Types of Tax Problems

Issues Involving Failure to Report or Pay the Correct Amount of Taxes Due

The failure to file tax returns or filing incorrect returns may create critical problems for any taxpayer. In addition to financial burdens resulting from penalties, interest, fees and legal collections processes, you could face criminal liability. At The Law Offices of Matthew W. Stanley in Tacoma, Washington, we are dedicated to helping clients quickly and effectively resolve tax problems.

We help clients find solutions through thoughtful communication, negotiation and settlement, and litigation, when necessary. Our firm is experienced with Identifying Tax Problems in cases involving:

Civil tax problems: Civil liabilities for state and federal taxes include the additional amount of tax you are liable to pay. They may also include accrued interest and penalties, such as delinquent returns and payment penalties, accuracy and negligence penalties, and stiff penalties for fraud. When the government concludes that a taxpayer owes additional tax, interest and penalties, the taxpayer almost always bears the burden to prove the government wrong.

Criminal tax problems: If you are criminally liable for unpaid taxes due to tax evasion or other wrongful acts, you will face the possibility of fines and even imprisonment, in addition to paying the additional tax and interest owed. To establish criminal liability, the government must prove the commission of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Collection problems: When liable for unpaid taxes, you may also face the stress and burden of involuntary property seizures and wage garnishments, as well as liens filed against your property to protect the government's ability to collect the tax in the future.

Criminal Tax Investigations

Various events can lead to tax agency criminal investigations. Two of the most common events are intentional errors uncovered during the audit, and the tax agency's receipt of information from informants. Depending on the circumstances, a criminal tax investigator may initiate the first contact with a taxpayer, or the case may be referred by an examiner for development after identifying some evidence of fraud during a civil audit.

Of course, there are other scenarios, but at some point, the government will typically want to obtain damning evidence directly from the taxpayer. Taxpayers should be forewarned. They should not succumb to the common notion that the authorities will treat them more kindly if they are nice and cooperative. They should know the government knows that it often obtains the best evidence of a crime from taxpayers themselves.

Anyone facing serious tax problems should discuss them early with an attorney, knowing those discussions will typically be confidential. All states recognize the "attorney-client priviledge." Most do not recognize an accountant-client priviledge. Certainly one means of avoiding these uncomfortable situations may be to take advantage of the "voluntary disclosure" policies described under Identifying Tax Problems.

Tax Assessments and Deficiencies

Depending on the type of tax and the tax agency, "deficiency" determinations and "assessments" will occur at different stages of the tax determination process. Agency determinations may be appealed inside the agency and, eventually, to a court of law. Matt can represent you at any stage of the process, from audits and investigations to administrative appeals to trials and, eventually, through any payment and collection activities.

Refund Claims

Regarding a variety of federal and state taxes, taxpayers may choose to pay, or may have to pay, a tax before contesting it. Often, a taxpayer will opt to pay the tax first in order to select a particular court to hear his or her case. In some cases, taxpayers may be required to pay the tax debt first before they have the opportunity to dispute it. Either way, the tax resolution process will begin with a refund claim to recover the tax paid, rather than efforts to avoid paying the tax in the first place. Contesting a state or federal tax debt involves a number of important considerations and decisions, and our firm has the experience to guide you through that process.

Call 253-752-3040 to speak directly with our tax lawyer, or submit a risk-free intake form to our Tacoma, Washington, civil and criminal tax law attorney using our online services
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