IRS Tax Problems - 4 Things To Help Assess Yours Now

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There are accountants and there are attorneys. Both are there to help you in your hour of need when the IRS sends you a notice. However, the term "attorney" has a more ominous ring to it because it implies that you're not just fighting numbers – you're fighting for your rights as a taxpayer.

Tax attorneys are lawyers who specialize in the complex and technical field of tax law. They're best for handling complex, technical and legal issues associated with your tax situation. A tax attorney can step in after you have a problem, but consulting with one in advance can also help you avoid problems.

1) Find the "best" attorney for you.

Although this could vary from person to person, it's good to consider the solution as a journey. Tax problems don't get fixed overnight. Will you be taking this journey with a worthy companion or relatable and reachable ally?

2) What is my actual situation?

Tax problems are complex, they are often interwoven with other people affected, old business partnerships, family, etc. Look at the situation holistically and consider the following scenarios in evaluating your need for an attorney:

  • You have not filed tax returns for past years.

  • You owe a considerable amount of money but don't know where to start. What are your rights?

  • The IRS has placed a lien on your property and/or they've threatened to levy your bank account and garnish your wages or Social Security.

  • You're starting a business.

  • You're being audited.

  • You were previously in an agreement with the IRS but they kicked you out and are now trying to collect again.

  • A previous tax help company took a lot of your money and did virtually nothing to fix the problem.

  • You are receiving a lot of advertisements and threatening letters from tax help companies trying to coerce you into calling them. Who do you trust?

  • You are concerned that you will be treated like a number by a large company and that they won't care about you.

2) What You Should Look For

Tax attorneys must have a Juris Doctor degree, commonly referred to as a J.D. Also, it's good to know how long they've been practicing tax law. If they're a newbie (3 years or less), just take that into consideration. Also, do they offer a way for you to afford their services without a substantial down-payment? See how you are treated on the phone. If the voice sounds robotic, chance are you will be treated without much care for your personal situation.

3) Questions to Ask

Here are a few things you might want to make sure of when you initially meet with a prospective tax attorney:

  • Is he/she admitted to the state bar?

  • Can he prepare tax returns as part of the solution?

  • Can they give you an idea of your possible solutions before you commit to the agreement for services?

  • Are they familiar with tax collection agencies at the state level?

  • Do they have experience dealing with tax issues nation-wide?

  • Will I have access to them or able to contact them when I need to?

When the IRS or your State Treasury starts calling or sending mail, it's best to consider these things. Make notes, don't give into fear, assess the situation, and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Andy TurpenWolf Tax