While most tax disputes with the IRS and state tax authorities are settled out of court, sometimes there is simply no way to avoid litigation if you want the best possible result.
Summons and Subpoenas
The IRS has the authority to examine your books, records, and witnesses to ascertain whether your return is accurate, to determine your federal tax liability, and to prepare a substitute tax return for you if you have not filed one. An IRS summons will demand that you – or others familiar with your finances – appear before an IRS agent in order to present your records or testimony. The examination may include the review of documents held by your bank, credit card companies, business associates, and others.
Prior to the issuance of a summons, the IRS usually sends either an Information Document Request, a delinquency letter, or a pre-summons letter. If you have received any of these documents, or an IRS summons, you should obtain legal assistance from an experienced tax attorney immediately. Any attempt to resolve the issue yourself – or to disregard it – may result not only in a possible finding of contempt or sanctions, including the felony charge of making a false statement but also in the failure to take advantage of many available privileges and defenses.
Obtaining another person or company’s tax returns for use in a court trial is likewise no simple task. A subpoena of records from the IRS requires additional written documentation about your case and the relevance of the tax records, which should only be prepared with the assistance of an experienced tax attorney.
Litigating a Tax Dispute
When litigation is the best option or otherwise cannot be avoided, there several forums to resolve your claim:
- The United States Tax Court consists of 19 presidentially-appointed judges who travel to federal courtrooms throughout the country and only hear cases involving federal tax controversies and procedural matters.
- The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has jurisdiction over claims against the United States, including disputes with the IRS.
- Federal district courts handle both civil and criminal cases and is the only forum where both taxpayers and the government may request a jury trial.
For the past 30 years, the tax litigation attorneys at Moskowitz, LLP have negotiated favorable settlements with the IRS and the U.S. Department of Justice, and have litigated hundreds of cases in courts throughout the country. We have also handled appeals on behalf of our individual and business tax clients.