Find the right tax pro for your needs.
Last week, we discussed how to look for an ethical and qualified tax pro. If you’ve decided to not take the DIY approach to tax filing this year and enlist a tax pro, it’s also important to understand the difference between qualified tax preparers. Here’s a look at the various individuals that can file a tax return on your behalf.
PTIN holders: A PTIN holder is an individual that is not a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), tax attorney or Enrolled Agent(EA). While they can prepare and file a return on your behalf, they can only represent you under limited circumstances: With IRS revenue agents, IRS customer service representatives and those in the Taxpayer Advocate Service. A PTIN holder can’t represent you in an audit, appeal or collection proceeding.
Annual Filing Season Program Participants: This new officially program recognizes preparers who are not a CPA, EA, or tax attorney, but who have attended continuing education hours in preparation for each filing season. The IRS will issue them a Record of Completion. As with PTIN holders, a Filing Season Program Participant can’t represent you in an audit, appeal or collection proceeding. They can, however, represent you with IRS customer service agents, revenue agents, and Taxpayer Advocate personnel.
If you have a more complex return (rental properties, business or estate returns, extensive itemized deductions, foreclosure) or are facing IRS collection action, it’s best to work with a tax pro who has more extensive representation capabilities. Enrolled Agents, Certified Public Accountants and tax attorneys can represent you in an audit, collection action, and appeal action in addition to preparing and filing a return on your behalf.
Enrolled Agent(EA): An EA is licensed by the IRS and must pass a three-part Special Enrollment Exam. An EA must also be proficient in tax planning, preparing and filing individual and business returns and must participate in at least 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA): A CPA must have a degree in accounting from an accredited college or university, and must be licensed by the state Board of Accountancy in their state. In addition to passing the Uniform CPA Exam, a CPA must also meet ongoing ethical and character standards in order to continue to practice. Some CPAs specialize in tax planning and tax return preparation.
Tax attorney: Like all other attorneys, a tax attorney has attended an accredited law school, passed the state bar exam, and must meet ongoing ethical standards in order to remain in practice. They have additional coursework in taxation, and can represent you before the IRS. Your tax attorney can represent you in IRS proceedings for an audit, an appeal, or collection matter. You can find a tax attorney either as part of a group practice or as a sole practitioner.
We have tax pros on staff who can help you with just about any tax scenario you can think of, from representing you before the IRS to preparing and filing your return. Just give us a call or click the white “start chat” button at the top of any of our pages and get started today. Approach the coming tax season with peace of mind so you can focus on what matters to you most.