In previous article, I discussed the first part of preparation for an initial consultation with Minneapolis tax lawyers; the first part was mainly concerned with what type of information you should bring to your Minneapolis tax attorney. In this essay, I shift the focus toward the second part of the preparation which is about what type of questions you need to ask your tax lawyer.
Usually, the questions that you want your tax attorney to answer should, at the very least, cover the following four areas:
1. Cost and Billing
One of most important areas that you need to cover is the cost of the case as well as the manner in which you will be billed. Unless this is a flat-fee case, you should not expect your attorney to give you a precise amount of money you will need to spend on your case. Usually, your tax lawyer will give you an estimate, which, in the end, may or may not correspond to the actual cost of the case. I usually provide a fairly conservative estimate and it is rare for my clients to pay above the estimate; usually, it occurs where a client fails to fully disclose the circumstances of the case or otherwise causes a significant delay in the proceedings of the case.
In terms of the manner of billing, you are likely to billed per hour in most tax litigation and voluntary disclosure matters. Regular tax returns, especially for returning clients whose circumstances have not changed in any significant way, are usually subject to a flat fee.
The next area you should question your Minneapolis tax attorney about is how long the case will need to be conducted. The estimates here are likely to vary significantly. While it is fairly easy to predict when a tax return will be finished, it is much harder to estimate an amount of time a voluntary disclosure process may take (especially if more issues come up during the disclosure process).
Ask your Minneapolis tax lawyer about who will handle your case – i.e. whether the attorney will handle it personally or turn it over to his associates. When you are dealing with a large law firm, you run the risk that the attorney with whom you are having the initial consultation will not be the one handling your case, especially if you are a small business or an individual. Due to common division of labor in large law firms, it is very likely that the case will be turned over to inexperienced associates whose work will be only reviewed by the attorney who conducted the initial consultation.
If, however, you are hiring a small firm or a solo practitioner, you are very likely to avoid this problem and your case will be handled from the beginning through the end by your experienced tax lawyer who is probably an owner of the law firm and personally responsible for the case.
4. Percentage of Practice
Ask your Minneapolis tax lawyer about how much time per month, on the average, he devotes to his tax practice. At the very minimum, your tax attorney should devote about 25% of his practice to tax law. If, however, the attorney has specialized associates (for example, someone who is a lawyer and a CPA), then he can have a lower percentage devoted to tax law because he may work closely with his experienced and specialized associate.
While these four questions do not represent a complete list of questions you should ask your tax attorney, they are likely to provide that minimum background necessary for the review of a retainer agreement with your Minneapolis tax lawyer.
Sherayzen Law Office can help you with your tax issues, whether you want to check your tax return, negotiate with the IRS, or engage in complex tax planning.