“Don’t believe everything you think.”
Oftentimes situations arise for taxpayers in which they would like to know the tax consequences of a certain action. Wouldn’t it be great to find that out beforehand rather than taking an action that has negative consequences down the road? The Internal Revenue Code is massive, yet still does not cover every specific situation that can arise for a taxpayer. Treasury Regulations, Revenue Procedures, court cases, tax treaties, and other authority can oftentimes fill in the blanks.
Although CPA’s can (and oftentimes do) assist with tax research, the largest benefit of hiring a tax attorney to perform this research is that attorney-client privilege will apply to the seeking and providing of tax advice. Preparer’s privilege that a CPA, Enrolled Agent, or other third party possesses is not as encompassing, and those individuals can be compelled in certain instances to testify against their clients in court.
Taxpayers may have questions on any of the following situations:
The firm engages in a fact-finding process prior to rendering tax research services. This generally involves an initial client questionnaire tailored to the taxpayer’s situation. It is important for the taxpayer to provide this initial information in a written format so that specifics as it pertains to that taxpayer can be considered and memorialized.
The firm generally provides information to the taxpayer in the form of a memorandum that points to authority governing the taxpayer’s situation. Primary sources, such as the Internal Revenue Code, are used whenever possible. However, depending on the taxpayer’s questions, form instructions and publications, treasury regulations, or other sources of authority can be more useful from an application standpoint. At any rate, the firm will provide the taxpayer with sources of authority that will enable the taxpayer to verify the information received.
The firm generally refrains from directing a taxpayer to take or not take a certain action because the taxpayer is the one with the consequences for the action. Therefore, the firm simply provides the information based on the research, and it is up to the taxpayer to decide what course to take within the confines of the information provided.
The firm charges a rate of $150 per hour for tax research. For taxpayers with basic questions, important to note is that a minimum of two hours, or $300 is required for tax research engagements. For each research engagement, a minimum retainer is required before services are rendered. Because scope of work differs greatly in this area, the retainer will differ as well. For clients, with specific tax questions, please contact us using the information on the “contact us” tab and we can arrange a quote based upon estimated scope of work.