There are clear distinctions to be made between tax lawyers and accountants. Understanding these differences will make it easier to decide what you are in need of.
The most important distinction is between legal tax issues and non-legal tax procedures. For example, if you want to file an objection to a Notice of Reassessment, you will want to solicit the skills of a lawyer. It is within the practical knowledge of a tax lawyer to be consulted on any legal procedures appropriate to your position, whether it’s individual audit issues, company tax claims, tax planning structures, will drafting, tax appeals, or tax opinion letters to back up your case. In these situations – and many more – an individual has a legal avenue to challenge what they deem to be incorrect tax assessment from the CRA. An accountant simply does not have the depth of training a tax lawyer does to navigate the complex judicial system on your behalf.
On the other hand, if have questions about filing a tax return, accountants are the ones to work with. Accountants are trained to deal with all manner of paperwork pertaining to tax returns. Accountants will help ensure you file all income, expenses, investments, and other costs pertaining to your financial state. Unlike a tax lawyer, whose job it is to interpret the complexities of tax law, accountants strictly follow the law and manage the practical side of income tax filing for their clients.
Overlap does exist between a lawyer and accountant, particularly in the realm of tax audits. Both professionals are trained in dealing with the completion of tax audits. However, if you are subject to a CRA audit, your best option is to work with a tax lawyer because they are trained in legal interpretation as well as proper filing of paperwork pertaining to an audit.
This article provides information of a general nature only. It does not provide legal advice nor can it or should it be relied upon. All tax situations are specific to their facts and will differ from the situations in this article. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer.