The Law Offices of John P. McDonnell provides clients with a tax lawyer with a successful history of dealing with difficult tax issues, including litigating against the IRS.  Our firm is dedicated to offering skilled legal representation to individuals and businesses, with an emphasis on tax advice and tax litigation.

Because we are small firm, we offer you personalized service and high quality legal counsel to address the most challenging types of tax problems.  If you are looking for a Silicon Valley tax lawyer, please contact The Law Offices of John P. McDonnell today for a consultation.

Our firm offers:

  • Premier representation, comparable to the large firms without the large firm expense.
  • Personal attention to your case.
  • Direct control of the entire case by the top attorney, producing greater efficiency and reduced time and expense.

When you have a tax dispute with the IRS, you will usually need a high-quality, experienced attorney. The IRS is deadly serious when it proposes tax increases, and if the matter looks to be heading to court, you need to be serious too.

But when you are dragged into an IRS case, there are a number of questions you may ask.

Do I really need an attorney?

Attorneys are expensive, so you may wonder if you should represent yourself.  The answer is simple.  No.  Absolutely not.  This goes beyond the main problem that you don’t know the rules and procedures (and that you are vastly overmatched by the government attorneys).

Keep in mind that tax cases, like most other court cases, tend to settle before trial. Hiring an attorney sends the message that you are serious about the case, and willing to fight to defend your position  These are critical cards in any settlement negotiations.  It also shows that an experienced professional has evaluated your case and believes that you can win.  The stronger your case appears, the better the settlement.

In addition, the IRS now evaluates settlement on the basis of “likely results.”  They weigh (1) what is the risk of losing completely, and (2) what is the range of likely results—what will happen when the judge (or in some cases, the jury) decides the case?  This is the province of attorneys; only an experienced attorney can argue against the IRS on how the case is likely to turn out.  Again, the stronger the arguments, the better the settlement.

At what stage do I need an attorney?

In many cases, the early stages of the IRS audit can be more efficiently handled by the CPA or tax return preparer that did your tax returns.  Often, the examining agent is merely seeking more information, or more clarification on items claimed on the tax return.  But at some point, it becomes clear that the examining agent is going to propose additional taxes.  This leads to the agent “closing” the audit and sending a letter stating the amount of increases the agent proposes, and informing the taxpayer that he/she has 30 days to request a conference with the IRS Appeals Office.  This is commonly known at the “30-Day letter.”  At this point, you should bring in an attorney.  The Appeals Office conference is the best opportunity to settle the case, and avoid further litigation.  As pointed out above, you should have an attorney take over to argue the merits of the case with the IRS to try to produce a favorable settlement.

Which tax attorney should I work with?

The IRS is a big enemy, and the first inclination of many clients is to hire a “big firm.”

There are a lot of great tax attorneys at large firms, but they are very expensive. There are also other factors to consider before rushing to hire a “big firm.”  For example, although you may think you are hiring a big firm, in reality, you will end up with one lawyer.  At some point, one lawyer becomes the point person on your case.  That lawyer has to know all the facts, research the law and develop the defense strategy.  And that one person may not be the “big name” attorney you expected when you went with the big firm.  In addition, your case may not get the highest priority.  The IRS sometimes seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in back taxes from some of the largest companies in the country (or world).  But your case is likely to be smaller.  If there are just a few top-tier attorneys at a large firm, then IBM, Microsoft and Exxon want these folks on their cases, so your case may fall to a lower-tier attorney. When you choose our firm, you know that your case will be handled by the top  attorney, and that this attorney will be directly responding to all your concerns.