Tax Court Lawyers in Huntsville
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 a U.S. tax court in or near Huntsville, 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 permitting 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 Huntsville, Alabama
Any legal issue that concerns federal taxes in Huntsville, 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 normally 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 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.
Tax courts in the U.S. have a few distinct features. Perhaps most notably, people who are not admitted to practice law in Alabama, or in any other jurisdiction, are authorized to represent clients in tax court. However, non-lawyers must take, and pass, a fairly challenging 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.
Usually, residents of Huntsville, 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 Huntsville, Alabama Tax Attorney?
As mentioned earlier, federal law lets some non-attorneys practice before U.S. Tax Courts. But tax law can be extremely complex, and the practice of this area of law is highly specialized - so much so that most lawyers who practice tax law do not practice in any other field.
If you are going to tax court, it should be noticeable by now that you should seek the advice and assistance of a good Huntsville, Alabama 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.