Tax Court Lawyers in Harpswell
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, Harpswell, Maine.
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 Harpswell, Maine
Any legal issue that concerns federal taxes in Harpswell, Maine, 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.
Tax courts in the United States are presided over by judges who are appointed by the President. Unlike most other federal judges, who serve for life, judges on the U.S. Tax Court serve 15 year terms. However, they can serve an unlimited number of these terms, and if they do their jobs competently, they are almost always re-appointed when their terms are up, meaning that the vast majority of them effectively serve for life.
U.S. Tax Courts have one feature that's almost completely unique in the U.S.: people who are not licensed attorneys in Maine, 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.
Most often, when the IRS sends a Harpswell, Maine resident a "notice of deficiency," which alleges that they owe back taxes, the taxpayer has 90 days to go to tax court, and file a claim in tax court to fight this allegation. If you don't file this claim within the allotted time, you can lose your right to dispute the tax bill in question, in any forum, permanently.
Do I Need a Harpswell, Maine 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.
So, if you need to go to tax court, for whatever reason, you should seek the counsel of a good tax attorney in Harpswell, Maine. While a non-lawyer who's licensed to practice before the tax courts may well give you perfectly competent representation, there are still advantages to hiring a lawyer. The main advantage is that lawyers are far more regulated in their profession than most non-lawyers. So, if a tax attorney severely damages your case due to negligence or incompetence, you will have significant legal recourse against them.