First, let’s make the distinction between a tax planning attorney and a tax controversy attorney. Usually, tax attorneys go one way or the other with their practice.
The planners are counselors who do their best to keep you out of trouble with the tax authorities, while minimizing your tax liability. On the other hand, the tax controversy attorneys provide representation once you have already landed on the tax agent’s radar.
Here at HLA, our tax attorneys are litigators. You bring us in once the fight has started. You won’t always go to war with the IRS/Dpt. of Revenue, but you do want someone who knows the terrain and won’t be intimidated at the thought of going to trial.
So, if you are being audited or need to file a petition in Tax court, you are ready for a tax controversy attorney, not a planner.
In fact, an HLA tax attorney can help with all of the following situations:
- tax audit
- tax collection action
- offer in compromise
- abatement of tax penalties
- Trial & Appeals
- summons enforcement actions
- wrongful levy action
- wrongful disclosure suits
- IRS enforcement actions (injunctions)
Even if you would prefer not to litigate with the IRS–and, of course, most people would definitely prefer not to litigate–having a tax controversy attorney at your side gives you important advantages.
First, your HLA attorney will help you control the flow of information. Accountants and tax planners are not typically very familiar with the rules of evidence or procedure. That’s fair enough. They don’t deal with that aspect of the practice. Just the same, turnover of documents and disclosure of information is critical.
Nothing good comes from giving up more information than necessary. And, nobody but an experienced tax litigator is in a position to push back against IRS document requests.
Second, you will have several key decisions to make along the way. A few of the biggest decisions are (i) whether to take a deal or move towards trial, (ii) whether to pay the assessment upfront and then initiate a refund action, and (iii) whether to file a protest with the Appeals Office or go directly to US Tax Court. You are very much going to want to have an HLA attorney help you make you those crucial decisions.
Last but certainly not least . . . it’s about credibility. Tax agents utilize a variety of techniques to do their jobs. Some will cajole, charm, intimidate . . . we’ve seen “good cop, bad cop,” etc.
You may not know what to make of it all, but our attorneys have seen it all. Techniques don’t work on us, and the tax agent knows it. That saves time and avoids nonsense.