Tax Court Lawyers in Scranton
Tax Courts serve the same purpose as any other court: they're there to resolve legal disagreements in a fair and orderly fashion. Tax courts are simply specialized to handle tax disputes.
At the national level, we have the United States Tax Court, that has locations all over the country. This means that there is an U.S. tax court in or near Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The United States Tax Court handles most legal disagreements 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 Scranton, Pennsylvania
Any legal issue that concerns federal taxes in Scranton, Pennsylvania, 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 obligated 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 assigned by the President of the United States. These judges serve 15-year terms. Judges whose terms expire are consistently re-appointed by the sitting President, so most tax court judges effectively serve for life.
U.S. tax courts are distinct in that individuals who are not licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, 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 Scranton, Pennsylvania 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 Scranton, Pennsylvania 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 are going to tax court, it should be obvious by now that you should seek the advice and assistance of a good Scranton, Pennsylvania 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.