Tax Court in Contra Costa County, California
Tax Court is a legal forum designed particularly to resolve claims and disputes that arise under federal and (sometimes) state tax law.
Federal tax issues are overseen by the United States Tax Court, which has branches all over the U.S. So, the U.S. Tax Court almost certainly has a courthouse in or around Contra Costa County, California.
The U.S. Tax Court is where disagreements arising under federal tax law are resolved, if the tax debt in question has not already been paid. The U.S. District Court, which is the federal court of general jurisdiction, can only hear tax cases after the tax has been paid. This rule is meant to guarantee that as many tax issues as possible are really decided in tax court, rather than the overworked District Courts.
Tax Court Procedure in Contra Costa County, California
Tax court claims in Contra Costa County, California can arise from any tax disagreement, 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.
In the U.S., tax court judges are assigned by the President of the United States. Unlike judges on most other federal courts, who normally serve for life (or until they retire), tax court judges serve terms of 15 years. But, there is no limit to the number of terms that they are permitted to serve. If a tax court judge has been doing his or her job competently, the President will normally re-appoint them whenever their term expires, effectively giving them life tenure.
Tax courts in the U.S. have a few distinct features. Perhaps most notably, people who are not admitted to practice law in California, 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.
Most commonly, when the IRS sends a Contra Costa 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 Contra Costa County, California Tax Attorney?
Although federal tax court authorizes, under some circumstances, non-lawyers to represent taxpayers, the practice of tax law is extremely complex and specialized. Many attorneys who practice tax law do not practice in any other area.
If you find yourself in a situation where you think you'll have to go to tax court, you should consult with a reliable tax lawyer in Contra Costa 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 considerable legal recourse against them, through both the courts and the state bar