Tax Court Lawyers in St. John
A tax court is a venue that permits legal disputes relating to taxes to be resolved in an orderly, efficient manner.
At the federal level, there is the United States Tax Court, which has courthouses all over the country, including one in or near St. John, Missouri.
The U.S. Tax Court is where disputes arising under federal tax law are resolved, if the tax debt in question has not already been paid. The U.S. District Court, which is the federal court of general jurisdiction, can only hear tax cases after the tax has been paid. This rule is meant to ensure that as many tax issues as possible are directly decided in tax court, rather than the overworked District Courts.
Tax Court Procedure in St. John, Missouri
Any legal issue that concerns federal taxes in St. John, Missouri, 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 typically 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 are unique in that individuals who are not licensed to practice law in Missouri, or any other U.S. jurisdiction, are permitted 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 familiarity of tax law. Normally, non-lawyers who practice before the tax courts are experienced accountants. However, licensed attorneys can practice before tax courts without taking the special exam.
Normally, residents of St. John, Missouri 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 St. John, Missouri Tax Attorney?
As mentioned earlier, federal law lets some non-attorneys practice before U.S. Tax Courts. But tax law can be extremely intricate, and the practice of this area of law is highly specialized - so much so that most lawyers who practice tax law do not practice in any other field.
If you find yourself in a situation where you think you'll have to go to tax court, you should consult with a knowledgeable tax lawyer in St. John, Missouri as soon as possible. Non-lawyers are allowed to represent you in tax court, and most of them are perfectly competent. However, there are significant advantages to having a lawyer represent you, as opposed to an accountant or other non-attorney. Primarily, lawyers are regulated by the bar association of whatever state they're licensed to practice in, and if a lawyer handles your case incompetently, you will have substantial legal recourse against them, through both the courts and the state bar