As part of our series of interviews with professionals who help small businesses, we sat down for an interview with Jeffrey Siegel, Attorney at Law. Jeff is Principal of Siegel Tax Law, which practices primarily in the Kansas City area. Jeffrey specializes in helping people with IRS troubles in an affordable, forthright, no-nonsense way. As Jeffrey says on his website: My principles are simple. I do what I say. I will give you a clear analysis of where your tax situation stands and what your options are. I will explain everything that happens, answer your tax questions and return your calls. I will be with you every step of the way.
We enjoyed meeting Jeffrey, and think you will, also. Read on!–Heather Elwing-Dixon
AGPR: Tell us a little about yourself.
Jeff Siegel: I was born in Germany when my father was stationed there while serving the U.S. Army. My parents and I moved back to New York City, where they were born and raised, when his service was completed. I grew up on Long Island.
AGPR: Where did you attend college?
Mr. Siegel: Princeton University, class of 1979.
AGPR: What did you decide to major in before law school and why?
Mr. Siegel: I majored in political science because I was fascinated by U.S. history, politics and law.
AGPR: After law school what did you do?
Mr. Siegel: I clerked on the Colorado Court of Appeals, and then returned to California to work for a law firm. I spent four years practicing law on Guam (I had a friend in law school who was raised there) and tried cases in the Territory of Guam and Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, both of which are U.S. possessions.
AGPR: What type of cases did you handle while in Guam?
Mr. Siegel: I took a lot of civil rights cases, but pretty much whatever walked through the door.
AGPR: Of all the types of law you could practice, why tax law?
Mr. Siegel: I have been in court for years; I have tried all kinds of cases. I have argued personally at the United States Supreme Court, and numerous federal and state courts of appeals. Litigation is tough. I decided to practice tax law and went back to law school at night to get an LLM (Master of Laws) in taxation, which is an advanced law degree. Tax practice allows me to assist people who have serious tax issues, but is more paperwork oriented than litigation, which I figured would allow me to work many more years in law than courtroom work.
AGPR: What exactly does a tax attorney do?
Mr. Siegel: Make big tax problems either go away or become manageable for people.
AGPR: Who (or what entities) are your typical clients?
Mr. Siegel: Most of my clients own and operate small businesses. These folks have more complicated tax requirements, and in many cases, higher taxes, that they find it hard to keep up with.
AGPR: Is there a common reason people get into a collection situation with the IRS?
Mr. Siegel: Yes. The tax requirements are complicated and people fall behind.
AGPR: What would you say to someone who is intimidated about calling a lawyer to help them?
Mr. Siegel: Help is on the way!
AGPR: You’re pretty laid-back in your demeanor, and you even make house calls. That sounds unusual to us. Is it?
Mr. Siegel: Yes, but I think it is part of the change in technology and the new economy. Lawyers are all over the place and I offer creative services to compete. I do not want to spend a small fortune on office expenses–this way I can offer folks a fair deal. Legal services are too expensive, and my clients already have money problems.
AGPR: What are some important tips for someone who owes back taxes?
Mr. Siegel: Do not duck the IRS. Contact them. They will work with you.
AGPR: I know you’ve been working for your clients by interacting with the IRS for a long time. How does this benefit those looking for help with their delinquent taxes?
Mr. Siegel: Have you ever gone to the DMV? When you have the right paperwork, it may take a long time, but you get out of there with your business done. If you do not have the right paperwork, you fall into the black hole and are lucky to get out at all. The IRS is a government agency. If you do not have exactly what it wants, you never get your situation resolved. It is critically important not to make your problems worse by not knowing what you are doing.
AGPR: Why should someone choose you over another tax law attorney?
Mr. Siegel: Proven competence and a feeling that the lawyer is on your side and someone you can confide in. It helps a lot to feel comfortable with your lawyer.
AGPR: What do you like most about what you do?
Mr. Siegel: Getting results. Seeing relief on my client’s face.
Disclosure: Mr. Siegel is a client of AGPR.