Westchester Tax Prosecutions Lawyers: Your Guide to Finding the Right Attorney
Getting accused of tax evasion or fraud can be an incredibly stressful and frightening experience. The stakes are high, and the IRS has seemingly unlimited resources to come after you. Where do you turn for help? Who can you trust to be your advocate and defend you?
This article will walk you through everything you need to know about finding the right tax prosecutions lawyer in Westchester County, NY. We’ll cover what qualifications to look for, questions to ask during your consultation, average costs and fees, and more.
Our goal is to empower you with the knowledge you need to make the best decision for your unique situation. Let’s get started!
Understanding the Charges Against You
The first step is to understand exactly what you’ve been charged with. Tax prosecutions can involve a wide range of accusations, including:
- Tax evasion – Intentionally underreporting income, overstating deductions, hiding money offshore, etc.
- Tax fraud – Knowingly falsifying information on a return to reduce tax liability.
- Failure to file – Not filing a required return for multiple years.
- Employment tax fraud – Misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
- Identity theft – Using a stolen Social Security number to file a fraudulent return.
The specific charges will determine how complex your defense will be. For example, proving you lacked criminal intent is easier with a failure to file charge versus deliberate tax evasion. Thoroughly review the exact charges so you can find a lawyer experienced with those offenses.
Choosing the Right Tax Attorney for You
There are several key factors to evaluate when selecting a tax prosecutions lawyer in Westchester County:
Look for an attorney who focuses specifically on tax defense work, not one who dabbles in it occasionally. Ask how many tax evasion and fraud cases they’ve worked on in their career. Experience matters – you don’t want to be someone’s first tax case!
Also look for knowledge of New York state tax laws and procedures. The IRS and New York State Department of Taxation don’t always follow the same rules.
Track Record of Success
Ask about the lawyer’s defense record on tax cases. What percentage end favorably for their clients? Do they have experience getting charges dismissed pre-trial or negotiating reasonable settlements? Success stories and client testimonials are telling.
Personality and Communication Style
You’ll be working closely with this attorney for months or years. Make sure their personality and communication style matches well with yours. Are they responsive to calls and emails? Do they explain things in terms you understand? Do you feel comfortable asking questions?
Costs and Fees
Get fee estimates upfront. Tax defense work can cost $10,000-$25,000+ depending on the complexity of your case. Understand the hourly rates, typical retainer amounts, and what additional expenses could come up.
Will the attorney you meet with directly handle your case, or pass you off to a junior associate? Make sure you know who specifically will represent you if you decide to hire that firm.
Questions to Ask During Your Consultation
The initial consultation is key to finding the right lawyer. Come prepared with questions like:
- How do you assess the strength of the government’s case against me?
- What are possible strategies for defending my specific situation?
- Would you recommend fighting this in court or trying to settle? Why?
- How could the charges impact my career, reputation, freedom to travel, etc.?
- What experience do you have negotiating with the IRS and NYS Department of Taxation?
- Can you share success stories from past clients with similar charges as mine?
- What information or documents will you need from me? How can I best assist my defense?
- Who handles communication – will I work with you directly or your support staff?
- What are next steps if I decide to hire you? What is our timeline?
Don’t hesitate to ask plenty of questions and take notes. This is an important life decision, so gather all the information you need.
Finding Candidate Attorneys to Interview
So how do you find qualified tax prosecutions lawyers to meet with in Westchester County? Here are some options:
- Referrals – Ask business owners, financial advisors, or legal colleagues for recommendations of tax attorneys they trust.
- County Bar Association – The Westchester County Bar Association has a lawyer referral service.
- Online Directories – Legal sites like FindLaw and Justia let you search by practice area and location.
- State Bar – Search the New York State Bar Association member directory for Westchester County tax attorneys.
- Firm Websites – Look for law firms with a dedicated tax controversies or tax litigation practice group.
Cast a wide net and vet multiple options before deciding. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations, so take advantage!
What to Expect Cost and Fee-Wise
Defending tax prosecutions cases is a complex, lengthy process. It’s important to understand the potential costs:
- Retainer – Most firms require an upfront retainer before beginning work on your case. This can range from $5,000 to $25,000+ depending on the complexity. The retainer is your “credit” that the attorney draws from as they bill hours.
- Hourly Rates – Expect to pay $200-$500+ per hour, depending on experience level. Partners charge higher rates than junior associates.
- Ongoing Fees – Your retainer will need to be replenished as the attorney bills more hours. Some cases can quickly exceed $100,000+ in fees over several years.
- Expenses – You’ll pay filing fees, photocopying costs, fees for expert witnesses, and more. These expenses can add up.
- Settlement – If your case settles, you may owe a percentage (up to 30-40% typically) of the settlement amount as a contingency fee.
Get fee estimates in writing so you know the potential costs involved. Also understand the payment expectations and options.
Key Defense Strategies Westchester Tax Lawyers Use
If you do decide to hire an attorney, what actions will they take to build your defense? Here are some of the most common tax prosecution strategies:
- Negotiating with tax authorities – Right away, your lawyer will contact the IRS and NYS Department of Taxation to open up communication. Oftentimes, favorable settlements can be negotiated to avoid trial.
- Challenging accuracy of tax gap – Your lawyer will thoroughly audit the government’s calculations of what you allegedly owe. Any discrepancies or assumptions can be disputed.
- Disputing evidence – If the case relies on documentation, your attorney will examine if the evidence was obtained legally. Any procedural missteps by the government can help get evidence thrown out.
- Raising reasonable cause – For issues like failing to file, your lawyer can argue you had reasonable cause due to poor health, personal loss, natural disaster, etc.
- Proving lack of intent – One of the biggest strategies is to convince prosecutors you did not willfully commit fraud or evasion. This requires extensively documenting your actions and state of mind.
- Seeking statute of limitations protection – Your lawyer will determine if the window for prosecuting you has expired due to how long ago the alleged offenses occurred.
- Filing motions – Your attorney may raise motions to dismiss the case or suppress evidence, especially if your constitutional rights were violated.
- Securing expert witnesses – CPAs, former IRS agents, and other experts can be used to bolster your defense’s credibility.
- Taking it to trial – If a favorable settlement can’t be reached, your lawyer will vigorously defend you in court.
Your attorney will leverage multiple strategies in parallel to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
Finding the Right Fit for You
Facing tax prosecutions charges in Westchester County is daunting. But finding the right lawyer for your specific situation can level the playing field.
Do your research, ask tons of questions during consultations, and trust your gut in deciding who’s the best fit. An experienced tax defense attorney who understands your needs can save your reputation, career and freedom.
With the stakes so high, it’s critical to invest the time upfront finding someone you genuinely connect with and feel confident in. Don’t go it alone against the IRS – a knowledgeable attorney on your side can make all the difference.
Here are some of the top-rated local tax prosecutions lawyers to consider:
I wish you the very best as you navigate this challenging situation. With perseverance and the right legal guidance, you can overcome these charges and move forward! Let me know if you have any other questions.