Getting Help with Tax: CPA's, Tax Attorneys and Enrolled Agents

In some situations, a tax attorney or tax specialist can make a big difference when dealing with the IRS.

In many cases, having a tax lawyer can significantly improve the ability of a taxpayer to understand the laws, comply with the resolutions, and maximize the benefits that are included within the tax code. Hiring a tax lawyer is especially helpful when forming a business to allocate assets properly, establish compliance employee withholding procedures and put out potential tax fires before they start.

A tax lawyer at the beginning could help avoid tax problems at the end. Also, tax lawyers can be especially helpful in estate planning situations. By understanding trust structures and property interests, a tax lawyer can create a structure that achieves the goals of the individual in the most beneficial and compliant way.

Tax Attorneys

Tax Lawyers are general bar-admitted attorneys who have extensive experience in tax law or who specialize in tax law. While any attorney could handle a tax matter, taxpayers would be well-advised to seek the guidance of a tax attorney for tax issues.

How to Choose a Tax Attorney

Choosing a lawyer is a personal process that involves making sure the taxpayer is comfortable with the lawyer and trusts their professional judgment. If a taxpayer has been referred to an attorney by a friend or colleague who has used the lawyer in the past, the referral is usually very helpful in making a decision.

Individuals should choose a lawyer that specializes in their specific area of tax that the taxpayer is seeking assistance with. By getting an expert in the field, the taxpayer will get the most out of the attorney experience.

Cost of a Lawyer

The cost of a lawyer can vary drastically based on location, years of experience, big law firm versus sole proprietor and a number of other factors. Many lawyers have sliding scales and will work with the client to figure out a budget that seems reasonable for both parties.

Legal fees should be discussed at the outset when the attorney/client relationship is being formed. If the attorney is not within a comfortable price rage for the individual, another attorney should be consulted as an alternative.

Enrolled Agents

An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a federally-authorized tax agent with technical knowledge of matters related to taxation. Enrolled Agents may represent taxpayers in matters related to IRS audits, collections, and appeals.

How to Choose an Enrolled Agent

The most efficient way to choose an Enrolled Agent is to locate the EA’s in the area of the taxpayer by going to the National Association of Enrolled Agents website (www.naea.org). The website allows taxpayers to search by locality and EA specialty to find an Agent that will be accessible and knowledgeable in a particular field.

As an alternative to going online, taxpayers can find information on Enrolled Agents by calling the EA Referral Service at 800-424-4339. Requests made via phone will be responded to by the EA service either by email, fax or mail (depending on what the taxpayer requests).

Cost of an Enrolled Agent

The cost of an Enrolled Agent can vary, but generally speaking, EA’s are usually a cost-effective alternative to attorneys and CPA’s for relatively simple tax transactions.

While EA’s will not have the breath of knowledge that a tax attorney may have, an EA will be knowledgeable in certain areas and will be able to provide competent assistance to taxpayers.

Certified Public Accountants (CPA)

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a qualified accountant who has achieved their statutory title in the United States by passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. Additionally, most CPA’s have had to meet further state education and relevant experience requirements in order to achieve the CPA certification.

How to Choose a CPA

Just like choosing a lawyer or other professional, choosing a CPA is process that involves making sure the taxpayer is comfortable with the CPA and trusts their professional judgment. Referrals to CPA’s by friends or colleagues who have used the CPA in the past are generally very helpful in making a decision.

Individuals should choose a CPA that specializes in their specific area of tax that the taxpayer is seeking assistance with. By getting an expert in the field, the taxpayer will get the most out of the services provided by the CPA.

Cost of a CPA

As with nearly all professionals, the cost of CPA services can vary drastically based on location, years of experience, and specific areas of specialty. The taxpayer should discuss costs at the beginning of the working relationship with a CPA to make sure that the expectations are clear on both ends. Finding a CPA that can provide sustainable long-term advice and services could be a very import asset for many individuals and businesses.

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