Golden Gate Bridge Practice Areas - Client Representation At Tax Proceedings


People who are afraid of being audited can be divided into two categories: men and women. Most people get nervous when they receive a letter from the government, even when it is a refund check. Although we defer to the psychologists on our database to help you with your feelings, we can help you survive the audit. The two most important factors in prevailing in an audit are (1) maintaining good records throughout the year, and (2) treating the auditor as a human being, and not as the enemy.

Of course, it helps to be on the right side of the tax law. We help you to frame your case so that the facts and the law support the positions you took on your tax return.

With our "self-assessment" system, dealing with the IRS, for example, looks something like this:

  • You file your income tax return.
  • In most cases, the return is accepted as filed.
  • In some cases, arithmetic errors are detected and adjustments proposed.
  • You have the right to contest even those proposed adjustments.
  • In some cases, your return is selected for audit—either as the result of a statistical compliance study by the taxing authorities, or because the return "scored" in a range that is substantially outside of the norm for a particular category of income or expense.
  • An audit can be conducted at your home or place of business or at an IRS office.
  • We will help you compile the information requested by the IRS and organize it in a fashion designed to substantiate the positions you took on your tax return (unless the positions are obviously incorrect).
  • We sit down with the IRS auditor and make the case for you. In most cases, you don't want to be present at the audit.
  • If an agreement is reached, that is the end of the process.
  • If an agreement cannot be reached, you will receive a notice that your case has been designated "unagreed," informing you that you have 30 days to file a protest and request a hearing with an appellate officer.
  • We will "brief" your case for the appeal and attend on your behalf.
  • If an agreement is reached on appeal, that is the end of the process.
  • If an agreement cannot be reached, you will receive a notice, and you will have 90 days to file a petition with the Tax Court.
  • As your attorneys, we will work with IRS attorneys to stipulate the undisputed facts. If agreement on the facts can be reached, there would be no "trial" per se, but rather, a mere determination of the tax law as applied to those facts by the Tax Court Judge.
  • If there are disputed facts, a Perry Mason-style trial would be held, but, unlike a criminal case, at which the accused is presumed to be innocent, the burden of proof in a civil tax case is on you as the taxpayer.
  • Whether or not there is a trial, pre-trial and post trial briefs would be submitted on the application of the tax law to the facts.
  • The Tax Court Judge will render an opinion, usually within 6-12 months of the trial. Either side may appeal the decision. In most cases, both sides will apply pragmatic principles to the decision of whether to appeal.

Throughout this process, we will be by your side (or in front of you) to ensure that your interests are protected.

SutteLaw, P.C. One Front Street, Suite 1300, San Francisco, CA 94111   TEL: 415.781.0250   FAX: 415.398.1869  EMAIL: