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Tax Attorney vs. EA: What's the Difference?

Lamarre Law Group P.A. April 24, 2023

A tax attorney is a lawyer who specializes in tax law and is licensed to practice law in the state where they are admitted to the bar. Tax attorneys have expertise in the complex laws and regulations that govern taxes and can provide legal representation to taxpayers facing tax-related issues.

An enrolled agent (EA) is a tax professional federally licensed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to represent taxpayers before the IRS. EAs are required to pass a rigorous exam administered by the IRS, and they must meet continuing education requirements to maintain their enrollment status. Like tax attorneys, EAs have expertise in tax law and can represent taxpayers in front of the IRS.

While both tax attorneys and EAs can represent taxpayers, they differ. Tax attorneys are licensed to practice law and can represent clients in court, whereas EAs are not. Additionally, tax attorneys can provide advice on business formation and non-tax issues. EAs are focused on tax-related matters.

There are several reasons why you may need to hire a tax attorney:

  1. Complex tax issues: If you have complicated tax issues or are facing a tax audit, a tax attorney can provide the necessary expertise and knowledge to navigate the situation.

  2. Tax disputes: If you are involved in a tax dispute with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state tax authorities, a tax attorney can represent you in court and negotiate on your behalf.

  3. Tax planning: A tax attorney can help you plan your finances and investments to minimize your tax liability and helps you maximize your financial return.

  4. Estate planning: A tax attorney can help you plan your estate to minimize tax liability for your heirs and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

  5. Tax penalties: If you have received tax or fines, a tax attorney can help you negotiate with the IRS or state tax authorities to reduce or eliminate those penalties.

  6. International tax issues: If you have international tax issues or are a non-resident alien, a tax attorney can provide the necessary expertise and knowledge to navigate complex tax laws and regulations.

When choosing a tax professional, it is essential to consider your specific needs and the nature of your tax issue. For example, an EA may be a good option if you need help with tax preparation or simple representation before the IRS. On the other hand,  a tax attorney may be the best choice if you face a complex legal matter or need representation in court.