Ways a tax lawyer can help you


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05 23rd, 2006

There are lots of problems that you can deal with on your own without relying on lawyers; pay a traffic ticket, deal with a late car payment, or report a minor fender bender where there are no injuries. The one problem that you do not want to deal with without an attorney is a problem with taxes and the Internal Revenue Service. Filing taxes can be done on your own or paying the amount that the IRS says you owe for an error on your return should not require a tax lawyer. Anything more complicated than that should be handled by an experienced tax lawyer.

The first thing that you have to realize with the IRS is that, once you come to their attention, the rules that apply in court do not apply to this problem. What does that mean? First, you are considered to be at fault (guilty) until you prove otherwise. Second, you required to provide evidence (testify against yourself) to justify any thing that you claim on your return. Third, if an employee of the IRS tells you something, and it is wrong, it is your problem, not theirs. Finally, you have to pay, plus interest, plus penalties, whatever the IRS decides. If you donít pay, they can take your money, take your property, and they can send you to jail and still make you pay when you get out.

Dealing with the federal tax man takes a good knowledge of the rules, experience with how the IRS operates, and a cool head. The individual has no chance to keep up on the rules. Congress changes the rules every year and the IRS changes the ways that they interpret and enforce those rules more often than that. Unless you deal with the IRS on a daily basis, there is no way that you can understand how they operate. Finally, you have a personal interest in the money that you pay, so it is very hard to maintain the detachment that is required to keep the cool head.

Anytime that you talk to an IRS agent about a problem on your own, or start trying to prove that you were right without the assistance of a tax lawyer, you run into the potential of telling that agent more than you should. You might point out some thing that leads the agent to find other problems with your return. In that case the amount of money the IRS wants goes up. Worse than that, you might convince the agent that you deliberately did something that you knew, or should have known, was illegal. To the IRS this means tax fraud and it gives them the right to go back and look at earlier tax returns for the same problem. In cases of tax fraud they can go back further than the normal three year limit looking for other instances of the same kind of fraud.

A tax lawyer knows how to avoid these problems. They are not emotionally involved in the discussion. They have practice in answering a question narrowly, saying just what is necessary to provide the agent the required information. They will not introduce more information than is necessary. The tax attorney knows when to tell the agent that they do not know something. They will tell them that they will have to get back to them with the information rather than trying to answer off the top of their head. And just as important, the IRS agent knows that the lawyer knows all of this, so there will be no attempts to fish for more information than is required.

A tax lawyer will cost you some money, but it will be money well spent if you have a problem with the Internal Revenue Service. Fighting the IRS is always difficult, but it is nearly impossible to win without a tax lawyer on your side.