A Day in the Life: What Does a Tax Lawyer Do?
If nothing is certain except death and taxes, then tax lawyers will always be in demand. Unlike your typical lawyer, tax lawyers are not afraid of numbers. In fact, they’re great with numbers! On top of that, they juggle federal and state tax codes, which are super complex and change on a regular basis.
But what does a tax lawyer do during their career? We’ve got you covered. Read on to learn about life as a tax lawyer!
How They Got Here
Some people know from the get-go that tax law is the way they want to go in their career, even as early as undergrad. With that in mind, many start their journey to their career by majoring in accountancy or business management. If they do well in undergrad, then they head off to law school.
Law school is a three-year process nearly every future attorney must go through in order to practice law. The first year is made up of required classes like Contracts, Torts, Property, Criminal Law, and Legal Writing. You get to choose most of your classes in the next two years, and some schools allow you to concentrate on a certain practice area, but that is not a requirement.
Tax Law LL.M
After you finish law school, you are free to take the bar and get a job working as a tax attorney. But if you want to amp up your resume, then spending an extra year getting an LL.M in taxation may be the way to go. You will want to be strategic about the law school in which you choose to get your LL.M because there are definitely some standout programs at select universities.
Once you complete your LL.M, you’ll be good to go for a career in tax law with a nice pedigree.
Work for a Law Firm
The majority of tax lawyers work in a law firm in a variety of capacities. Many tax lawyers land their positions in a law firm through the work they do as a summer associate during law school.
Tax lawyers who work for larger law firms are often put on retainer by large companies to handle their complex tax issues, including international tax law for multi-national corporations. These tax lawyers make sure that the corporation is in compliance with all federal, state, and international tax laws. In the event that the corporation violates a law or is audited, then the lawyer provides representation for them through any audit or investigation.
While many tax lawyers work for big law firms on behalf of corporations, a huge amount of them work on their own or as part of a small firm. They represent smaller companies and individuals in their dealings with state tax boards and the IRS.
In addition to hanging their own shingle and working with a low-income legal aid organization, tax attorneys may also be hired in a full-time position with a company, large corporation, or federal, state, or local government.
Help You Get the Most Out of Your Tax Return
Many individuals and companies employ both a tax attorney and a CPA or have them on retainer. Tax attorneys that work on behalf of individuals instead of companies make sure that complex tax returns are filed in compliance with applicable tax laws.
While that is incredibly important work, one of the biggest services they provide to their clients during tax season is reducing their overall tax liability as much as possible. This includes taking advantage of all possible deductions and making sure that clients get as big a refund as possible or a small tax bill.
For individuals with very high incomes, having a tax attorney on retainer is a must. The attorney assists their clients throughout the year in order to make strategic moves to reduce their overall tax liability.
Provide Tax Audit Defense
Lots of people never even think about hiring a tax lawyer until they’ve received a letter from the IRS informing them that they have been selected for an audit. At that point, individuals are typically referred by CPA or company that prepared their taxes to a tax attorney.
Tax lawyers who provide audit defense services are well-versed in how the IRS conducts its audits and know what to do to keep clients in their good graces. That doesn’t mean that, if clients intentionally or accidentally made errors or failed to include income on their tax return, they can get them out of paying the taxes clients owe. They can, however, minimize the financial hit their clients take or get them out of jail time.
Help People Work with the IRS on Back Taxes
Believe it or not, there are people out there who have not filed their taxes in years. This includes people who have straightforward tax returns and would have received a return if they had filed. The majority of these clients, however, failed to file in an attempt to dodge excessive tax liability that they can’t afford to pay.
The IRS, of course, doesn’t forget that they haven’t paid, and, in turn, files a tax return for them that does not include deductions or tax credits, and sends them a bill for what they owe. When people fail to pay what they owe, then the IRS takes steps to force people to pay, like garnishing income or placing a tax lien on their property. A tax attorney steps in in these situations and works with the IRS to get their clients on an affordable payment plan or reduce the overall amount owed.
What Does a Tax Lawyer Do? A Lot of Things!
Tax law is an incredibly specialized area of law with a broad array of potential employment opportunities. The majority of these positions pay handsomely, and tax lawyers are rated as the happiest in the legal field.
So, what does a tax lawyer do? They do everything from working for a law firm to working for companies to working for everyday people having issues with the IRS.
Want to learn more about becoming a lawyer or the ins and outs of life as an attorney? You’ve come to the right place. Check out the rest of our blog posts for everything you need to know about life in the legal field!