How do I know when it is time to hire a tax attorney?

Filing your federal income tax with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be a complicated process.  While a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or other tax preparer can help you calculate and file your tax return, you would need the services of a tax attorney when you encounter some form of legal issue related to your taxes.  Legal issues can arise in a variety of situations related to your federal income tax, including but not limited to some of the following.

You cannot pay your federal income tax due. What happens if you calculate your federal income tax and find that you owe more than you can afford to pay?  The IRS offers options to allow a taxpayer to establish a payment plan or submit an offer in compromise, which is an offer to pay the IRS less than the full amount of tax due.  But the IRS expects you to pay your full tax liability owed; they do not accept a payment plan or an offer in compromise lightly.

To obtain a payment plan or offer in compromise, you must complete specific forms that include a valid reason and sufficient supporting documentation.  The IRS will want to explore with you fully that you have no other method available, such as selling an asset or taking out a loan, to obtain the funds needed to pay your full tax liability.  A tax attorney can help evaluate your tax situation to determine if you may be a candidate for an IRS payment plan or offer in compromise.  An attorney can also help you complete the necessary forms and pull together supporting documentation that is more likely to meet the IRS’ requirements for accepting your proposal.

You have not filed one or more tax returns. If you have not filed your federal income tax for one or more years, it can become a serious legal matter.  The IRS considers tax evasion a serious legal matter.  It is generally in your best interest to take steps to file all of your past due tax returns as soon as you can, because the IRS will file a substitution returns on your behalf that will likely require you to pay more taxes than you would owe on your actual return.  It is also wise to discuss your situation with a tax attorney as well, to be sure you are taking all the appropriate steps you can to minimize the seriousness of the issue.

You are being audited. If you are being audited by the IRS, depending on the nature of the audit, a CPA may be the appropriate person to help prepare additional documentation to support information on your tax return.  But if the audit results in you owing additional tax or uncovers other issues, a tax attorney may be able to help you negotiate a lower settlement for your debt or otherwise addressing the issues.

Subject to criminal tax investigation. In the event you commit some form of tax fraud or serious tax evasion, the IRS can file criminal charges against you.  Criminal charges are never a laughing matter and therefore are not something you should handle on your own without appropriate legal representation.  A tax attorney can help you address criminal charges related to your taxes.

How can I hire a tax attorney who can help with my situation?

If you complete the short form found below, a tax attorney can evaluate your specific situation and get in touch with you to provide an initial consultation free of charge.  This consultation is 100% confidential and does not obligate you to anything further.  But if you are interested in getting in touch with a tax attorney who can help you with your issues, please take this opportunity to complete the form today.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.