When it comes to choosing the right tax attorney for you, what are five questions to ask a tax lawyer?
Hiring a tax lawyer who's a good fit for your case and personality is important because you'll be entrusting them with your legal issues -- and we all know that Uncle Sam doesn't play around when it comes to taxes.
So what questions should you ask a tax attorney? Here are a few you may want to consider:
What type of tax law do you specialize in? Although most people only deal with income taxes, there are several aspects of tax law that lawyers can specialize in. For example, you may be seeking an attorney to help you figure out the tax treatment your new company will receive or how to file taxes if you have foreign assets. Not every tax attorney will be knowledgeable in every type of tax-related legal issue, so it's important to find an attorney who specializes in, or has handled cases in, the area you're looking for.
What are your legal fees? One of the most important things to ask a tax lawyer is what his legal fees are. Getting an estimate of the potential costs of your case is helpful for planning your budget, and because it can prevent billing disputes in the future. Plus, lawyers can have different types of fee agreements. Some may charge by the hour while others will charge a flat rate for certain services. Either way, make sure to get your fee agreement in writing.
Are you licensed in other states? To lawfully practice law in a state, the tax attorney must be licensed there. So if you have assets in multiple states, it'd be helpful to find a lawyer who is also licensed in those states because each state has its own tax laws as well. Check with your state's bar association to see if the attorney is licensed there.
Are there any red flags in my case? Since lawyers are trained to spot legal issues that non-lawyers may not catch, you should ask if there are any tax problems you may have missed that could get you in trouble. For example, if you underpaid your taxes, an attorney should be able to catch that before it turns into a potential criminal matter.
Do you practice in other areas of law? Tax law can overlap with other areas of law, like probate or commercial law. For example, a tax lawyer may also be experienced in estate planning law, so you might be able to resolve multiple legal issues through one attorney. On the other hand, if tax law is only a very small part of the lawyer's practice, then you might want to consider hiring a different attorney who can dedicate more time and resources to your case.