Tax Controversy and Tax Resolution

A tax controversy refers to a dispute an individual or business has with the IRS or state over tax issues. For example, this can include whether or not you actually owe the amount of tax the IRS or state assesses against you as a result of an examination of your tax returns. As tax controversy attorneys, we can represent you in resolving a wide range of tax issues such as:

  • Tax disputes through the IRS or state tax agency appeals process, for example or, if necessary, in Tax Court.
  • Tax liability by negotiating various tax resolutions, such as an offer in compromise, installment agreement or currently non-collectible status.
  • Wage and bank levies
  • Abating penalties
  • Subordinating, discharging or withdrawing liens.

Contact us about tax resolution


1. Preparation of back tax returns

2. Release of bank levies and wage garnishments

3. Negotiation of installment agreements

4. Offers in compromise for those clients who qualify based on their financial circumstances

5. Filing of appeals and representation on appeal

6. Lien subordinations, discharges and withdrawals

7. Penalty abatements

8. Innocent spouse petitions

9. Filing of tax court cases in United States Tax Court, negotiation prior to trial and  representation in court, if a trial is necessary

10. Audit representation

1. Preparation of back tax returns
The IRS and state will not begin to work with you to resolve your tax issues until all your tax returns are on file. We work with experienced and knowledgeable tax preparers who will prepare your missing tax returns so you can file them with the IRS or state.

2. Levies and wage garnishments
If you do not resolve your tax issues with the IRS or state in a timely manner, the IRS and state will start collection action against you. Collection action includes filing a tax lien and frequently issuing a levy to your bank(s) or a wage garnishment to your employer to try to recover the money you owe. Unless the levies or wage garnishments are released, the bank or employer must send the money in your bank account or a portion of your wages each pay period, to the IRS or state. We  will work with you to get you into compliance with tax regulations and then negotiate with the IRS or state to get the levies or wage garnishments released as quickly as possible.

3. Installment Agreements
One of the ways to resolve your tax issues with the IRS or state is to set up an installment agreement to pay off your tax liability on a monthly basis. We will negotiate an installment agreement with the IRS or state based on your
ability to pay.

4. Offers in Compromise
An offer in compromise allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount that you owe. In order to qualify to resolve your tax liability through an offer in compromise, you must meet the IRS or state requirements for “financial hardship”. We will analyze your financial ability to pay your tax liability and determine whether you are a candidate for an offer in compromise. We will prepare all paperwork necessary for the offer and see the offer through to a final determination. If the IRS or state rejects your offer in compromise and we disagree with the basis for the IRS’s or state’s rejection, we will file an appeal and represent you during the appeal.

5. Appeals
The IRS and states have appeal procedures in place to resolve tax controversies, without the need for tax litigation. Appeals can cover everything from the way the IRS interprets or applies the law to decisions the IRS makes on collection actions. For example, the IRS issues a final notice stating that it intends to issue a levy against your wages or bank account if you don’t pay your tax liability by a certain date. The notice will provide you with the opportunity to file a request for a collection due process hearing to appeal the issuance of a levy before an independent hearing officer. We will file the appeal and represent you during the appeal.

6. Lien Subordinations, Lien Discharges and Lien Withdrawals
If you owe taxes, the IRS and state will frequently file a lien against your real and personal property. If you have a business, liens also attach to your rights to property such as accounts receivables.  These liens give the IRS or state a legal claim to the property as security or payment for the tax debt.

If you try to refinance the property or want to obtain a loan against the equity, the liens can prevent you from doing so. However, the IRS or state will agree to subordinate their lien to a lender if there is a benefit to the tax agencies from the subordination. If you want to sell your property, in order to assure clear title to the buyer, the IRS or state will agree to discharge the lien once the tax liability has been paid from the remaining equity in the property or even if there is no equity to pay the tax liability. We will prepare and submit the lien subordination or lien discharge documents to the IRS or state and follow the process through to completion.

The IRS may also agree to withdraw a lien if you meet certain requirements. We can file the Application for Withdrawal for you and represent you through completion of the process.

7. Penalty Abatements
In some cases, the IRS or state will agree to waive the penalties, and interest on the penalties, depending on whether you have good reasons for not having timely filed your tax returns or timely paid your taxes. We will submit the request for a penalty abatement on your behalf and appeal any rejection, if necessary.

8. Innocent Spouse petitions
If you jointly file a tax return with a spouse, you will be held jointly and individually responsible for any taxes, interest and penalties due even if you were not the person earning the income. This is true even if you later divorce your spouse and you have a divorce decree that states that your former spouse will be responsible for all the taxes due. In some cases, a spouse may be relieved from paying the taxes, interest and penalties due if certain factors are present. We will evaluate all factors in determining whether an innocent spouse petition is appropriate. We will prepare and submit all documents necessary to the IRS or state and follow the process through to a final determination.

9. Filing of US Tax Court cases
In certain cases, you may need to pursue your appeal rights by filing a petition with the United States Tax Court. We will file petitions in Tax Court and try to negotiate a settlement prior to trial.  If a trial is necessary, we will represent you in Court if you live in Southern California. 

10. Audit Representation
If you receive a notice of examination from the IRS or a notice of assessment of additional taxes, we will represent you in person during the audit if you live in Southern California. However, in many cases, no appearance before an examiner is necessary and we can represent you by correspondence, discussion and negotiation with the examiner.

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