Whether you need to negotiate a repayment arrangement, halt wage garnishment, secure your business assets for the next generation or navigate an audit, there are many reasons to work with a tax attorney. Whatever the case, you need to know how to pick a tax lawyer who will set you up for success. Here are a few questions to ask a tax attorney to help you choose the right person for the job.
5 Questions to Ask a Tax Attorney
1. Are you admitted to the state bar? What are your credentials?
This is the first of many questions to ask a tax attorney. Always ask your potential tax attorney about their credentials and for proof of those credentials. Your lawyer should be licensed to practice law by your state’s bar and have a Master of Law degree at a minimum. Keep in mind that less qualified lawyers will have lower fees but hiring them may cost you more as your case drags on.
Ask for referrals in a local business group, if you’re part of one, and spend some time online reading reviews. There are public lists for tax attorneys who are registered with organizations such as the National Association of Tax Professionals and the Tax Law Association. Take advantage of these tools and learn as much as you can about the person you’ll be hiring.
2. Which area of tax law do you specialize in?
Not every tax attorney will specialize in the area that you need help with. While tax attorneys are experts in where law and accounting intersect, they may have additional specialization within this area of the law. Make sure you pick a tax lawyer who is uniquely suited to fight your case.
Have they handled cases like yours in the past and won? Even if your tax attorney hasn’t dealt with a case exactly like yours, they may be willing to roll up their sleeves and fight hard to help you win. Personality and motivation matter and you’ll get a feel for this during the consultation process.
3. What are your legal fees?
There are many questions to ask a tax attorney before committing and the issue of money will undoubtedly come up. Not surprisingly, attorneys can be significantly more expensive than other tax professionals. If you’re in a tough financial situation, your tax attorney’s legal fees can be the deciding factor. Ask for an estimate of the costs of your case, so you can budget and avoid billing disputes.
Ask whether your attorney charges by the hour or charges a flat rate for the service you’re seeking and get that agreement in writing. If you have a complex case, the attorney’s fees may very well be worth it considering the alternative cost you would otherwise absorb.
The sad truth is that most people who need a lawyer struggle to afford one and this is the very premise that LegalShield was founded upon. With Business Plans starting at just $49 a month, one-on-one legal support is more affordable than you think. Get small business legal help online now.
4. Can I sue the IRS or CRA for damages?
While it’s rare that a citizen will successfully sue the CRA or IRS for damages, it can happen. If you feel that the IRS or CRA is engaging in predatory practices that have caused you harm, this issue may be worth exploring. An experienced tax attorney can answer all your legal tax questions and it doesn’t hurt to reach out.
5. What happens if I lose? Do I still have to pay legal fees?
Most tax attorneys will bill on an hourly rate or in the form of a lump-sum fee. However, some lawyers will work on a contingency fee to address your legal tax questions and concerns. In a contingency fee arrangement, the tax lawyer who represents you will be compensated by taking a percentage of your settlement as a fee for their services. If you lose, the lawyer doesn’t get paid.
If you’re looking to simply navigate an audit or work out a payment arrangement with the IRS or CRA, it’s unlikely you’ll find a lawyer to work on a contingency fee. Typically, lawyers only take on contingency cases if there’s potential for a large settlement and a good chance that the judge will rule in the plaintiff’s favor. If you have a strong case against the IRS or CRA, it may be worthwhile to explore a contingency fee arrangement with your tax attorney.
Talk to a Lawyer & Get Legal Help Online Now
Dealing with the IRS or CRA can be stressful and hiring a tax attorney can be expensive. Additionally, it can be difficult to know how to pick a tax lawyer or if you should even hire one at all. LegalShield is here to help. Through our network of experienced lawyers, you can find your justice without breaking the bank.
Answers to Frequently Asked Legal Tax Questions
What does a tax attorney do?
What’s the difference between a tax attorney vs CPA? Tax lawyers specialize in handling the legal matters of accounting, not standard accounting.
When should a small business hire a tax attorney?
Small businesses should seek the counsel of a tax attorney if their wages are being garnished or they have liens or levies on their property as a result of unpaid taxes. A tax lawyer can work with the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to negotiate payment plans and remove liens and halt garnishments.
How else can a tax attorney help me?
A tax attorney can set up trusts and prepare estate documents to keep your assets safe for the next generation. They can also answer any legal tax questions you may have, so you can avoid landing in hot water later.
How do I interview a tax attorney?
Most tax attorneys offer a free consultation to ensure you’re comfortable moving forward. Write out a list of questions and make notes during the interview. Follow up with any additional questions if you’re still not comfortable after the initial consultation.
Is a tax attorney worth it?
Whether a tax attorney is worth it or not is a matter of perspective and the value of legal counsel will vary by case. Before deciding if you should hire a tax attorney or not, schedule a free consultation to help you decide.
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