Tax Court Lawyers in Birmingham
Tax Court is a legal forum designed particularly 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, that has locations all over the country. This means that there is an U.S. tax court in or near Birmingham, Alabama.
The United States Tax Court handles most legal disagreements 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 Birmingham, Alabama
Any claim dealing with federal tax law in Birmingham, Alabama can end up in tax court. Most frequently, a dispute ends up in tax court when the government claims that someone has not paid all of the taxes that they are legally obligated to pay. If the taxpayer disputes the factual basis of the allegation, or believes the IRS has misinterpreted the law, U.S. Tax Courts have to determine those concerns.
The judges who preside over U.S. Tax Courts are assigned by the President. They serve terms of 15 years. When their terms expire, the vast majority of these judges are just re-appointed by whichever president is in office at the time, so most tax court judges effectively serve for life, or until they retire.
U.S. Tax Courts have one feature that's almost completely distinct in the U.S.: people who are not licensed attorneys in Alabama, or anywhere else, are permitted to represent clients in Tax Court. This doesn't mean, however, that anyone can walk in off the street and start practicing tax law. Before they can practice before a tax court, non-attorneys have to take and pass a written exam that tests their knowledge of U.S. tax law. People who are already licensed to practice law, on the other hand, can practice before a tax court without taking this test.
Normally, residents of Birmingham, Alabama 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.
Do I Need a Birmingham, Alabama Tax Attorney?
Federal law permits some non-lawyers to represent people before U.S. Tax Courts. Nonetheless, the tax laws are very convoluted. In fact, most tax attorneys don't practice any other area of law.
So, if you need to go to tax court, for whatever reason, you should pursue the counsel of a good tax attorney in Birmingham, Alabama. While a non-lawyer who's licensed to practice before the tax courts may well give you perfectly competent representation, there are still advantages to hiring a lawyer. The main advantage is that lawyers are far more regulated in their profession than most non-lawyers. So, if a tax attorney severely damages your case due to negligence or incompetence, you will have substantial legal recourse against them.