With tax time right around the corner, many Americans will be making the decision of how to prepare their income taxes for the year. For those who seek the assistance of a professional, that generally comes down to choosing between hiring an Enrolled Agent (EA) or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to prepare the return.
There are benefits to using both types of professionals for tax preparation, although there are significant skills and services that only Enrolled Agents possess. The main advantages of choosing an EA instead of a CPA for taxes include:
Enrolled Agents are not bound by geography.
One of the key advantages of using an Enrolled Agent instead of a CPA to prepare your taxes is that an EA can practice in any state. CPAs, on the other hand, may only work in states where they have the proper licensing and jurisdiction. This means if a company or an individual needs to file in more than one state and eventually needs representation before that state in an audit or resolution case, a CPA may not be able to help you. An Enrolled Agent, on the other hand, can both file in more than one state, and represent you in that state for an audit.
They understand all sides of the situation.
Since Enrolled Agents are tax professionals, they are required to understand not only the complexity of today’s tax code and how it applies to their clients, but also how ongoing changes affect client liability. That may not be the case with CPAs, who are generalists, and may not be up to speed with the very latest in tax law.
They are tested and trained…continually.
It’s not easy to become an Enrolled Agent or to stay one. At first, EAs must pass rigorous testing (including a stringent background check). Once passed, EAs are further mandated to undergo extensive ongoing training each year. This training is so comprehensive, it even exceeds the IRS’ own requirements.
They are “insiders.”
Many Enrolled Agents are former IRS agents. That means at tax time, you would be hiring someone with intimate, insider knowledge of the IRS, which can potentially be a huge advantage over working with a CPA, who may not share that same experience. In collection cases, they may also know how to negotiate with the IRS to reach a settlement or debt repayment solution that it is most likely to be accepted.
They can deal directly with the IRS.
Since Enrolled Agents are the only federally licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation, they have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS, at all administrative levels. Only Enrolled Agents are required to demonstrate to the IRS their competence in all areas of taxation, representation and ethics. They can represent taxpayers during IRS collections, audit investigations, offers in compromise and for reducing penalties.
It will cost you less.
In general, using an Enrolled Agent for taxes is more cost-effective than hiring a CPA. And in many cases, there’s no need for taxpayers to pay the extra fees associated with using a CPA; enlisting the help of an EA, instead, is just as effective (if not more so), at a lower price.
Robert Hall & Associates features multiple Enrolled Agents on staff to assist with all your tax preparation, IRS audit and back-tax collections needs. We proudly serve the Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank and Greater Los Angeles areas. Ready for a better tax preparation experience? Contact us today for a free, no-obligation 30 minute consult with a tax professional.
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