7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Tax Attorney
Did you know that hiring a tax attorney can get you some helpful advice for transferring assets and solutions to costly tax issues? They can even save you money if you got caught needing to pay back taxes.
Whether you have a tax audit to handle or just have questions about preparing tax returns, the right tax attorney will consult with you and offer personal advice on your situation. But finding the best-licensed attorneys in your state requires knowing the questions to ask when you research all your options.
Read on to learn about seven questions you should ask before hiring a tax attorney.
- What Kinds of Training and Experience Do They Have?
Although you might see someone listed as a tax attorney, that doesn't mean they have the best credentials and experience. For example, some attorneys may just handle tax issues a bit alongside other types of law.
If you want the best experience, you usually should go with a dedicated tax law practice. Not only should the tax attorney have many years of experience with complex tax cases, but they should also have completed a tax law degree program and devoted themselves to continuing education.
- How Are Their References and Reviews?
When looking through tax lawyers online, you can often find testimonials from past clients on the legal practices' websites. However, keep in mind that some practices might just focus on posting the most positive reviews.
To get a more balanced view, try searching the tax attorney's name on Google to see what clients have said on social media sites, attorney directories, and even the news. You might even find some past clients who you can speak to personally about their experiences.
Be wary if clients report that they felt ripped off or didn't get proper tax advice. This could indicate the tax attorney acts dishonestly or lacks the right experience.
- What Types of Tax Law Do They Practice?
You might that any tax attorney could handle your situation. However, some specialize in specific types of tax law, and it can help to find a tax attorney that specializes in the area of your case.
For example, if you need advice on transferring assets to a family member when you pass away, you might consider seeking an estate attorney. On the other hand, a general tax attorney can likely handle cases regarding income tax, bankruptcy, and business tax issues.
The tax attorney's website usually emphasizes the specialization, but you can always submit a message or call the practice to check.
- How Much Do Their Services Cost?
Fees for attorneys that help with tax issues can vary highly and come in many different structures. Some might just give you a set price to handle your entire case while others could bill you by the hour.
Before you choose any tax attorney, get pricing information in writing. This will show how much you can expect to pay and will serve as a reference in case the attorney tries to charge you more later.
Don't forget to also ask about any hidden costs as these can be common. For example, your tax lawyer might want you to pay for having documents copied or may charge administrative fees.
Once you understand all the costs, ask about how and when you will need to pay your fees. Your tax attorney may ask for an amount upfront and then charge the rest once they resolve your case. On the other hand, they may charge you as you go along.
- Are They Licensed in Your State?
For a tax attorney to offer legal services, they need to have a license in every state where they practice.
So, whether you choose someone who works in one or more locations, you'll want to check their state bar profile by finding the website for your state's bar association. You'll usually find an attorney directory or search tool there where you can enter the tax lawyer's name.
The results should bring up details about their licensure date and status, education, location, and highlights about their career. It will also list their legal specializations.
- What Can You Expect During the Process?
If you've never had to deal with working with a tax attorney before, you might wonder what you can expect from the whole process of resolving your case. The experience can vary by attorney in terms of the level of communication, speed of fixing issues, and expectations for both parties.
You should ask a prospective tax lawyer what they can offer you from start to finish. You should have a clear idea of how often you'll communicate, which documents you need to present, and what result you should get from the case.
An honest attorney will share both the good and bad that can come from the case as well. So, if you have a complex case, be suspicious of a tax attorney who promises a specific result.
- Can They Actually Handle Your Case?
Reading through the issues the tax attorney can handle and speaking with them about your case during a consultation can give you a good idea about whether they can handle your case.
However, some law practices go further to offer questionnaires on their websites to help you determine if you have a good case they can handle. For example, if you had some lawsuit regarding a medical treatment, the law practice might have you take this quiz to analyze the case.
So, check out the tax attorney's website to see if they have any kind of tools that can evaluate your case and help you ensure you find the right fit.
Hiring a Tax Attorney Doesn't Have to Be Hard
Once you've done your homework for hiring a tax attorney, you should have found multiple options that seem a good fit. You can then compare pricing, expertise, and experience to narrow down to a few licensed attorneys in your state.
You should then reach out online or by phone to arrange a consultation. During your consultation, bring any tax documents, financial records, and questions with you. This meeting often comes free of charge and will give you a clearer view of which tax attorney you should choose for your case.
For more advice on legal issues, take a look at our other posts.
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