The best offense is a good defense.
We see it all the time. People get in a dispute with the IRS and try to cut corners with their legal representation. They’ll represent themselves, hire an attorney who doesn’t focus on tax law or even hire an accountant.
While these moves may save money, they’re no match for the IRS’ skilled tax attorneys. If you owe tax debt to the IRS and don’t hire a tax attorney, you may end up paying more than necessary.
If you’re in this position, hiring a tax attorney is the best move you can make. Tax attorneys are legally able to represent you in U.S. Tax Court and can be your best defense against an IRS agent investigating you or your business.
- A tax attorney knows the ins and outs of the massive tax code, which has swelled from about 400 pages in 1913 to about 70,000 today. Politicians use it for many reasons: to direct public policy, insert special interest tax breaks and provide relief for everyday families. A tax attorney knows the tax code like the back of their hand and can use it to defend you in tax court.
- Hiring a tax attorney is helpful because of the attorney-client privilege. This enables you to disclose information to your tax attorney and not have it end up in court. If you hire an accountant, this protection doesn’t exist. So, when an issue arises with the IRS, don’t expect your accountant to be able to keep anything confidential.
- Tax attorneys also know the different rules and procedures for the U.S. Tax Court. There’s nearly 350 rules in the U.S. Tax Court system alone. Hiring an attorney who doesn’t specialize in tax law will need to spend a lot of time getting familiar with these rules, costing you extra time and extra money in legal bills.
- Tax law is one of the few areas of law that’s the focus of an advanced legal degree. This specialization, called an LL.M. (Master of Laws), is usually earned after an extra year of law school and focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of tax law. Not all tax attorneys have an LL.M., but you’re more likely to hire one with this advanced credential compared to non-tax attorneys.
If you’re being targeted by the IRS due to back tax debt and are the target of a possible wage garnishment or bank levy, don’t hesitate. Hire a tax attorney as soon as possible. Representing yourself may save you money, but the IRS will make every effort to exploit your ignorance of the law and you’ll have no edge in tax court.