Tax attorneys--what to bring to the initial consultation

Help your tax attorney help you by bringing the necessary paperwork and documentation to your first consultation--or even beforehand.

Tax attorneys specialize in the local state and federal laws governing the taxation of assets, income and business ventures. If you are audited, it may be wise to consult a tax attorney to assist you in preparing for the audit. This may result in a much more favorable outcome than if you faced the auditors alone.

Tax attorneys can also assist in some aspects of estate planning. Some tax attorneys are well-versed in the laws governing inheritance tax, and can assist you in planning your estate so as to limit the portion the government receives, thereby leaving more of your estate for your heirs.

Note, however, that a tax attorney is a lawyer. Unless he or she is also a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), he probably will not actually prepare your tax returns for you. The role of your tax attorney is to help you out of binds with the government when it comes to audits, estates, or any other situation where the government either keeps more money than they should, or are demanding additional monies from you.

Your tax attorney will want to see a great deal of information, all of it geared toward assisting you successfully. In the event of an audit, you should provide your attorney with copies of any notices you have received from the government concerning the audit""regardless how insignificant a notice, note, statement or reminder seems to be. Your attorney will also want to see your tax returns, ideally for the past seven years. The reason for this is the statute of limitations on these types of things is seven years. In addition to the tax return forms themselves, you should provide any and all supporting documentation, especially any documentation for the year(s) you are being audited. This includes receipts, statements, forms, bank statements and financial statements.

In some cases, you can save yourself some money, in the form of attorney's fees, by sending this documentation in advance of your initial meeting so that the attorney can review it and synthesize it prior to meeting you. That way, you do not have to pay the attorney for a longer meeting, as he will already be prepared when you meet. Not all attorneys practice this way, so check before you make that initial appointment.

With regard to estates, generally the attorney that assists you in the preparation of your will can help you minimize the percentage the government will take. But, lets say you prepared your own will. Having a tax attorney take a look at it is a great idea because he or she may be able to point out some areas where you can make seemingly minor changes that will have a major impact down the road. Your heirs will appreciate your foresight and attention to detail.

Finally, your tax attorney is there to help you get through what can be a stressful, draining process. When it comes to the government, and your money, it makes sense to consult a professional who is on your side, working to protect your interests. You can be assured that the government has attorneys working on their end to protect their interests too.

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