Tax Court in Alameda County, California
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 Alameda County, California.
Tax courts in America handle the vast majority of legal issues that concern federal tax commitments of a person or other legal entity, such as a corporation. There are several procedural rules that are meant to funnel tax issues into tax courts, without strictly requiring them to be heard there. For instance, only tax courts can hear tax cases where the tax in question has not yet been paid. The courts of general jurisdiction - known as the U.S. District Court - can also hear tax cases, but they can only hear tax cases if the disputed tax bill has already been paid.
Tax Court Procedure in Alameda County, California
Any claim dealing with federal tax law in Alameda County, California can end up in tax court. Most often, 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 issues.
U.S. Tax Court judges are assigned by the President. Their terms of office are legally set at 15 years. Nonetheless, the vast majority of tax court judges are simply assigned again when their terms run out, and there is no limit on the number of 15-year terms they can serve. As a practical matter, thus, Tax Court judges effectively serve life terms.
Federal tax court is somewhat distinct in that individuals who are not licensed attorneys in California (or anywhere else) may represent taxpayers before the tax court, as long as they can pass an exam indicating that they have a good knowledge of tax law. Licensed lawyers do not need to take this exam to practice before tax court.
Most often, when the IRS sends a Alameda County, California resident a "notice of deficiency," which alleges that they owe back taxes, the taxpayer has 90 days to go to tax court, and file a claim in tax court to fight this allegation. If you don't file this claim within the allotted time, you can lose your right to dispute the tax bill in question, in any forum, permanently.
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Do I Need a Alameda County, California Tax Attorney?
As mentioned earlier, federal law lets some non-attorneys practice before U.S. Tax Courts. But tax law can be extremely complicated, 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 find yourself in a situation where you think you'll have to go to tax court, you should consult with a qualified tax lawyer in Alameda County, California 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 significant legal recourse against them, through both the courts and the state bar