Accountants: Are There Differences Between CPA Firms and Accounting Firms?

Whether you’re a business owner or an individual taxpayer, having an experienced, knowledgeable accountant available for tax return help or dealing with IRS tax problems is vitally important. It can mean the difference between avoiding major tax problems and getting buried by them. However, it’s critical to make sure you know who you’re turning to for tax help, as not all accountants are created equal. There are major differences between CPA firms and accounting firms, so read on to learn more.

Although there are many capable accounting firms that can help you with everything from small business bookkeeping services to filing tax returns, it’s often advisable to seek out tax help from CPA firms. Depending on the complexity of your tax and financial situation, there may be some solid advantages to choosing CPA services instead of ordinary tax and accounting services. When you need an experienced tax advocate, representation at IRS audits, or help with complex tax issues, the additional training and expertise that a CPA offers can make all the difference in the resolution of your tax problems.

Surprisingly, in many states, anyone can refer to themselves as an “accountant” without having any special education, certification, or experience. That’s why it can be somewhat risky to hire an accounting company or┬átax accountant who has not taken and passed the rigorous Uniform CPA Examination. In order to be granted a CPA license by a state board of accountancy, a CPA candidate also needs to earn a college degree in accounting, gain professional work experience in public accounting, and demonstrate high ethical standards. Unlike many accounting firms, CPA firms are qualified to negotiate an IRS tax settlement, help clients obtain tax debt relief, and prepare effective offers in compromise.

With expertise in everything from business valuations and financial reporting to negotiating the release of wage garnishments and IRS tax liens, CPA firms are usually the type of tax consultants you can place the most confidence in. In addition to meticulous tax return preparation and financial planning guidance, many CPA firms can provide valuable help in securing IRS installment agreements, penalty abatement, innocent spouse relief claims, and IRS tax settlements. While there’s no blanket guarantee that all CPAs are beyond reproach, CPA certification is usually an indication that you’re receiving tax advice from a meticulous and knowledgeable professional.

If you’re among the minority of taxpayers who do not own real estate, claim tax deductions, have investment income, or ever encounter tax issues of any kind, then it might not be necessary to hire a CPA. For example, a young, single professional who does not have any dependents, assets, or deductible expenses may be able to handle his or her own income tax preparation and planning without too much difficulty. As his or her career, business, or financial situation moves forward, however, the services of a competent accounting company or tax accountant often become an essential part of financial management.

When it comes to accounting professionals, understanding the difference between a CPA firm and an accounting firm can make sure you get the services you need for your specific situation.

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