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CPA vs EA vs Tax Attorney

Accountant

Choosing the right tax professional will ease the burden of tax season tremendously. Finding a tax professional you trust will make tax season less stressful and cost you less money.    There are three main types of tax professionals, Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Enrolled Agents (EA) and Tax Attorneys.

Certified Public Accountant

CPAs not only help with taxes, but they can help with bookkeeping and accounting in business.  They also can legally sign off on tax audits.  They are often used to attest audits.  They have to pass state-specific CPA exams to become a CPA.  The four parts of the test are regulations, audits and attests, financial accounting and reporting, and business environment and concepts.    Due to the four areas they have to learn, the can act in any of those facilities, although they typically specialize in one of the four.  They have a working knowledge of GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles). CPAs are required to have 80 hours of continuing education every two years.  However this continuing education does not need to be entirely tax related.

Enrolled Agents

EAs are required to pass an exam proctored by the IRS to prove their knowledge of tax code, or work for the IRS for 5 years. They are not required to know GAAP although most do as their clients tend to require them to have knowledge in both accounting and taxation. EAs must complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years in order to maintain their status.  All of their continuing education must be tax-related.

 

Tax Attorney

Tax attorneys are trained specifically in taxes and tax law.  They have passed their state’s bar exam and are able to practice law.  Tax attorneys can represent parties in court, where CPAs and EAs cannot.  Tax Attorneys may not know GAAP, as their certifications do not require that knowledge.  They are significantly more expensive than using an EA or CPA.  Therefore, hiring a tax attorney to do your personal taxes is a bit excessive.  The IRS does not require any continuing education from Tax Attorneys, although some states do.

 

Here at Klingler & Associates we have both CPAs and EAs on staff full-time and year-round.  Not only do they take the required continuing education to maintain their licenses, we require our staff to complete more continuing education to keep up on the constantly changing tax law.  Contact us today at 801-676-0945 for more information.