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What does a Corporate Tax Lawyer do?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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A corporate tax lawyer is a lawyer who works exclusively with businesses to help plan for and properly assess tax obligations. Businesses are taxed in almost every country of the world, usually pursuant to a complex set of corporate tax codes. Taxes levied against corporate and business entities are not usually the same as those levied against individuals. A corporate tax lawyer works either in-house or on a contract basis in order to help a company understand the tax consequences of its actions, and to ensure that all filings meet government-mandated requirements.

Corporate tax liabilities can be significant. Businesses regularly have tax obligations to the locality where they are situated: the national government more broadly and often foreign governments, too, if the company engages in any international commerce or sales. While corporate accountants are generally retained to file corporate taxes, corporate tax lawyers are needed to help a corporation make tax-saving planning decisions and restructurings.

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Most of the work of a corporate tax lawyer involves tax planning and tax analysis. Taxes are all set out in statutory laws, and corporate lawyers devote their practices to keeping up with and understanding those laws. They then act as advisers to corporate boards and executive leaders about how to make a company more tax efficient. A business tax lawyer will look for applicable exemptions, and will seek out ways that the company’s practices could either qualify for lower tax rates or be modified to fit into different, and ideally lower, tax brackets all together. The lawyer will seek to coordinate compliance requirements, reduce tax rates, and increase tax margins where appropriate.

Larger corporations generally retain corporate tax lawyers as permanent members of the staff. Corporate tax law affects all businesses, regardless of industry. A pharmaceutical manufacturing company is just as likely to need a corporate tax lawyer as is a professional sports franchise, an Internet advertising agency, or a business consulting firm. Tax lawyers know the tax laws and business exemptions first, and typically learn the trade of their employing company second.

Small businesses may not have the resources to house independent legal departments, but they generally have no less need for tax law advice and planning services. Businesses in this situation may elect to hire a corporate tax lawyer or team of lawyers on a contract, or project, basis. Many tax management firms make the bulk of their money by contracting out services like small business tax planning, tax advising, and even basic corporate accounting. A corporate tax lawyer working for a contract firm typically specializes in a certain kind of corporate tax law, and works exclusively with companies that have needs in line with those specialties.

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