Accountant vs. Tax Attorney: Who Should I Call?

When it comes to your personal finances or business assets, you shouldn’t take any chances. This is why so many turn to financial professionals, but there are many different ways to find the right help. When it comes to decisions involving taxes, it may be hard to decide when an accountant will be able to handle matters and when it is time to contact a tax attorney. Here is a closer look at these two specialists, what they can offer their clients, and when one may be more effective than another.

Understanding Accountants

For many years, the average accountant was nothing more than a basic financial advisor for businesses, non-profit organizations, or private parties. As time has progressed, however, these specialists have taken on a much more proactive role with their clients with a variety of tools and services. This begins with issues such as financial planning, estate planning, and investment advice. A modern accountant can also help with a variety of more complicated issues such as strategizing an entire business’s financial goals in the coming years or taking over the role of an investing consultant for a private party.

Understanding Tax Attorneys

A tax attorney is another choice for those that would like to protect their assets or the assets of their business. These individuals have gone through extensive training and focus their practice on tax and financial laws. Tax attorneys will generally not be needed to carry out the basic financial services that an accountant would, and instead focus on legal negotiations, trials, audits, and other similar situations. Businesses can hire a tax attorney as a full-time consultant and legal representative, use them on a case-by-case basis, or place them in a purely advisory role, much like an accountant.

Who Should I Choose?

Financial situations can become muddled in the blink of an eye, and this is why so many are unsure if they should contact and hire an accountant or a tax attorney. For most of the traditional financial services such as setting up a payroll, basic advice, filing taxes, or planning an estate, an accountant will be perfectly suited for the task. Even when more severe situations develop, such as an audit, an experienced accountant may be able to start the process of filing paperwork, inquiring about the audit, and contacting the IRS.

If the situation is not resolved relatively quickly or escalates into a trial or out-of-court negotiations that could make or break a company, it is time to call in a tax attorney. Tax attorneys are often better suited to handle important negotiations or help a client navigate through a trial. They also provide their client with complete confidentiality which may be a necessity in certain scenarios. Those in need of any one of these services should begin by taking a looking at the expertise of an accountant, and then move onto a tax attorney for representation or advice of the situation cannot be resolved quickly.

Last Updated: January 11, 2017