HOW DOES A LAWYER HELP WITH MY TAX ISSUES?

 

There appears to be a mistaken notion (especially among small business owners) that when it comes to the subject of taxes, an accountant or tax accountants is the only professional to resort to for solutions. No doubt, tax accountants have a significant role to play as it concerns tax preparation on the one hand, but the relevance of a tax lawyer to any business cannot be undermined.

However, knowing which of these professionals is right for you and your business, is largely dependent on several factors such as; the stage of your case with the revenue service (if any) or your unique goals and needs.

WHO QUALIFIES AS A TAX LAWYER?

In Nigeria, a tax lawyer or attorney must be called to the Nigerian Bar, and is therefore licensed to practice law within a certain location. However, he/she may opt to narrow his/ her interest on the subject of taxes by either acquiring hands on legal experience on the subject, obtaining further degree on taxes or both.

This applies in other countries as well. Tax is a product of law, hence a tax lawyer is primarily focused on the legal issues associated with taxes.

HOW DOES A LAWYER HELP WITH MY TAXES?

Tax advice

A tax lawyer who specializes in tax related matters advises individuals, businesses, and government agencies on taxes, tax laws, tax disputes, and account matters. Every tax lawyer stays up to date with internal revenue service regulation and tax laws so as to be able to advise a client in time of need. They help you avoid possible penalty and unnecessary interest; A tax lawyer helps you with legal strategies to enable you stay below the tax exemption threshold as well as avoid a significant amount of your money going to the respective revenue service.

When advising a client the lawyer deciphers what his client really needs from what he/she says and then articulate suggestions that achieves reasonable goals.

In a case of starting a business a tax lawyer will notify his or her client should the business he or she is planning to start pose a risk of incurring a lot of tax expenses, such lawyer will proffer advice on how to structure transactions in a way that provides advantage when it comes to tax, and in regards to buying or selling a business, such lawyer advises a business owner on matters such as capital gains and depreciation to minimize their tax liability.

 

Negotiation

Should your business be found liable for failure to pay or remit back taxes or penalties (i.e taxes which were due to be paid within a stipulated time), a lawyer would assist you with negotiations with the respective revenue authorities.

In the event your properties and bank accounts has been placed on lien (i.e some or all of your funds cannot be withdrawn or used by you) by the revenue authorities, a tax lawyer would assist in undoing it through negotiations in some cases.

The outcome of such negotiations may entail a tax payer (who is in default) paying debt owed in installments or such taxpayer paying less than the amount stipulated.

 

Business consulting

Starting up a new business always comes with tax responsibility and if not keen these taxes may add up and become a serious issue in future. In addition, the category of business you opt to register has tax implications for your business. Consulting a tax lawyer would assist you in planning a sure way to avoid such problems as well as assist you with outlining a suitable tax structure for your company

Taxes are created by laws and it has to be professionally understood especially the legal aspect of it so as to avoid untimely winding up of a company. Tax lawyers therefore ensure they are up to speed on current tax legislations that could influence your business strategy, and as such, they are in a better position to combine all aspect of their studies such as business law, property law, corporate law, and insurance law e.t.c to come up with the most beneficial way a business enterprise can handle their taxes.

 

Tax Investigating Services

Have you been harassed by revenue officials to pay levies or obtain permits you are uncertain of? A tax lawyer would assist you in verifying the legitimacy or otherwise of such levies.

 

Estate Planning

Estate planning has to do with anticipating and making arrangements for the management and distribution of a person’s estate during a person’s lifetime, in the event of death or such person becomes incapacitated.

The process of estate planning required the need for tax considerations. If you’re considering creating an estate plan from your assets, a lawyer would assist you in avoiding a large part of your assets being remitted as taxes to the Government amongst other things.

 

Tax Audits with Revenue Authorities

Although preparation of audit statements is the exclusive purview of tax accountants, tax lawyers have a role to play in the audit process such as; aiding client in preparing for audits, meeting with revenue officials and representing clients when needed.

Auditing does not necessarily mean the client has defaulted or done something wrong; it simply means the revenue authorities want to take a closer look and a tax lawyer can help navigate the process.

 

Legal representation

Tax Lawyers represent their client’s interest in court, and with revenue authorities. In the case of tax crimes they can organize and oversee the structuring of settlement with the tax authorities.  Should you be involved in a tax controversy which has been assigned to a revenue officer or a revenue court or tax tribunal or you wish to institute legal action or a tax appeal against the revenue authorities, it is highly recommended that you are represented by someone who has a good knowledge on tax law and in addition knows his or her way around the courts.

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CONCLUSION.

Both tax accountants and tax lawyers assists with tax planning, financial decisions and minimizing tax liabilities however, a tax accountant helps with the financial aspects of the process, while a lawyer assists with the legal aspects of taxes in the face of possible problems.

Although a lawyer can help you in the event of an existing tax controversy, its best you prevent problems in advance by consulting with one in the first place.

Do you have tax concerns? Would you like to speak with a lawyer, you may reach us through the contact information on our website. We’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Cynthia Tishion
Cynthia is a lawyer and currently serves as Head of Corporate / Commercial Services at LEX – PRAXIS. With her passion for business and entrepreneurship, she is actively engaged in creating awareness on the legal aspect of businesses through various platforms such as writing, public speaking engagements.

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