145 N. Lakeshore Drive, Suite 9, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745

…but you’re not a CPA!

There are many different credentials among tax and financial professionals, and even for a professional office like ours, the variety of credentials can get confusing.

The CPA license is the most common among tax and accounting matters. It is widely recognizable, and the public associates the CPA with income taxes and accounting. However, it is not the only license in the income tax profession.

The CPA is a state license and is administered by a division within the state government. However, a CPA is a comprehensive license which includes income taxation but does not necessarily specialize in taxation. The CPA is primarily a license which regulates accounting services.

The Enrolled Agent (EA) is a federal license granted through the Internal Revenue Service. Instead of considered less than a CPA, the IRS recognizes the EA as equivalent to a tax attorney or CPA. In fact, the EA has the same unlimited practice rights before the IRS as a tax attorney or CPA and enjoys the same attorney-client privilege which is afforded to a tax attorney or CPA.

In short, the EA is a tax specialist who can represent clients from all 50 states in any type of tax matter. This is why the IRS describes the EA as an “elite status.” https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/enrolled-agents/enrolled-agent-information

There may be times when a CPA is needed, and this would primarily be for preparing audited financial statements, discovering financial fraud, and forensic accounting. Even then, there is a small number of CPAs who practice in that field. However, for most tax cases, the EA is the equivalent of a CPA or tax attorney.

R. Joseph Ritter, Jr. also holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) Professional credential. While we do offer financial planning services as well, the CFP® Professional credential helps us coordinate tax-driven strategies with more comprehensive financial goals. In a three year cycle, Mr. Ritter is required to complete at least 132 hours of continuing education, and most of this is focused on taxation. Our practice is very much focused on taxation, which sets us apart as a tax specialist.

Mr. Ritter’s background includes more than 10 years as a senior paralegal for a Board Certified Tax Attorney, which is experience few tax professionals can claim. This experience in the tax profession has most certainly shaped our practice today.