Nobody is particularly fond of being on the receiving end of an “I told you so” story. But here you are, finding yourself to be at odds with the IRS. Whether this is due to either all the back taxes or audit, investment fraud, or other matters pertaining to your taxes, one thing is for sure. If you’re stuck in any of those aforementioned predicaments, you need the immediate assistance of a tax attorney. Waiting will not do at all. If these issues are left unaddressed, you might find yourself facing liens, garnishment, huge fines, ballooning interests, or worse, the possibility of getting prison time. But before reaching for the yellow pages, there may be a few things you need to know when hiring a tax attorney as this type of lawyers are different from other lawyers like injury lawyers. Just what are these? Read on to find out.
A Generalist or A Specialist?
When looking through your local listings, you may encounter these two terms. They signify the two types of attorneys and of the kind of services they provide. While generalists are helpful in basic matters, they do not necessarily have an area of expertise. For tax cases, you need an attorney whose specialty is tax law. And you need someone with experience, particularly a good track record on similar cases. Furthermore, you also need one with a clean professional reputation. This means doing a little background research on your part. Check every potential candidate’s credentials. Or better yet, try to see if they are in good standing with the local bar association as well as with the IRS.
It is quite ironic, yes. But hiring someone to save your finances will indefinitely cost you. And one thing about tax attorneys is that they definitely don’t come cheap. It is but understandable as contending with the ever-intimidating folks from the IRS is hardly a walk in the park. The work cut out for tax attorneys is difficult. And this is the reason why they charge higher than your average lawyer’s fee. So one thing to consider before hiring a tax attorney is to make sure that you can afford one.
Expenses differ and are dependent on the complexity of your case, your location, and of the kind of attorney you choose to hire. For starters, you have an option among the three standard fee structures which are:
Pay By The Hour
This method is a very common mode of payment for most tax attorneys. Typically, the rates will be based on the hours he or she spends on your case. Some tax attorneys usually offer free consultation at the initial stage. Here, you can discuss with him or her the projected number of hours he or she needs to work on your case.
Here, after having gone over the pertinent details of your case, the tax attorney will give you the exact figures you will be spending for his or her services.
For this particular payment structure, you will be charged with a fixed percentage of whatever amount your attorney is able to recover at the end of the trial. This, however, does not exclude miscellaneous expenses. You would have to shoulder payment for phone bills, filing fees, court expenses, photocopy costs, and others.
What About Retainer Fees?
Whatever the payment structure you choose, there is also the matter of retainer charges. Retainer fees are basically the down payment you need to make to obtain the attorney’s services. Once the case or the work is completed, a part of the total amount will be returned to you.
FAQ’s And Other Questions You Need To Ask
Before deciding on a particular tax attorney, you must be sure of a couple of things, which very important in determining how your case turns out. For starters, you need to know whether the tax attorney will personally handle your case or turn it over to his other colleagues.
If the latter is the case, always request for a face-to-face meeting with the attorney assigned to you. Also, it would do you some good to find out exactly how well-versed this potential attorney is in cases such as yours. Ask for statistics. Get the figures of how many of these cases were brought to court and how many reached out-of-court settlements.
Then ask yourself too, whether or not you yourself are comfortable of putting your trust in this lawyer. Is he or she someone you can share your sensitive information such as your financial details?
True, hiring a tax attorney is such a costly ordeal. But when compared to the financial repercussions of not hiring one, the fees are the least of your problems. Besides, the money you spend will be for your advantage. Good tax attorneys are expert negotiators who can turn a bad situation into a particularly favorable one for you. Plus, you don’t even have to deal with IRS agents alone, which can be a very stressful event. So stop staying up late at night thinking of a tax attorney’s hourly rates and what not. Start thinking of how much you’d lose without the legal aid of a tax attorney. And when the latter outweighs the former (as it sure will), it’s about time you start flipping through those yellow pages.