How To Choose The Right Expert For Your Tax Dilemma

small picture of attorney bill henry
By: Bill Henry
PublishedAug 28, 2018
4 minute read
IRS tax attorney shaking hands with his tax clients after solving their problems

Things to know About Choosing Someone to Help You With Your IRS and State Tax Problems

Tax law is extremely complex, which often requires a skilled attorney to fully understand and navigate. As experts in the details of the tax code, you can rely on an attorney to know the ins and outs of the specifics of your tax issues and act on your behalf.

Much like doctors and mental health professionals, discussions with your attorney are privileged, preventing your attorney from being forced to use those conversations to testify against you. If they breach this trust, there are serious consequences that range from damage to their reputation to censure and disbarment. Likewise, no one, not even the IRS, can force your attorney divulge information protected by the attorney-client privilege. Attorney-client privilege opens the lines of trouble communication so that clients can honestly discuss their case without fear of those conversations being admitted in a legal tax case.

If you’re being audited, have taxes that are past due, or have not filed taxes for years, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney. You are in a fight with the IRS, and you need a representative that is trained in handling adversarial situations. Your lawyer knows the rights you have as an individual and will apply that knowledge to your best interests. Understand: you are no match for the IRS by yourself.

What To Look For


As mentioned before, your attorney should demonstrate extensive experience in the tax field. A lawyer that has been in practice for many years will have handled cases like yours in the past and will know the procedures and tactics that will help minimize or eliminate the damage, and work toward getting you out of your situation.

Strong Communicator & Personality

Someone who knows the law and can discuss it confidently is an asset. A self-assured lawyer can be of benefit not only in the courtroom but also when requesting assistance from people or businesses related to your case.


A prospective lawyer should provide a list of any prior firms where they worked, and should have a solid reputation in the legal community. Once you find a prospective lawyer, ask around to see if anyone in your network has any knowledge of their work. You’ll want to know if the attorney is competent, always works in their client’s best interest, are reliable, and have a good work ethic.


Make sure your lawyer thoroughly understands your situation and what’s at stake for you. Many lawyers build their defense based on knowledge of your circumstances and the facts of your case.


Are they accessible when you need them? You’ll want an attorney that can be present when you need them most and not only when their schedule permits it. Hire a lawyer that will have time for you and your case. An attorney who is part of a larger firm will have other assistants at their disposal, such as an office staff and paralegals that can assist with the case and keep lines of communication open.

Ability to explain and navigate IRS documents

Make sure you find a lawyer that is familiar with the wide range of tax documentation and legal rulings and who will understand what they mean and how they affect you. They will need to be able to distill the legalese into easy- to-understand explanations for you and your family.

Full-time Lawyer

A part-time attorney may have other commitments that can interfere with your case. A lawyer who does not have outside obligations will be able to focus on your situation. This is not to say they won’t have junior attorneys to assist them. If your lead attorney can hand off some of the work to assistants, it may save on your overall fees. Additional attorneys can also help your lead attorney with strategy and even attend court if the lead gets sick or has an emergency. This provides continuity and stability for your proceedings. If your attorney is part of a larger firm, they will also have a support staff comprised of paralegals, administrative staff, and a billing department that can help with details of the case at non-attorney rates. The team can also put you in contact with your attorney if they are out of the office.

Constant Learner

The field of law is constantly changing and advancing. This is especially true in the area of taxes with changes and developments in tax law every year. Your attorney should be outwardly inquisitive, interested in attending workshops, conferences, and legal organizations. An informed and up-to-date tax lawyer will more effectively represent your case with the IRS.


Not all attorneys will have this. You want a lawyer that can take hits and then be able to hit back. If you’re in tax trouble, the IRS is going to come after you and your attorney needs to be able to handle it. They should constantly have your best interests at heart and be looking to get you the best outcome possible.


Your lawyer should be willing to become personally involved in obtaining a resolution that will be satisfactory to you. An attorney who is just looking for a paycheck won’t be as sharp as someone who is challenged by and committed to your cause. Your legal team should care about you enough to help resolve your case positively for you. (Don’t be mistaken, however – Your attorney will not be your friend or therapist. They may tell you painful realities that are emotionally devastating to hear, but it’s not out of spite or malice. They have a duty to give the best advice for your benefit.)

Peer Recognition

While doing your research, look to see if potential attorneys have received awards recognizing their legal work. You may also check to see if they have regular involvement with the legal community – pro-bono work, speaking engagements, serving on boards of legal associations, etc.

Interview Candidates

After your initial research, you will have a few potential options. Ask yourself if they the right fit for you and your case. While you may not be friends with your attorney, you will need to get along with the lawyer you choose. Your lawyer will need to know many things about you and your personal life, and you will need to trust them. The more trust that is formed, the more effective partnership you will have with them. To get the best possible outcome you’re going to want to spend time interviewing attorneys, eventually choosing one with whom you build a rapport.


Although it might seem like a paradox, only an attorney can truly help you decide if you need an attorney. A CPA or tax advisor may not know enough about the tax code or the legal system to give the right advice for your tax situation. An ethical lawyer will advise you when their services aren’t needed. The process of finding a tax attorney can take some time but the right lawyer can save you tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your tax predicament. Call (303)-688-0944 to schedule an assessment with an experienced Robinson & Henry attorney.

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