Five Reasons to Have an Attorney on Your Team When Dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”)

1) An Attorney Is His Client’s Zealous Advocate.

An attorney is in the unique position of being his client’s zealous advocate. He is obligated to follow the law and ethics, but otherwise his duty is to serve his client’s best interests. Whether your attorney appears before the IRS, another administrative agency, or a court, he will use his advocacy skills to achieve the best legal results for you.

2) The IRS May Argue Criminal Wrongdoing on Your Behalf.

The IRS, using as support its findings in an examination (also known as an “audit”) of you, may assert criminal wrongdoing on your behalf. Thus, having an attorney—a professional who understands your legal rights— represent you may prove extremely beneficial to your case. (See #3 for more information regarding how an attorney will assert and will protect your legal rights.)

3) An Attorney Will Assert and Protect your Legal Rights.

An attorney has extensive training in determining, asserting, and protecting his clients’ legal rights. He will analyze the facts of your case, apply substantive and procedural law to the facts of your case, and determine the most effective ways to navigate the tax controversy process. In addition, the attorney will advise you of your substantive and procedural legal rights. According to your wishes, the law, and ethics, the attorney will assert, in ways that will achieve optimal legal results for you, your legal rights. Through this process, an attorney will ensure that your legal rights are protected whenever possible.

4) An Attorney Typically Can Keep More Information Confidential Than Other Professionals Can.

The attorney-client privilege is broader than privilege, if any, in other professions. Thus, in most situations, a greater amount and scope of information revealed to an attorney in regards to his representation of you is protected from disclosure in proceedings before administrative agencies, including the IRS, and courts.

5) An Attorney Can Represent you in Court.

Ideally, through meetings and correspondences with the IRS, you will resolve your tax controversy. Sometimes, however, you may have to litigate the tax controversy in court. An attorney, assuming he is licensed to represent you in a particular court, is usually the only professional who can represent you in that court.1 In addition, given tax attorneys’ familiarity with legal and tax procedures, a tax attorney is usually the most qualified professional to represent you in court.

If an attorney is on your team in the pre-litigation stages of your tax controversy, he may be able either to negotiate with the IRS to avoid litigation or to get an early start in preparing for litigation.

*This document contains legal information, but does not contain legal advice.

*This document has examined laws in effect in July 2011.