Frequently asked Questions regarding selection of a taxpayer representative in New York

Q. Why should I hire a tax lawyer to represent me in a New York State or New York City tax audit?

A. Hiring an attorney who is predominantly focused on New York State tax and New York City tax matters is advantageous for many reasons. Most tax practitioners, whether accountants or attorneys, devote significant time to handling federal tax matters. New York State and New York City impose many unique taxes with arcane rules that are frequently overlooked by general tax practitioners. While New York State does not certify tax specialists, a tax lawyer who focuses most of his or her time on New York State tax matters will naturally be more familiar with the issues that are important to the outcome of your audit. To paraphrase a famous Chinese warrior, every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought. Wouldn’t you want to be represented by a tax lawyer whose career is focused on fighting against the New York State tax authorities?

Q. Can any tax lawyer represent me in a New York State tax audit or litigation?

A. Yes BUT! Not all tax lawyers devote substantial amounts of time to representing taxpayers in tax controversies. Many tax lawyers serve as consultants and do not represent taxpayers in tax controversies. It would be advantageous to hire a tax lawyer that focuses on tax controversies, especially New York tax controversies. Even at the audit level, a skilled taxpayer representative should take into consideration issues that will affect the taxpayer if the matter is ultimately litigated. For example, a skilled taxpayer representative will consider how documents that are handed over to the auditor during the tax audit will be used as evidence if the matter is litigated at a later date. A tax lawyer who spends a substantial amount of time representing clients before the New York tax authorities will be more familiar with the agency, its divisions and employees.

Q. Will my accountant be offended if I hire a tax attorney?

A. Most accountants will not be offended and will work closely with your tax attorney to make sure that your interests are well represented. At Goldstein Jones LLP, a major source of our client base comes from referrals by accountants (we can proudly say that a significant source of our clients are referred to our firm by former clients who may themselves have been referred to us by their accountants).

Q. Will the tax auditor be upset if I hire a tax attorney to represent me?

A. No. Tax auditors frequently work with tax lawyers. It may be easier for the auditor to interact with a tax lawyer than it is to interact directly with the taxpayer because the lawyer is familiar with the audit process and the highly technical and arcane tax audit issues. A tax lawyer can assist the taxpayer in making confident decisions regarding appropriate responses to auditor demands for information. Therefore, the entire audit process may run more smoothly

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