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Two Major Reasons Why You Should Choose an EA, Instead of a CPA or Tax Attorney

Looing to contact a tax consultant for your complicated tax issue, tax preparation or tax notices you’ve received from the IRS?  If so, then you’ve heard the words CPA, Tax Attorney or Enrolled Agent. As you began contacting tax consultants these questions crossed your mind “Who’s the best person to meet with to help me deal with my tax issue?”, “What’s the difference between any of these tax consultants?” or “Why should I choose an EA, instead of CPA or a Tax Attorney”? The decision relies heavily on the tax issue your facing, but here’s our assessment of the two major reasons why you should choose an Enrolled Agent, Instead of a CPA or Tax Attorney so you can make the choice that best suites your needs.

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First, What is an EA?

An EA (Enrolled Agent), is an individual whom has met the requirements put out by the IRS allowing them to represent others in matters before the IRS. To earn and maintain the designation an individual must adhere to educational, ethical, and continuing education requirements. An EA will usually assist clients with complex tax matters in the completion of their tax returns. An EA will represent clients under audit by the IRS or state tax agencies.

What’s The Difference Between an EA, CPA and a Tax Attorney?

The three individuals that are allowed to represent individuals and businesses in IRS matters are Enrolled Agents, Certified Public Accountants (CPA) and Attorneys. The biggest difference is an Enrolled Agent designation is specific to tax matters. CPAs have extensive tax education as well, but the designation has an additional component related to corporate accounting. Unlike an EA, a CPA can compile audited financial statements for a business.

An attorney can practice in a very broad range of industries, including matters related to tax issues; while Enrolled Agents only practice in matters specific to tax. Another difference between an attorney and an Enrolled Agent is the attorney-client privilege. Information shared with your attorney is protected by this privilege. Not all information shared with an EA or CPA is protected if the individual is compelled to testify against you. Although, some information shared with a CPA or an EA is protected under a tax statute, it is not as broad as the attorney-client privilege. If part of your tax matter involves any underlying illegal activity, you should seek out an attorney to protect yourself.

The two major reasons why you should choose an EA, instead of CPA or a Tax Attorney are:

  1. Enrolled Agents often have an area of expertize specifically focused on tax matters.
  2. Enrolled Agents generally charge less per hour than a CPA or an attorney.

In conclusion, the choice is ultimately yours. It’s very important for you to make your phone calls and to assess your personal situation. You’ll need to get a handle on what issue your facing so when you discuss your tax information with the consultant you choose, you’ll know if that person ends up being a good fit for you. Contact our office to learn more about how our Enrolled Agents can help you with your simple and complex tax questions or schedule an appointment today!

Written by Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson has been helping individual and small business clients with tax and financial planning for over 15 years. Starting with a degree in finance from the University of North Dakota, Jeff has continually increased his financial education. He currently holds the industry designations of Enrolled Agent (EA) and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®). In addition, he holds a life and health insurance license from the state of California. Jeff is a member of the California Society of Enrolled agents and the Financial Planning Association.

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