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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Taxes & Financial Planning > Tax Attorney

Tax Attorney Cost


How Much Does a Tax Attorney Cost?

 
low costLow: Minor Problems $700-$1,500average costMedium: Legal Representation $2,000-$4,000+high costHigh: Trial Cases Can Run $5,000-$15,000+

A tax attorney provides legal advice to individuals, businesses and organizations about income, estate, gift, excise, property and other local, state, federal and foreign taxes. A tax attorney represents clients in tax litigation, especially with the IRS, and provides opinions on tax liabilities for proposed and past activities.

Typical costs:

  • Most tax attorneys charge on an hourly basis, around $200-$400 an hour for their services. You must make a prepayment known as a retainer, which is usually based on an estimated number of hours. As the work is done, the hourly fee is deducted from the retainer; when the money is gone, you will be billed for an additional payment.
  • Minor problems could be addressed with a few hours work. Some attorneys charge $700-$1,500 to negotiate basic payment options with the IRS -- such an installment plan, an "offer in compromise" (which has strict income qualifications) or a hardship deferral -- but costs can go higher if the negotiations are complicated or prolonged.
  • A typical retainer for legal representation in a tax dispute starts around $2,000-$4,000 for a relatively simple case but can be $5,000-$15,000 or more, depending on circumstances. If the case goes to trial, costs could be significantly higher.
Related articles: Tax Returns, Estate Planning, Trust, Will

What should be included:
  • US tax laws are complex, and change every year. A tax attorney can help an individual or a small business avoid tax problems before they occur -- and when they do occur, a tax attorney will represent your interests in dealing with the IRS or in tax court. In addition to a standard law degree, a tax attorney should have advanced training in tax law. Most will have a master of laws (LL.M.) degree in taxation; some attorneys who specialize in tax law are also Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).
Additional costs:
  • Some tax attorneys will provide a free initial consultation, while others will charge their usual hourly rate.
  • Filing fees or other court costs of $5-$250 or more and other expenses (copying, postage, messengers, paralegal time, etc.) may be included in your attorney's legal fees, but some attorneys charge separately for these. Get a written estimate of anticipated "other" costs.
Discounts:
  • Low-income taxpayers who can't afford a tax lawyer for IRS audits, appeals or collection disputes can get free or low-cost legal assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic[1] . You might also get assistance from the local Legal Aid office; the American Bar Association lists legal resources[2] in each state.
Shopping for a tax attorney:
  • A tax attorney should evaluate all aspects of your tax issue with you, identify your options and explain what you can expect. FindLaw.com provides an intake form[3] for you to complete before your first meeting with a tax attorney.
  • Referrals are available from the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants or at FindLaw.com[4] .
  • Your attorney should provide you with a written fee agreement. Be sure you understand what is covered, and any other fees and expenses you might have to pay.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/pub._4134-04.pdf
  2.  apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm
  3.  tax.findlaw.com/legal-help-resources/tax-dispute-attorney-intake-form.html
  4.  tax.findlaw.com/legal-help-resources/hiring-a-tax-attorney.html
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