Tax Court in El Centro, California
Tax Court is a legal forum designed specifically to resolve claims and disputes that arise under federal and (sometimes) state tax law.
Federal tax issues are handled 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 El Centro, California.
The U.S. Tax Court is where disputes 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 ensure that as many tax issues as possible are really decided in tax court, rather than the overworked District Courts.
Tax Court Procedure in El Centro, California
Any claim dealing with federal tax law in El Centro, California can end up in tax court. Most commonly, 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 decide those contentions.
U.S. Tax Court judges are appointed by the President. Their terms of office are legally set at 15 years. However, the vast majority of tax court judges are simply appointed 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, therefore, Tax Court judges effectively serve life terms.
Federal tax court is somewhat unique 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 understanding of tax law. Licensed lawyers do not need to take this exam to practice before tax court.
Most commonly, a resident of El Centro, California 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.
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Do I Need a El Centro, California Tax Attorney?
Although the law lets certain non-lawyers represent parties before tax court, tax law is very complicated and often difficult 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 El Centro, California tax attorney. While a non-lawyer admitted to practice before tax court may well give you qualified representation, you will have much stronger recourse against a licensed attorney if they negligently botch your case.