At the Wooten Firm, we lay out all of the options available to our clients and help them pick the path forward that we think will best accomplish their goals. Sometimes all it takes to resolve a dispute with the IRS is a phone call. Other tifmes, litigation is necessary.
Paths Forward For Tax Litigation
The Wooten Firm has represented taxpayers in a wide variety of tax disputes in all federal courts where such disputes are heard, and in their state counterparts. We are not afraid to go head to head with the IRS to seek justice for our clients.
U.S. Tax Court
We are licensed to practice before the U.S. Tax Court. The 19 presidentially-appointed members of this court are experts in tax law, and they only hear tax cases. They hear disputes between taxpayers and the IRS about notices of deficiency, adjustment and readjustment of partnership items, worker classification, relief from joint and several liability for joint tax returns, declaratory judgment actions, failures to abate interest, review of tax collection actions, transferee liability, etc.
The fact that these judges are tax specialists is a good thing because the cases that come before them can be quite technical and get into the weeds on topics nobody else is thinking about. Because of this, all the trials in U.S. tax court are bench trials, meaning there is no jury. This puts the focus of the trial on legal interpretation, and takes out basically any emphasis on fairness or what real-world implications a decision might have.
Disputes over less than $50,000 can be filed under the court’s simplified small tax case procedure. Trials in small tax cases generally are less formal, result in a speedier disposition, and taxpayers can represent themselves in the matter if they wish. Larger cases are subject to complex procedural and evidentiary rules, and taxpayers are usually represented by experienced tax attorneys.
One of the big benefits of litigating in U.S. Tax Court, and particularly under the court’s small tax procedures, is the speed at which such cases move. Disputes are resolved relatively quickly, often before trial during settlement negotiations. If a case does go to trial, the outcome is final if it is a small tax case. Cases tried under the regular procedures are appealable to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and from there, the United States Supreme Court.
Litigating in U.S. Tax Court often is preferable because taxpayers do not have to pay the tax they are disputing in order to file a complaint.
In Georgia, tax cases are heard at the Russell Federal Building & Courthouse in Atlanta. In South Carolina those cases are heard in the Strom Thurmond Federal Building in Columbia.
U.S. District Courts
Tax cases also can be heard in the U.S. District Courts (or “USDC”). Attorneys at the Wooten Firm are licensed to practice in the United States District Courts for the Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia, and the District of South Carolina. We are not limited to litigating in just these federal courts — if our clients have a tax issue anywhere in the United States, we can help.
There are three big differences between USDC and U.S. Tax Court. First, a jury hears cases in USDC. Second, the judges hear all sorts of different cases, and probably have not encountered many tax law unless they have presided over a similar case in the past.
Finally, the taxpayer must pay the tax they are disputing before filing a claim for a refund. Remember, in U.S. Tax Court a taxpayer can litigate a disputed claim without paying up front.
Finally, tax disputes can be litigated in bankruptcy court. Our firm files both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcy cases, and if there is tax debt, it is dealt with by the bankruptcy court.
Like in U.S. Tax Court, the taxpayer can file a suit without first paying the disputed amount and asking for a refund.
Atlanta & Fulton County Tax Litigation Attorney
Our clients benefit from the wide variety of litigation experiences we have had over the years. We have tried cases against the IRS in all of these federal courts and many of their state counterparts. Because of this, we are able to give individuals and small-to-medium size businesses the same level of sophisticated representation they would receive from a large law firm, but in a friendly manner and at an affordable price.
The attorneys at our firm have also accounting experience, and we have CPAs that we regularly bring in to consult with us on various cases, but if our clients want us to work with their accountants or financial planners we are more than happy to do so. If we work with a CPA, we always do so under a Kovel agreement in order to protect the information our client shares with the CPA from discovery. Federal law, which governs dealings with the IRS, does not recognize an accountant-client privilege, so we use Kovel agreements to bring accounts within the protections of our attorney-client privilege.
We are flexible, experienced, and ready to do everything we can to help our clients settle their tax disputes and move on with their lives. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.