Hiring a tax attorney is an important decision. You want an experienced attorney who has the skills necessary to answer your specific questions as well as a trustworthy individual who can help you manage critical tax decisions. Before hiring a tax attorney, make sure you ask these critical questions.
1. Do You Have Experience With [The Type of Tax Challenges You Have]?
Many times, when you hire a tax attorney, you have a specific challenge or question. You might have misfiled your taxes in years past, leaving you dealing with the IRS in the present, or you might have questions about managing taxes as a freelancer or small business owner. Whatever challenges you’re facing, you want to work with a tax attorney who has specific experience in that area.
2. How Do You Charge?
Some tax attorneys charge flat fees for specific services. Others will bill on an hourly rate, especially if you pose a unique challenge or require a service that can take a variable amount of time depending on complexity. Regardless of how your tax attorney chooses to bill for services, however, you want a clear breakdown of those prices and an estimate of what it will cost before you move forward. If you cannot get a clear answer about how much those services will cost, it could be a red flag.
3. Who Will Actually Be Performing My Services?
Many attorneys have numerous people in the office, including licensed attorneys, CPAs, and EAs. Those offices may delegate a large percentage of the duties performed for each client. When you work with a large office, they may be more likely to delegate the tasks directly related to your tax needs to someone other than an attorney. In many cases, the attorney who actually works on your case may also be different from the attorney or individual that you speak with during a consultation.
While it may be fine for someone other than one of the licensed attorneys to handle your case, you should understand up front who will be handling your information. You should also expect to pay accordingly: you shouldn’t, for example, pay the price for a lawyer’s time when an enrolled agent will be handling your claim instead.
You will also find that smaller offices have a lower likelihood of delegating tasks, and that you’re more likely to be able to work directly with an attorney that you trust. Carefully consider who, specifically, will be handling your case before moving forward.
4. Where Are You Licensed to Practice?
If you face a federal tax challenge, you need an attorney licensed to practice in federal court. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a problem with your federal taxes, you may face similar issues with your state taxes, too. In that case, you will need an attorney licensed to practice in the state where you will go to court. Ideally, you want the same firm to handle both federal and local tax cases, since they will already be familiar with your problem and your case. Before hiring a tax attorney, make sure that attorney is licensed to practice in your state.
Always be wary of a tax attorney who dodges questions about licensing or who claims to have a license “pending” in a specific state. If you cannot look up that license information and ensure that your attorney is certified, you cannot guarantee that you are working with a genuine attorney, not just someone who has tried to add to your problems through a scam.
5. How Long Have You Been in Business?
Just like knowing how much experience your tax attorney has with your specific question or concern can help you decide on an attorney, so can knowing how long an attorney has been practicing. When it comes to tax law, experience can make a huge difference in the amount you will ultimately owe or the consequences you will face for tax-related crimes, including tax evasion. Carefully consider how long the attorney has been in business, including how long the firm has been open. If a firm has only recently opened, or an attorney has bounced around a lot between firms, it should catch your attention and make you wary of working with that law firm.
6. How Will You Communicate With Me About My Case?
Tax cases can cause you a lot of stress. You may want to check in with your attorney regularly, including receiving regular reports about the progression of your case. Ask questions about the attorney’s communication strategy. Consider:
Do You Prefer Telephone or Written Communication?
While it can be comforting to hear your attorney’s voice on the other end of the line–not to mention giving you an important chance to ask questions and get valuable insights–you may find that you prefer email communication or that a text will convey basic information. Knowing how your attorney prefers to communicate will allow you to consider whether the attorney fills those needs.
How Often Do You Expect Your Attorney to Check-In?
Some attorneys will check in with their clients regularly, keeping them informed about everything going on regardless of whether there has been progression on the case. Others will only check-in when they have something to report. Carefully consider what you expect in terms of communication and how often the attorney will check in with you.
What Should You Do When You Want to Ask Your Attorney a Question?
How can you get in touch with the attorney handling your case? Ideally, you want an open line of communication that will allow you to check-in when needed. You may also want an attorney who will get back to you within a certain time frame. Carefully consider whether the attorney’s communication style, including your ability to get in touch with them, fits your needs.
Are you looking for an experienced tax attorney to help with your tax-related problem? Contact Silver Tax Group today to learn more about how we can help.