Tax Audit Attorney Near Me: How to Find Help for State and IRS Audits
A tax audit can be extremely stressful and even scary. If the Internal Revenue Service contacts you about an audit, you need to respond promptly and provide the agency with the correct information. In some cases, you may be able to resolve a tax audit quickly, but in other cases, you need to reach out for legal representation from an IRS audit attorney.
An IRS audit layer can help you respond to the IRS. If the IRS denies some of your tax positions, your tax attorney can leverage their knowledge of the tax code to get the IRS to accept your claims. These tax professionals can also help you make arrangements on your bill if the audit leads to additional tax liability. However, just as an audit can be scary, hiring audit representation can also be intimidating.
This guide explains when you need a tax audit lawyer and how to select the right person for your situation. It also covers tips on how to find tax audit representation near me.
What Is Tax Audit Representation?
Also called IRS audit defense, tax audit representation is when a tax attorney represents you for an IRS or state tax audit. You can hire an attorney as your representation, but you can also use a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or an enrolled agent (EA). In most cases, taxpayers seek IRS tax audit representation after they've been selected for tax audits, but in some cases, taxpayers pre-pay for tax audit defense when they file taxes
Prepaid tax audit representation fees have been used for nearly 50 years. With this option, the taxpayer pays an IRS audit defense fee when they file their tax return. Then, if they are selected for tax audits, their tax preparers provide the defense. Unless otherwise stated, the fees for filing a return generally don't include tax audit defense, and if you are selected for state and/or IRS tax audits, you will need to hire help on your own.
What Does an IRS Audit Attorney Do?
An audit attorney guides you through the IRS audit process and ensures your rights are protected. They answer your questions. They respond to IRS notices on your behalf. They ensure that the IRS gets all of the requested details, but at the same time, they also ensure that you don't unnecessarily overshare information with the IRS.
Ultimately, a tax attorney's job is to minimize the effects of an IRS tax audit as much as legally possible. To that end, they work to defend what you have reported on your tax return, and when changes are inevitable, your tax attorney works to reduce the amount of tax liability and any penalties owed.
How to Decide If You Need Help With an IRS Tax Audit
When you are selected for an IRS tax audit, the Internal Revenue Service or your state tax agency assigns an individual to your case. These government employees have extensive tax laws knowledge and work with IRS audits regularly. To deal with them effectively, you need an expert on your side. That's where an audit attorney can be critical.
An IRS audit lawyer works with the tax law daily. They must also complete continuing tax law education to keep their licenses active. This gives them a strong advantage when dealing with IRS audits. Here are signs that you need an audit attorney:
- You're not sure what the IRS audit notice means.
- You aren't sure which documents you should send to the IRS.
- You don't have the documents that the IRS has requested.
- You disagree with the auditor's claims.
- You can't get the auditor to understand your position.
- You're frustrated and stressed out about a state or IRS audit.
- You have foreign income being audited.
- You're worried about accuracy-related penalties or tax fraud penalties.
- You think you may have committed tax fraud or evasion.
- You're facing a civil or criminal investigation.
- You have received the results of an audit and you want to appeal.
- The audit has increased your tax liability and you're not sure what to do.
Not sure if you need an audit attorney or not? Then, call for a free consultation. Most attorneys offer a no-cost initial phone call. This gives you a chance to explain your issue. Then, they outline some of the ways they can help you and what to expect if you hire them to represent you in the audit.
How Much Does an Audit Attorney Cost?
The cost of IRS audit representation varies based on the complexity of the audit. A tax attorney may be able to estimate some of the complexity based on the return. An audit of a relatively simple individual return, for example, is easier to handle than a detailed corporate tax return.
The cost also depends on the nature of the audit. What tax records does the auditor want? Do you have clear records to back up the claims on your return? Is forensic accounting necessary? Are you being accused of tax fraud or tax evasion? Are you appealing an audit? Do you need representation in Tax Court? These are the types of questions that play into the cost of the audit attorney.
How Much Do IRS Audit Attorneys Near Me Charge?
The IRS audit representation fees vary depending on the situation. They can vary depending on the cost of legal services in your area. The average audit defense case costs between $3,500 and $10,000. However, costs can be lower in simple cases and higher in complex cases.
An IRS audit lawyer lifts the stress of dealing with the IRS or your state tax agency off your shoulders. They also leverage their knowledge and expertise to get you the most savings possible. They can also help defend you if you are accused of fraud or evasion.
How to Choose an IRS Tax Audit Attorney
If you want help during an audit, you can choose from all kinds of experienced tax attorneys. How do you know which audit attorney to hire? To ensure you choose the best fit for your situation, look for the following.
Experience With Your Type of Audit — There are all kinds of audits on the federal and state level. You need an experienced tax attorney who has handled audits with that particular agency dealing with that specific type of tax. If you're dealing with a state audit, hiring an audit attorney near you can be especially helpful because they often have an established rapport with the auditors in your area.
Personable — During the audit, you will work with your representation. They will contact you when they need documents or to ask follow-up questions about your tax situation. When you contact a tax attorney, pay attention to how they make you feel. Is this someone you feel comfortable working with on a detailed tax matter? Trust your instincts.
Personalized Case Attention — When you hire an audit attorney, you want to ensure that they or a highly skilled associate such as a CPA or an EA is working on your case. Many large tax resolution firms have inexperienced team members who handle cases instead of attorneys. You usually get high-quality personalized help with your audit when you work with a local firm.
Positive Reputation — Find out what previous clients have to say about this attorney. Did the attorney charge the client a lot of money with limited results? Then, they probably aren't the right attorney for your situation. Did they produce positive results for their previous clients? Then, they may be a great option to explore.
As you talk with audit attorneys, ask them how their fees work. Do they charge a flat fee for audit representation? An hourly rate? In many cases, your audit attorney will only be able to give you an upfront quote once they look into your case, but they should be able to give you an idea about how their fees are structured.
Questions to Ask Your Audit Tax Attorney
Before hiring an audit attorney, you should ask them questions to ensure they are the right fit. Here are some questions that you should ask:
Are you licensed to practice in my state?
A lot of audits involve state tax issues. If you're dealing with an audit of a state income tax or a business return, you need someone licensed to practice in your state. State tax laws vary significantly, so you should choose a local audit attorney who is experienced in your area.
What tax work do you specialize in?
An audit is a very specific part of the taxation process. When hiring someone, you need to ensure they have experience with this process. You don't necessarily want someone who primarily deals with other aspects of the tax law.
How many tax audits have you handled?
Get granular with prospective tax attorneys and ask if they have handled audits on a regular basis. How many audits have the tax attorney worked on like yours? See if they have experience with correspondence audits and field (in-person) audits.
How will we communicate?
Essentially, an audit is where the IRS or a state tax agency asks you to back up the information on your tax return. When you hire audit representation, they will field the notices from the IRS, but then, they will likely have to reach out to you to get the paperwork or tax records that they need. There may be a lot of back and forth during the audit. Ask the audit attorney how they are going to communicate with you and make sure their communication methods work with your needs.
What documents do you need?
As the attorney reviews your IRS notices, they should be able to tell you which documents they may need. To prepare for the audit, ask what documents they will need. Keep in mind that they may need additional documents as the audit progresses.
Can you help me through the full audit process?
Some audits are straightforward. You provide the requested information, the IRS agrees to accept your return as filed, and you move on with your life. Others are more drawn out. In particular, you may have to appeal if the IRS doesn't agree with your supporting documents and changes your tax return. The case could even go to Tax Court.
If you're stuck with an additional tax liability, you may need help making payment arrangements. Some tax attorneys can also help you with tax planning after the audit. Tax planning can be especially helpful if the audit results in tax owed, and you want to avoid that in the future. You need to ensure that your representation is ready to help you through the entire process.
What should I do right now?
This question can help you to gauge the audit attorney's knowledge and experience. On a practical level, asking this question helps to ensure that you're taking the right steps right now.
Why You Should Contact an Audit Attorney As Soon As Possible
IRS and state tax audits have strict deadlines. Typically, you have 30 days to respond to the original audit request. You may be able to request an extension, but if you miss the deadline, the tax agency may decide to adjust your return without your input.
You also have the right to appeal the results of your audit. Again, however, if you miss the deadline, you may lose the right to appeal. Or you may have to take an alternative route. Ignoring this situation can put you at financial risk. You should contact a tax professional as soon as you can.
How to Find a Tax Audit Attorney Near Me
To find a tax audit attorney near me, do a search on TaxCure. We host a directory of audit and tax resolution professionals from around the country, and you can narrow down your search based on your local area. Then, you can filter the results based on tax agency or audit experience.
TaxCure is designed to help you find assistance if facing an audit or dealing with other tax issues. To get help today, find an attorney, read their reviews, and give them a call for a free consultation.