Hiring a Tax Attorney
Are you in need of a tax attorney? If so, it is essential to understand what to look for when hiring a tax attorney.
Typically, individuals seek the services of an attorney when they find themselves in an unfortunate legal situation, they are unable to navigate independently. When searching for a litigation attorney, it may be advantageous to find someone who is a fierce advocate, unwavering in their commitment to your cause. In the case of family law matters, an even keeled and empathetic mediator who can guide you through the complexities of your familial challenges might serve best. However, when selecting a tax attorney, it is important to strike a balance. You will want someone who can assertively present your case while maintaining a level-headed and reasonable approach to guide you through the difficult scenarios of tax-related issues.
There are several factors to consider when hiring a tax attorney. First, it is important to review the attorney’s educational background. In the United States, all attorneys must pass the bar exam of the state in which they practice. Some states allow a person to practice law without having attended law school and earned a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree. However, for your specific needs, it may be more beneficial to hire an attorney who has obtained a J.D. degree, as it signifies a well-rounded and expansive legal education. While those who have passed the bar exam without attending law school may be very knowledge, choosing an attorney who graduated from a reputable law school may be the best option for your legal matter.
Second, in addition to basic education, it might be beneficial to seek a tax attorney who possesses specialized knowledge in taxation and finance. Some tax attorneys further their education and receive a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree, which provides them with extensive expertise in the complex world of taxation. Advanced educational options for tax attorneys may also include a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. Attorneys with advanced degrees or certifications can offer unique insights into the business and accounting aspects of tax matters.
Third, it is important to consider the attorney’s connections and reputation in the tax community. It is not secret that attorneys often seek advice from their peers or a referral to a special service to advance your tax case. Therefore, when choosing a tax attorney, evaluate their standing within the legal, educational, and business communities. Do your due diligence before finalizing your selection. In California, the CA State Bar website provides information on an attorney’s licensure, standing, and law firm affiliation. Social media reviews, taken with a grain of salt, and other personal references are also valuable assessment tools.
Fourth, when interviewing potential tax attorneys, consider their level of experience. Regardless of the complexity of your tax situation, you deserve an attorney who possesses the necessary experience to represent you professionally, efficiently, and successfully. If you truly connect with a less experienced attorney and feel they are the best person to meet your needs, be sure to discuss this openly and ensure your attorney is well-connected in the practice area and is not reluctant to ask for help.
Fifth, ask about how the potential tax attorney will prioritize your case and address your needs. While many tax related matters slowly wind through the morass of our various governmental agencies, your tax attorney must be an effective and efficient communicator. Look for an attorney who promptly responds to your phone calls and emails, keeping you informed about your case, including your responsibilities in providing necessary data, upcoming due dates, and significant communications with other parties involved. Choose an attorney who informs and educates you on the pertinent issues, who is candid and honest about the available choices, and who listens attentively as you bear the ultimate responsibility for the outcome.
You should consider the specific issues and scope of your legal needs when considering an attorney and their law firm. Are you dealing with a large business undergoing audits from multiple agencies, requiring expertise in complex accounting and tax matters? Do you seek advice on simple or intricate tax planning? Are you in need of assistance with estate and trust planning? Do you require guidance on international tax issues? Are you looking to establish a new LLC for business, tax, or real estate purposes? Keep these specific needs in mind during the interview process, alongside the considerations.
Lastly, make sure you are hiring an actual law firm. There are several so called “tax relief” firms in our industry. These firms may employ attorneys, but they are not truly law firms and may not offer the same services and help of a real law firm. For example, communications between tax relief firms and their clients (even if a lawyer is involved) are not protected by the attorney client privilege. Unlike protected communications between a law firm and its clients, non-protected communications with tax relief companies may be used against you in a court of law. While some tax relief firms may be honest and provide valuable services to their client, the IRS has recognized many of these firms have harmed their clients and included tax relief firms on their Dirty Dozen List.
Hiring the best tax attorney for your needs is a significant decision and it is important to pick the right person for the job. In reviewing these advice points, remember to consider the financial aspects of your representation. Think about your budget, what you are willing to spend, and do not be afraid to discuss this up front.
The qualified and experienced Tax, Tax Planning, Estate and Trust, and international tax attorneys at RJS LAW, are standing by with a complimentary consultation. Please feel free to contact RJS LAW online or at (619) 595-1655.
Written by Marley Smith-Peters