Tax matters can be incredibly complex and stressful. Whether you’re an individual taxpayer or a business owner, dealing with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) can be daunting. The IRS has extensive powers to collect taxes owed, and if you find yourself facing tax issues, you may wonder when it’s necessary to seek the services of a tax lawyer for tax relief. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the situations in which you might need a tax attorney, what they do, and how they can assist you in navigating the intricacies of the United States tax system.

Table of Contents

Why Do You Need a Tax Lawyer?

Tax attorneys are legal professionals who specialize in tax law and are equipped to handle a wide range of tax-related issues. While not everyone requires their services, certain situations warrant the expertise of a tax attorney. Here are some common reasons why you might need to consult a tax attorney:

  1. Complex Tax Issues: If you’re dealing with complex tax matters, such as tax evasion, fraud, or substantial back taxes, a tax attorney can provide invaluable guidance.
  2. IRS Audits: Facing an IRS audit can be intimidating. Tax attorneys can represent you during audits and help ensure compliance with IRS regulations.
  3. Unfiled or Delinquent Tax Returns: If you have unfiled or delinquent tax returns, a tax attorney can help you bring your tax filings up to date and negotiate with the IRS on your behalf.
  4. Dealing with Tax Liens and Levies: Tax liens and levies can be detrimental to your financial well-being. A tax attorney can assist in resolving these issues and potentially prevent asset seizure.
  5. Tax Debt Negotiation: If you owe a significant amount of money to the IRS, a tax attorney can negotiate with the agency to reach favorable payment terms, such as installment agreements or offers in compromise.
  6. Penalty Relief: If you’re facing substantial penalties for tax non-compliance, a tax attorney can advocate for penalty abatement, reducing your overall tax liability.
  7. Criminal Tax Matters: In cases of suspected tax fraud or evasion, a tax attorney can provide crucial legal defense and represent you in criminal tax court.

What Does Tax Lawyers Do?

Tax attorneys are trained and experienced in various aspects of tax law and can offer a wide range of services, including:

Audit Representation

When you’re audited by the IRS, a tax attorney can represent you throughout the process. They will ensure that you provide the necessary documentation and that your rights are protected during the audit.

Delinquent Tax Returns

If you have unfiled tax returns, a tax attorney can help you prepare and submit them to the IRS, addressing any penalties or consequences that may arise.

Unfiled Tax Returns

Failure to file tax returns can lead to serious consequences. Tax attorneys can assist in filing overdue returns and negotiating with the IRS to minimize penalties.

Installment Agreements

Tax attorneys can help you negotiate installment agreements with the IRS to pay off your tax debt over time, making it more manageable.

Offers in Compromise

If you’re unable to pay your tax debt in full, a tax attorney can help you negotiate an offer in compromise, allowing you to settle your debt for less than the total amount owed.

Penalty Relief

Tax lawyer can advocate for penalty relief if you have incurred substantial penalties for late payment or non-compliance.

Tax Levy Release

If the IRS has placed a levy on your assets or bank accounts, a tax attorney can work to have the levy released and protect your assets.

Tax Lien Release

Tax attorneys can negotiate with the IRS to release tax liens on your property, which can affect your ability to sell or refinance assets.

Wage Garnishment Removal

If the IRS is garnishing your wages, a tax lawyer can help you find a solution to stop or reduce the garnishment.

How Can a Tax Lawyer Help You?

Tax attorneys provide a range of services aimed at resolving tax-related issues, protecting your rights, and minimizing your tax liability. Here’s how a tax attorney can help you:

Tax Lawyer – Client Privilege

One significant advantage of working with a tax attorney is the attorney-client privilege. This privilege means that communications between you and your attorney are confidential and protected from disclosure. This confidentiality is not extended to other tax professionals, such as accountants or enrolled agents, providing an added layer of protection for sensitive tax matters.

Well-Rounded Advice

Tax attorneys offer well-rounded advice beyond tax compliance. They can provide legal counsel on financial planning, estate planning, and other matters that may have tax implications.


If you face an IRS audit, a tax attorney can represent you during all interactions with the IRS. This representation ensures that your rights are protected, and you have an experienced advocate on your side.

Tax Negotiation

Tax attorneys are skilled negotiators who can work with the IRS to reach favorable resolutions. Whether it’s negotiating a settlement, installment agreement, or penalty abatement, their expertise can save you money.

Benefits of a Tax Relief Lawyer

Hiring a tax attorney offers several benefits:

  1. Tax Attorney-Client Privilege: As mentioned earlier, this privilege ensures your communications remain confidential.
  2. Well-Rounded Advice: Tax attorneys can provide holistic financial and legal advice, not just limited to tax matters.
  3. Representation: You have a dedicated legal representative who can handle all interactions with the IRS.
  4. Tax Negotiation: Tax attorneys are skilled negotiators who can help you reach the best possible outcome with the IRS.

Situations and Problems a Tax Relief Lawyer Can Help With

Tax relief attorneys are equipped to handle a wide range of tax-related situations and problems. Here are some of the scenarios in which their expertise is invaluable:

Tax Court

If you’re involved in a tax dispute that escalates to tax court, a tax relief attorney can provide legal representation, ensuring your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Tax Evasion

Accusations of tax evasion can lead to severe consequences, including criminal charges. A tax relief attorney can build a defense strategy to protect your interests.

Tax Fraud

Similar to tax evasion, tax fraud allegations can result in criminal charges. A tax attorney can navigate the complexities of these cases and work to mitigate the potential consequences.

Willful Failure to File Taxes

If you’ve willfully failed to file your taxes, a tax attorney can help you address this issue and potentially avoid criminal charges.

Obstruction of Internal Revenue Law Administration

Allegations of obstructing IRS law administration require an expert legal defense. A tax attorney can assist in protecting your rights.

Under Criminal Investigation by the IRS

If you’re under investigation by the IRS, it’s crucial to have legal representation from a tax attorney to guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf.

Worried About IRS Criminal Investigation

Even if you haven’t been formally charged, if you suspect you may be under investigation, consulting with a tax attorney is a prudent step to take.

Criminal Tax Defense

In cases of criminal tax matters, a tax attorney can build a strong defense strategy to minimize the potential legal consequences.

Failure to Disclose Offshore Accounts

Failure to disclose offshore accounts can result in significant penalties. A tax attorney can help you navigate the complexities of foreign account reporting.

Other Problems and Issues a Tax Lawyer Can Help With

Tax attorneys are not limited to addressing criminal matters; they can assist with a wide range of tax-related issues, including:

FBAR and FATCA Offshore Disclosure Compliance Issues

Compliance with foreign bank account reporting (FBAR) and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) can be complex. A tax attorney can help you navigate these requirements.

Unfiled Tax Returns

If you have multiple years of unfiled tax returns, a tax attorney can assist in bringing your filings up to date.

Tax Penalties

If you’ve incurred tax penalties, a tax attorney can advocate for penalty abatement or negotiate favorable terms for repayment.

Tax Liens

If the IRS has placed a tax lien on your property, a tax attorney can work to have it released, allowing you to regain control of your assets.

Tax Levy

If the IRS has levied your bank account or assets, a tax attorney can help you find a solution to release the levy and protect your finances.

Unpaid Taxes

Dealing with unpaid taxes can be stressful. A tax attorney can help you explore options for resolving your tax debt.

Tax Audits

Facing an IRS audit can be intimidating, but a tax attorney can provide representation and ensure the process goes smoothly.

Business Tax Controversy

If you’re a business owner facing tax-related disputes or audits, a tax attorney can represent your business’s interests.

Individual Tax Controversy

Individuals can also encounter tax controversies, and a tax attorney can provide the necessary legal counsel and representation.

Accountant Liability

If you believe your accountant’s errors or negligence have led to tax issues, a tax attorney can help you explore your legal options.

Probate and Trust Tax Issues

In cases involving probate or trusts, tax attorneys can provide guidance on tax implications and planning strategies.

Estate and Trust Tax Planning

Tax attorneys can assist in estate and trust tax planning, helping you minimize tax liabilities for future generations.

Federal Employees and Contractor Tax Issues

Federal employees and contractors may face unique tax challenges, and a tax attorney can offer tailored solutions.

Tax Solutions a Tax Lawyer Can Help With

Tax attorneys can help you explore various tax solutions to address your specific issues. Some common tax solutions include:

Offer in Compromise

An offer in compromise allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the total amount owed. Tax attorneys can negotiate this arrangement on your behalf.

IRS Payment Plans

If you can’t pay your tax debt in full, a tax attorney can help you establish an IRS-approved payment plan to make manageable monthly payments.

Penalty Abatement

Tax attorneys can advocate for penalty abatement, reducing or eliminating penalties imposed by the IRS for late payment or non-compliance.

Innocent Spouse Relief

If you’re not responsible for your spouse’s tax liabilities, a tax attorney can help you seek innocent spouse relief, protecting your financial interests.

IRS Bankruptcy

In some cases, bankruptcy may be a viable option for resolving tax debt. Tax attorneys can guide you through the complexities of tax-related bankruptcy.

IRS Wage Garnishment and Levy Release

If your wages are being garnished or your assets are levied, a tax attorney can work to release these actions and protect your financial stability.

Release of Federal Tax Lien

Tax attorneys can negotiate with the IRS to release federal tax liens on your property, allowing you to regain control of your assets.

Currently Not Collectible/Hardship Status

If you’re facing financial hardship and can’t afford to pay your tax debt, a tax attorney can help you obtain currently not collectible (CNC) status, temporarily suspending IRS collection efforts.

Signs You Need to Hire a Tax Attorney

If you’re unsure whether you need a tax attorney for your specific situation, here are some signs that indicate you should seek their expertise:

You Owe the IRS $10,000 or More

If you owe a substantial amount of money to the IRS, it’s advisable to consult a tax attorney to explore your options for resolving the debt.

You Have Two or More Years of Unfiled Tax Returns

Unfiled tax returns can lead to penalties and legal consequences. A tax attorney can help you address this issue.

You Owe Penalties to the IRS

Accruing penalties for late payment or non-compliance can significantly increase your tax debt. A tax attorney can advocate for penalty relief.

The IRS Has Placed a Federal Tax Lien on Your Assets

A tax lien can affect your ability to sell or refinance assets. A tax attorney can negotiate the release of the lien.

The IRS Has Levied Your Bank Account

Bank levies can be financially devastating. A tax attorney can help you find a solution to release the levy.

The IRS Is Garnishing Your Wages

Wage garnishment can impact your financial stability. A tax attorney can work to stop or reduce the garnishment.

You Want Help Dealing with the IRS

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by IRS communications or procedures, a tax attorney can provide the expertise and support you need.

The IRS has the legal right to use a broad range of collection tactics, and the agency has a lot of power. To protect yourself and your assets, you may want to work with a tax professional, and in many cases, a tax attorney is the best choice.

Should I Hire a Tax Lawyer from My Local Area?

While it’s not always necessary to hire a tax attorney from your local area, it can be beneficial in some cases. Local tax attorneys may have a better understanding of regional tax regulations and may have established relationships with local IRS offices. However, with the advent of digital communication, many tax attorneys can effectively represent clients from anywhere in the country. Therefore, the most important factor is not the location of the attorney but their expertise and experience in handling your specific tax issues.

Who Are the Best Tax Lawyers?

Finding the best tax attorney for your needs requires careful consideration. Here are some tips for identifying a top-notch tax attorney:

  1. Credentials: Look for an attorney who is a member of reputable professional organizations such as the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation.
  2. Experience: Seek an attorney with substantial experience in handling cases similar to yours. The more specialized their experience, the better equipped they will be to address your specific tax issues.
  3. Client Reviews: Read reviews and testimonials from previous clients to gauge the attorney’s reputation and track record of success.
  4. Referrals: Ask for recommendations from trusted sources, such as friends, family members, or other professionals like accountants.
  5. Initial Consultation: Take advantage of initial consultations offered by many tax attorneys. This allows you to assess their expertise and determine if you feel comfortable working with them.
  6. Fee Structure: Discuss the attorney’s fee structure upfront to ensure it aligns with your budget and expectations.
  7. Communication: Effective communication is key. Choose an attorney who is responsive and communicates clearly.

Other Types of Tax Professionals

In addition to tax attorneys, there are other tax professionals who can assist with tax matters. Here are two common alternatives:

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a financial professional who can provide tax-related services. CPAs are licensed by state boards of accountancy and can assist with tax preparation, financial planning, and other accounting-related tasks.

Enrolled Agent

An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a tax professional authorized by the IRS to represent taxpayers in tax-related matters. EAs can prepare tax returns and represent clients in front of the IRS.

Certified Tax Resolution Specialist

A Certified Tax Resolution Specialist (CTRS) is a tax professional with expertise in resolving tax issues and representing clients in dealings with the IRS. They specialize in tax problem resolution.

Tax Lawyer Vs. CPA: Differences Between Tax Pros

Understanding the differences between tax attorneys and CPAs can help you decide which professional is best suited for your needs.

CPA Qualifications

CPAs are certified by state boards of accountancy and must meet specific educational and experience requirements. They are knowledgeable about accounting principles, financial planning, and tax compliance.

What Do CPAs Do?

CPAs can provide a wide range of financial and tax-related services, including:

  • Tax return preparation and filing: CPAs can help individuals and businesses prepare and file their tax returns accurately.
  • Minimizing tax liabilities: CPAs can offer strategies to minimize tax liabilities through deductions and credits.
  • Tax planning: CPAs can provide advice on tax planning to optimize financial decisions.
  • Back tax resolution: CPAs can assist with resolving back tax issues and negotiating with the IRS.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a CPA

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of hiring a CPA for your tax needs:

Help with Tax Prep

CPAs excel at preparing tax returns accurately and ensuring compliance with tax laws.

Reduced Tax Liabilities

CPAs can help you identify deductions and credits to reduce your tax liabilities.

Assistance with Back Taxes

CPAs can assist with back tax issues and help you develop a repayment plan.

Limited Legal Expertise

CPAs may not have the legal expertise required for complex tax issues or legal disputes.

Limited Representation

CPAs cannot represent you in tax court or legal proceedings involving the IRS.

Hourly Costs

CPA fees can vary, and some charge hourly rates, which can become costly for complex cases.

How Much Do Tax Lawyer Charge?

The cost of hiring a tax Lawyer can vary widely based on several factors, including:

  • Case type: Complex cases may require more time and expertise, leading to higher fees.
  • Type of tax resolution: Different tax solutions may involve varying levels of legal work, affecting the cost.
  • Length of your case: The duration of your case can impact the overall cost, especially if it spans several months or years.
  • Fee structure: Tax attorneys may charge hourly rates, flat fees, or contingency fees, and the chosen fee structure will influence the cost.
  • Support staff: If a tax attorney employs paralegals or other support staff, it can affect the overall cost.

It’s essential to discuss fees with your tax attorney during the initial consultation to ensure you have a clear understanding of the cost and fee structure.

Do Tax Lawyers Offer Free Consultations?

Many tax attorneys offer free initial consultations to assess your situation and determine if they can provide the assistance you need. During the consultation, you can discuss your tax issues, ask questions, and get a sense of whether the attorney is a good fit for your case. Take advantage of these consultations to evaluate your options and make an informed decision.

Are Tax Lawyers Affordable?

The affordability of hiring a tax attorney depends on your specific financial situation and the complexity of your tax issues. While tax attorneys may have higher hourly rates than some other tax professionals, their expertise can often save you money in the long run by negotiating favorable resolutions and minimizing tax liabilities. Additionally, many tax attorneys offer flexible fee structures to accommodate various budgets.

How Can I Find a Pro Bono Tax Lawyer?

Pro bono tax attorneys, who offer their services for free or at reduced rates, are typically available to individuals with limited financial means who are facing significant tax issues. To find a pro bono tax attorney, you can:

  • Contact local legal aid organizations: These organizations often provide pro bono legal services and can connect you with a tax attorney.
  • Check with bar associations: Local bar associations may have programs that connect individuals in need with pro bono tax attorneys.
  • Reach out to law schools: Some law schools have clinics or programs where law students, under the supervision of experienced attorneys, provide pro bono legal services.
  • Inquire with nonprofit organizations: Certain nonprofit organizations specialize in assisting individuals with tax problems and may have pro bono attorneys on staff or available through partnerships.

Tax Lawyers at the IRS

While the IRS has its attorneys to handle legal matters, their role is to represent the government’s interests. If you’re in a dispute with the IRS, it’s essential to have your legal representation to protect your interests and navigate the complexities of tax law.

Find a Tax Lawyer Today

If you’re facing tax issues, it’s crucial to seek professional assistance from a qualified tax attorney. They can provide expert guidance, protect your rights, and work toward favorable resolutions with the IRS. Whether you’re dealing with audits, tax debt, penalties, or other tax-related challenges, a tax attorney can be your advocate in achieving tax relief and peace of mind. Don’t wait; consult with a tax attorney today to address your tax concerns effectively.