Tax Court Lawyers in Westminster
Tax courts are legal forums meant to decide legal disputes that have to do with federal or state tax law.
Almost all legal issues having to do with federal taxes are resolved in the U.S. Tax Court, which has at least one courthouse in every state, and several courthouses in each of the larger states. This means that there is almost certainly a tax court in, or within a reasonable distance of, Westminster, Maryland.
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 Westminster, Maryland
Any legal issue that concerns federal taxes in Westminster, Maryland, or anywhere else in the U.S., can go to tax court. It's most often the case that the IRS initiates legal action against a taxpayer, alleging that they have failed to pay all of their required taxes, or are delinquent in some other way. The taxpayer usually has 90 days to respond, which initiates adversarial tax court proceedings. Failing to respond may result in the taxpayer forfeiting their rights to contest the allegations against them.
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.
U.S. tax courts are unique in that individuals who are not licensed to practice law in Maryland, or any other U.S. jurisdiction, are allowed to represent clients before tax court. Non-lawyers who want to practice before the Tax Court do have to take an exam demonstrating that they have a good knowledge of tax law. Typically, non-lawyers who practice before the tax courts are experienced accountants. However, licensed attorneys can practice before tax courts without taking the special exam.
Most often, a resident of Westminster, Maryland 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 Westminster, Maryland Tax Attorney?
Although federal tax court allows, under some circumstances, non-lawyers to represent taxpayers, the practice of tax law is extremely complicated and specialized. Many attorneys who practice tax law do not practice in any other area.
If you have to go to tax court for whatever reason, you should almost certainly speak with a good tax attorney in Westminster, Maryland. 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.