Tax Court in Bethel, Alaska

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Tax Court is a legal forum designed specifically to resolve claims and disputes that arise under federal and (sometimes) state tax law.

At the national level, we have the United States Tax Court, which has locations all over the country. This means that there is a U.S. tax court in or near Bethel, Alaska.

The United States Tax Court handles most legal disputes that have to deal with federal, as opposed to state, taxes. These are not courts of "general jurisdiction" (courts that hear the vast majority of civil and criminal cases). Tax courts are able to hear cases where the tax bill in dispute has not yet been paid (effectively allowing a court to rule on the validity of a tax bill before the taxpayer pays it). The courts of general jurisdiction in the U.S. (called the U.S. District Courts) can only hear tax cases if the tax bill has already been paid.

Tax Court Procedure in Bethel, Alaska

Tax court claims in Bethel, Alaska can arise from any tax dispute, such as when a taxpayer believes that the conclusions of a tax audit were in error, or that they do not owe as much money as the IRS claims that they do.

The judges who preside over U.S. Tax Courts are appointed by the President. They serve terms of 15 years. When their terms expire, the vast majority of these judges are simply re-appointed by whichever president is in office at the time, so most tax court judges effectively serve for life, or until they retire.

Tax courts in the U.S. have a few unique features. Perhaps most notably, people who are not admitted to practice law in Alaska, or in any other jurisdiction, are allowed to represent clients in tax court. However, non-lawyers must take, and pass, a fairly difficult exam to demonstrate that they have an in-depth understanding of U.S. tax law. If someone is already a lawyer, however, they can practice before a tax court without taking this exam.

Typically, residents of Bethel, Alaska will end up in tax court because the IRS, or another tax agency, has alleged that they have failed to pay all the taxes that they owe. In the interest of due process, the IRS will send the taxpayer a letter informing them that they owe back taxes. At this point, the taxpayer will have something like 90 days to go to Tax Court to fight these allegations, if they so desire. If you do not file a response within the allotted time, the tax bill will become final, and you will have no legal means to contest it.

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Do I Need a Bethel, Alaska Tax Attorney?

Although federal tax court allows, under some circumstances, non-lawyers to represent taxpayers, the practice of tax law is extremely complicated and specialized. Many attorneys who practice tax law do not practice in any other area.

If you are going to tax court, it should be evident by now that you should seek the advice and assistance of a good Bethel, Alaska tax lawyer. This is not a knock against the non-lawyers who are licensed to practice before tax court; the vast majority of them are perfectly competent. However, if a licensed attorney seriously mishandles your case, you will have a great deal of legal recourse against them, more so than with a non-attorney.

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