Tax law is a remarkably interesting practice areas due to its ever-changing and highly personal nature. A person may face tax consequences if he sells stock, takes out a loan, purchases life insurance, forms a business, undertakes improvements to his home, gives his grandchildren a gift, makes a charitable donation, creates a will, or does any number of other things. A business or organization's tax obligations will vary depending upon its form, the quality and quantity of its assets, and the structure of its transactions.
Tax attorneys may work on cases involving the taxation of corporations, partnerships, and charitable organizations, pensions and retirement plans, social security benefits, estates, trusts, gifts, bonds, and more. Some may encounter international tax issues.
In general, tax attorneys use investments, trusts, gifts, and other tax planning devices to reduce their clients' income and estate tax obligations. They may also represent their clients in judicial or administrative proceedings relating to tax obligations. For most attorneys who deal with tax on a regular basis, their practice is driven by the federal Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and state tax codes, along with regulations, revenue rulings, and case law. Tax attorneys spend their time researching the impact of tax provisions, drafting and reviewing legal documents, writing letters and memorandums, reviewing files, advising clients, and conferring with other professionals, such as accountants, stockbrokers, business advisers, insurance agents, and representatives of financial institutions. The majority of tax attorneys do not prepare tax forms; that task is typically handled by their clients' accountants.
Tax attorneys advise clients on ways to minimize their tax liability during their lifetimes and to prevent problems related to taxation. They help clients comply with tax regulations, navigate audits, contest tax assessments, or reduce fees and penalties associated with the payment of taxes. Often, their work involves negotiating with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state tax authorities. Even though much tax work is transactional, some attorneys specialize in tax litigation. These attorneys focus their practice on the representation of clients in front of the U.S. Tax Court, state tax courts, and other courts, including those of administrative agencies. Tax attorneys' clients are often businesses and organizations (including corporations, banks, start-up companies, small businesses, and non-profits), but a good number of tax attorneys advise individuals as well. Often, individuals who seek the advice of a tax attorney have considerable wealth.
- American Bar Association Section of Taxation
- State Bar of California Taxation Section
- American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants
- International Tax Planning Association
- Internal Revenue Service
- California State Board of Equalization
- California Franchise Tax Board
- National Tax Association offers a discounted membership for full-time students. Members receive a subscription to the National Tax Journal and the Proceedings of the Annual Conference in Taxation.
- Tax Notes Today, available on LEXIS.
- The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal are all good resources for keeping track of daily business and tax developments.