Tax lawyers understand tax laws in ways accountants and other non-lawyers do not. Those differences become important in any dispute with the IRS, whether it is an audit, you owe the IRS money, or worse, you have been contacted by IRS Special Agents. When you need to communicate with a professional about sensitive facts that might hurt you, you need those communications to be protected under an attorney-client privilege. Communications with accountants and lawyers are not protected by this privilege. Hire a tax lawyer. Tax attorneys have more education than accountants and non-lawyers. Tax lawyers that truly specialize in tax controversy are not commonplace. Most tax lawyers do not specialize in tax controversy. When you have a tax controversy, find a tax lawyer who is a specialist in handling tax controversies.
If you are being audited by the IRS, hiring your tax return preparer to represent you in the audit can be a mistake. They often mistakenly view the audit as defending the tax return they prepared, as opposed to representing you and your best interests. Return preparers can be subjected to return preparer penalties and the audit almost automatically puts them in a conflict of interest between protecting themselves versus protecting you.
Hire a tax lawyer who specializes in tax controversy and tax litigation is the smarter, safer decision.