Tax Court in Gardendale, Alabama
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 Gardendale, Alabama.
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 authorizing 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 Gardendale, Alabama
Any legal issue that concerns federal taxes in Gardendale, Alabama, or anywhere else in the U.S., can go to tax court. It's most often the case that the IRS initiates legal action against a taxpayer, alleging that they have failed to pay all of their required taxes, or are delinquent in some other way. The taxpayer typically has 90 days to respond, which initiates adversarial tax court proceedings. Failing to respond may result in the taxpayer forfeiting their rights to contest the allegations against them.
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.
Federal tax court is somewhat unique in that individuals who are not licensed attorneys in Alabama (or anywhere else) may represent taxpayers before the tax court, as long as they can pass an exam indicating that they have a good familiarity of tax law. Licensed lawyers do not need to take this exam to practice before tax court.
Typically, a Gardendale, Alabama resident will end up in tax court because the IRS has determined that they have not paid all of the taxes that they owe, and has sent them a notice indicating as much. When this happens, the taxpayer has 90 days to file a claim in Tax Court contesting the IRS's allegations. If you believe that the allegations against you are untrue, and wish to fight them, it's essential that you file a claim in tax court within the allotted time period. Otherwise, you could lose your right to challenge that tax bill permanently.
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Do I Need a Gardendale, Alabama Tax Attorney?
Federal law permits some non-lawyers to represent parties in tax court. However, tax law is a fairly intricate and specialized legal field. Most lawyers who practice tax law do not practice any other area of law, giving you an idea of how specialized it is.
If you find yourself in a situation where you think you'll have to go to tax court, you should consult with a knowledgeable tax lawyer in Gardendale, Alabama as soon as possible. Non-lawyers are allowed to represent you in tax court, and most of them are perfectly competent. However, there are significant advantages to having a lawyer represent you, as opposed to an accountant or other non-attorney. Primarily, lawyers are regulated by the bar association of whatever state they're licensed to practice in, and if a lawyer handles your case incompetently, you will have substantial legal recourse against them, through both the courts and the state bar