Tax Court Lawyers in Big Stone Gap
Tax courts perform roughly the same function as any other court: they provide a forum to resolve legal disputes in an orderly, fair, and efficient manner. The only difference with tax courts is that they specialize in resolving disputes that have to do with 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 Big Stone Gap, Virginia.
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 really decided in tax court, rather than the overworked District Courts.
Tax Court Procedure in Big Stone Gap, Virginia
Claims dealing with tax law can come from any dispute that has to do with one's duty to pay taxes in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. This normally happens when the state or federal tax authorities allege that someone has failed to pay their taxes, and therefore owes the government money. If the taxpayer disagrees, a tax court has to resolve the issue.
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.
Federal tax court is somewhat unique in that individuals who are not licensed attorneys in Virginia (or anywhere else) may represent taxpayers before the tax court, as long as they can pass an exam indicating that they have a good understanding of tax law. Licensed lawyers do not need to take this exam to practice before tax court.
Usually, residents of Big Stone Gap, Virginia 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 Big Stone Gap, Virginia Tax Attorney?
As mentioned earlier, federal law lets some non-attorneys practice before U.S. Tax Courts. But tax law can be extremely complex, 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.
So, if you plan on going to tax court, it should go without saying that you should hire a Big Stone Gap, Virginia tax attorney. While a non-lawyer admitted to practice before tax court may well give you qualified representation, you will have much stronger recourse against a licensed attorney if they negligently botch your case.