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Tax lawyer or accountant: which to choose for your business?

In the business world, tax and accounting management is crucial for the smooth operation and growth of companies. Two professionals play a key role in this area: the tax lawyer and the accountant. Although their skills may seem similar, their missions and approaches differ significantly. This article aims to clarify these differences, explore the complementarities between these two professions, and provide criteria to help businesses choose the right professional based on their specific needs.

tax lawyer or accountant

Definitions and Roles

Before diving into the specific roles of tax lawyers and accountants, it is essential to understand the definitions and fundamental responsibilities of each profession. This will help better understand the distinctions and complementarities between these two key players in the business world.

What is a tax lawyer?

A tax lawyer is a legal professional specializing in tax law. They provide legal advice on complex tax issues and represent clients in disputes with tax authorities. The tax lawyer primarily works in areas such as tax structuring of operations, tax optimization, and defense in case of tax audits or litigation. They are the only ones authorized to plead before courts for tax matters, which sets them apart from accountants.

What is an accountant?

An accountant is a professional in accounting and financial management, certified after rigorous training and obtaining an accounting diploma. They are responsible for maintaining the company's accounts, preparing tax returns, and preparing financial statements. The accountant also provides advice on financial management, business strategy, and regulatory compliance. They play a crucial role in the daily support of businesses, ensuring the reliability of financial information and assisting in making informed decisions.

Key differences between tax lawyer and accountant

Although tax lawyers and accountants play crucial roles in managing tax and accounting matters, their skills and areas of intervention differ significantly. Understanding these differences is essential to choosing the professional best suited to your specific needs.

Training and certification

The training and certification of tax lawyers and accountants vary considerably. A tax lawyer must undergo legal training, first obtaining a law degree, then a master's degree specializing in tax law before passing the bar exam. Subsequently, they may choose to specialize further in taxation through internships and continuous training.

Conversely, an accountant must undergo training in accounting and management. After several years of coursework, including a diploma in accounting and management (DCG) followed by a higher diploma in accounting and management (DSCG), they must complete a three-year internship in an accounting firm. This internship concludes with obtaining the diploma of accounting expertise (DEC), which allows them to practice as a certified accountant.

Areas of expertise

The areas of expertise of tax lawyers and accountants are distinct and complementary. A tax lawyer focuses primarily on complex legal aspects related to taxation. They specialize in resolving tax disputes, strategic tax planning, and interpreting tax laws to ensure companies' compliance while optimizing their tax burden. In case of tax audits or litigation, the tax lawyer represents clients before tax authorities and courts.

In contrast, the accountant specializes in the daily financial management of companies. They are responsible for maintaining accounts, preparing financial statements, and filing tax returns. The accountant also advises companies on best practices in financial management, internal control, and accounting compliance. Their role is crucial in ensuring the reliability of financial information and helping make strategic decisions based on accurate financial data.

Services offered

The services offered by tax lawyers and accountants are varied and meet specific needs. A tax lawyer provides specialized legal services such as structuring tax transactions, international tax planning, managing tax disputes, and representing clients before tax courts. They are particularly sought after for advice on international taxation, business restructurings, and complex tax law issues.

Conversely, the accountant provides services focused on the company's accounting and financial management. This includes maintaining accounting records, preparing financial statements, conducting audits, and filing tax returns. They also offer advice on financial management, cost optimization, and regulatory compliance. Accountants play a key role in preparing and auditing annual accounts, thus ensuring transparency and reliability of financial information.

Complementarities between tax lawyer and accountant

Collaboration between tax lawyers and accountants can offer significant benefits to companies. Although their areas of expertise are distinct, their skills can complement each other to provide a more comprehensive and effective service.

Effective collaboration

When tax lawyers and accountants work together, they can offer a holistic approach to tax and financial management. For example, an accountant can identify anomalies or potential risks in a company's accounts and recommend the intervention of a tax lawyer for specific legal advice or to represent the company in case of a tax dispute. Similarly, a tax lawyer can rely on the financial data provided by an accountant to structure transactions in a tax-advantageous manner.


Interprofessionality, or collaboration between different professions, is essential for optimal business management. In the context of taxation and accounting, this approach allows combining accounting rigor with legal expertise. This synergy is particularly beneficial for companies facing complex situations requiring a deep understanding of both figures and laws. For example, in preparing a defense in case of a tax audit, the accountant can provide detailed accounting documents, while the tax lawyer can formulate convincing legal arguments.

Criteria for choice

When it comes to choosing between a tax lawyer and an accountant, several criteria must be considered. It is important to thoroughly evaluate the complexity of your tax situation, the financial stakes, as well as the specific needs in accounting and tax management to make an informed choice.

Complexity of the tax situation

The complexity of your tax situation is a determining factor in choosing between a tax lawyer and an accountant. If your company is facing complex tax issues, such as international restructurings, tax litigation, or in-depth tax audits, it is often preferable to hire a tax lawyer. Their legal expertise and ability to represent the company before courts are major assets in managing complex situations.

In contrast, for everyday accounting and tax management needs, such as maintaining accounts, preparing tax returns, and daily financial management, an accountant is generally the most appropriate choice. Their in-depth knowledge of accounting and tax practices allows them to manage these aspects effectively on a daily basis.

Financial stakes

The financial stakes play a crucial role in choosing between a tax lawyer and an accountant. The fees of tax lawyers are often higher due to their legal expertise and ability to intervene in complex disputes. However, this investment can be justified by the significant tax savings they can achieve for your company, notably by optimizing tax structures and reducing the risk of sanctions during tax audits.

Conversely, the services of accountants, although essential, are generally less costly. They are particularly suitable for companies with regular needs in accounting and daily tax management. Furthermore, the expertise of the accountant in daily financial management and accounting compliance can also contribute to the long-term financial health of the company.

Specific needs

Analyzing the specific needs of your company is essential to determine which professional to hire. If your company operates in a highly regulated sector or is involved in complex transactions on an international scale, a tax lawyer will likely be better equipped to navigate these complex environments and offer suitable solutions.

For companies that require continuous and rigorous management of their accounting, as well as regular advice on financial and tax management, the accountant is the ideal choice. They can offer valuable expertise in managing daily operations and help maintain compliance with tax and accounting obligations.


In conclusion, the choice between a tax lawyer and an accountant depends on several factors, including the complexity of your company's tax situation, the financial stakes, and the specific needs in accounting and tax management. Each of these professionals brings unique skills and expertise that can complement each other to offer optimal management of your tax and accounting affairs. For complex legal needs and tax disputes, the tax lawyer is indispensable. For daily financial management and accounting compliance, the accountant is the ideal choice.

To maximize benefits and minimize risks, it is often beneficial to engage both professionals in a collaborative approach. This ensures integrated and effective management of the financial and legal aspects of your company.

For personalized advice and assistance in your tax and accounting processes, do not hesitate to contact Cabinet Sion Avocat. Their expertise and experience in mergers and acquisitions, along with their collaboration with qualified accountants, guarantee optimal management of your affairs.

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