For the first time since she got married, Marie Bailey faced filing taxes alone. For more than 50 years, her husband Charles prepared all of the necessary paperwork required by state and federal tax laws. After Charles passed away, Marie was left holding the tax bag.
“I was at a loss as what to do,” stated Marie. “I didn’t even know if I needed the help of an accountant or lawyer or both. I asked my friends and they didn’t know either.”
Marie faced one of the most common tax questions: Do I contact an accountant or a tax attorney? The answer is not as easy as you think.
First Things First
To answer the question of who to contact for tax help, you need to first admit that you need help. Far too many taxpayers try to file taxes, without the professional advice of an experienced tax attorney and/or accountant. Even completing the simple 1040 tax form might require help from a licensed tax attorney or certified public accountant. After you admit you need tax preparation help, you need to decide on whom to contact. Answering the tax attorney versus accountant question often depends on the type of tax help you need. Both professionals receive extensive training that includes understanding complex tax laws.
Similarities and Differences
Both accountants and tax attorneys offer advice and tax planning strategies for individuals and businesses. The United States Tax Court allows attorneys and accountants to represent clients in tax law cases. However, tax attorneys study case law and thus, they have more success resolving tax law cases in favor of their clients. The ability to perform legal research also benefits lawyers in litigating tax law cases. Accountants typically specialize in financial planning, which taxes play a significant role in determining.
What Do You Need?
The question who do you turn to for tax help should be rephrased “What do you need.” If you need help preparing your taxes, then an accountant represents your best source for putting accurate numbers together to determine your tax liability. Tax attorneys handle every aspect of tax laws, from helping business decide which form of organization minimizes tax liabilities to litigating for clients in IRS initiated federal income tax cases. While an accountant has no chance of helping you win a tax law case, a tax attorney can provide financial planning tips. Every taxpayer has different tax needs, from the preparation of paperwork to the litigating of back taxes cases.
The Best of Both Professional Worlds
Marie Bailey made a decision that millions of Americans make. She decided to enlist the help of a tax attorney and an accountant. The best part was she chose a professional that passed the bar in Illinois and passed the CPA examination. She enjoyed consulting with a professional who helped her with all of her tax questions. A growing number of tax attorneys have added CPA to their professional credentials to expand the number of client prospects. Many attorneys that offer accounting services bundle the services with legal services to create reduced price packages.
The question of who do you turn to for tax help should always begin with a qualified tax attorney. A tax attorney determines whether you need financial planning advice and if he or she is not a CPA, the tax lawyer can refer you to an accountant. Only consider a licensed attorney that handle tax law cases. Most tax attorneys offer free initial consultations to get the legal ball rolling for your tax law case.