If you are dealing with a tax problem, you may consider hiring a tax professional to represent you before the IRS. However, not all tax professionals are the same. Furthermore, not all tax professionals may be right for you or your case. Here are some helpful hints to consider while searching for a tax professional.
1. Make sure the tax professional is authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS.
The IRS allows attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents to represent taxpayers.
- An attorney is generally required to obtain a law degree, pass a state bar exam and remain in good standing in order to be eligible to represent taxpayers before the IRS.
- A CPA is required to have passed a CPA Exam and obtained sufficient work experience requirements.
- An Enrolled Agent has either passed a test administered by the IRS or obtained experience as a former IRS employee.
Each of these professionals is likely required to take continuing education courses every couple of years to maintain their respective certifications.
2. Make sure the tax professional is qualified to handle your case.
Determine how long the tax professional has been representing taxpayers, how many cases they have handled and how familiar they are with your type of case. Some cases are much more difficult and unique than others. Just because the IRS has authorized a person to represent you does not mean that they have the experience, expertise or ability to properly represent you. For example, an attorney who has decades of experience handling areas of law outside tax problems specifically is likely not the most qualified to handle your case.
3. Make sure you are comfortable working with the tax professional.
Many tax problems can be addressed in a few months’ time. However, there are other cases that may take years to resolve. Even if the case can be, and is handled in a short period of time, you may need to consult with the tax professional for a longer period of time. You do not want to trade the stress of dealing with the IRS for the stress of dealing with an individual that you do not get along with. You want to be comfortable with your representative.
4. Make sure the tax professional meets your needs.
Some tax professionals are not available to meet with you in person or are difficult to reach on the telephone. Others may be very accessible on the telephone but will charge you for each minute you are on the phone. Whatever your preference, be sure that the tax professional accommodates you.