Chapter 9

How to Hire a Tax Attorney to Deal with the FTB

One of the main reasons that I started blogging was to help people. I wanted to motivate “self-help” style legal solutions by taking the knowledge that I have as an attorney and making it available on the web. 

Because I am focused on the FTB at the moment, I want to state that I do not believe everyone needs a tax attorney to handle their issues with the Franchise Tax Board. 

Indeed, if you take the time to read much of what I have written on the blog, you can almost become as knowledgeable as I am on many of these same subjects (although I have an experience edge dealing with this stuff in practice).

However, I am cognizant of the fact that there are some situations where it is beneficial to hire a franchise tax board lawyer to handle your California state tax issues. I am not talking about routine collection issues, where most people with some basic financial knowledge can work their way through. 

Rather, I am talking about more complicated matters where having a franchise tax board lawyer can really make the difference. Although I am certainly available to help you with any Franchise Tax Board matter, I realize that not everyone is comfortable with the virtual law office model and I wanted to take the opportunity to provide you with the things that I think are really important in hiring a good franchise tax board lawyer. 

I think many of these factors are applicable to hiring attorneys in general as well, but specifically I wanted to give you some practical advice on hiring someone to handle your California state tax matter.

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FTB Attorney Hiring Tip #1 – Your Rapport

When asked what I believe is the number one hiring criteria for selecting a lawyer, even more than a person’s experience, education, or pedigree, I believe it is the rapport that the client has with the lawyer. 

Dealing with an attorney is like any business relationship in that you need comfort and harmony to affect things efficiently.

If you do not have a level of comfort and trust with your franchise tax board lawyer then there is no basis for any sort of attorney/client relationship. Trust and rapport is something that can be gauged in the first meeting or contact with the attorney.

Ask yourself: “Does this person sound like they know what they are talking about and do they give complete and full answers to the questions being asked? Do I believe the answers that this person is giving me? Do I feel comfortable with this person and do I believe I am being treated honestly, fairly, and ethically?” 

These are all factors that go into whether or not you have a rapport with your franchise tax board lawyer. If you can answer each of these questions in the affirmative, then I believe you are more than 50 percent of the way to finding a franchise tax board lawyer you can trust. Yes, 50 percent – that’s how important I believe rapport is.

FTB Attorney Hiring #2 – Experience

Second to rapport, experience is one of the main factors that I feel separates franchise tax board attorneys from one another. Dealing with the FTB is slightly different than dealing with the IRS. 

It is important to retain the services of someone who has experience dealing with the FTB and who is familiar with the rules and procedures of California tax law. 

In addition, your Franchise Tax Board attorney should have specific experience with the types of matter that you are retaining them for. This can be delineated from asking the attorney specific questions about their background and looking at the representative matters section of their website. 

For example, if someone asked me about FTB collection matters, I could rattle off four or five that immediately came to mind. This is because I have worked on Franchise Tax Board issues recently and deal with them frequently in my own practice. 

Likewise, if the attorney that you hire deals frequently with California state tax issues then this someone that you are going to want to consider hiring. There is simply no substitute for practical experience.

FTB Attorney Hiring Tip #3 – What Others Say About Them

One of the greatest ways to evaluate an attorney is through what other people have said about the person. With the advent of the internet, information on professional service providers is often readily available and easily accessed. As such, many people have often posted reviews about attorneys that you can read and evaluate for yourself. 

When evaluating reviews though, I tend to take what the reviewer is saying with a grain of salt. Reviews that are too over-the-top should be met with some degree of skepticism. I do an excellent job for my clients and a great many of them have thanked me online through some third-party review sites. Although I am often flattered by the things that they have to say, I also know that I am by no means perfect, 100 percent, all of the time.

Sometimes people will embellish things because they want the person being reviewed to know that they wrote this big glowing review. Rather, I look for reviews that tell it like it is and that list both positive and negative characteristics about the person being reviewed. 

One final tip on reviews, I tend to be wary of review sites like Yelp and tend to look more favorably on professional sites and the recommendations on those sites. As a result, when hiring a tax attorney, I would encourage you to review sites like Avvo and LinkedIn to check what other people say about the person you are contemplating hiring. Oftentimes those sites will provide more accurate metrics than sites such as Yelp.

I hope this article has been helpful in giving you some criteria that I would look for when hiring a tax attorney. For further assistance, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me using the information contained on this site.


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