Tax Court in Lake Forest, 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 Lake Forest, 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 actually decided in tax court, rather than the overworked District Courts.
Tax Court Procedure in Lake Forest, California
Any legal issue that concerns federal taxes in Lake Forest, 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 usually 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.
Tax courts in the U.S. have a few unique features. Perhaps most notably, people who are not admitted to practice law in California, or in any other jurisdiction, are allowed to represent clients in tax court. However, non-lawyers must take, and pass, a fairly difficult 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 often, when the IRS sends a Lake Forest, 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 Lake Forest, 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 have to go to tax court for whatever reason, you should almost certainly speak with a good tax attorney in Lake Forest, 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.