Tax Court in Fresno 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 Fresno 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 Fresno County, California
Any claim dealing with federal tax law in Fresno County, 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 determine those contentions.
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.
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 understanding of tax law. Licensed lawyers do not need to take this exam to practice before tax court.
Most commonly, a resident of Fresno County, 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 Fresno County, California Tax Attorney?
Federal law authorizes some non-lawyers to represent parties in tax court. However, tax law is a fairly complex and specialized legal field. Most lawyers who practice tax law do not practice any other area of law, giving you an idea of how specialized it is.
If you have to go to tax court for whatever reason, you should almost certainly speak with a seasoned tax attorney in Fresno County, California. Even though some non-lawyers are technically permitted to represent you in tax court, there are distinct advantages to hiring a lawyer, even if a non-attorney can provide you with competent representation. The main advantage is the fact that all attorneys are tightly regulated by their state bar associations, and if they botch your case, you may have more legal recourse against an attorney than you would against a non-attorney.