Hiring a tax attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent to help you with your tax needs depends on your specific situation. Below is an explanation of what each tax professional can do for you and your tax needs:

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Tax Attorney:

Tax attorneys specialize in the minutiae of the IRS tax code. They provide advice on complicated legal issues, particularly in the areas of trusts, estate planning, tax disputes, and business tax law. Attorneys are powerful negotiators who analyze case facts in light of the law and construct arguments that best support a desired position. They can use the court system in ways that provide leverage in resolving tax cases.

Some tax attorneys help prepare your tax returns for a premium; however, tax attorneys are not accountants and are rarely involved in filing taxes with the IRS. Tax attorneys typically do not hold the expertise of an accountant when maximizing deductions and planning ahead for future tax years.

Reasons you may need a tax attorney include:
 

  • You are starting a business and need legal counsel about the structure and tax treatment of your company.

  • You are engaged in international business and need help with contracts, tax treatment, and other legal matters.

  • You plan to bring a suit against the IRS.

  • You are under criminal investigation by the IRS.

  • You committed a tax crime and need the protection of attorney-client privilege.


If your tax issue is likely to reach tax court, or if you were charged with a tax related crime, a tax attorney is a strong option. Unlike other tax professionals, tax attorneys maintain attorney-client privilege and cannot be forced to provide information to third parties or testify against you.

CPA:

Certified public accountants (CPA) are trained primarily in maintaining business and financial records. They can also help you prepare your taxes, ensure you are in compliance with the tax code, and file or correct your tax returns. They may also represent you in front of the IRS. CPAs can provide financial planning, and are a good resource for those seeking a holistic tax strategy to deal with personal and professional financial issues.

Enrolled Agent:

Enrolled agents specialize in tax issues, and receive their certification by passing a comprehensive examination which covers all aspects of the tax code, or working at the IRS for five years in a position which regularly interpreted and applied the tax code and its regulations. Enrolled agents represent taxpayers during IRS collections, audit investigations, offers in compromise, and reducing penalties. If you are facing an audit and believe you did not commit a tax crime, or if you neglected to file a required form, then an enrolled agent is good option.

Get started Ask a Lawyer a Question You'll hear back in one business day.

Get started Ask a Lawyer a Question You'll hear back in one business day.