Whether you need tax planning services to take advantage of (legal) loopholes or you’ve found yourself in hot water with the IRS, you may be contemplating hiring a tax attorney.
Before you proceed, we recommend asking tax lawyers the following questions. By doing some initial planning and research, you can save time and, potentially, a lot of money.
Question 1: What Services Do You Offer?
Though this question may seem too basic to consider asking, it’s important to note that different tax attorneys will offer varying services.
For example, some may only do estate planning or help with real estate deals, while others offer a full range of services from planning to audit defenses. And still, others will not agree to work with you if you are facing criminal charges.
Therefore, it’s smart to ensure that a potential tax law firm can provide you with the specific service you need.
Question 2: Where Are You Authorized to Provide Services?
You may need services at the federal, state, or local level, and a tax attorney may not be licensed to practice in that area or in that court. Specifically, if you need the services of a tax attorney for both a federal and a state issue, you should ensure that the attorney is licensed to practice in that state.
Question 3: How Soon Can You Help Me?
Most of the time, you’ll know well in advance that you’re facing a problem with the IRS. However, sometimes, the situation can be dire, especially if there is a lien on your property or your wages are being garnished.
If time is of the essence, you will want to ask how quickly the tax attorney will be able to act on your behalf. At Levy & Associates, we’ve often been able to reach agreements within 24 hours, though every situation is unique.
Question 4: Have You Helped Others in My Situation?
This question allows a tax attorney to demonstrate their experience. If your situation is common, then most, if not all, decent tax attorneys will have some competence in this area.
If, however, your situation is unique (or you think it is), then finding a tax attorney with relevant experience may be called for.
Most tax attorney services will be more than happy to share positive testimonials with you. Look for keywords in these reviews that indicate the level of responsiveness the team had as well as the results achieved.
Question 5: Why Should I Hire You?
Even though this question sounds reminiscent of a job interview, it’s worth asking. Anyone at the firm, from the receptionist to a senior partner, should be able to recite a clear value proposition that makes them stand out from the competition.
Even better is if the tax attorney can answer your question in a way that is specific to your situation. For example, suppose you have a substantial tax liability that you are trying to get reduced. In that case, a tax attorney may explain that they’ve worked with hundreds of people in your situation and have been able to achieve favorable results in a vast majority of the cases.
Though attorneys can never guarantee an outcome, they can often discuss likelihoods and potential scenarios with you.
Question 6: What Makes Your Tax Attorney’s Services Unique?
Similar to the question of why you should hire a firm, this question allows a tax attorney to further tout their strengths. For example, some tax law firms (including Levy & Associates) hire former IRS agents to assist with cases and provide invaluable support.
When a firm has people with firsthand experience with the IRS on their side, they can sometimes provide insight that another attorney or tax accountant doesn’t have.
For example, an Offer in Compromise is a tool that you can use to settle a tax bill for less than the amount owed. Someone formerly employed by the IRS will have seen countless Offers in Compromise during their career, and they can potentially give insights and tips on how to increase the likelihood of a successful OIC.
Question 7: What Are Your Rates?
Though the price of a tax attorney’s services is not necessarily an indicator of the firm’s quality, you do need to make sure you have a clear understanding of what you will pay and how your charges will be calculated.
You may be charged by the hour, a flat fee, or a retainer. The price you pay may also be negotiable based on whether you require the services of a senior attorney or a paralegal. It would help if you were also sure to ask whether you’ll be billed for expenses such as courier fees, postage, copies, faxes, etc.
Question 8: Why Did You Become a Tax Attorney?
While there’s no correct or incorrect answer here, understanding someone’s motivations for choosing a given profession can provide you with insight into their personality, passion, and work ethic. Someone who loves what they do will be eager to answer this question, and we suggest working with a firm that is genuinely interested in helping you.
At Levy & Associates, we’ve been around since the 1960s, and we’ve been expanding our services to help those who have found themselves in “tax trouble,” as well as individuals and businesses who need conventional tax services.
We would be happy to answer any of the questions in this blog post (and any others you can think of!). Please feel free to contact us at 800-TAX-LEVY to schedule a consultation.