Hierarchy of IRS Tax Practitioners

Knowing and understanding the qualifications and credentials of your IRS tax professional is extremely important and can make all the difference between a successful or failed result for your IRS tax dispute.

Just like there are different levels of professionals in medicine, sports or other occupations, they’re also different levels in the quality, training, credentials and experience of your IRS tax practitioner.  Here is a general chart of the most common credentials possessed by IRS tax practitioners:

United States Tax Court Attorney:

  1. Admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court and litigates cases vs. IRS District Attorneys.
  2. Has substantive knowledge and expertise with the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Treasury Regulations, Tax Court Opinions and Federal Court decisions.
  3. Well-trained in litigation, evidence, trial advocacy and procedural rules.

Attorney:

  1. Admitted to practice in home state of licensure.
  2. May have general experience in IRS tax controversy work or other legal services, such as personal injury, immigration or other practice area.
  3. Can practice before the IRS but may not always be admitted to the United States Tax Court.

Certifed Public Accountant:

  1. Has an entirely different educational and training background than attorneys.
  2. Does not hold a doctorate degree like an attorney but has a college degree.
  3. Lacks the essential skills of critical reasoning, analysis and persuasive negotiations commonly found in the educational training of attorneys.

Enrolled Agent:

  1. Eligible to practice before the IRS by passing a basic EA Exam.
  2. Can have a college degree but not always.
  3. Has the least amount of educational credentials vs. attorneys and CPAs.
  4. Lacks essential skills in critical reasoning, analysis and persuasive negotiations commonly found in the educational training of attorneys.

Unenrolled Return Preparer:

  1. Prohibited from representing taxpayers before the IRS.
  2. Is a “tax consultant,” “tax resolution advisor,” or some other label for “sales agent.”
  3. Works at “tax resolution” companies that advertise heavily on TV, the Internet or via U.S. mail.
  4. Should not be allowed to give any advice to taxpayers with respect to Internal Revenue laws, procedures or qualifications for IRS programs.
  5. Doesn’t have the educational background in tax law nor are they regulated by any ethical codes or court rules.
  6. Is governed by a sales quota awarding commissions and bonuses.


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