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Choosing a tax professional

There are a variety of designations that Tax Professionals can have and as you evaluate your needs you can choose the best one. Each of these designations can reflect a variety of areas of specialization. An individual’s designation alone does not always express the person’s tax preparation experience and qualifications. You will find that there are many specializations within the accounting and taxation field. When you are seeking a tax professional you should ask specifically about their tax preparation experience. You should also be aware many people in this field hold multiple designations. The most frequently used designations in the accounting and tax field include Accredited Tax Advisors (ATAs), Accredited Tax Preparers (ATPs), Attorneys, Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), Certified Public Accountant (CPAs), and Enrolled Agents (EAs), Extensive continuing professional education is required to maintain these (and other) designations.

  • Attorneys have a college degree in law and have passed a state Bar exam. Many specialize in specific areas of law. Some also have training in taxation and are qualified to prepare tax returns. 
  • CPAs have a college degree in accounting and they passed a state exam required for certification. CPAs are qualified especially to maintain business records and financial statements. Some also have training in taxation and are qualified to prepare tax returns. 
  • CFP s specialize an individual’s or business’s current and future financial needs and planning. They handle investments and financial forecasting to help individuals achieve their financial goals using the most advantageous means available. Much like a tax professional changing legislation in investment issues continually gives reason for reviewing planning strategies using retirement plans, insurances, and trusts. Some CFPs may also have tax training.
  • EA s specialize in taxes… EAs are required to pass, a comprehensive 2-day tax and ethics exam that is administered by the U. S. Treasury and the IRS, they also must pass a stringent background check. EAs need to maintain sufficient continuing education credits in taxation and ethics to retain their certification.

Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can practice before. Some CPAs and Attorneys have the EA designation also.

Accounting, tax, finances, law, and related web sites. ww.willyancey.com

Download all current and prior year IRS forms & publications. www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html

Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

Home-Based Childcare Provider’s Resources

Identity Theft

IRS Dirty Dozen Scams for 2006

Listing of State Revenue Departments

National Association of Tax Professionals

IRS Newsroom

U.S. Tax Code, Regulations and Official Guidance


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