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How can I know that a tax attorney can help me with my specific IRS issues?

In many fields of work today, there is a wide variety of specialization.  A real estate agent may focus on commercial property, residential property, or investment property.  A plumber may focus on pipe laying, sprinkler systems, or plumbing related to the handling of different types of materials (e.g., water, chemicals, steam).  And the same is true of tax attorneys.

A tax attorney attends years of college and law school courses to learn their profession.  Even so, they generally focus on certain specific areas of specialization, such as estate planning, small business taxes, or issues related to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Therefore, if you are having issues with your federal income tax return or other aspects of dealing with the IRS, you need to be sure you obtain advice from a tax attorney who specializes in such issues.

No attorney can guarantee you results.  If an attorney does guarantee you a specific outcome, you should likely consider seeking advice from a different attorney.  But if you choose an attorney who specializes in dealing with the IRS and helping people with their federal income tax returns, it increases the likelihood that you will get the best guidance available to increase the chances of you obtaining the most favorable possible outcome for your situation.

A tax attorney who specializes in working with the IRS can help you with these and other types of issues related to the IRS and federal income tax:

Respond to IRS notices, including audits. A tax attorney specializing in working with the IRS will be familiar with the various types of notices sent to taxpayers.  Such an attorney will be able to evaluate the notice in light of your specific circumstances and give you the likely best approach to address the issue.  The attorney can also help you prepare the response to the IRS.

If the notice indicates that you are being audited, the tax attorney will be able to help you respond to the audit with only the necessary information to meet the IRS’ request (as providing too much information can potentially lead to other questions).

File tax returns. Many people do not realize that tax attorneys can actually help you file your tax returns, whether it is just the return for the current year or for multiple previous years.  Using a tax attorney to file your tax return will give you peace of mind in knowing that everything noted on the return meets the applicable tax laws.  While this does not guarantee that your tax return will not be audited by the IRS, it does mean that you will be able to support the claims you made on the tax return.

Address tax settlement issues. If you owe money to the IRS, the IRS may allow you to settle the tax liability by entering into an installment agreement or proposing an offer in compromise.  However, in either case, the IRS needs to see the appropriate forms and have a convincing reason for accepting the plan.  A tax attorney will have experience in settlement issues and will be able to evaluate if your situation is one that is likely to qualify you for one of the available settlement options.

How can I get help from a tax attorney?

If you complete the form below, a tax attorney will contact you to discuss your situation in detail.  This consultation is free of charge and does not obligate you to anything further.  In addition, it is completely confidential, and the attorney-client privilege provided by using a tax attorney means that no one else—including the IRS—has to know what you discuss with the attorney.  Therefore, please take advantage of this opportunity to get legal advice in addressing your issues with the IRS.

Will the IRS pursue me if I do not file my tax return or pay my taxes?

Yes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will pursue you in either case, whether you have not filed your tax return for one or more years or if you have filed your tax returns but have not worked with the IRS to establish some form of payment plan or settlement offer for the tax you owe.

When you do not file your federal income tax return, the IRS will generally file one for you.  A return filed by the IRS on your behalf is known as a substitute return.  Your tax in a substitute return is estimated based on previous returns you have filed, as well as any other information the IRS has about you and your income.  Usually when the IRS files a substitute return for a taxpayer, the taxpayer will end up owing more money to the IRS than if the taxpayer had filed the return in the first place for several reasons:

More actual tax owed. When the IRS files a substitute return for you, they generally will not apply all of your allowed deductions.  For example, they may use the standard deduction on your return rather than your itemized deductions.  This means that you will owe more tax to the IRS.

Failure to File penalty. When you do not file your return, the IRS charges a penalty on your unpaid tax at the rate of 5% per month.  The IRS will continue to charge you 5% per month for up to 5 months, which means you will owe whatever amount of tax you owed originally plus another 25% of that amount.

Interest. The IRS also charges interest on your unpaid tax balance.  The interest rate the IRS charges is adjusted quarterly based on the current market interest rate.

When you owe money to the IRS, the IRS will begin to use various methods to notify you of the unpaid tax liability.  Initially, the IRS may give you the benefit of the doubt, taking the stance that it is possible you do not realize you owe tax to them.  But as time passes, if you do not work with the IRS to address the tax liability, they will escalate their approach.  Ultimately, they will obtain a tax levy against your personal property.  The tax levy allows the IRS to garnish your wages, seize your bank accounts, and take your car and home if necessary.

From the time the tax is assessed, the IRS has 10 years to collect it.  Given the power the IRS has through a tax levy to seize your personal property and the 10-year statute of limitation on collecting federal income tax, the IRS will generally pursue you until they collect the money they are owed.

What should I do if I cannot afford to pay my taxes?

You should generally start by filing all of your tax returns if you have not done so already.  Filing your returns will minimize the addition of the various penalties and interest applied by the IRS and allow you to begin to work out some arrangement with the IRS.  You should also contact a tax attorney.

A tax attorney will be able to evaluate your unique situation, explain to you how the tax laws and process work in your case, and help you take the steps necessary to address your tax liability.  This can include a payment plan or an offer in compromise.

If you complete the short form below, it will allow a tax attorney to start this process.  Doing so is completely free of charge, 100% confidential, and does not obligate you to anything further, but it will get your information in the hands of a tax attorney so you can start getting the help you need today with your tax issues.

How long can the IRS collect unpaid taxes from me?

The Internal Revenue Code, which defines how all facets of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) operate, states that the IRS can collect unpaid federal income tax for up to 10 years.  This timeframe is known as the statute of limitations.

This 10-year statute of limitation begins running on the date the IRS assesses the tax.  The assessment date is usually a few weeks or months after income taxes are filed with the IRS, when the IRS records the tax due record within their systems.  For example, for a tax return mailed to the IRS on April 15, the tax assessed date may not be until sometime in May, June, or July.

There are various circumstances that can cause the 10-year statute of limitation to reset or that can pause the clock on the count to the 10-year limitation.

Review and subsequent assessment. If your tax return is audited or otherwise reviewed and this review results in the assessment of additional tax, a 10-year statute of limitation will commence on this additional tax amount at the time this additional tax is assessed.  In this way, a single tax return may result in more than one 10-year timeframe that run at the same time for the collection of different parts of the tax due.

Voluntarily agreeing to extend the statute. One of the methods that the IRS may allow you to use to pay your taxes is an installment agreement.  An installment agreement allows you to pay your taxes over a period of time rather than as a lump sum.  If you enter into an installment agreement that will run past the 10-year statute of limitation for collecting a tax, the IRS may have you complete a Tax Collection Waiver (Form 900).  This form allows the IRS to collect the tax due past the 10-year statute of limitation.

Submitting an offer in compromise. Another method that the IRS will consider to pay your taxes is an offer in compromise, which is when the IRS will accept less than the full amount of tax owed but consider the debt paid in full.  While the IRS is considering an offer in compromise, the clock stops running on the 10-year statute of limitations.  If the IRS rejects the offer in compromise, the clock resumes where it was suspended.

Declaring bankruptcy. While you are in the midst of a bankruptcy proceeding, the clock does not run on the 10-year statute of limitation for collecting tax.  Depending on the age of the tax and other circumstances, it is possible that a bankruptcy can wipe out the tax debt owed.  If the bankruptcy does not wipe out the tax owed, the clock will begin running again on the 10-year statute of limitation after the bankruptcy proceedings are complete.

If you want to confirm when your tax was assessed, you can submit a Request for Transcript of Tax Return (Form 4506-T) to obtain the actual date when the IRS considers the tax assessed.  This form is available on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506t.pdf.

What can I do if I need help with how to address my unpaid tax bill?

Tax matters are a serious issue and generally should not be addressed without seeking professional help.  A tax attorney can provide that help, as they have specialized training and experience with all types of tax situations.  If you complete the short form below, a tax attorney will review your information and provide you an initial consultation free of charge.  This consultation does not obligate you to anything further and is completely confidential.  Therefore, please take this opportunity have a tax attorney review your tax matter today.