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A "tax defense lawyer" (also called a "tax defense attorney") may be the one person standing between you and years in a Federal Prison.
The requirements for calling yourself a tax defense lawyer are very low. It doesn't require a license in the U.S. Tax Court or winning even a single trial before a jury. The worst time to learn this is when your tax defense lawyer is selecting a jury as confides to someone: "You know this is the first time I have ever done this before…"
Sound ridiculous? It happens frequently. More frequently, however, the tax defense lawyer doesn't even own up to his inexperience. Instead, it just sort of shows itself as your path to prison and financial ruin becomes clearer and clearer.
Some of the very largest and most prominent law firms have few trial lawyers in their firm.
One of the problems is that clients are bullied by the system not to go to trial but to plead guilty. Frankly, sometimes that is in the client's best interest. Often, it is not.
There are fewer and fewer trials. This means that citizens who want to protect their constitutional rights and wrongly accused innocent citizens are often pushed by a tax defense lawyer into accepting a less than favorable plea. It is far into the representation (maybe even on the eve of trial) that the so-called tax defense lawyer confesses that his earlier optimism was misconstrued… or he didn't consider this an issue because most of his cases just "don't get to this point."
What has happened is that the so called "trial industry" has become an industry of "pre-trial lawyers." They are fairly good at pretending to have trial experience… until someone calls their bluff. In the end, that may be what a tax defense attorney, criminal tax defense lawyer, trial lawyer, or whatever you call him or her, offers that the crowds of pretenders don't offer.
Few tax defense lawyers ever win against the IRS. The IRS knows who we are. When we say that our client would rather go to trial than accept an unacceptable plea offer, the IRS knows that we are not bluffing.