Tax Court Lawyers in Lake Forest
Tax courts are legal forums meant to determine legal disputes that have to do with federal or state tax law.
At the federal level, there is the United States Tax Court, which has courthouses all over the country, containing one in or near Lake Forest, Illinois.
The United States Tax Court handles most legal disagreements that have to deal with federal, as opposed to state, taxes. These are not courts of "general jurisdiction" (courts that hear the vast majority of civil and criminal cases). Tax courts are able to hear cases where the tax bill in dispute has not yet been paid (effectively permitting a court to rule on the validity of a tax bill before the taxpayer pays it). The courts of general jurisdiction in the U.S. (called the U.S. District Courts) can only hear tax cases if the tax bill has already been paid.
Tax Court Procedure in Lake Forest, Illinois
Any claim dealing with federal tax law in Lake Forest, Illinois 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.
Federal tax courts are presided over by judges who are assigned by the President of the United States. These judges serve 15-year terms. Judges whose terms expire are consistently re-appointed by the sitting President, so most tax court judges effectively serve for life.
U.S. Tax Courts have one feature that's almost completely distinct in the U.S.: people who are not licensed attorneys in Illinois, or anywhere else, are authorized to represent clients in Tax Court. This doesn't mean, however, that anyone can walk in off the street and start practicing tax law. Before they can practice before a tax court, non-attorneys have to take and pass a written exam that tests their knowledge of U.S. tax law. People who are already licensed to practice law, on the other hand, can practice before a tax court without taking this test.
Most commonly, a resident of Lake Forest, Illinois 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.
Do I Need a Lake Forest, Illinois 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 Lake Forest, Illinois. 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.