E.A. vs C.P.A.

When it comes time to select tax representation, you generally have three options: Attorneys, CPAs, and Enrolled Agents. Each of them brings something a little bit different to the table, and depending on the nature of your IRS problem, you will want to choose wisely.

First, you need to understand that most attorneys do not specialize in tax representation. Even tax attorneys, who specialize in tax matters, normally specialize in tax law, not IRS collections or audit representation. If you are facing a criminal tax investigation or are taking a matter straight to tax court, then an experienced tax attorney is your logical choice. For other types of IRS matters, you will probably need somebody with the accounting background on top of the legal background.

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a person who is extremely knowledgeable in accounting practices and applications and is able to apply laws and regulations in practice. If your tax needs are primarily based on direct accounting matters, such as justifying mathematical calculations, validating specific deductions or income items, or filing missing returns, then a CPA is great choice.

  • EAs are experts who keep up with the ever changing area of taxation and are therefore effectively able to represent persons who are audited by the IRS.
  • EAs are required to show they are competent in tax laws before they can represent a tax payer before the IRS.
  • EAs are specifically licensed directly by the U.S. Treasury Department to represent taxpayers on tax matters while CPAs and attorneys are usually licensed by the state in which they reside.

Essentially, EAs focus solely on tax filing and tax representation and is uniquely qualified to assist clients in this capacity.