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Who Can Represent Taxpayers in a Tax Trial?

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Who Can Represent Taxpayers in a Tax Trial?

Each year, the IRS conducts hundreds of thousands of audits, looking into the accuracy of the returns of U.S. citizens from all walks of life and income levels across the country. In some cases, the audit process can end with the taxpayer being cleared and no changes needed to be made to the return. Often, however, an audit will find some mistakes or errors. What happens next will depend on the type of errors, lies, or non-disclosure discovered, how major their implications were for your tax calculations, and whether your actions were willful or non-willful, among other factors. If you are unsatisfied with the results of your audit, you can file an appeal of the IRS tax assessment / tax bill with the IRS. If your appeal is not granted, you can then take your case to Tax Court. At the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing, our skilled Tax Litigation Lawyers & Supporting staff of CPAs have years of experience representing our clients in various civil and criminal proceedings before the IRS. We have extensive representation experience in IRS audits, before the appeals division of the IRS and Chief Counsels’ Office and with the Federal Tax Court, and we can work to bring your case to the best possible resolution, whether that be through a settlement negotiation or an actual tax trial.

Who Can Represent You Before the U.S. Tax Court?

You are permitted to represent yourself before the Tax Court, the legal term for which is “pro se.” However, it is never a wise idea to represent yourself in any legal matter, even if you are an attorney yourself. It is always best to engage an experienced tax attorney like those at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing, all of whom are licensed to practice before the Tax Court, who can look at your situation from an outside perspective and use our years of representing clients before the Tax Court to make the best plan for success in your case. Although non-attorneys like CPAs can also become licensed to represent you before the Tax Court, they must take an examination that requires extensive legal knowledge in order to do so, and even then, they will not be as skilled in legal representation as an actual attorney. Furthermore, at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing, most of our Tax Attorneys are also licensed Certified Public Accountants, giving you the best of both possible worlds and a competitive advantage before the Tax Court as demonstrated by our winning public record.  If we do not believe you will substantially benefit by litigating with the IRS, we will not recommend it.  This is often determined by our analysis of the facts and the law at issue in your case and it is the taxpayer that bears the burden of proof at trial.  If the law and the facts are in your favor, you should prevail at appeals or at trial as the IRS has a 98% settlement rate.

How Do Proceedings Before the Tax Court Work?

In order to begin the process, your lawyer will work to prepare and file a tax court petition with the Tax Court seeking relief, usually from the results of an audit or some other investigation that led to a significant increase in your tax liability often amplified by an additional assessment of penalties and interest. The petition must contain a clear and concise assignment of each alleged error made by the IRS in law or fact in arriving at their contested position, and any issue not raised will be deemed conceded to the IRS. It also must be filed within 90 days of receiving a notice of deficiency letter from the IRS. The IRS will have either 60 days from the date of service of your petition to file an answer to the petition, or 45 days to file a motion related to it. If any material allegation is not expressly admitted or denied, it will typically be deemed admitted by the government in front of the Tax Court. In some cases, the IRS will file a motion asking that its allegations in the answer be admitted by the taxpayer, in which case you will have 45 days from the date of the IRS’s answer to file a reply. Otherwise, no reply is necessary to the IRS’s answer to your petition.

At this point, a seasoned Tax Litigation Lawyer like those at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing will negotiate first with appeals and then with Chief Counsel’s Office to attempt to come to some sort of settlement where your proposed tax bill is reduced or eliminated in exchange for your dropping the matter and helping them reduce the burden on the court system. The overwhelming majority of these types of cases are settled without a trial. If you do not wish to settle your matter, we can make the best possible case before the tax court that your tax assessment was unfair and that it should be reduced or eliminated by calling on witnesses and introducing evidence, as well as countering the witnesses and evidence produced by the IRS. In the most populous states, tax court hearings are held monthly in major cities, while in smaller states, the tax court may meet only once a year for a week or two of sessions at the local federal building. As such, no trial is likely to occur for at least six months after your tax court petition is filed.

In some cases where your matter involves $50,000 or less, you can elect to take the matter before the small tax case division, which can streamline the process. However, you also lose some rights and advantages when you go through the small tax division, where the rules of evidence are very relaxed, and no briefs are required. As noted at the outset, it is always best to consult with an experienced Tax Litigation Lawyer like those at our firm before making any decisions about where and how to file.

If You are Thinking of Filing a Petition with the Tax Court, Contact Our Veteran Tax Litigation Attorneys Today

It is never a wise idea to try to represent yourself at Tax Court or to put your case in the hands of anyone but an experienced tax attorney like those at the Law Offices of David W. Klasing. Our skilled professionals know the lay of the land in Appeals, in front of Chief Counsel’s Office and in Tax Court and can help you negotiate a reasonable settlement without going through the hassles of a trial. To set up a confidential consultation, contact our office today at (661) 432-1480 or schedule online.

 In addition to our main office in Irvine,  the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing has unstaffed (conference room only) satellite offices in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Panorama City, Oxnard, San Diego, Bakersfield, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Carlsbad and Sacramento. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff are working from home, but have full virtual meeting capability.

Our office technology allows clients to meet virtually via GoToMeeting. With end-to-end encryption, strong passwords and top-rated reliability, no one is messing with your meeting. To schedule a reduced rate initial consultation via GoToMeeting follow this link.   Call our office and request a GoToMeeting if you are an existing client.