It really comes down to the industry that I find myself surrounded by. An industry of Tax Resolution firms that do EVERYTHING short of saying they are Attorneys to imply that they are attorneys. They will call themselves “Tax Firms,” but they don’t employ attorneys – they employ Enrolled Agents and – sometimes – CPAs. Occasionally “Tax Firms” like these will even employ an attorney or two.
But they still aren’t law firms. They will say that they are “licensed by the IRS as power of attorney in all 50 states!” This is not misleading on its face, but it can be for those not as familiar with the terms of art commonly thrown around in the tax resolution industry (or in the legal world in general. An “attorney in fact” is not – in fact – an attorney.) See, properly accredited Enrolled Agents can represent taxpayers in all 50 states in front of the IRS by filing a 2848. But if an Enrolled Agent is the founder of a tax resolution firm, it is not a law firm.
Well look – I don’t want to cause any confusion. I am an attorney, licensed in the State of Connecticut. IRS Circular 230 allows attorneys to represent taxpayers all over the country in front of the IRS. I am also admitted to Federal Tax Court. With the exception of a small handful of Tax Practitioners, only attorneys can take your IRS tax case all the way to Tax Court. And only an Attorney can bring a refund claim in District Court, where I am also admitted.
I like “Tom Tax Lawyer” better than “Tom Tax Attorney” because there is no room for error. There is no room for confusion. My job as a lawyer is to make things less confusing, not more confusing.
Keep in mind that Enrolled Agents and CPAs can be forced to testify against you in a criminal proceeding. A tax lawyer cannot be forced to testify against you. I still file the same IRS Power of Attorney that an Enrolled Agent or CPA would file. But I am equipped to go the distance if necessary. And believe it or not, the IRS knows that.