cpa vs tax attorney

CPA vs. Tax Attorney: What’s the Difference?

Tax attorneys and CPAs often occupy the same space, but there are several key differences between the two professions. The purpose of this blog is to explain what tax attorneys and CPAs do while also detailing the distinctions between the two. Understanding those distinctions will help you plan your finances, submit your taxes, improve your tax standing, and overcome any potential issues with the IRS down the road.

Keep reading to learn the differences between a CPA and a tax attorney and how each can help you achieve your financial goals in their own way.

What Is a Tax Attorney?

Tax attorneys have law degrees and have passed the bar exam in the state(s) in which they practice. In addition, they are required to continue with ongoing education in order to maintain their bar status. They specialize in tax preparation, consultation, and representation.

Due to their intensive training, thorough knowledge of tax law, and experience, these legal professionals are your greatest allies if you’re in hot water with the IRS—especially if you have a significant tax liability or are facing liens, levies, or wage garnishments.

Among the numerous issues a tax attorney can help you with, some of the most common include:

In many cases, tax attorneys also offer other helpful financial services, such as bookkeeping, payroll, and even HR assistance.

Regardless of your tax or financial needs, most experienced tax attorneys will be able to provide the level of representation you need to level-set your financial future. Perhaps most importantly, tax attorneys have attorney-client privilege, which legally binds them to client confidentiality in most scenarios.

What Is a CPA?

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are also well educated—far more than other accountants. They must complete at least 150 hours of undergraduate work and pass a rigorous and comprehensive licensing exam. In addition, every three years, they have to complete at least 120 hours of continuing education.

All of this education results in a significant knowledge base that makes them experts at tax preparation. Their greatest skill is maximizing your refund or minimizing your liability—and doing so within the letter of the law.

Beyond basic tax preparation, CPAs can often help with:

  • Structuring your business into an LLC, corporation, nonprofit, or other business type
  • Reviewing individual and business finances
  • Choosing the right health insurance options for you and your employees (if you own or operate a business)
  • Applying for a personal or business loan and completing the required documents

In addition, CPAs can help taxpayers develop long-term tax plans and financial goals while also providing regular accounting services throughout the year, such as preparing and paying quarterly taxes.

Related Content: Why Hire a Tax Attorney

When to Hire a Tax Attorney vs. a CPA

If you have straightforward tax returns, a CPA can be a helpful partner. Many people enlist the help of a familiar CPA to help them prepare their basic taxes each year. However, working with an Enrolled Agent on these simple returns is often just as effective and more affordable than a CPA, so be sure to consider all your options.

For anything beyond relatively simple tax returns, though, you should seek out an experienced tax attorney. Many individuals think that hiring a CPA to help them with their complicated tax issues will save them money, but they can lose tens of thousands (if not more) over the long run by not hiring the legal experts.

Tax attorneys are used to dealing directly with the IRS and know the tips and tricks you need to minimize or even eliminate your tax liability. And by working with a reliable tax attorney before trouble develops, you can plan for a smooth financial future—forecasting and saving for any potential tax debts.

And of course, if you ultimately end up needing to go to tax court over any issues, your tax attorney can vigorously defend your interests in front of a judge. A CPA cannot.

Contact the Skilled Tax Attorneys at S.H. Block Tax Services

S.H. Block Tax Services has skilled and experienced tax attorneys and Enrolled Agents who are here to help with all your financial planning, bookkeeping, and tax issues. We are a proven firm, and our sterling reputation in Baltimore and throughout Maryland is unrivaled. Regardless of your tax or financial needs, we are here to help you succeed.

To learn more about S.H. Block Tax Services or schedule a free estate administration consultation,  please call (410) 872-8376 or complete this brief form today.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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