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The Difference Between a CPA and Tax Attorney

When tax season comes most people prefer to do it themselves. This is fine for most. For others, they may need to hire a financial professional like a CPA or tax attorney. A CPA is a certified public accountant and are often consultants and tax professionals. they are versatile and can serve many roles. A tax attorney is a lawyer that specializes in tax law. They mostly deal with conflicts with the many codes and regulations that the IRS has. There are differences between a CPA and tax attorney and there are some major differences. Let’s look over a few of them.

Potential issues that require a CPA or tax attorney

Most issues involving a tax professional will be either compliance or maintenance-related. Compliance is best done on a preventive measure. Going to court over violating a tax law is a big deal for a business or individual. Most maintenance functions are things like doing audits and filing reports.


A CPA is a financial professional that has to go through a pretty rigorous certification program to earn that CPA designation. Each state does have different requirements to take the CPA exam and may have other requirements along with it. The basic CPA exam requirements are having a college education with about 36 hours in accounting subjects. The exam comes in four parts and takes a bit of time to complete the whole thing.

After someone gets their CPA designation they can go on to work in a variety of accounting functions. The two big things that a CPA can do is perform audits and file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This makes them valuable in the maintenance of a business. A CPA can help a firm by performing the needed functions that keep a firm going and keep them compliant.

For the individual, a CPA can help with complicated tax issues and personal finances. CPAs are very versatile for both businesses and the individual. Things they might not be suited for is advising a firm or individual on complex IRS and tax law compliance. They may be able to advise on simple things in their sphere of work, but for tax law, it’s best to turn to the tax attorney.

A CPA can work as an individual or with a CPA consulting firm. CPAs can specialize or be more general in the accounting matters that they handle. The price of hiring a CPA is worth it in the end. Many of the functions that a CPA does are mandatory and might not be avoided. Hiring a good CPA is fairly simple. A CPA’s license and certification can be checked online and most CPA firms have reviews that can be checked as well.

The tax attorney

A tax attorney is a lawyer that specializes in tax law. They are educated just as rigorously as the CPA. First, they need to complete law school and then specialize in tax law. This can be done by working for a tax law firm and taking on clients. What a tax attorney does is help a business or individual with complicated tax issues like doing international business or when you might have a taxable estate.

When hiring a lawyer it’s best to review them first. Look for qualities in a lawyer like what Douglas Healy has. His bar license can be easily checked.

This is important because the work that a tax attorney does can have lasting effects on an individual or firm. This means that hiring them can get a little pricey. The cost of hiring a good lawyer is almost always cheaper than dealing with a tax issue. The best and worst time to hire a tax attorney is when you’re getting sued. It’s best to hire them to make sure that yourself or business is being compliant with tax laws.

Which one to choose?

This can be a bit complicated at first. When the main differences are recognized it becomes a lot easier. A CPA is best for doing the day to day maintenance work and a tax attorney is best to keep you compliant with complex tax laws. A tax attorney can also represent you in court if it comes to it. Vetting a professional like with the Douglas Healy is a good idea. If you utilize both a CPA and tax attorney, then they can make life easier