Guide to Selecting a Tax Professional

selecting tax professionalBecause the tax law is so complex and the procedures and policies of the Internal Revenue Service are so complicated, the help of a qualified tax professional can be an invaluable asset in addressing any type of tax issue. However, the selection a reputable tax professional can be a difficult task in itself. Since tax professionals with different titles have different practice rights and areas of expertise, it is important know what these are in order to select one with the knowledge and credentials that are the best fit for addressing the tax situation at hand.

In addition, it is important to know the licensing requirements, ethical standards and continuing education requirements of the various tax professionals in order to avoid retaining the services of an individual who is either unqualified or unethical. The following is a summary of the areas of expertise, practice rights, licensing and continuing education requirements and ethical standards of the various types of tax professionals:

What is a Certified Public Accountant?

Areas of Expertise – Although a Certified Public Accountant may specialize in a particular area of accounting, they have expertise in all areas. These areas of expertise can include, but are not limited to, assurance services, corporate finance, financial accounting, management consulting and income tax planning and preparation.

Empowerment – A Certified Public Accountant is authorized and empowered by the state in which they are licensed.

Practice Rights – A Certified Public Accountant has unlimited practice rights with the Internal Revenue Service. This means that a Certified Public Accountant is authorized to represent taxpayers before all levels of the Internal Revenue Service for all tax matters including audits, tax debt resolution and appeals.

Licensing Requirements – In order to become licensed as a Certified Public Accountant, an individual must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. This examination is set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and administered by the State Board of Accountancy. In addition, Certified Public Accountants must meet certain education and experience requirements specified by the state which grants their license.

Continuing Education – Although the continuing education requirements for Certified Public Accountants vary by state, most states require 120 hours of continuing education every three years, with a minimum of 20 of those hours to be completed each year. The Internal Revenue Service has no continuing education requirements for Certified Public Accountants.

Ethical Standards – Most states require that Certified Public Accountants pass a special ethics examination. Although many states will accept the self-study course in ethics provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as fulfillment of this requirement, some also require a review of ethics standards that are specific to the state.

What is an Enrolled Agent? 

Area of Expertise – An Enrolled Agent is an expert in the field of taxation. They are qualified to advise, represent and prepare tax returns for any individual, corporation, partnership, estate, trust or other entity that is required to report taxes.

Empowerment – An Enrolled Agent is authorized and empowered by the United States Department of the Treasury.

Practice Rights – An Enrolled Agent has unlimited practice rights with the Internal Revenue Service. This means that an Enrolled Agent is authorized to represent taxpayers before all levels of the Internal Revenue Service for all tax matters including audits, tax debt resolution and appeals.

Licensing Requirements – In order to become licensed as an Enrolled Agent, an individual fulfill one of the following licensing requirements: 1) pass a comprehensive Enrollment Exam that covers all aspects of the tax code or 2) work for the Internal Revenue Service for a total of five years in a position where the tax code is regularly interpreted. In addition, all candidates for the Enrolled Agent License must pass a rigorous background check conducted by the Internal Revenue Service.

Ethical Standards – All Enrolled Agents must adhere to the ethical standards set forth by the United States Department of the Treasury. In addition, Enrolled Agents who are members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents must abide by the Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct set forth by the Association.

Continuing Education – Enrolled Agents are required by the Internal Revenue Service to complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years. Agents who are members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents are required to complete 90 hours every three years.

What is a Tax Attorney? 

Areas of Expertise – A tax attorney is a licensed attorney with advanced training in tax law and a specialty practice in the field of taxation. They have expertise in all legal aspects of taxation including the structure and tax treatment of businesses, lawsuits brought against the Internal Revenue Service, criminal investigations by the Internal Revenue Service and cases brought before the United States Tax Court.

Empowerment – A tax attorney is authorized and empowered by the state in which they are licensed.

Practice Rights – A tax attorney has unlimited practice rights with the Internal Revenue Service. This means that a tax attorney is authorized to represent taxpayers before all levels of the Internal Revenue Service for all tax matters including audits, tax debt resolution and appeals.

Licensing Requirements – In order to be licensed as an attorney, an individual must earn a Juris Doctor from a law school approved by the licensing state and pass a bar examination which is usually administered by the state bar association. The bar exam consists of several parts and, for most states, includes a section called the Multistate Bar Examination.

Ethical Standards – Attorneys in most states must pass a professional responsibility examination included as part of the main bar examination. They must then be certified by the licensing state as having good moral character and a fitness to practice law. In addition, a licensed attorney must follow the code of ethics adopted by the state in which they licensed.

Continuing Education – Continuing legal education requirements for attorneys are set by the state in which they are licensed to practice law and vary from state to state. The various programs are accredited by the state supreme courts and are offered by state bar associations, the National Bar Association and various other legal organizations. The Internal Revenue Service has no continuing education requirements for tax attorneys.

What is a Registered Tax Return Preparer?

Area of Expertise – Registered Tax Return Preparers are only qualified to prepare individual tax returns and claims for refund.

Empowerment – A Registered Tax Return Preparer is authorized by the Internal Revenue Service.

Practice Rights – A Registered Tax Return Preparer has limited practice rights with the Internal Revenue Service. This means that a Registered Tax Return Preparer is only authorized to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service for a tax return that they have signed. They do not have the authority to provide tax advice to a client except as is necessary to prepare a tax return or claim for refund.

Licensing Requirements – In order to become a Registered Tax Return Preparer, an individual must obtain a Preparer Tax identification Number and pass the Registered Tax Return Preparer Competency Test establishing minimal competency.

Ethical Standards – Registered Tax Return Preparers must adhere to ethical standards set by the Internal Revenue Service and must earn two hours of ethics credit as part of their annual continuing education requirement.

Continuing Education – A Registered Tax Return Preparer is required by the Internal Revenue Service to complete 15 hours of continuing education annually.

Why Professional Tax Resolution is a Good Choice

The tax specialists at Professional Tax Resolution are well qualified to supply expert advice and assistance to any business or individual who is in need of any type of professional tax service. They have over 16 years of experience in the areas of tax preparation, tax planning and tax settlement and have a proven track record of successfully negotiating with the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of their clients. Because these tax professionals are either Certified Public Accountants or Enrolled Agents, they have the advantage of being able to represent their clients before the Internal Revenue Service on all tax issues, not just returns they have prepared. In addition, because of their licensure, their clients have the satisfaction of knowing that they are doing business with professionals who are being held to the high ethical standards set by their licensing boards and professional organizations.

If you are looking for a tax specialist, the Certified Public Accountants and Enrolled Agents at Professional Tax Resolution can provide you with the help you need.  Our seasoned professionals are experts in the field of tax law and have extensive experience negotiating with the Internal Revenue Service. With these qualifications, our clients can be assured that they will receive the best tax preparation, tax planning and tax settlement assistance available. Visit us today at www.professionaltaxresolution.com to learn more about our full range of tax services.  To receive a free consultation with a licensed tax specialist, call us at (877)-889-6527, email us at info@protaxres.com, or submit our online consultation request form.


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