Between interactive software programs and simplifications to the federal code, filing your taxes may be easier than it has been in decades.
If you’re an hourly or salaried employee, perhaps you can sidestep the cost of hiring professional help. But if you own a business, manage a trust or have multiple investments, filing your taxes may still be too complicated to file without professional oversight. And, the legal ramifications of a mistake on your taxes can be severe. Before making a decision about hiring a professional, consider these reasons why an experienced tax attorney may make more sense than a CPA.
What a Certified Public Accountant Brings to the Table
These tax professionals generally have earned a degree in business and have passed the CPA examination. There are also continuing education mandates for many CPAs. Chain tax businesses often require their employees to undergo up to 80 hours of training as well. In all, CPAs are generally qualified tax preparation professionals.
In terms of helping you negotiate a complex tax situation, CPAs bring value to the table. They are trained at reviewing finances and coming up with strategies to lower your tax liability. Keep in mind that some are more adept at this than others. Also, it would not be uncommon for more aggressive CPAs to walk up close to the federal tax code line. While they may be on secure footing in their tax thinking, the IRS may not agree.
What a Tax Attorney Brings to the Table
A tax attorney is an entirely different type of tax professional. Lawyers generally have a 4-year bachelor’s degree, earn a post-graduate degree from an accredited law school and pass the rigorous bar examination. These professionals often focus their practice on business and tax law.
Tax attorneys are uniquely skilled at recognizing the legal ramifications of a filing. Before clicking the electronic filing button or sending out that certified mailing to the IRS, it may be in your best interest to have an experienced tax lawyer review the ways that you are attempting to reduce your tax liability. This proactive step may help avoid getting embroiled with the IRS. And everyday people know that a legal fight with the IRS can be long, drawn out and expensive.
Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Tax Attorney
There are several key benefits of working with a tax attorney rather than a CPA. Obviously, the less complicated tax system may allow people with small businesses, trusts, estates, and investments to bypass the expense. However, the legal elements of a tax disagreement remain the same. These are some of the key benefits of working with an experienced tax attorney.
- Prevention: A tax attorney provides a second set of eyes on your returns. They can advise changes to avoid legal complications with the IRS.
- Intervention: In the event the IRS has questions or challenges your filing, a tax attorney is better equipped to communicate and resolve issues in the early stages. In other words, keep you out of court.
- Life Changes: When people marry, retire or restructure their financial portfolio, the lead person tends to be a law firm with financial planning experience. That’s because laws and regulations routinely change and require an attorney. The challenges of the shifting regulatory landscape spill over into tax law.
- IRS Contact: When the federal government contacts you about your taxes, it’s imperative that you have legal representation. The implications could range from a line-item being challenged to you being accused of a taxation crime. When the IRS calls, even good people face high fines and incarceration.
At the end of the day, the major difference between a tax attorney and a CPA is that legal representation is comprehensive. A tax lawyer can advise you before filing your taxes, communicate with the IRS in the event of a dispute, and defend you in court if necessary. An experienced tax attorney can also provide ongoing guidance during key financial planning phases.
If you have been contacted by the IRS, are considering restructuring your financial portfolio or would just like to be proactive about tax liability, contact the France Law Firm.