IRS issues can hit anyone at any time, and it is important to weigh all options available to you.
The only way one can do that is by simply learning what it means to fight the IRS alone or fighting the IRS with an experienced lawyer by your side. The following will help you understand the difference between these choices and help guide you to the one that works best for your needs.
Should You Get a Tax Lawyer?
Most of the time, people hesitate to hire a tax lawyer because they are not sure if they even need one. Figuring out if you need one starts with asking yourself a few questions; for example, does the IRS issue sound complicated, such as an audit?
Having legal representation means that any negotiation between you and the IRS is done through a lawyer who knows what to say to get penalties reduced or to find a compromise between the two. Keep in mind that some complex tax situations are going to require knowledge of not only tax laws but the language used by IRS bureaucracies.
A lawyer will be there to cut through the jargon and help you understand the proceedings of the particular problem you are going through. Keep in mind that misunderstandings could end up costing more money or prolong this tax problem. There are times when the IRS actually asks inappropriate questions that a good lawyer can shield the taxpayer from.
It is easy to see how a tax attorney can not only help protect the taxpayer but also reduce the time spent dealing with this particular issue. According to Patrick Cox from Tax Defense Partners that the “goal is not only to attempt to achieve tax debt relief and tax debt settlement at the lowest amount allowed by law, or a payment schedule that least disrupts your economic life but also to reduce your anxiety and stress.”
A tax attorney that does not attempt to do this for his or her client may not be the best choice.
Consider the following points when looking for a tax attorney:
- The professional should be experienced in the tax issue you are dealing with.
- There should be third-party reviews about the lawyer you are considering.
- Check for accreditation and degrees that fortify this lawyer’s capabilities.
- Find out how this lawyer is going to get paid for his or her services before hiring.
Can Taxpayers do Anything on Their own?
As valuable as a tax attorney can be to a person going through tax issues, some individuals still want to do something to stay in control of the situation. The following are some of the things a taxpayer can handle as long as he or she has enough time and knowledge:
A small mistake or a routine interaction with the IRS can be done without legal representation. Most of the time, things like a small mistake on a tax return can be addressed by simply having a conversation with the taxpayer’s preparer.
A taxpayer that needs an extension to complete a tax return can also take care of this particular problem without the help of a lawyer. The only thing that is needed is a simple Form 4868. The instructions are on the form itself and are pretty self-explanatory.
Another thing a taxpayer can do on his or her own is submit an “offer in compromise.” The IRS has set up this program for taxpayers who cannot pay or have trouble paying what they owe. In essence, the taxpayer is petitioning the IRS to allow them to pay what they owe but at a much lower rate. This action is not too hard to do without the help of a lawyer.
It is clear that there are a few steps that anyone can take without hiring a tax attorney.
Of course, there could be other small issues that could be taken care of without any tax law help, but it is important that the taxpayer is honest with him or herself in these matters. Keep in mind that depending on the taxpayer’s tax issues, a small mistake could have dire financial consequences.
Hopefully, some of this information makes it easier for taxpayers to figure out when they need a tax attorney and when they can afford to skip one.