A. This is an excellent question, and I hope you won't mind me answering your question over more than one day. Actually there are several competent professionals you can turn to. Let's review the best 4 options.
- Tax Attorneys
- Certified Public Accountants
- Enrolled Agents
- Registered Tax Preparers
Most tax attorney's limit their practices to estate and fiduciary returns, however, you may find one in your area who prepares individual tax returns. They are licensed by the state they practice, and are required to complete competency courses each year.
Certified Public Accounts (CPA's) are another excellent choice. Each CPA is licensed in the state they practice, however, they may have reciprocity in more than one state. The vast majority of CPA's work in big accounting firms and do not necessarily prepare returns for individuals, but act solely as accountants. CPA's preparing individual and business returns are plentiful, however, and can easily be found in the yellow pages or through any reliable search engine. CPA's also have required competency courses in both accounting and taxation each year.
Enrolled Agents (EA's) usually limit their practices solely to the practice of taxation. EA's are licensed by the US Department of Treasury, and as such, may practice in any state or US Territory. As with any professional, you should have no trouble finding one that prepares individual and or business returns. Since many EA's are not accountants, if you have a return than requires a balance sheet, be certain they have had accounting courses and are knowledgeable in basic accounting principals. EA's also have required competency courses in federal taxation each year.
Registered Tax Preparers are the newest of the above four designations. These individuals must register with the IRS and complete competency courses each year.
To be continued. . .