The Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Tax Relief Attorney

Here Are The Top 5 Reasons You Should Look Into Hiring A Tax Attorney When Dealing With The IRS

work with an IRS Tax Attorney

 

When it comes to taxes, certain cases should always be handled tenderly and thoughtfully. The IRS is no joke, and a mistake on behalf of yourself, an accountant, or an employee might be the reason that landed you here.

Welcome; in this blog, we are going to go over the top five reasons to hire a tax relief attorney. Maybe you are in a tight spot and on the lookout for some professional help.

On the other hand, you might already have a CPA and could be looking to add some extra attention to your taxes this year. Either way, you have come to the right place, let’s get started!

1. Owning a Taxable Estate

The first reason to have a reputable IRS attorney by your side is if you are in need of filing an estate tax return. Estate tax returns can become entangled in elaborate strategies that can be confusing for both you and your accountant.

This risky situation should be handled by a professional tax relief attorney that understands the ins and outs of estate tax laws. You will find that the job seems a lot less complex with a tax attorney there to relieve you of your woes and worries.

2. Starting a Business

Next up, if you are starting a Business, you should consider hiring a tax relief attorney. An expert will make sure that you are aware of, and receive all the tax benefits of owning a business.

This way, you can forget the headache of the IRS coming after you and get back to what you do best- run your business.

3. International Business

Another big reason why you might need a tax relief attorney is if you are involved in any form of international business or trade. The International playing field laws differ than the ones you or your accountant handle at the state, local, and the U.S. law level.

Talk to a professional who has expertise and years of experience dealing with international tax treatment, contracts, and other legal matters.

4. Lawsuit Trial with the IRS

It is necessary to hire a tax relief attorney if you are planning to file a lawsuit against the IRS. In this case, a tax attorney can walk you through the fundamental steps that you must take before the trial begins.

When the case gets tough, you can rest at ease knowing that your trusted tax relief attorney will be there every step of the way.

5. Criminal Investigation by the IRS

Lastly, if you are under criminal investigation by the IRS, we recommend that you get in touch with a tax relief attorney immediately. Attorney-client privilege is a beautiful thing; your tax attorney is waiting and ready to help!

Getting Started

Work with a licensed, certified attorney who is ready to help you get back on your feet again. Whether you are starting a business, involved in international affairs, or attempting trial with the IRS, we promise to formulate a unique plan of action catered to your specific case- what a relief!

Give us a call today, and let an attorney help you find the relief that you deserve.

Government Official’s “Personal” Facebook Page is a Public Forum under First Amendment

ruling on facebook
In what will likely be one of his last opinions before retiring from the Eastern District of Virginia bench, Judge James C. Cacheris authored an important decision applying traditional free speech principles to a local government official’s Facebook page.  This opinion provides important guidance regarding an official’s ability to regulate speech in the emerging digital public square. In Davison v. Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, 1:16-cv-932, 2017 WL 3158389 (E.D. Va. July 25, 2017), a pro se plaintiff filed suit against Chair Phyllis J. Randal of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.  The lawsuit resulted after Chair Randall blocked the plaintiff from commenting on her Facebook page.  After a bench trial, Judge Cacheris granted the plaintiff judgment, holding that 1) Chair Randall’s Facebook page was a public forum for speech purposes under the First Amendment, and 2) Chair Randall acted under color of state law when she banned the plaintiff, which violated the plaintiff’s free speech rights. The facts of this case are rather mundane, in reality.  The plaintiff, a resident of Loudoun County who regularly attends county board meetings, posted comments on Randall’s Facebook page implying that members of Loudoun County School Board were corrupt and financially benefiting family members.  Chair Randall deleted the plaintiff’s post and then banned him from commenting further on the page.  Chair Randall, however, had a change of heart the next morning and “unbanned” the plaintiff from the page.  In all, the plaintiff had been banned for about 12 hours. After laying out the facts, Judge Cacheris first considered whether the Facebook page constituted a public forum for free speech purposes.  The interesting point here is that Chair Randall’s Facebook page started off as a non-public forum, and she defended this lawsuit by claiming the page was “personal.”  The page was first created by Randall the day before she was sworn in on the Board, and it was not created by County employees or through the County’s IT staff.  Instead, Randall “brought” the page with her to her new elected role. The page became a public forum, however, based upon a “totality of circumstances” focusing on the current use of the page.  For example, Chair Randall’s Chief of Staff assisted in maintaining the page as part of her duties.  Official newsletters issued by the Chair’s office (and drafted by County employees) included links to the page.  And, as Judge Cacheris’s opinion notes in detail, Chair Randall went to great efforts to “swathe . . . the Facebook page in the trappings of her office.”  This included her official title of “Chair” prominently featured on the page, along with her official government contact information, official County website address, and her encouragement of “back and forth constituent conversations.” Once Judge Cacheris determined the Facebook page had morphed into a public forum, he then turned to the content of the plaintiff’s speech.  Chair Randall testified she banned the plaintiff because she was offended by the criticism of her colleagues on the School Board.  She also noted that she had no way to tell if the criticism was valid or not, and she did not want to leave such criticism available on the page. While Judge Cacheris noted that such a feeling was understandable, it was not a valid reason for deleting the comment or banning the plaintiff from the forum.  Quoting the recent Matal v. Tam Supreme Court decision, the judge noted that “[i]f the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence makes anything clear, it is that speech may not be disfavored by the government simply because it offends.”  Judge Cacheris then held that Chair Randall had “engaged in viewpoint discrimination by banning Plaintiff from her Facebook page” and that “[v]iewpoint discrimination is ‘prohibited in all forums.’” Turning to the form of relief, Judge Cacheris declined to order injunctive relief since the plaintiff had already been unbanned from the page.  But the judge did issue a declaratory judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. Judge Cacheris’s opinion is noteworthy for multiple reasons, and not only because a pro se plaintiff won a case at trial against skilled counsel from Fairfax.  Rather, this opinion provides important guidance for government officials at all levels in their social media interactions with constituents.  It also demonstrates the “morphing” ability of a private web space into a public forum due to new circumstances.  Considering the frequent use of Twitter by high-ranking government officials (and the ease of blocking followers from such accounts), we will likely see more litigation over this new digital forum in the near future.

Written—but Unsigned—Agreement Is Sufficient to Compel Arbitration

contract unsigned
In a high-profile gender discrimination case filed in the Richmond federal court against a law firm, Judge Robert E. Payne sent the dispute to arbitration despite that the plaintiff had not signed the firm’s Shareholder Agreement that included the required arbitration clause. In Michelle Burke Craddock v. LeClairRyan, 3:16-cv-11 (E.D. Va. Apr. 12, 2016), the Court concluded that “a written but unsigned contract, otherwise accepted, is sufficient to invoke the Federal Arbitration Act.” With this, the Court denied Ms. Craddock’s motion to stay arbitration and granted LeClairRyan’s motion to compel arbitration. The four-count Complaint alleges in Count 1 a violation of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the first bill signed into law by President Obama. This law overturned the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), which restricted the time period for filing complaints of employment discrimination concerning compensation. Ms. Craddock’s Complaint continued with alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act, retaliation, and constructive discharge. The case was first assigned to Judge Hudson, who recused himself because of a conflict. District Court’s Order and Opinion In its April 12, 2016 Memorandum Opinion, the Court determined that Ms. Craddock had accepted the terms of the law firm’s Shareholder Agreement by her conduct. LeClairRyan conceded that Ms. Craddock never signed the unaltered agreement, but argued that after the firm invited her to become a shareholder her conduct over nearly two years evidenced acceptance. Judge Payne, ruling without a hearing, found that the conduct was sufficient to support a contract and to enforce the arbitration clause in the agreement. The Court’s ruling, at least for now, moves the case out of the headlines and away from a jury. Plaintiff wasted no time in noticing her appeal to the Fourth Circuit—she filed her Notice the day after Judge Payne’s ruling. The FAA authorizes an immediate appeal if a motion to compel arbitration is denied; an appeal when arbitration is ordered, as in this case, is perhaps blocked by the FAA except as an appeal of an interlocutory order pursuant to 28 USC § 1292(b). Courts, including the Fourth Circuit, have recognized, however, that an order compelling arbitration might in certain circumstances be appealable as a final order pursuant to 9 USC § 16(a)(3). Central Facts and Finding of Contract by Conduct Ms. Craddock’s professional accomplishments alone make the case news-worthy. She was part of LeClairRyan’s litigation team that procured a $77 million settlement in 2013; the firm collected a $20+ million contingency fee in the case, the firm’s largest fee ever. For her part in the successful representation, LeClairRyan paid (according to the law firm’s pleadings) Ms. Craddock a $1.1 million bonus. Claiming discrimination in subsequent compensation and promotion decisions, Ms. Craddock pursued her dispute to the EEOC, which provided a “right to sue” letter. She filed her $1.2 million lawsuit in January 2016. The central fact here is that even though Ms. Craddock eventually signed the LeClairRyan Shareholder Agreement she crossed-out at the time the arbitration clause. There is no version of the agreement signed by Ms. Craddock that includes the clause. The Court observed that the firm’s shareholder invitation came in January 2013; while Ms. Craddock did not sign the document, she did accept the benefits and responsibilities of being a LeClairRyan shareholder. It was nearly two years later, in December 2014, when she signed the written agreement with the crossed-out arbitration clause. Applying Virginia contract law, the Court determined that a contract between Ms. Craddock and LeClairRyan had been formed as early as January 2013, and that she could not later reject the contract. An “unsigned written agreement” The crux of the Court’s ruling is that while the FAA requires a written arbitration agreement, it does “not require an arbitration agreement be signed by the parties entering into the agreement.” Memorandum Opinion at 25. The FAA, 9 USC § 2, provides that “an agreement in writing to submit to arbitration an existing controversy arising out of such a contract, transaction, or refusal, shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable . . .” The Court is correct that the FAA does not specify a signed written agreement. But an “unsigned written agreement” sounds like an oxymoron. District Court Bypassed the Statutory Jury Provision The Court side-stepped having a jury determine whether Plaintiff had in fact accepted the arbitration clause—in a footnote the Court concluded, “there do not appear to be any disputes of material fact in the arbitration issue.” Section 4 of the FAA provides for a special jury trial to resolve this issue when it arises. Ms. Craddock not only demanded a jury in her Complaint, but in a separate pleading specifically demanded a jury “on the issue of whether the parties have entered into a written agreement to arbitrate.” Even though the Complaint allegations support a compelling argument that Ms. Craddock never agreed to the arbitration clause, the Court breezed past the issue. Interlocutory Appeal — 28 USC § 1292(b)? Ms. Craddock has appealed Judge Payne’s ruling. But the statutory avenue to an appeal at this juncture is 28 USC § 1292(b) (see acknowledgment above that 9 USC § 16(a)(3) offers a possible, alternate appellate route). The section allows for the interlocutory appeal of an otherwise unappealable order when a district court certifies that the order “involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.” As of this writing, no certification has been filed by the district court. Summary In its three-month lifespan in the federal courts, Craddock v. LeClairRyan delivered full-semester coverage of federal civil procedure, contracts, and employment law. If Judge Payne’s ruling moves the dispute behind an arbitration veil, then the continuing CLE contributions of the case likely will come to an end. But the Fourth Circuit still must rule, and we probably have at least one more round of legal education ahead from this case.