Although there are people who qualify as both, tax attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs) are not the same. They are both financial professionals that aim to protect you and your business interests, but they use different approaches to do so. Keep reading to decide whether you need a tax attorney, a CPA, or both.
What Is a Tax Attorney?
Tax attorneys are lawyers who center their practice around tax law. Just like any other lawyers, they went to law school and passed their state’s bar exam. They’re intimately familiar with the nuances of tax law, and they’re the ones to call when you could be looking at legal consequences.
A tax attorney’s job is to protect you and your business, often by minimizing your liability when there’s a tax dispute. Here are a few specific areas where tax attorneys can be of help:
- Settling back taxes
- Helping with unfiled returns
- Preventing wage garnishment
- Undoing property liens and account levies
- Compromising with the IRS
- Representation during audit
Although CPAs are allowed to represent clients in IRS disputes, tax attorneys bring a higher level of training, experience, and comfort to your side of the table. Tax attorneys are trained to negotiate and know the ins and outs of tax law, so it’s good to have one on your side if you’re facing an audit that could serve harsh penalties.
Tax attorneys can also afford you more confidentiality than CPAs. Your CPA might be forced to testify against you, but your tax attorney can’t—any information you share with your tax attorney is protected by attorney-client privilege.
What is a CPA?
- Tax return preparation
- Business strategy
Filing your taxes properly lets you avoid being audited, but some tricky factors like dependents, investments, and divorce can make the process confusing for a layperson. If you have a complicated tax return situation, your CPA will help you sort it out and prepare your tax forms properly. As a result, you remain in tax compliance while minimizing your liability.
There is much for CPAs to do outside of tax season as well. Their usual services include bookkeeping, auditing, preparing financial statements, real estate advice, and retirement planning, which are all everyday concerns. CPAs offer more general services, while tax attorneys are used in specific situations.
If you’re a business owner, CPAs may be especially useful. They help businesses assess their financial records and point out problem areas as well as areas where they’re succeeding. This financial self-awareness can help guide future investments and decisions, leading to a more efficient business in the future.
Benefits of a Two-In-One Professional
A dually-certified tax attorney and CPA is an all-in-one package of financial expertise. This type of professional has a tax attorney’s legal savvy on top of a CPA’s business savvy and versatility. You’ll enjoy the full range of legal and accounting services you need to put your mind at ease and your business on the right path.
There are some unique benefits to hiring a two-in-one professional.
- Save money by hiring one person. Since tax attorneys and CPAs offer different services, you won’t be optimally prepared with just one. You may save money by hiring one professional who is dual-certified.
- Work with the same individual all the time. If you want all of your financial matters to go through one person that you trust, you may prefer a dually-certified professional.
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive tax professional, find one who offers:
- Federal, state, and local income tax planning
- Trusts and estate planning
- Gift tax planning
- Personal financial planning
- Insurance and retirement planning
- Tax return preparation and compliance
- Transactional tax consulting and research
- Legal representation for IRS and state tax controversies and audits
- Business formation and administration
Not all tax attorneys, CPAs, or dually-certified professionals are the same; they all offer their own philosophies, services, and benefits. The key to a smooth financial future is choosing the one that makes the most sense for you.
Find the Right One
Tax accountants shine when you’re in trouble, CPAs support you in different ways on a daily basis, and dually-certified professionals do it all. If you want to take the prevention approach while being ready for intervention, a dually-certified tax attorney and CPA will support you from all angles.
Cover all your bases by contacting the Law Offices of Lawrence Israeloff, PLLC. Handling taxes and accounting, trusts and estate planning, and business management needs, Lawrence Israeloff, Esq., CPA, CFP® is a one-stop-shop for all of your family or business’s financial planning needs.