As a taxpayer, you have rights...
There is nothing worse than having the Internal Revenue Service or another taxing authority such as the California State Board of Equalization (SBE), the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), or the California Employment Development Department (EDD) chasing after you. However, as a taxpayer, you have rights, including the right to consult an IRS trial lawyer.
We understand that dealing with a tax problem, whether it is a tax audit by the IRS, a California sales tax audit by the State Board of Equalization or a payroll tax problem with the Employment Development Department, can be a very stressful experience. Therefore, our tax lawyers work not only to minimize the taxes our clients owe, but also to reduce their stress by taking the weight of dealing with the IRS on a day-to-day basis off their shoulders.
There are many excellent California tax attorneys and tax lawyers. Most of those tax attorneys handle tax planning. They can tell you how to most efficiently plan your affairs to lower your taxes and how to prevent tax problems from occurring. However, relatively few tax lawyers are tax litigation lawyers, or tax controversy lawyers. Tax litigation lawyers represent clients who have tax problems with the IRS or state taxing agencies. For example, if you or your company undergoes a tax audit an IRS trial attorney can represent you at that audit, or in any tax appeal from that tax audit. A tax litigation attorney can represent you in Tax Court, or any other appropriate court which may include the District Court, the Court of Federal Claims, or even the Bankruptcy Court. If you have a tax problem with a California tax agency a tax litigation lawyer can represent you in California Superior Court or before the Employment Development Department, Franchise Tax Board, or State Board of Equalization.
Did you lose a case in the United States Tax Court? A tax litigation lawyer can represent you in an appeal from a Tax Court decision to the appropriate Circuit Court of Appeal. In fact, in 2016 alone our tax controversy attorneys represented taxpayers in three separate appeals to the Circuit Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit.
A tax controversy attorney can also represent you if you have a tax collection problem, and would like an offer in compromise or an installment agreement to pay your taxes. In addition, a tax controversy attorney can represent you in a wide range of tax problems including the abatement of tax penalties, in summons enforcement actions, wrongful levy actions, and in wrongful disclosure suits. A tax controversy lawyer can represent you if you are a tax professional and become subject to IRS enforcement proceedings such as injunction actions against tax return preparers or an alleged violation of Circular 230. In short if you have a tax problem, an IRS trial attorney can help you.
Our tax controversy attorneys also have a great deal of experience representing clients who have financial accounts outside of the United States, but have failed to file the appropriate Foreign Bank Account Reports on FinCEN Form 114, or IRS Form 8938. We know that most taxpayers who haven’t made these filings have done so out of ignorance of the law, or fear of the consequences if they start filing after years of non-compliance. If you cruise the internet you will see a multitude of websites which claim to have solutions to this type of offshore tax problem.
Many of these websites have contradictory information. In some cases the information is downright wrong. The IRS has its own website which contains page after page of information about its various programs. Everything from the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) to the Streamlined Procedure in two different flavors; that is the SFOP (Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedure) and the SDOP (Streamlined Domestic Offshore Program). The IRS’ website has 55 separate FAQs describing the OVDP. Some of those questions have subparts, and some have been deleted. And of course, there are options such as the “quiet voluntary disclosure”, and the “noisy voluntary disclosure.” The quiet voluntary disclosure is rarely even mentioned by the IRS, except when IRS officials make veiled threats about the consequences to anyone who tries to attempt to solve their offshore tax problems that way.
Nor is the web of confusion limited to those with funds offshore. Have a tax debt, but can’t afford to pay it? Options include:
- Offers in Compromise based upon doubt as to collectability
- Effective tax administration (ETA) offers
- Hardship Offers
- Part pay Installment Agreements
- Full pay Installment Agreements
- Audit Reconsideration
- Offers in Compromise based upon doubt as to liability
- Chapter 7 bankruptcy
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy
- Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Once again there is a ton of information out there; some of it self-serving, some of it contradictory, and almost all of it confusing. How is the average taxpayer to figure out what the best option is? The short answer is you need a tax litigation attorney who can review your specific situation, and give you the best possible advice. At Brager Tax Law Group, our tax dispute attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in solving tax problems.