Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tax Attorney vs. CPA

Do I need a tax attorney or a CPA?

So you know you need professional help for your tax related matter, but who should you call?  You have two main options for tax assistance—a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a tax attorney.  Both of these professionals are trained to deal with tax issues, but they have differing educational backgrounds and capabilities.  Below is a look at some important similarities and differences between tax lawyers and CPAs to assist you in making this important decision.  

Education and Training

CPAs are trained in a variety of accounting related fields.  They are licensed to represent clients before the IRS and other taxing authorities. Requirements to become a CPA vary by state.  In Arkansas, you must complete 150 semester hours of college education and earn a bachelor’s degree or higher, along with passing a CPA exam.  A tax lawyer, on the other hand,  is someone who has graduated from law school, passed the bar exam in his or her state, and focused on tax-related work. Tax attorneys are authorized to represent clients before U.S. tax courts.

Consider Your Needs

While both CPAs and tax attorneys are trained professionals in the tax field, there are several crucial differences between them.  As an attorney, your tax lawyer will be well trained in the art of disputes, making a tax lawyer the ideal person to handle any issues with taxing authorities, including tax claims, audits, or appeals.  Further, tax attorneys have extensive knowledge of case law and profound research abilities.  Your Arkansas tax law attorney will be able to advise you on financial planning and regulatory tax concerns that could save you significantly in the long run.  

If your tax needs involve relatively straightforward tax preparation and filing of income taxes, a CPA may be the person for you.  CPAs routinely file income taxes and other basic tax forms.  They are well trained in bookkeeping practices and the IRS code.  

The choice between a CPA and a tax attorney is not an easy one and can cause some confusion.  Ultimately, if you are still in doubt, contact professionals in each field to discuss your tax needs and expectations.  Making the right choice between a tax attorney and CPA can significantly impact your finances, so take the time necessary to make an informed decision.  

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