Tax Court Lawyers in Fairhope
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 Fairhope, 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 Fairhope, Alabama
Any legal issue that concerns federal taxes in Fairhope, 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 obligated 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.
Federal tax courts are presided over by judges who are assigned by the President of the United States. These judges serve 15-year terms. Judges whose terms expire are consistently re-appointed by the sitting President, so most tax court judges effectively serve for life.
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.
Most frequently, a resident of Fairhope, Alabama will find themselves in tax court because the relevant tax authority (usually the IRS), suspects that they have not paid all of the taxes that they are required to pay. To initiate a legal action against the taxpayer, the IRS will send them a letter laying out its allegations. Once this is received, the taxpayer has a moderate period of time (about 90 days) to go to the nearest U.S. tax court and respond. If you find yourself in this position, and want to dispute the allegations against you, you MUST file a response in a tax court in a timely manner. If you don't, you can easily lose your right to ever dispute those allegations again.
Do I Need a Fairhope, Alabama Tax Attorney?
Although the law lets certain non-lawyers represent parties before tax court, tax law is very intricate and often challenging to understand - to the point that almost all attorneys who practice tax law practice it exclusively, simply because maintaining competence leaves little time to learn any other area.
So, if you plan on going to tax court, it should go without saying that you should hire a Fairhope, Alabama tax attorney. While a non-lawyer admitted to practice before tax court may well give you skilled representation, you will have much stronger recourse against a licensed attorney if they negligently botch your case.