Tax Court in Kern County, 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 Kern County, 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 directly decided in tax court, rather than the overworked District Courts.
Tax Court Procedure in Kern County, California
Any legal issue that concerns federal taxes in Kern County, California, or anywhere else in the U.S., can go to tax court. It's most often the case that the IRS initiates legal action against a taxpayer, alleging that they have failed to pay all of their required taxes, or are delinquent in some other way. The taxpayer typically has 90 days to respond, which initiates adversarial tax court proceedings. Failing to respond may result in the taxpayer forfeiting their rights to contest the allegations against them.
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 familiarity of tax law. Licensed lawyers do not need to take this exam to practice before tax court.
Most frequently, a resident of Kern 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 Kern County, California Tax Attorney?
Although the law lets certain non-lawyers represent parties before tax court, tax law is very intricate 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 Kern County, California 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.