Tax Court Lawyers in Madison County
Tax courts are legal forums meant to decide 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, including one in or near Madison County, Illinois.
The United States Tax Court handles most legal disputes 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 allowing 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 Madison County, Illinois
Any claim dealing with federal tax law in Madison County, Illinois can end up in tax court. Most often, 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 decide those issues.
The judges who preside over U.S. Tax Courts are appointed by the President. They serve terms of 15 years. When their terms expire, the vast majority of these judges are simply re-appointed by whichever president is in office at the time, so most tax court judges effectively serve for life, or until they retire.
U.S. Tax Courts have one feature that's almost completely unique in the U.S.: people who are not licensed attorneys in Illinois, or anywhere else, are allowed 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.
Typically, residents of Madison County, Illinois will end up in tax court because the IRS, or another tax agency, has alleged that they have failed to pay all the taxes that they owe. In the interest of due process, the IRS will send the taxpayer a letter informing them that they owe back taxes. At this point, the taxpayer will have something like 90 days to go to Tax Court to fight these allegations, if they so desire. If you do not file a response within the allotted time, the tax bill will become final, and you will have no legal means to contest it.
Do I Need a Madison County, Illinois Tax Attorney?
Federal law allows some non-lawyers to represent people before U.S. Tax Courts. However, the tax laws are very convoluted. In fact, most tax attorneys don't practice any other area of law.
If you are going to tax court, it should be noticeable by now that you should seek the advice and assistance of a good Madison County, Illinois 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.