Tax professionals, include tax attorneys, enrolled agents, and certified public accountants (CPA), are professionals that specialize in tax representation before the IRS and various state revenue agencies. As with other types of attorneys, tax attorneys possess a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and will have successfully passed a state bar examination. However, a reputable tax attorney should also have additional coursework or training focused on federal and state tax laws and procedures. In many cases, a tax attorney will have an LL.M. (Master of Laws) in Taxation. An LL.M. is an advanced law degree that focuses on individual and corporate taxes, taxation of trusts and estates, tax controversy, elder law and estate planning. A CPA is licensed by the state and will have an extensive background in finance and accounting. In order for a CPA to practice before the IRS they must be qualified as a CPA and cannot be subject to suspension or disbarment. An enrolled agent is a person who demonstrates special competence in tax matters by written examination administered by the IRS.
A tax professional can help with both civil and criminal actions brought forth by the IRS or state tax authorities. In addition, a good tax attorney can help set up a new business properly based on the nature of the organization and can even help with estate planning if needed.
In some cases a taxpayer may be able to solve tax problems by himself without the help of a tax professional but this may not be the most prudent option unless the taxpayer has no other alternative. Given the intricacies of the IRS and the labyrinth of codes and procedures they have adopted, the taxpayer may indeed be best served by working directly with a tax professional, who has experience dealing specifically with the IRS.
In most cases, a tax professional specializes his or her focus on tax issues and more accurately, tax relief.
Some services they also assist with include audit representation, reducing fines and penalties, lifting wage garnishments, removing tax liens, and ending bank levies. Many small businesses additionally seek help from a tax professional for any payroll tax concerns or self-employment tax issues.
While most small businesses have typically used a tax accountant for tax filing services, a tax attorney can be equally helpful. Like an accountant, a good tax attorney can help you avoid tax problems before they begin and may be able to foresee potential legal problems before its too late. In addition, a tax attorney can provide legal protection where a tax accountant cannot.
What makes tax law so confusing is not only its complexity, but also its dynamic nature, with changes typically being implemented every year. Therefore, a tax professional should be well versed in these annual changes, modifications and updates in order to advise a client as appropriately as possible.
Can A Tax Professional Help Me?
If you’ve found yourself in a predicament that leaves you feeling lost, concerned or even frightened of the IRS, consulting a good tax professional is one of the best decisions you could make. Remember, tax penalties and fines don’t simply go away and in fact, they continue to build over time; waiting and hoping they go away solves nothing. It’s always in your best interest to solve tax problems as soon as possible while they are still small because, when dealing with the IRS, small problems typically lead to big ones given time. Waiting until your problems are completely out of hand could leave you in an incredibly costly predicament and in some cases criminal action could be taken against you, resulting in jail time and extremely high legal fees. Therefore, investing in a good tax professional before your problems get completely out of hand just makes good common sense.
So, what are some of the specific circumstances where a tax professional can be extremely helpful? Below are some examples:
- You carry a tax debt that the IRS is attempting to collect via a wage garnishment, tax lien or bank levy
- You’ve got years of unfilled tax returns and need the assistance of a tax professional