Business Tax Issues: When to Hire a Lawyer Versus an Accountant

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By Lindsay Rubel
| Taxes

This post is part of Priori’s blog series “From Our Network,” where we feature lawyers in our network discussing important issues small businesses face. After every post, we give our readers a chance to ask the lawyer questions, and the lawyer picks several to answer. In today’s post, tax lawyer Lindsay Rubel answers reader questions about how small businesses should work with tax professionals.

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You recommend hiring a professional to minimize tax liability and avoid audit risk. Is that professional an accountant or a lawyer? When is a lawyer appropriate instead of an accountant?

I would recommend consulting with a lawyer when making legal decisions, such as whether or not to establish a legal entity for your business, and, if so, what kind of business structure would be most appropriate for you. Legal input is also crucial when buying, selling or restructuring all or part of a business.

A good accountant is extremely helpful for ongoing compliance purposes, including annual and quarterly tax filings, and general bookkeeping.

What questions should I ask to vet a tax professional?

When vetting a tax pro, I would consider their number of years of experience, their specific area of tax expertise, and whether or not they have educational and professional credentials such as CPAs or LLMs. I'd also encourage you to independently check up on the person's bar or CPA license and check for any outstanding professional complaints.

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