Tax Court Representation 101: Should You or Should You Not Hire a Tax Lawyer?
There are instances when, no matter how diligent you are in filing and paying your taxes, problems in tax audits can lead to certain penalties that you simply cannot accept. In a democratic society, you have all the right to contest such issues in the proper forum. In this case you will need to bring the issue to the tax court. However, there is great debate regarding tax court representation with one group saying you need a tax lawyer to represent your interests while on the other end of the spectrum is the group saying you don’t need to have a tax lawyer.
What Does the Law Says?
The Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure is explicit in saying that individuals who are not attorneys-at-law can represent clients in tax cases. However, the same ruling says that this non-attorney individual must be able to satisfactorily comply with all other requirements such as the successful completion of a written examination. The examination evaluates the non-attorney individual’s knowledge and competence in the different rules of practice and procedures in tax courts, federal taxation, legal ethics, and the federal rules of evidence. To successfully pass the examination, one must be able to obtain a score of at least 70 percent in each of the four areas of tax court competence. Only then can they be allowed to represent clients in tax court hearings.
Will a CPA or a Tax Preparer Suffice?
As long as the certified public accountant, the tax preparer, or any other individual for that matter has successfully applied for tax court representation with the Admissions Clerk and has satisfactorily complied with the requisite competency examination, then these professionals or individuals can represent you in tax court proceedings.
Why a Tax Law Attorney is a Better Choice
It is important to understand that in order to obtain the best possible result from your tax case, it is always best to hire a lawyer who specializes in taxation and who has more than satisfactorily met all the legal or statutory requirements for tax court representation. These tax lawyers have extensive experience and knowledge of the inner workings of the tax court system as well as the different tax laws that may play a role in the outcome of the case.
Tax lawyers perform a very thorough investigation into your case and can provide you with the best legal options even before you go to court. There are also instances where judges who preside tax court hearings do not allow any other form of tax court representation except that of a lawyer. Although this is discretionary, some judges are known to disallow CPAs and tax preparers to function as a representative of tax case clients perhaps because of their limited knowledge of tax laws and other issues related to tax court proceedings.
If you are more confident in hiring a non-attorney professional to represent you, just make sure they are properly licensed to do so. Otherwise, it is better to get the services of a tax attorney for your tax court representation needs.
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