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Choosing a Tax Attorney or CPA

Choosing a Tax Attorney or CPA: A Guide to Finding the Right Professional

If you are seeking professional tax advice, you may be wondering who to turn to – a tax attorney or certified public accountant (CPA)? Both are professionals who can help you navigate the complicated tax landscape, but they have different skills and qualifications. In this article, we will explore the differences between tax attorneys and CPAs, the situations that call for each one, and how to choose the right professional for your needs.

What is a Tax Attorney?

A tax attorney is a legal professional who specializes in tax law. They have a law degree and are licensed to practice law in their state. Some tax attorneys also hold a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in taxation, which is a specialized degree that focuses on the nuances of tax law.

Tax attorneys can help clients with a wide range of tax-related issues, including:

– Preparing and filing tax returns
– Negotiating with the IRS on behalf of clients
– Providing advice on tax implications of business transactions
– Representing clients in tax court
– Conducting tax audits

What is a CPA?

A certified public accountant (CPA) is a professional accountant who has passed the uniform CPA exam and meets other state-specific requirements for licensing. CPAs offer a range of financial services, including tax preparation, auditing, and financial planning.

CPAs may work for individuals, businesses, or government agencies. They can specialize in a variety of areas, including forensic accounting, internal auditing, and regulatory compliance.

When to Choose a Tax Attorney

While CPAs can provide valuable tax advice, there are situations where hiring a tax attorney is the better option. Here are some examples:

– You are facing an IRS audit: If the IRS has notified you that you are being audited, hiring a tax attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you are properly represented. Tax attorneys have a deep understanding of tax law and can provide legal advice during the audit process.
– You need to negotiate with the IRS: If you owe back taxes, penalties, or interest to the IRS, a tax attorney can help you negotiate a settlement. Tax attorneys can help you understand your options and represent you during negotiations with the IRS.
– You need advice on tax implications of complex business transactions: If you are buying or selling a business, restructuring your organization, or engaging in other complex financial transactions, a tax attorney can provide valuable advice on the tax implications of these transactions. They can help you structure deals in a tax-efficient manner and avoid potential legal pitfalls.
– You need representation in tax court: If you are facing a legal dispute with the IRS, such as a dispute over tax liability or the denial of a refund, a tax attorney can represent you in tax court. Tax court is a specialized court that hears disputes between taxpayers and the IRS, and tax attorneys are best qualified to represent clients in these proceedings.

When to Choose a CPA

CPAs are a great choice for individuals and businesses who need help with tax preparation, financial planning, and other general accounting services. Here are some examples of when hiring a CPA is the best option:

– You need help with tax preparation: CPAs are experts at preparing tax returns. They can help you navigate the complicated tax code and ensure that you are taking advantage of all available deductions and credits.
– You need help with financial planning: Whether you are planning for retirement, saving for a child’s education, or managing your investments, a CPA can provide valuable financial advice and help you develop a sound financial strategy.
– You need help with bookkeeping or accounting services: Many businesses rely on CPAs for bookkeeping and accounting services. CPAs can help you keep track of invoices, expenses, and payroll, ensuring that your business is operating efficiently and within legal guidelines.
– You need auditing services: If you need an independent review of your financial records, such as for a loan application or to comply with regulatory requirements, a CPA can provide auditing services. They can help you identify potential financial risks and improve your financial management practices.

Choosing the Right Professional

When it comes to choosing a tax attorney or CPA, there are several factors to consider. Here are some important considerations:

– Qualifications: Ensure that the professional you choose has the necessary qualifications and licenses to provide tax and financial advice in your state. You can check with state licensing boards or professional associations to verify their credentials.
– Experience: Look for professionals who have experience working with clients who have similar needs to yours. For example, if you are a business owner, look for a tax attorney or CPA who specializes in business tax advice.
– Communication: Choose a professional who communicates clearly and is responsive to your questions and concerns. You want someone who is accessible and willing to explain complex tax issues in plain language.
– Fees: Ask about fees upfront and make sure you understand how much you will be charged for tax or financial services. Consider the value of the services you will receive and whether the fees are in line with industry standards.

Government Resources

The government provides a range of resources to help taxpayers find qualified tax and financial professionals. Here are some resources to consider:

– The American Bar Association (ABA) provides a referral service for individuals looking for tax attorneys. You can search by state and specialty to find an attorney who meets your needs.
– The National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) provides a directory of enrolled agents, who are licensed by the IRS to represent taxpayers in audits, collections, and appeals.
– The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) offers a directory of CPAs who have passed the uniform CPA exam and meet other state-specific licensing requirements.


Choosing the right tax attorney or CPA can make a big difference in your financial well-being. Carefully consider your needs and the qualifications of potential professionals before making your decision. When in doubt, seek out government resources or professional associations for guidance. With the right professional by your side, you can navigate the complicated tax landscape with confidence.

What is a Tax Attorney?

Taxes are payments that are required by individuals that exist in tandem with financial, commercial, and consumer activity. Within a tax-based society, these fees may be incurred for a multitude of reasons and through a variety of means; Taxes can range in their collection process, procedure of payment, and respective rate(s). While certain Taxes may be required by the entire populace, other Taxes may be required by a finite group of individuals.

Tax attorneys are legal professionals specializing in the legal field of taxation, which can include auditing, corporate tax law, accounting, and finance. Tax lawyers and attorneys can assist individuals in further understanding both the terms and requirements latent in utilizing a tax preparation program, in addition to the provision of assistance with regard to the authenticity and legality expressed in any or all tax forms.

Tax Attorney vs. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

While both of these professions require secondary degrees, advanced education, and highly-specialized training, the certifications latent in each respective profession differ with regard to tax law:

1.    A Tax Attorney is an individual who specializes in the legal field of taxes and taxation, which can span a multitude of corollary factors including a variance in types of taxation, supplementary legality, and expressed legislation with regard to the nature of activity applicable to the taxes in question. For example – in the event of commercial or consumer tax law – it is not uncommon for that Tax Attorney to specialize in commercial, consumer, and tax legality.

•    Many taxpayers find this to be beneficial both in the analysis process, as well as the preparation process with regard to specific taxation; supplementary experience may allow a Tax Attorney to utilize a heightened understanding of legality with regard to legal fields that may overlap

•    A Tax Attorney may be able to set-forth appeals, applications for tax relief, or compile deduction requests; a Tax Attorney will be able to authenticate tax preparation reports with regard to their latent validity and legality

2.    A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional typically specializing in accounting, finance, and taxation. In contrast to a Tax Attorney, a CPA specializes in the preparation of tax reports and statements typically in lieu of strict legal analysis of implicit circumstances; while a CPA will prepare tax forms and statements with regard to their clientele, they are not permitted to offer any legal advice with regard to the preparation of such documents – however, a CPA may ensure that all taxes are filed legally and ethically.

•    A CPA will investigate possible tax breaks, deductions, and potential tax relief, yet in prohibited from preparing legal documentation; however, a CPA is permitted to suggest consultation with a Tax Attorney

•    While a CPA is not authorized to substantiate the expressed legality of respective activity, a CPA may authenticate that the tax preparation submitted exists in compliance with all legal protocol and parameters

Tax Assistance

A Tax Attorney may be of value to individuals operating in a multi-faceted commercial situation in which a variety of legal realms are applicable. However, individuals are encouraged to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to receive all necessary documentation with regard to the filing of taxes. The IRS can be contacted through their toll-free telephone number: (800) 829-1040.