Tax Accountant, Tax Attorney or Other Tax Experts – Which One Do I Need?

When you’re seeking tax expertise, you’ll come across a variety of titles — tax accountant, tax attorney, CPA or enrolled agent to name a few. But which one is the right one for you?

In general, the type of tax expert you need will depend on your situation. Are you looking for someone for just your personal taxes? Or do you have or want to start your own business? The answers to these types of questions can help you determine what kind of expertise you need.

Like most things tax related, there are plenty of specialized terms that can sometimes sound similar. In this article, we’ll outline a few common types of tax experts, including those you can find at H&R Block.

What Is a Tax Accountant?

Students who seek an accounting degree can specialize in various topics, such as auditing or taxation. Once their degree is complete, tax accountants typically pursue jobs where they may be responsible for tasks such as bookkeeping, compiling financial statements, and taking care of tax matters, including preparing tax returns.

Tax accountants —or any accountants for that matter — interested in becoming Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) must have a college degree and have taken a minimum number of hours in courses such as tax, accounting, finance, and more, which generally requires post-graduate studies. Plus, they need to pass the Uniform CPA Examination and become licensed by their state.

When Would I Need a Tax Attorney?

Tax attorneys are law school graduates who have specialized in taxation and have passed their state’s bar exam. You might turn to a tax attorney to help with more complex tax and legal needs. Like, CPAs, tax attorneys have unlimited practice rights before the IRS, but they can also assist clients with their estate planning, establishing wills and trusts, and other legal matters.

For example, estates valued over $11.2 million in 2018 may be subject to estate tax. A tax attorney can help with estate-planning strategies for avoiding or minimizing any estate tax. Aside from personal taxes, you may hire a tax attorney if you plan to start a business. You could consult a tax attorney to help you set up the right kind of entity, such as a C Corp, S Corp or Limited Liability Company.

What about getting audited?  You might have the image in your mind of the IRS doing an in-person audit at someone’s home with a tax lawyer at their side. This scenario is actually rare. Rather than an audit, a more frequent type of IRS contact is a letter or notice. This could be to notify you of issues such as underreporting or an unfiled return. If you find yourself in that situation, you should know that H&R Block has Tax Audit and Notice Service experts that can help you solve IRS issues such as these.

What Is a Tax Agent?

If you’re a U.S. taxpayer and searching for a tax agent, you are most likely seeking the term enrolled agent. While other countries may use that title (ex. Australia), in the U.S. there are no tax preparers called tax agents. An enrolled agent, or EA, is a tax professional who has passed a tax exam required by the IRS and who, like CPAs and tax attorneys, must take continuing education to maintain their standing.

Note: If you’re a U.S. taxpayer living abroad, H&R Block has experienced tax professionals that can help with your expat tax preparation needs.

Find the Tax Expertise You Need at Block

When you choose H&R Block for tax preparation, you can work with CPAs, enrolled agents and several other types of tax preparers with expertise in areas such as small business or international taxes.

Make an Appointment to speak with one of our tax pros today.

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