1. Find an attorney that primarily or exclusively works on offshore compliance matters.
Offshore compliance is complicated, and requires an attorney to have a deep understanding of the laws relating to offshore compliance, and to keep up with the changes. The last thing you want for your voluntary disclosure matter is an attorney who also works on 5 other practice areas. At Mitchell & Patel, each attorney focuses on one practice area. Some have experience in two areas. Mr. Patel is the only one at the firm that handles international tax matters. Your offshore compliance matter will not be assigned to another attorney.
Make sure that your attorney uses Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Many of our clients don’t want to pay a “voluntary disclosure lawyer” several hundred dollars an hour to prepare a tax return, and we agree. While we do have accountants on staff, they do not assist with offshore compliance cases. As most law firms, we use an independent Certified Public Accountant for tax preparation in offshore compliance cases. We work with you and the CPA during the disclosure process. We understand that clients want to retain attorney-client privilege, and when necessary we retain the CPA through a Kovel letter to preserve that privilege. Clients should also understand that the attorney-client privilege does not extend to communications between a taxpayer and an attorney relating to the preparation of a tax return. (article)
Moreover, if same attorney/firm that handles your disclosure is preparing your tax returns, there’s a privilege conflict. For instance, if your tax preparer is subpoenaed, and your “voluntary disclosure specialist” also happens to be the tax preparer, will your attorney put on his attorney hat, or his enrolled agent/CPA/tax preparer hat? What’s privileged and what isn’t? Good luck with that.
2. We have the experience.
We’ve noticed attorneys falsely claiming that certain experience and other requirements are necessary to become a “voluntary disclosure lawyer” which puts them in the top percentage of all attorneys nationwide. And unsurprisingly, only that attorney happens to meet these very specific requirements that they came up with. We hope that clients are more sophisticated than that, but we routinely have unhappy former (and current) clients from such companies contact us to take over their case.
We’ve helped many dozens of clients come into compliance with undisclosed foreign accounts. All of our streamlined filings have been accepted as filed. But the greatest testament to our success is the number of referrals we get from CPAs and past clients.
3. Watch out for free consultations and fear mongering
Call a few attorneys if you must. Do your research and be prepared with good questions to gauge whether the attorney has handled cases like yours before. Most will charge you for a consultation; but you get what you pay for with a free consultation. Oftentimes, we get clients after they’ve called one of the firms offering “free consultations,” only to be subjected to scare tactics and high-pressure sales. That’s not how we run our practice. When you contact us for a consultation, you receive an objective evaluation of your risks and the various ways to come into compliance. If you then happen to go with us, great. Our only goal is to help you better understand what your risks are and how to come into compliance. Choose an attorney you feel comfortable with, not just the first ad you happened to land on in Google.
Schedule an appointment to see how we can help.