You are being investigated by the IRS.
- You know or suspect you have committed tax fraud.
- You want to challenge a tax decision by the IRS or other taxing agency.
- You want to start a business and need to decide how to structure it for tax purposes, i.e., should you have a sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation?
- You engage in international business transactions.
- You want to prepare your estate to maximize tax benefits and minimize tax payments.
- You have to file an estate tax return.
What Questions Should You Ask a Tax Attorney?
You will probably get a “feeling” about a tax attorney when you speak to him or her the first time; this instinct is something you should definitely follow when choosing your tax attorney as you need to feel 100% comfortable having him or her represent you and your interests.
Aside from instinct, however, the following are some questions you should ask a tax attorney you’re considering hiring:
- In which states are you admitted to practice law?
- Do you have an advanced degree in taxation (LLM) as well as a law degree?
- What are your tax specialties?
- What are your rates and fee structure?
If you have a problem that also involves accounting matters, you may also want to seek out an attorney who is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Also, if that particular attorney cannot help you, ask for a referral for an attorney who can.