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Treasury & IRS Amend Regulations To Promote Ethical Tax Practices By Professionals

by Leroy Baker, Tax-News.com, New York

21 December 2004


The US government has issued final regulations amending Treasury Department Circular 230 as part of the government’s efforts to curb abusive tax avoidance transactions and improve ethical standards in the tax profession.

The Circular 230 regulations, which apply to attorneys, accountants and other tax professionals who practice before the IRS, provide standards of practice for written advice that reflect current best practices, and are intended to restore and maintain public confidence in tax professionals.

The revisions aim to ensure that tax professionals do not provide inadequate advice, and to increase transparency by requiring tax professionals to make disclosures if the advice is incomplete.

Welcoming the new measures, IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson commented: “These new standards send a strong message to tax professionals considering selling a questionable product to clients. The new provisions give us more tools to battle abusive tax avoidance transactions and to rein in practitioners who disregard their ethical obligations.”

Ensuring that attorneys, accountants and other tax practitioners adhere to professional standards is one of the IRS’s top four enforcement goals, and the agency considers the Circular 230 revisions a key component of this strategy.

The final regulations provide best practices for all tax advisors, mandatory requirements for written advice that presents a greater potential for concern, and minimum standards for other advice.

“These revisions to Circular 230 strike an appropriate balance between tightening practitioner standards and minimizing burden on everyday advice,” noted Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Greg Jenner.

“These rules target the types of written advice that present a significant cause for concern and avoid undue interference with the practitioner-client relationship,” he added.


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