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About Tax Law
As the old saying goes, you can be sure of two things in life—death and taxes. Since you've been old enough to spend money, you have been exposed to taxes, even if only paying sales tax when buying a piece of candy at the store. As one ages, gets their first job, buys their first home, starts a business, plans their estate, and inherits money, they come into contact with additional requirements to send money to the government.
What Does a Tax Attorney Do?
Simple income tax returns for businesses and individuals and other types of common transactions rarely require the services of a tax lawyer. In fact, in some cases, you might not even have to rely on your accountant to prepare your taxes. Yet, simple transactions can turn complex, and the United States Internal Revenue Code (IRC) is notoriously long and challenging for the layperson to tackle. Tax attorneys exist to help you with those transactions and payments, which might be challenging for you, by helping you conform to U.S. tax code or defending you when you have clearly violated tax code.
When Should You Hire a Tax Attorney?
A tax attorney can help you through many tax-related challenges, and when in doubt, you should always schedule a consultation to let a licensed tax attorney evaluate your case. People often confuse the ways in which a tax attorney and an accountant can help them. Below you will find some common scenarios in which people enlist the help of a competent tax lawyer.
- You haven't filed taxes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and/or you owe back taxes. Failure to pay taxes is a federal crime that carries hefty penalties and even time in prison when large dollar amounts are involved, such as is the case with large businesses and corporations. A tax lawyer can help seek relief for penalties from late filing or not filing at all.
- You are starting a business. You might take many different paths when starting a business depending on your location, your type of business, your sales, whether or not you have partners, and the size of your business. A tax lawyer can help you choose the right path which fulfills all legal obligations, while at the same time advising on which business structure can legally save you the most money in tax liability.
- You are selling or acquiring a business. The purchase and sale of a business include considerations such as the depreciation of assets and the way in which capital gains tax impacts your transaction, as well as other complicated issues. A tax attorney can guide you through either process and ensure you avoid costly tax-related mistakes.
- You have committed or been charged with committing a tax-related crime. Skilled tax lawyers in know how to negotiate and defend you in the event you have been charged with violating one or more tax laws. Most importantly, you have attorney-client privilege with your tax attorney, something you do not have with your certified public accountant (CPA). Typically, an audit precedes charges for tax code violations. You do not always need an attorney for an audit, but if charges emerge, you should call a tax attorney as soon as possible.