Selecting a Tax Attorney
Tax professionals in a local tax practice (CPAs, accountants, enrolled agents, attorneys) have an inherent “ conflict of interest ” for aggressive representation of any one client because they do not want to antagonize the local IRS revenue officer or examiner in a way that will have a negative impact on their other clients. The IRS will take advantage of the timid local practitioner who finds it necessary to generate a positive image for the balance of his client base.
We specialize in dealing with IRS controversies, problems and issues of every kind throughout the United States. We have active cases pending throughout the United States. Having worked within the IRS at a high executive level, we understand the most effective ways to deal with the IRS to advocate a reasonable solution to resolve your IRS problems.
CPAs, accountants, bookkeepers, enrolled agents, and attorneys without a tax specialty may not have the time, experience, education, insight or technical skill to deal with the technical analysis, legal research, identification of issues, interpretative creativity and insight, negotiating skills, knowledge of the IRS. or technical writing ability necessary to effectively prevent avoidable tax overpayments . The person who prepares your tax return may only have six weeks of training, and that training may be limited to how to put numbers into an IRS income tax return. Your bookkeeper is not a tax expert. Your CPA prepares tax returns for approximately three months out of the year and spends the balance of the time preparing books, records, and financial statements. Most, if not all enrolled agents are not tax lawyers. Attorneys may have a general or a specialized practice that does not include tax issues and problems. Nevertheless, accountants, CPAs, bookkeepers, enrolled agents, and non-tax attorneys will usually agree to represent you if you approach them with a tax issue even if they do not have the training or experience to handle difficult, complex, or creative tax issues. The IRS can be expected to take advantage of those representatives who are not specialists in the tax law and who do not deal with the IRS on a full-time basis.
A tax attorney can do something an accountant cannot do. An experienced tax attorney can thoroughly research a tax statute and master it. He will know its legislative history. He will be familiar with the Treasury regulations and IRS rulings on that statute. He will penetrate the many court decisions involved in the litigation of the tax statute. He will have read tax articles and books that deal with the tax statute. It is improbable that your accountant has the training or experience that would permit him to penetrate the complexity of the tax law on a particular tax issue. It is also not likely that the accountant can take the time out of a busy accounting practice, working with numbers and preparing financial statements, to master the vast array of difficult tax law that bears on a tax statute.
Even worse is the fact that the mind-set of an accountant is to see "black and white" rather than the "gray" because they are trained to be precise with
numbers. Tax law is drenched with ambiguity where there is mostly no answer that is right or wrong. Tax lawyers are trained to seek and find the ambiguity in the law (i.e. the "gray"). Tax law ambiguity can be used as a "sword" to attack and IRS position and also as a "shield" to protect the taxpayer.
However, not all tax attorneys are equal just as, for example; professional golfers have difference levels of skill and ability. Tax attorneys have different levels of creativity, insight and skill.
The most important attribute of a good tax attorney is to be "creative" with the tax law. This creativity may arise in many ways. A creative tax attorney will use interpretative skill to find support of a taxpayer position. A creative tax attorney will find a gap in a statute or a regulation (a "tax loophole") that permits favorable tax treatment in situations not covered by the statute under consideration. A creative tax attorney will be able to identify inconsistencies by the IRS in its published positions or private ruling letters. A creative tax attorney will use interpretative skills to spin facts, case law, regulations in favor of the taxpayer. Creativity is unlimited in its potential to interpret and apply the law or the ability to develop that knowledge through research skills.
Any attorney is a better representative than a non-attorney because “taxes” is based on law written by the Conges and non-attorneys are not trained to research and interpret tax law. As between two attorneys, a specialist in taxes is a better choice as the result of superior training and experience. As between to tax attorneys who both specialize in IRS problems and controversies, a firm that has IRS experience, as we do, have better insight to the inner workings of the IRS. Knowledge of the administrative processes of the IRS is a distinct advantage in choosing your representative.
In explaining what a tax lawyer does that other representatives cannot do, it is helpful to understand what is meant by a legal issue. Legal issues are developed from expert creative analytical, interpretative, and technical research skills. Technical research includes: determining Congressional intent from the legislative history of the tax law; a search and analysis of the provisions of the applicable provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury tax regulations, IRS revenue rulings, private letter rulings and procedures and the IRS administrative procedures and guidelines.
The fact that tax law is complex and arcane is well known. This complexity is he reason a qualified tax attorney is in a superior position to protect a taxpayer from overpaying a tax liability - provided that attorney has strong creative, analytical and interpretative skills. Interpretative and analytical skills involve the sophisticated ability to read tax legislation, regulations, cases and other authority to identify subtle distinctions, ambiguity or supportive facts, issues, and argument.
Presented by Alvin Brown and Associates, tax attorney, formerly with the Office of the Chief Counsel of the IRS.
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