Tax Attorney Guide

Hiring a good tax attorney is essential - how do you know where to start looking for one, though? What are some questions to ask your tax attorney and certifications/qualifications you should consider?

Why hire a tax attorney instead of a CPA?
Most people assume that all tax issues are handled by CPA's. While it's true that CPA's handle most tax issues, in many cases a better alternative is a tax attorney - somebody well-schooled in both state and federal tax laws.

Usually a tax attorney is going to have more specialized knowledge about how the IRS and state tax offices work and how to settle cases with them. If your tax liability is not significant a tax attorney is probably overkill - you should just consult with a CPA. If you are facing thousands of dollars in tax penalties, however, an attorney may help you settle your case for a lot less than you owe.

Another advantage of working with a tax attorney is that the relationship is protected by an attorney-client privilege - the IRS cannot require your tax attorney to testify against you - a CPA may be required to.

Where to look
Finding a tax attorney shouldn't be difficult - looking around on the internet or even yellow pages you should find a lot of options. Remember, though, that you are seeing advertisements - just because you have seen an advertisement does not say anything about the quality of the representation you can expect.

The best way to find an attorney specializing in tax law is to get a referral from somebody else that has been in your situation. This doesn't mean to go talk to your friend who was convicted of a DUI last year - you don't need a criminal defense attorney, you need a tax specialist.

If you don't know somebody who has been in your situation you need to get on the internet and look around for a real person who has - they are out there. Also, when you get a referral from somebody, make sure they had no prior relationship with the attorney they are referring - a lot of times people will exaggerate how good their close friends or family really are.