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When it Comes to Representing Me, What’s the Difference Between a Tax Attorney and an Accountant?

An accountant and a tax attorney can both help you when it comes to your financial standings; that being said, it is necessary to know the difference between the two. With Tax Day in April, it is important to keep a mindful eye of some key details when dealing with those who would help you around this time of the year. Year round, we might find ourselves in need of professional assistance, whether it be for handling debt or filing our taxes. Certified Public Accountants, or CPA’s, include all who are licensed and qualified to serve as accountants and have met specific criteria; this criteria includes passing the CPA exam and work in an area related to accounting. Tax attorneys, on the other hand, deal with the legal side of things as opposed to the numbers.

A tax accountant will serve you in many ways in regards to managing your taxes. CPA’s are licensed to work in a specific state and often might specialize in a certain accounting area, such as tax law. That being said, not all CPA’s deal in tax areas, and as a result, it is important to make sure of this when finding an accountant during tax season. Another kind of accountant is an enrolled agent, or EA. EA’s specialize in tax areas and are required to pass another kind of exam, the IRS Special Enrollment Exam. EA’s are knowledgeable in all aspect of federal law and are able to represent the client when interacting with the Internal Revenue Service.

A CPA or an EA might have to deal with some issues in regards to legality, especially when dealing with the IRS. A tax attorney, however, has different responsibilities. Unlike an accountant, a tax attorney has a JD degree rather than a CPA. Tax attorneys are, presumably, lawyers who’s area of practice centers around tax law. Like an EA, a tax attorney can make dealing with the IRS easier to handle when it comes to tax or debt management. Tax attorneys have some unique areas of practice as well.

These include:

• Establishing taxable estates upon one’s death
• Tax management for new businesses
• Civil cases against the IRS
• Back tax settlement
• Settling late returns
• Settling property liens
• Settling account levies

Often in these cases it is necessary to have someone experienced when it comes to legal processes; thus, in these situations, a tax attorney would likely be favored to an accountant. Another major difference is confidentiality; while an accountant might be required to divulge certain information to the IRS or in a courtroom, a tax attorney is not required by law to divulge any private information.

When it comes to determining which of these two professionals can help you, you first need to determine which of the two would best handle the situation. If you are filing taxes for your person or business, an accountant is the necessary consultant in situations such as this. However, if you are dealing with the IRS or are facing tax-relating criminal allegations such as tax fraud, a tax attorney is the right person to consult.

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