Should I Hire the CPA Who Prepared My Tax Return to Represent Me in an Audit?

So your CPA maybe the best CPA in the world and this conversation is not to suggest it anything negative about CPAs whom we work with all the time, who are a huge asset to our practice and I don't think any of the CPAs that we work with would have any problem with me saying this. The CPAs generally are not good in audits and they're not good because they don't do a lot of audits. From a CPA perspective, a CPA is compliance based. CPAs are focused most of the time on preparing returns and preparing them accurately. They have a whole living based on being a CPA which is a certified public accountant. A certified public accountant is an individual who is certified to prepare financial statements so the reality of the situation is when a CPA is charged with compliance, and if there is any doubt as to that compliance meaning, there are errors on the tax return the CPA prepared, then there's a natural conflict of interest because either

the CPA didn't do their job and the tax return was prepared incorrectly, or you didn't give the CPA enough good information. The CPA could prepare that return so the problem isn't having your CPA represent you. It's that there's a natural conflict of interest between the person that prepared the return and the taxpayer and when you're sending your CPA into a situation like an audit and there's an error on the return, the auditor is going to turn their questions to the CPA and most people have a hard time throwing themselves under the bus in the middle of an audit. In certain situations if the error is severe enough, there are actually preparer penalties that CPAs can get hit with for preparing inaccurate returns so because of that conflict of interest, because of the fact that CPAs don't really defend audits, I don't recommend sending your tax preparer in to defend an audit. I think it's best always to have a neutral third party representative that can kind of save face either with the taxpayer or the CPA and it makes the process a lot better and from a strategic perspective, it's much better to send a neutral in there versus somebody who has an interest in the return in one way or the other.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law