Whenever someone asks me what I do, I generally say that I’m a tax attorney. In return, the person either looks at me like I’m nuts or runs away after an awkward silence. I can hardly blame him/her; no one wants to think about the IRS when it’s not absolutely necessary.
Occasionally, someone will ask, “What do you do, exactly?” I’m not a CPA. I don’t have a “busy season.” I don’t audit companies and I generally do not perform any kind of financial planning analysis. I do, however, contact the IRS, NC Department of Revenue, or local taxing authority on your behalf. I can also stop wage garnishments, prevent levies or liens, coordinate payment plans, submit offers in compromise, file past due returns, or implement programs so that small businesses may comply with new laws. In other words, I make sure that your life goes on even when the tax man comes.
For those looking ahead, I often work with small business attorneys, financial planners, consultants, and CPAs to make sure that you have documents that won’t cause problems upon a business closing, a death in the family, a sudden illness, or other major life event.
Tax law is a very particular and detail-oriented field. It can sometimes take hours of research to clarify one sentence in a merger agreement or trust document. Portions of the tax laws can be interpreted many different ways based on how you read the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations. Special tax courts exist, in addition to regular avenues of litigation, to clarify all the pervasive issues out there.
If you’re looking for someone to represent you, make sure that the person is permitted to practice before the IRS. Ask what kinds of cases they have worked on previously. Check in with family, friends, other attorneys or service professionals to see who they would recommend. When it comes to tax problems, you need someone makes you feel comfortable, who you are willing to share incredibly personal financial information with, and who you can trust to do right for your family or business.