At your Tax Attorney's office you may find a variety of people with various credentials, and you might be uncertain as to what the differences are between them. Tax Attorneys, CPAs and Enrolled Agents – each has had a different education and lengthy certification to get those credentials, so it's worthwhile to take a look at what they are and how each can help you solve your tax problems.
- Attorney: The person who has attained this credential has spent many years in college. Most law schools require a Bachelor's Degree to start with, and then the Law Degree itself takes another three to four years of intense study covering all types of law (Note: Vermont is one state that does not require law school!). Once the schooling is over, the credentialing begins, with licensing by the state courts through the bar exam. At this point an attorney can choose to specialize and delve much more deeply into one particular branch of law. Tax attorneys specialize in tax preparation, planning, and representation before the IRS, as well as in being able to take certain cases into civil court, going beyond the jurisdiction of the agency itself.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA): The holder of this credential has also done some serious study. A bachelor's degree in college in a subject like economics, finance, business, or mathematics is just the beginning. Additional study in business is often sought before the battery of testing for the credential begins. It's not only numbers that count here, either. Good character standards and ethical requirements are included in order to complete the licensing process, as well as specified continuing education to maintain an active license status. A CPA in your tax attorney's office will take the mountain of data you've lost control of and shape it into clear, clean documents that can solidly back up your case.
- Enrolled Agent: A person who has acquired this credential has quite possibly worked for the IRS and has learned not only by study, but by practice. Does this mean that the Enrolled Agent is still working for the IRS? Not at all! He or she works for you, and, by passing an extensive series of examinations given by the IRS, has earned the most expansive license the IRS grants a tax professional to represent you, the taxpayer. An EA can generally represent any taxpayer and any tax matter before any IRS office.
Tax Attorneys', CPAs' and Enrolled Agents' credentials have one thing in common as well. They are all considered to have "Unlimited Representation Rights" before the IRS. This means that people who hold them are recognized to have the right to represent their clients for any tax matters: audits, payment or collection issues, offshore account compliance, and appeals against levies and garnishments are just a partial listing of the many complex cases that can arise (Although for some ex-IRS agents who are Enrolled Agents, their license may be restricted to what they were actually doing at the IRS).
If you have a tax issue you need assistance with, contact us to schedule a free, confidential, consultation. We have Attorney's, CPA's, and Enrolled Agent's on staff, and make sure you have the proper person working on your case.