An overview of confidentiality privileges that shield taxpayer communications with their non-attorney tax professional from discovery by the Federal government in tax controversy matters.
Taxpayers are entitled to assert confidentiality privilege under Internal Revenue Code Section 7525 similar to the common law attorney-client privilege with respect communications with CPAs and Enrolled Agents.
Also, some taxpayer communications with any expert, including CPAs and Enrolled Agents, enjoy privilege protection from discovery by the government under the “work product” doctrine. Additionally, communications between clients, attorneys, CPAs and Enrolled Agents may enjoy privilege protection under the “Kovel” judicial doctrine when the professional is retained to assist an attorney.
Significant limitations attached to non-attorney privileges are critical for tax professionals to understand. Further, to avoid compromising a taxpayer communicating with an expectation of privilege that will not withstand challenge. Presented from the perspective of a non-attorney tax professional with experience in addressing each of the privilege issues in tax practice.
Recognize the nature of the common law attorney-client privilege including the various issues surrounding “waiver” of the privilege.
Identify of the nature of protected communications between taxpayer-clients and the non-attorney Federally Authorized Tax Practitioner.
Determine the significant limitations with regard each of the respective privileges.
Obtain an understanding of how to handle privilege communications from a documentation standpoint.
The Federally Authorized Tax Practitioner (FATPs)
Understanding the attorney-client privilege
The Section 7525 Statutory Privilege and Limitations
The Work-Product Doctrine and Privilege and Limitations
Kovel Engagements and Limitations
CPAs, EAs, and other tax return preparers.
Tax practitioners with two-years experience and a working knowledge of the AICPA Statements on Standards for Tax Services and IRS Circular 230.