Tax Preparers, CPAs, and Tax Attorneys…Oh My!

February 1, 2016 - 2 minutes read

As I helped my son to do his taxes last night I smiled thinking, how responsible a young man he has become, and how much I miss the days of the 1040EZ form.

Dependents, homes, investments and school loans are challenging enough to account for. Business ownership brings another whole level of complexity. It’s important to know who you can, and should, depend on.

The IRS defines the different options, as follows:

Tax Preparers (Enrolled Agents)

Licensed by the IRS. Enrolled agents are subject to a suitability check and must pass a three-part Special Enrollment Examination, which is a comprehensive exam that requires them to demonstrate proficiency in federal tax planning, individual and business tax return preparation, and representation. They must complete 72 hours of continuing education every 3 years.


Licensed by state boards of accountancy, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Certified public accountants have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. They have completed a study in accounting at a college or university and also met experience and good character requirements established by their respective boards of accountancy. In addition, CPAs must comply with ethical requirements and complete specified levels of continuing education in order to maintain an active CPA license. CPAs may offer a range of services; some CPAs specialize in tax preparation and planning.

Tax Attorneys

Licensed by state courts, the District of Columbia or their designees, such as the state bar. Generally, they have earned a degree in law and passed a bar exam. Attorneys generally have on-going continuing education and professional character standards. Attorneys may offer a range of services; some attorneys specialize in tax preparation and planning.

Definitions courtesy of IRS.GOV: Understanding Tax Return Preparer Credentials and Qualifications 

Tax season is rapidly approaching! If you’re still collecting receipts in an old shoe box, it’s time to let our accounting crew organize them for you! Give us a call!