The real difference

Last time we briefly looked at the title of CPA vs. EA, noting the difference in marketing that each designation has experienced. Going back to the real question, which I believe is “Do you need a CPA?”, I am compelled to discuss at least the major differences, along with the similarities, between the two designations. First, CPAs are licensed by states, depending on where they’re domiciled, and sometimes depending on where they sit for the CPA Exam. EAs are licensed by The Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Internal Revenue. Once licensed, an EA does tax stuff. That’s all. They Specialize in Tax. Although both licenses allow the practitioner to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service, neither license allows the practitioner to represent taxpayers in a court of law, unless they pass another test, known as the United States Tax Court Practitioner Exam, or USTCP. So the next time you need help with tax stuff, keep in mind who the Specialists are.

Next: Alas, an Attorney.

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