Tax Court Lawyers in Winona Lake
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 Winona Lake, Indiana.
Tax courts in America handle the vast majority of legal issues that concern federal tax obligations of a person or other legal entity, such as a corporation. There are several procedural rules that are meant to funnel tax issues into tax courts, without strictly requiring them to be heard there. For example, only tax courts can hear tax cases where the tax in question has not yet been paid. The courts of general jurisdiction - known as the U.S. District Court - can also hear tax cases, but they can only hear tax cases if the disputed tax bill has already been paid.
Tax Court Procedure in Winona Lake, Indiana
Any claim dealing with federal tax law in Winona Lake, Indiana 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.
Federal tax courts are presided over by judges who are appointed by the President of the United States. These judges serve 15-year terms. Judges whose terms expire are routinely re-appointed by the sitting President, so most tax court judges effectively serve for life.
In the U.S., tax courts have some unique features. Most interestingly, individuals who are not licensed attorneys in Indiana, or anywhere else, are, in some cases, allowed to represent clients before tax courts. Non-attorneys who practice before tax court are almost always accountants, and any non-lawyer who wants to practice before the U.S. tax court must pass a difficult written exam that tests their understanding of American tax law. Licensed attorneys, however, may practice before the tax court without taking this exam.
Usually, a Winona Lake, Indiana 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 Winona Lake, Indiana Tax Attorney?
Federal law allows some non-lawyers to represent parties in tax court. However, tax law is a fairly complicated 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.
So, if you plan on going to tax court, it should go without saying that you should hire a Winona Lake, Indiana tax attorney. While a non-lawyer admitted to practice before tax court may well give you competent representation, you will have much stronger recourse against a licensed attorney if they negligently botch your case.