Hopefully you will never require the services of a tax attorney, although it’s never a bad idea to consult with one on a regular basis in order to have him or her review your files and make recommendations. But if you do in fact require the services of a tax attorney, make sure you spend some time interviewing various attorneys in order to find one who can address your unique needs and with whom you feel comfortable.
And before you choose to use the services of a CPA or bookkeeper instead of a tax attorney, remember that a tax attorney is required to keep all of your information confidential while a CPA is not. Here are some situations in which you may find yourself that require the services of a tax attorney:
1. Audits. This is the most obvious reason for hiring a tax attorney. If you find yourself subjected to an audit, the IRS has noticed a problem with your tax return. Whether you prepared your taxes yourself or hired someone to do it for you, now is the time to hire an attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the audit process and can advocate on your behalf.
While the IRS would like you to believe that tax laws are black and white, they really aren’t. A tax attorney knows this and can ensure that those various shades of gray work on your behalf by using loopholes and an intimate, up-to-date knowledge of tax laws.
A tax attorney will also field any correspondence and phone calls from the IRS, which can remove a lot of stress from you and free up a lot of your time. IRS agents are intimidating and use strong language to scare taxpayers into simply giving them everything they ask for without putting up a fight. Tax attorneys aren’t intimidated by auditors, however, and can talk to the auditor in your stead.
2. Back Taxes. People who try to work with the IRS without the help of attorney typically end up paying a larger fraction of the taxes they owe than do people who get the help of a tax attorney. Because the information you provide to your attorney is privileged, you can confide in your attorney about exactly why you didn’t pay taxes in the first place. With that information, the attorney can work to get you the best possible outcome.
3. Business Ownership. If you own your own business, a tax attorney can help ensure that you set up your assets in accordance with tax laws. This means that you can potentially save thousands of dollars in deductions and can help you rest easy knowing that you’re doing everything by the book.
If you find yourself in one of the above three categories, you should enlist the services of a tax attorney right away. There is no way to overestimate the help that they can provide and the good that they can do on your behalf. Whether they simply answer a few phone calls for you and respond to a few letters or actually defend you in court, the services they provide can save you a lot of money and heartache. Audits and back taxes aren’t the end of the world, but they can sure seem like it when you find yourself in the middle of one of these sticky situations.
They can be overwhelming and cause you to feel like the whole world suddenly has access to the details of your life. But a tax attorney can mitigate that awful feeling for you, and you’ll just feel more at ease when you realize that you have a professional advocating for you. And even if you haven’t had any IRS trouble, consider consulting with a tax attorney anyway just to make sure you avoid any potential trouble in the future. The cost of using a tax attorney is minimal compared to the cost that you might accrue by representing yourself in front of the IRS.