Working with a tax attorney is a very involved process, and that can make it challenging to get the most out of dealing with one. There are a few things you can do to make sure you'll get the most possible out of the experience. Here are five contributions clients of tax attorneys can make to help themselves and their lawyers out.
1. Diligently Document Everything
Whether you're talking about filing paperwork, appealing a decision or going to court, it helps a ton to have all your documents in order. Your tax attorney will happily bill you for hours that a paralegal spends digging up documents, sending requests for previously filed papers and making copies of receipts and forms. That said, everything is going to move more smoothly if you can hand them a packet of information that outlines what your situation.
2. Understand Your Legal Status
Especially when dealing with businesses, structure dictates the applicable tax laws. An LLC is going to face different requirements that a sole property, for example. If you're not sure about how a business or your finances should be set up, consult with a local tax attorney and learn what they'd recommend.
3. Make Inquiries Early
Even if you just have a tiny question, giving your lawyer a call early is the best way to approach things. Sure, no one loves talking tax law, but you want to get the conversation started ASAP so you can nip potential issues in the bud.
4. Open All Mail Right Away
A lot of notices from the IRS, your local government and state governments have time limits on them. Be religious about checking your mail every day, especially if you know there's a good chance you'll get a notice from a government agency. In many cases, a default judgment may be entered against a taxpayer if they fail to respond to inquiries in a timely fashion.
5. Run Everything by Your Attorney
It's easy to hear what other people are doing—even the stuff they say their attorney is okay with—and think you might be missing out. Even if their lawyer is 100% right about whatever tax issues they were talking about, don't assume your friend's circumstances reflect yours. They may be able to structure their business or their estate a certain way, for example, but you'll want to run the idea past your tax attorney to establish that it's appropriate for you.