The Value of Attorney Client Privilege with Your Tax Lawyer
Attorney client privilege is a concept from the law of evidence that protects communications made between a client and his or her attorney. A client can claim this privilege to prevent the attorney from being forced to testify or produce evidence that is protected under this rule. This encourages the client to be forthcoming with all the information the attorney needs to represent the client’s interests.

Communications with accountants and tax preparers may also be privileged, but these privileges are much more limited than the attorney client privilege. There are situations where accountants and tax preparers can be forced to testify as a witness against their own clients.

Attorney Client Privilege Offers the Most Protection

Tax litigation
When faced with a tax controversy between you and the IRS, you may feel like you are at a disadvantage. The IRS has a giant team at its disposal to pursue its case against you. However, you do not need to face tax issues alone. Hiring a tax litigation attorney can give you the expertise you need to fight and win your case as well as protect your rights.

Most tax controversies arise during or after an audit. This can be at the federal level with an IRS agent or with state tax auditors. Unlike tax attorneys that help you plan your business affairs or personal estate, a tax litigation lawyer is there to fight on your behalf when there is a discrepancy. This is a distinct set of skills that not all tax attorneys may have. When faced with owing back taxes, penalties, interest and even criminal charges, you want a tax litigation lawyer on your side.

When to Hire a California Tax Litigation Lawyer

Tax audit
Getting a letter from the IRS notifying you of an upcoming tax audit is never a welcome event. At the very least, it can be  a major inconvenience. At worst, it could mean the possibility of criminal investigation for tax fraud. Knowing how to proceed when you are notified can help you prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

Types of IRS Audits

Not all IRS tax audits are the same. When notified of an impending audit, carefully read the verbiage used in your letter. IRS tax audits are often pursued if information on your tax return doesn’t match the IRS records or inconsistencies are found, but they can also be random selection or for the collection of data. The type of tax audit requested can help you determine what you should do next:

payroll tax problems
As a California  employer, you are responsible for making payroll tax payments to the California Employment Development Department and the IRS. These payroll tax deposits must be made regularly, often monthly or weekly as taxes are withheld from payroll disbursements. If you become behind on making these deposits, you could face serious consequences and personal liability for the money owed. Knowing your rights, obligations and options is crucial to avoid the consequences of not paying these taxes on time.

The Trust Fund Recovery Penalty

Not making payroll tax deposits in accordance with the law is illegal, and collecting them is a high priority for the IRS. Payroll taxes are considered a trust fund tax, which means you are withholding taxes from your employees in trust for the government. Delaying payment of these taxes means you have “stolen” money that belongs to the IRS and you may be subject to the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (TFRP).

Tax litigation
Tax laws change regularly, and are a challenge to adequately decipher under the best of circumstances. Even with the requisite due diligence and the help of a CPA, you may find yourself the recipient of a letter from the IRS “inviting you to an audit.” If you’ve been audited by the IRS and disagree with their findings, all is not lost.

Your rights as a U.S. taxpayer include the right to contest an IRS bill which you feel is inaccurate or unfair by filing an appeal. The key to gaining a satisfactory result from an appeal is strict adherence to each step of the process. Guidelines and deadlines must be closely followed.

How it Works

Tax Piles
Periodically, the Brager Tax Law Group surveys tax preparers and/or taxpayers on a variety of issues. Our most recent survey targeted tax preparers and their interaction with the IRS in a number of areas, including disclosure programs, FBARs and marijuana businesses.

The survey contained several quantitative questions with a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 as poor and 5 as excellent. The lowest scoring statement was respondents’ experience in getting a response from the IRS within a few business days, which scored only 1.96. The highest score was on respondents’ experience in participating in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, which scored 3.20. Overall interactions with the IRS scored 2.79.

No survey respondents have been contacted by the IRS subsequent to filing amended returns as part of the Offshore Streamlined Procedure submissions.

Taxes Concept on File Label in Multicolor Card Index. Closeup View. Selective Focus.

Are you behind in filing your tax return? If you have not filed a tax return for one or more years, you could be facing some steep penalties and interest on your past due tax returns and payments. Penalties for failure to file and interest on back taxes can quickly becoming a large financial burden. Consider this information from our IRS tax specialists at Brager Tax Law Group to limit your penalties for failure to file and reduce your debt to the IRS.

IRS Tax Penalty for Failure to File

First of all, if you do not owe taxes, failing to file by the deadline is not penalized by the IRS. It is only when you owe taxes and do not file a return by the deadline that you can be penalized. The standard IRS penalty for failure to file is charged at the rate of 5% per month up to 25%. However, if fraud is involved, the penalty can be significantly higher at 15% per month up to 75% of the taxes owed.

3d man thinking with red question marks over white background

When you are notified that you have been chosen for a tax return audit, you may not be sure what to do next. How do you prepare for an intense inspection of your tax documents and ensure you can answer any questions the tax auditor may have? Hiring a tax attorney can be the best way to prepare for this in depth look at your tax situation. Here are a few benefits of having an experienced tax that understands all aspects of the tax law on your side.

Tax Attorneys Versus CPAs

Your first thought may be to hire an accountant or CPA to help you prepare for a tax return audit. While an accountant may understand the tax code, they may not be educated in defending clients in an audit situation. A tax attorney has not only the tax knowledge needed to help you prepare for the audit, they can also help negotiate on your behalf during the audit and defend you if necessary in subsequent litigation. You have someone on your side that can interpret the law in your best interest and protect your assets and freedom if there are any issues uncovered during the audit.

Concept of businessman thinking with arrows coming from tax

Tax season is difficult enough. When living abroad, it can become even more complicated. As a U.S. citizen, you must file a tax return with the IRS, regardless of where you are living in the world. You also may need to pay and file taxes in the country where you live. Here are a few of the tax considerations that may affect you while you are living or working abroad.

Worldwide Income

Your tax return must include all your income, whether or not it was earned on U.S. soil. Income earned in a foreign country is taxable by the IRS and must be claimed on your tax return. It may also be taxed by the country where it is earned, causing a double taxation situation. However, you may be able to deduct the tax that you pay to another country. But this can be tricky. Number one, it must be considered deductible by the IRS, which can depend on the country where you are living. Secondly, you must be able to prove you paid the taxes – this can be difficult due to the difference in tax years, and documentation available in various countries.

Closeup of tax wooden blocks on mallet at table in courtroom
The IRS announced that effective Oct. 1, 2016, it will rarely conduct Appeals Conferences in person. More specifically, Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 8.6.1.4, blandly entitled “Conference Practices,” provides that ALL conferences will be held by telephone except under certain specific enumerated circumstances. Those circumstances are as follows:

  • There are substantial books and records to review that cannot be easily referenced with page numbers or indices
  • The ATE [that’s Appeals Team Employee, aka Appeals Officer, or Settlement Officer] cannot judge the credibility of the taxpayer’s oral testimony without an in-person conference