Information provided by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service – Southern California District)
Tax practitioners vary widely in their experience, education, areas of expertise, and cost.
Registered with the California Tax Education Council. Must have completed a basic tax preparation course, and annual updates. No college degree is required. Expertise can vary widely depending on individual background.
Has passed an extensive test on tax law and preparation administered by the IRS. No college degree is required, however the individual must attend annual tax update classes in order to maintain status. Some enrolled agents are former IRS employees who are not required to take the test if they had at least five years of technical experience on the job.
For more information about Enrolled Agents (EA) and what they can do for you, please click here.
Certified Public Accountant
Has completed all college, testing, and experience requirements to qualify as a CPA. Must also take annual update courses to maintain status. CPA’s normally specialize in one area of the accounting profession. Look for a person who specializes in taxes.
Has completed all college, testing, and experience requirements to qualify as an attorney. Must also take annual update courses to maintain status. Attorneys normally specialize in one area of the legal profession. In the field of taxes, they may specialize in civil or criminal areas.
To find a tax practitioner in your area:
- Check with friends and relatives for referrals.
- Check local advertising, or look in the yellow pages of your telephone book under: Tax Consultants, Tax Return Preparation, Accountants, Attorneys, or other related topics.
- Know how much you can afford to pay and ask for specific rates.
- Makes certain that the tax practitioner has the education and experience necessary to handle the specific issues on your tax return. Ask about specific training and qualifications.
- Know your practitioner’s policy on errors and audits. Will they be there to help you with future problems?
- Beware of the practitioner who promises a larger refund or other benefits that cannot be provided by other practitioners. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.