Tax Court Lawyers in Santa Maria
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 Santa Maria, California.
U.S. Tax Courts deal with almost every legal issue that has to do with the federal tax commitments 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 Santa Maria, California
Tax law claims can arise out of any dispute having to do with one's legal requirement to pay their taxes in Santa Maria, 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 assigned 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 permitted 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.
Tax courts in the U.S. have a few distinct 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 challenging 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.
Typically, when the IRS sends a taxpayer in Santa Maria, California a notice of deficiency, indicating that they owe back taxes, the taxpayer has 90 days to file a claim in federal tax court to dispute this notice. If a claim is not filed in a timely manner, the taxpayer could lose his or her right to contest the tax bill at issue.
Do I Need a Santa Maria, 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 find yourself in a situation where you think you'll have to go to tax court, you should consult with a qualified tax lawyer in Santa Maria, California as soon as possible. Non-lawyers are allowed to represent you in tax court, and most of them are perfectly competent. However, there are significant advantages to having a lawyer represent you, as opposed to an accountant or other non-attorney. Primarily, lawyers are regulated by the bar association of whatever state they're licensed to practice in, and if a lawyer handles your case incompetently, you will have significant legal recourse against them, through both the courts and the state bar