Taxation legal services

Tax issues cover a broad spectrum of business and personal matters. Lewis Hansen has helped individuals and companies navigate the complexities, plan ahead, document, and resolve problems. Our style of service is to help our clients to minimize risks andliabilities within core legal and ethical principles. We have broad experience in advising and representing public companies, limited liability companies, partnerships, non-profits, and other business entities in tax-centered planning and tax controversy matters. We also work with individuals in handling federal and state tax audits, as well as in creating and managing effective tax structures for estate planning and business succession. 

Tax Audit Defense

If you or your company are being audited by the IRS, Utah Tax Commission, or some other tax authority (including foreign jurisdictions), we can help you manage the process and protect your rights.  We have worked with numerous taxpayers under audit, and have had success in reducing or eliminating adjustments, reducing or eliminating penalties, and helping clients stay on top of the process and make solid strategic decisions in light of the facts.

The contact from an examiner can be very intimidating, and standard letters can seem as though there is no hope of a fair outcome; but you have a right to be heard. Even if things look bad, you may have payment options or other protective measures to relieve some or all of your tax burden. 

The first step is to take a deep breath and relax. The next step should be to begin organizing data. If there is an information document request, then a response needs to be prepared.  Third, an audit logbook should be considered. If the examiner is initiating an open-ended investigation, it is best to track what information has formally been requested, and then when and what responses were made. We can help you or your company by handling the examination from the start, or can assist in the background with reviews of responses and strategic suggestions. You do not have to handle matters without the support of a knowledgeable and experienced tax attorney.

Aside from the tax technical matters leading to proposed adjustments, the types of difficult issues that may need professional assistance include: unfiled returns, statute extensions, late filed returns, tax liens, levies on property, levies on wages, collection hearings, penalties, tax issues in bankruptcy, innocent spouse claims, partial payment installment agreements, offers in compromise, Appeals protests, Tax Court petitions, or alternative dispute resolution options.

IRS Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes

The IRS has numerous alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures available to taxpayers that are designed to avoid litigation. Their availability and use depend on the circumstances, but may generally be classified as those available before an audit, during an audit, or after an audit. In addition, there are some processes which taxpayers may avail themselves of anytime. The Lewis Hansen firm can help you consider your options.

Federal Tax Litigation - Civil

If taxpayers cannot resolve a tax issue with the IRS exam team, or through the various ADR processes, taxpayers have a right to a hearing of their issues in federal court. There are times when the IRS or taxpayer has taken a position on an issue where either side is unwilling, for whatever reason, to concede or settle.

If the IRS proposes an adjustment, and if it is not resolved to the satisfaction of either the IRS or the taxpayer, there will ultimately be a statutory notice of deficiency (or “90-day letter”).  During that 90-day period, the taxpayer can file a petition in the US Tax Court.  The Tax Court judges hear cases without a jury. The cases may be large or small, but the key factor for access to the Tax Court is that the taxpayer cannot have paid the “deficiency.”

Alternatively, taxpayers who wish to litigate their issue may also take their case to either a US federal district court or to the Court of Federal Claims. The former court may allow for a jury trial, while the latter court would provide for a “bench trial” without a jury. The key points for access to these two venues (the “refund courts”) are that the taxpayer must have paid the deficiency, filed a claim for refund, and been denied the refund by the IRS. 

Litigation of a federal tax controversy can be expensive, and the outcome can be uncertain despite outward appearances or one’s confidence in the facts. There are also numerous procedural and evidentiary issues to be considered. Therefore a decision to litigate a case should be made only after thoughtful consultation with a tax lawyer.

Federal Tax Litigation - Criminal

In some cases, the IRS will identify taxpayers for prosecution of events or actions that are classified as crimes. The investigation will usually involve a Special Agent from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.  The allegations may include an alleged “willful” failure to file a return, failure to pay, or some other situation where statutes provide for potential jail time and fines. The IRS and Department of Justice treat potential tax crimes very seriously, and the range of penalties can appear intimidating and hopeless. 

You do not have to go forward without an opportunity to present your facts. Even in the worst of circumstances, we can help. Every case deserves to have an experienced and zealous advocate, and we are on your side.

Business Tax Documentation

Clearly written documentation for businesses is crucial as it relates to US tax matters, but also important for many foreign jurisdictions. The parties to agreements need to know what their rights and obligations are, and what the tax effects will be from the agreements. Even common organizing documents can hold risks for the unwary, and lead to disputes that might have been avoided through more considered negotiation and drafting. 

An important aspect of negotiating with partners and other parties to agreements is to identify the critical parts from the simply important terms, and to take into account not only what view the other parties may take, but also how the tax authorities will treat the agreement. Codification of "economic substance" in 2010, as well as judge-made rules, inserts complications into even the best of business intentions. 

Lewis Hansen can draft the business documents from the ground up, or provide a review of documentation to help refine what is already in existence. Please give us a call at (801) 746-6300 to discuss your situation and needs.

Estate Planning and Probate

Estate planning means putting ones affairs in order to assure assets are protected, and to minimize questions about intentions, when life's end has been reached. A solid estate plan can insure assets are distributed, and intentions are carried out, with a minimum of complication and interference from courts and tax authorities. From simple wills to complicated "Crummey trusts," our firm has the experience to implement your intentions. Planning may include powers of attorneys, living wills, medical directives, and the more in depth trust features.

We can also help in the probate of estates, whether as part of a plan, a court case, or to understand the beneficiary's options upon death. Even where our attorneys were not involved in the decedent's estate, the beneficiary, personal representative, or executor/executrix may rely on Lewis Hansen attorneys to help make sense of the events, settle the commitments, and protect the interests of those affected by the passing of a loved one.

 

 

 

Lewis Hansen 
Attorneys at Law

The Judge Building
Eight East Broadway, #410
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

P: 801-746-6300
F: 801-746-6301

reception@lewishansen.com

 

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