Tax Court Lawyers in San Francisco
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 San Francisco, California.
U.S. Tax Courts deal with almost every legal issue that has to do with the federal tax obligations of an individual or corporation. The U.S. District Courts are the courts of "general jurisdiction" in the U.S., meaning that they can hear almost any type of civil or criminal case under their jurisdiction. This includes tax cases, but the law only allows them to hear such cases if the tax in question has already been paid. Tax courts can hear cases before the tax has been paid.
Tax Court Procedure in San Francisco, California
Tax law claims can arise out of any dispute having to do with one's legal obligation to pay their taxes in San Francisco, California. Most often, they occur when the IRS alleges that a taxpayer has not paid all of the taxes that they owe, and the taxpayer disagrees. The court has to resolve this dispute.
In the U.S., tax court judges are appointed by the President of the United States. Unlike judges on most other federal courts, who usually 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 allowed to serve. If a tax court judge has been doing his or her job competently, the President will usually re-appoint them whenever their term expires, effectively giving them life tenure.
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 knowledge of tax law. Licensed lawyers do not need to take this exam to practice before tax court.
Usually, a San Francisco, California resident will end up in tax court because the IRS has determined that they have not paid all of the taxes that they owe, and has sent them a notice indicating as much. When this happens, the taxpayer has 90 days to file a claim in Tax Court contesting the IRS's allegations. If you believe that the allegations against you are untrue, and wish to fight them, it's essential that you file a claim in tax court within the allotted time period. Otherwise, you could lose your right to challenge that tax bill permanently.
Do I Need a San Francisco, California Tax Attorney?
Although the law lets certain non-lawyers represent parties before tax court, tax law is very complex 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.
If you are going to tax court, it should be evident by now that you should seek the advice and assistance of a good San Francisco, California tax lawyer. This is not a knock against the non-lawyers who are licensed to practice before tax court; the vast majority of them are perfectly competent. However, if a licensed attorney seriously mishandles your case, you will have a great deal of legal recourse against them, more so than with a non-attorney.