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What can I expect if I am heading to tax court?

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When a letter from the IRS comes in the mail, you may be like many in Missouri and across the country who assume it can’t be good news. In fact, you may delay finding out by leaving the mail untouched for days or even weeks. As understandable as it may be to hide from the IRS, in some cases, the letters in those unopened envelopes may contain critical and time-sensitive information.

For example, as terrifying as it may seem to receive a letter from the IRS about the results of your recent audit, such a warning is also an opportunity to explore your options. If you fail to reply, the IRS assumes you accept the results of the audit, and that may result in penalties. However, you have the right to dispute the outcome of the audit, and that means heading to tax court.

Presenting your case

Within 90 days of receiving a notice of deficiency from the IRS, you can file a petition to dispute the IRS in tax court. Unlike most civil courts, tax court does not offer the option of a jury trial. One of 19 judges will come to Missouri to hear your case. While there are some important differences between tax court and civil court, you will still be presenting evidence to the judge.

You can choose to bring witnesses to testify to your good and honest character, but those who can attest to the validity of the claims you made on your taxes will be more impressive. Additionally, documentation is a powerful way to make your case. The judge will accept expense accounts, records, receipts and any relevant evidence you present to the court, and the IRS must present evidence to dispute them.

What are your chances?

You would be wise to prepare well for your hearing because the odds will not be in your favor. Most of the time, the IRS wins because they have already heard your arguments during the audit. However, about 90% of IRS audit disputes settle before they reach tax court. This could be a very good thing for you because it may result in a compromise you can live with and relieve you of the risk of being responsible for court costs.

Whether you work toward a settlement or your case goes to court, having a skilled and experienced tax attorney at your side can help you decide your best course of action. In many cases, an attorney’s help can make a positive difference in the outcome.

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