For some people, just hearing the word attorney strikes fear deep into their soul. This is especially true when it comes to taxes and dealing with the IRS. So many individuals think working with a lawyer is a costly and scary prospect. In fact, I’ve had so many people ask me if the government will think they’re guilty if they hire a tax attorney. The reality is that hiring an attorney is actually one of the smartest things you can do for yourself. Not only is working with a lawyer cost effective, but there is nothing to fear. Here’s why hiring a tax attorney is the best move you can make.

Tax attorneys understand the law and are able to take your legal situation as far as necessary to obtain a successful result. This is especially true when it comes to an IRS or EDD audit. Lawyers also have the ability to take your tax controversy case to Tax Court if necessary. If you attempt to work with a government agency on your own, you will likely spend countless hours trying to navigate that process. It’s more efficient and cost effective for you to hire a tax attorney so you can focus your time and energy running your business.

Allowing a lawyer to represent you with the IRS or government agency assures your documentation will meet their standards. My experience as a tax attorney has shown me that the government agent actually likes that an experienced person is working with them because, in most cases, we know the format, the questions and the documentation the agent will request. We review your information and provide it to the government agent in an organized manner, which saves the government agent’s time and energy. This also saves you time and money.

An attorney will protect you if you’ve been accused of tax fraud. Being accused or charged with tax evasion or fraud is a criminal offense. And with any type of criminal charge, you do not want to represent yourself. You could be faced with losing your assets and livelihood. An experienced tax attorney is qualified to represent you in a court of law and can provide legal advice and guidance. Additionally, you enjoy attorney-client privilege with your lawyer, so anything you discuss with your lawyer is protected and confidential. 

An attorney can help you reduce sizable debt with the IRS. An experienced tax lawyer can help save you quite a bit of money by negotiating your tax liability with the IRS or government agency. An attorney can help you obtain an installment agreement or offer in compromise. They can also review your returns and debt to determine if the IRS was in error in calculating your tax burden. 

Hiring a tax attorney when you start a business will save you time and money in the long run. Starting a business — corporation, LLP/LLC or sole proprietorship — on the right footing is critical for long-term success. You want all the proper forms completed and filed with your secretary of state office and IRS. If you have employees or independent contractors, it’s critical to make sure you are set up correctly for payroll taxes. Any error at the beginning could end up costing you quite a bit later.

While the idea of hiring a lawyer is scary, the financial and long-term implications of  not hiring an experienced attorney are even more frightening. A tax attorney will help you and your business are protected and will work with the IRS or government agency to save you time so you can do what you do best: run your business. 

Allison Soares is a partner and tax attorney at Vanst Law. Before starting her own practice, Soares was a partner at a tax law firm where she honed her skills handling a wide variety of tax and employment-related cases. In addition to her legal work, she has worked in accounting and utilizes that knowledge to her advantage while handling cases involving EDD audits.