taxes

When do you need a tax attorney?

Hiring a tax attorney isn't just for those in hot water with the Internal Revenue Service for offenses such as tax evasion. You may want to consult a tax attorney -- an expert in the complex world of tax law -- to help you understand and deal with any complex legal tax issue.

This could include the following scenarios:

  • You owe more than $10,000 to the IRS.
  • You want to bring a lawsuit against the IRS.
  • The IRS is investigating you.
  • You think you've committed tax fraud (or you know you have).
  • You disagree with a tax decision by the IRS.
  • You are starting a business and want advice on structuring your new company (i.e., sole proprietorship, LLC or corporation).
  • You are involved in business overseas and need legal advice.
  • You are preparing your estate plan or are filing an estate tax return.
  • You are dealing with a tax issue that you don't understand.

Tax attorneys should -- at the minimum -- have a Juris Doctor, or J.D., degree and be admitted to the state bar. Ideally, you should select an attorney who has advanced tax law training (with a Master of Laws degree).

To start your search for the right attorney, ask a few trusted advisers, such as your accountant or banker, for a recommendation, or check your local bar association chapter.

If you can't afford to hire a tax attorney -- and need one -- you can get in touch with one of many tax clinics available throughout the United States that provide free or low-cost legal advice. You can get a full list of tax clinics through the IRS in Publication 4134.

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Our tax expert Kay Bell provides resourceful tips and advice to help you stay prepared for filing.

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