What Does a Tax Lawyer Do?

Authored by Wendy Witt, Esq.

Attorneys are not interchangeable; the good ones focus their legal practices on certain areas of the law - just like doctors have a specialty or professors teach in one area of expertise.

  • tax attorneys do not handle malpractice claims;
  • family law attorneys don't plan estates;
  • intellectual property attorneys don't do real estate tax appeals

Tax lawyers tend to work mostly with businesses and individuals to ensure that they are set up and functioning to pay the minimum amount of taxes required by law.

  • They do not help clients commit fraud or tax evasion; however, they do develop and implement ways to work within the tax system to the benefit of their clients. Tax planning is perfectly legal.
  • Tax attorneys (and CPAs) also represent their clients when the government questions their tax returns and payments. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), state, and local tax authorities all have the power to question and audit tax returns.
    • Tax attorneys may handle taxing authority's questions via telephone or mail, correspondence audits, and full blown audits.
    • Tax attorneys also represent their clients during tax arbitration with a taxing authority such as the IRS. The goal is to settle the tax matter amicably without litigation, while asserting taxpayer rights.
    • In addition, they represent their clients in tax court, typically on a federal level, if the government and the tax payer cannot reach an accord.
  • Tax attorneys (and CPAs) also perform internal audits on businesses (and individuals

A business hires an independent tax attorney to review its taxes and books to determine whether they are paying enough taxes or paying too much in taxes.

Some clients have been found to have overpaid $5 million in taxes and were very happy they had hired a tax attorney for an independent internal audit.

  • Estate planning and tax attorneys both work to design and implement estate plans that minimize the federal estate tax, state estate tax and inheritance tax, generation skipping tax, and gift tax. In addition, they always keep an eye toward income taxes, especially capital gains taxes, as well.

Cases a Tax Attorney Would Handle

  • All interactions with a taxing authority such as the IRS, your state department of revenue, or a local taxing authority
  • Any audit by a taxing authority
  • An internal audit to determine whether your business is paying the right amount in taxes not too much and not too little
  • Tax return preparation, including back or late tax returns
  • A real estate tax appeal
  • Taking your tax case before the independent tax court
  • Negotiating your tax debt down
  • Removing interest and penalties on tax debts due
  • Tax planning to minimize current and future taxes
  • Business choice and set up
  • International business interactions
  • Suing the IRS, your state department of revenue, or a local taxing authority
  • Criminal defense in tax fraud and tax evasion
  • Complex estate tax planning

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