Tax Court Lawyers in Opelika
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 Opelika, Alabama.
U.S. Tax Courts deal with almost every legal issue that has to do with the federal tax obligations of an individual or corporation. The U.S. District Courts are the courts of "general jurisdiction" in the U.S., meaning that they can hear almost any type of civil or criminal case under their jurisdiction. This includes tax cases, but the law only permits them to hear such cases if the tax in question has already been paid. Tax courts can hear cases before the tax has been paid.
Tax Court Procedure in Opelika, Alabama
Tax court claims in Opelika, Alabama can arise from any tax conflict, 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.
In the U.S., tax courts have some unique features. Most interestingly, individuals who are not licensed attorneys in Alabama, or anywhere else, are, in some cases, permitted to represent clients before tax courts. Non-attorneys who practice before tax court are almost always accountants, and any non-lawyer who wants to practice before the U.S. tax court must pass a difficult written exam that tests their understanding of American tax law. Licensed attorneys, however, may practice before the tax court without taking this exam.
Most frequently, a resident of Opelika, 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 Opelika, Alabama Tax Attorney?
As mentioned earlier, federal law lets some non-attorneys practice before U.S. Tax Courts. But tax law can be extremely intricate, 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.
So, if you plan on going to tax court, it should go without saying that you should hire a Opelika, 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.