Why Do Tax Attorneys Specialize in a Single Area of Tax Law?
If you are considered a U.S. Taxpayer, you may have many different tax obligations to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).
You may have to pay tax on personal income, business income, foreign income, and other income to the United States.
Whenever foreign, offshore or international issues are involved, the matter becomes infinitely more complex.
Tax Law can be a very difficult subject. Oftentimes, when a person comes to Golding & Golding with a tax problem, there are many facets to the tax problem that must be explored.
Important questions we receive about hiring a Tax Attorney:
- What type of experience does the Tax Attorney have?
- Is the Tax Attorney a Board Certified Tax Specialist?
- How long has the Tax Attorney been in private practice?
- How many areas of tax law (and other law) do they advertise?
- Do they have a Master’s Degree in Tax Law (LL.M.)?
- Are they an Enrolled Agent (EA) or CPA?
For example, in our specialty (International Tax) there are many questions to consider when analyzing an international tax matter from the outset, including:
- Undisclosed foreign accounts, assets and income
- Willful vs. non-willful
- Foreign passive investment analysis
- Foreign corporate or partnership interests
- Is the person under criminal investigation?
- Are they under an eggshell or reverse eggshell audit?
- What are seeking from our representation?
People Can be Whomever They Want to be Online
And that is the problem. In recent years, we have had many clients come to us after being horribly represented by Tax Attorney Generalists in the field of International Tax. While we are sure it is a problem is many fields, it seems to run rampant in international tax.
They are usually a small firm that practices in 10 different areas of tax law (domestic, international, employment, sales tax, etc.) and even practice outside of tax.
International tax is complex enough for experienced practitioners who focus exclusively in the area of law, never mind relative newcomers who are trying to handle 10 areas of tax law and non-tax law simultaneously — while marketing and advertising themselves as “Experts.”
Helpful Tips with Hiring a Voluntary/Offshore Disclosure Lawyer
1. Board Certified Tax Law Specialist
State Bars across the country (as well as the ABA) strictly prohibit false advertising, but some tax attorneys try to circumvent the rules and mislead the public.
Unless an Attorney is a “Board Certified” Tax Attorney Specialist, chances are they are just using marketing gimmicks to mislead you into believe they have experience they do not have.
Even a Board Certified Tax Lawyer rarely if ever would claim they were an “Expert” in the vast area of Tax Law.
Unfortunately (especially in the areas of International Tax Law and IRS Offshore Disclosure), many less experienced attorneys are falsely touting themselves to the public as “specialists” and “experts” — putting unsuspecting individuals at serious risk for IRS penalties.
Less than 1% of Tax Attorneys Nationwide are Board Certified Tax Law Specialists
The Board Certified Tax Law Specialist exam is offered in many states, and is widely regarded as one of (if not) the hardest tax exam given in the United States for practicing Attorneys. Certification also requires the completion of significant ethics and experience requirements.
In California alone, out of more than 200,000 practicing attorneys (with thousands of attorneys practicing in some area of tax law), less than 350 attorneys are Board Certified Tax Law Specialists.
2. Master’s in Tax Law (LL.M.)
A Master’s in Tax Law is the highest legal degree earned by practicing Attorneys. It is a Master’s degree in Tax Law, and requires several upper-level graduate tax classes.
3. Enrolled Agent (Highest IRS Credential)
Many people attempt the Enrolled Agent exam, only to fail. Instead of getting back on the horse and trying again-they give up.
This is unfortunate, because anyone who sits for the exam is obviously someone who takes tax representation very seriously.
As provided by the IRS:
An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee.
Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.
Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before.
4. 20 Years of Legal Experience
Our Managing Partner, Sean M. Golding, JD, LLM, EA is a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist (Less than 1% of Attorneys Nationwide) earned an LL.M. (Master’s in Tax Law) from the University of Denver and is also an Enrolled Agent (the highest credential awarded by the IRS, and authorizes him to represent clients nationwide.)
Mr. Golding and his team have successfully handled several hundred IRS Offshore/Voluntary Disclosure Procedure cases. Whether it is a simple or complex case, safely getting clients into compliance is our passion, and we take it very seriously.
He is frequently called upon to lecture and write on issues involving IRS Voluntary Disclosure.
*Click here to learn the benefits of retaining a Board Certified Tax Law Specialist with advanced tax credentials.
Beware of Copycat Law Firms
Unlike other attorneys who call themselves specialists or experts in Voluntary Disclosure but are not “Board Certified,” handle 5-10 different areas of tax law, purchase multiple keyword specific domain names, and even practice outside of tax, we are absolutely dedicated to Offshore Voluntary Disclosure.
Inexperienced Counsel and General Tax Practitioners
Recently, there has been an influx of inexperienced Voluntary Disclosure Attorneys marketing themselves online as IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyers.
They copy our content and our case examples, and try to claim it as their own.
They have a few years of attorney experience representing their own clients, practice 10 different areas of law (including non-tax law), have 5-10 different websites, handled a a few Streamlined Disclosure cases — and now coin themselves experts.
They have no advanced degrees or credentials and trump up their experience in order to try to fool the general public with marketing gimmicks.
Since many of these clients come to us after retaining one of these firms, we want to try to help you not make the same mistake.
We Specialize in Safely Disclosing Foreign Money
Whether it is a simple or complex case, safely getting clients into compliance is our passion, and we take it very seriously.
Examples of areas of tax we handle
- Unfiled Tax Returns
- Unreported Income Penalties
- International Tax Investigations (FATCA and more)
- FBAR Investigations
- International Tax Evasion
- Structuring Investigations
- Eggshell and Reverse Eggshell Audits
- Divorce and Offshore Accounts
- Foreign Mutual Funds
- Foreign Life Insurance
- Fixing Quiet Disclosure
- Foreign Real Estate Income
- Foreign Real Estate Sales
- Foreign Earned Income Exclusion
- Subpart F Income
- Foreign Inheritance
- Foreign Pension
- Form 3520
- Form 5471
- Form 8621
- Form 8865
- Form 8938 (FATCA)
Who Decides to Disclose Unreported Money?
What Types of Clients Do we Represent?
We represent Attorneys, CPAs, Doctors, Investors, Engineers, Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Professors, Athletes, Actors, Entry-Level staff, Students, Former/Current IRS Agents and more.
You are not alone, and you are not the only one to find himself or herself in this situation.
Be Careful of the IRS
With the introduction and enforcement of FATCA for both Civil and Criminal Penalties, renewed interest in the IRS issuing FBAR Penalties, crackdown on Cryptocurrency (and IRS joining J5), the termination of OVDP, and recent foreign bank settlements with the IRS…there are not many places left to hide.
4 Types of IRS Voluntary Disclosure Programs
There are typically four types of IRS Voluntary Disclosure programs, and they include:
- Traditional (IRM) IRS Voluntary Disclosure Program
- Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (SDOP)
- Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP)
- Reasonable Cause (RC)