With tax season just around the corner, you and many other California residents may already dread having to go through the filing process. Not only does it take time and effort to ensure that you complete your forms correctly, you may also end up owing taxes, which can feel disheartening and also potentially cause financial strain. If a mistake ends up on your tax forms, you could also possibly face additional issues that could include an audit.
You may not feel that you have the knowledge and overall ability to fill out the correct tax forms without making mistakes. Because tax laws continually change, even in just minor ways, you may not feel confident in handling the tax-filing process yourself. Though you have options for choosing a professional to help you, you may wonder which type of professional could best meet your needs.
You may have some familiarity with certified public accountants and their roles in tax preparation, but you may have questions about other individuals who can also carry out this task. One alternative professional to a CPA is an enrolled agent. This individual understands tax code and must pass a test given by the Internal Revenue Service to show that they do have this knowledge.
Enrolled agents can prepare your taxes, represent you in the event that you have a non-criminal issue with the IRS and carry out other tax-related duties. These agents do not necessarily have to have a previous tax-related background, as long as they can pass the exam. This stipulation also means that the IRS does not require enrolled agents to meet any minimum educational requirements. However, they must go through courses periodically to remain updated on tax codes and laws.
It may come as some surprise to you that an attorney could potentially help you with your tax preparation. While tax attorneys typically do focus on representing individuals who face issues with the IRS, such as audits or accusations of tax evasion, some attorneys also provide assistance during the tax-preparation process.
When it comes to educational requirements for tax attorneys, they must go through law school and pass the bar exam. The IRS does not require that attorneys take any periodic refresher courses to ensure their knowledge of tax law, but these professionals generally stay updated on tax law to ensure that they can effectively and knowledgeably represent their clients if the need arises.
If you wish to obtain professional help with your tax preparation this season, you may want to ensure that you closely consider your options.