When it comes to taxes, there is an overlap between the world of lawyers and Chartered Professional Accountants (‘CPA’). However, the degrees in which they can help are very different.
The work of a CPA is more concerned with the administrative and mathematical side of taxes. Most CPA’s have only very general tax law knowledge. A CPA should be used for activities such as the filing of taxes, applying for returns, preparing financial statements, and ensuring compliance with CRA forms.
On the other side, tax lawyers are experts on legal matters. Typically, a tax lawyer is used to ensure legal compliance, either before or after an issue has arisen. Tax lawyers are experts in all legal matters, such as the recent changes to legislation and jurisprudence, or knowledge of the Federal Tax Courts of Canada – all of which only can be achieved from the extensive study and practice that a lawyer must undergo to practice law in Canada.
More specifically, a tax lawyer can represent you in court. Should a tax dispute be challenged, a taxpayer may require adequate representation in court to ensure the best resolution. Furthermore, information shared between a taxpayer and their lawyer is protected by solicitor-client privilege, and as such, will not be used against them in a court of law. However, a CPA could be forced to divulge certain taxpayer information or may have to appear in court.