Some people use the terms “tax preparation” and “tax resolution” interchangeably, assuming that they mean the same thing. They represent two entirely different services though. Before you start working with a tax professional, you may want to know which kind you actually need. Here are some definitions to help you out.

Tax Preparation

Tax preparation happens when your taxes are due every year. If you’ve ever gone in to “get your taxes done,” you’ve worked with prep before. All a tax preparation expert will do is go over your financial documents and tell you how much you owe the government, if anything. Then he or she will turn in your paperwork for you.

Tax Resolution

Tax resolution occurs after your taxes have been filed. If you owe more than you can afford to pay or you think there is an error in your tax debts, you need resolution services to fix the problem. Tax resolution does not work for all situations, but it can potentially help you save money on your debts. It’s just a matter of seeing what you have to work with.

Figure out which type of tax debt service you need, and then you’ll be able to pick the right team for the job.