KAREN BREHMER: I see it's the highest hour, so let's get started. Welcome to todayWebinar, Ethical Guidelines for Tax Professionals Under Circular 230. We appreciate you attendingus. My name is Karen Brehmer and I am a lobbyist with the Internal Revenue Serviceand I will be your moderator for today's webinar. And today's webinar is scheduled for 60 minutes.
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All you have to do is enter your question in the text box and click submit. But please, mecan't stress this enough, do not enter any sensitive or taxpayer specific information,ask question box. Following our session, allow me to introduce today's speaker. lindaSince then, Cieslak has worked for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).2016, Internal Revenue Service Investigation of Waste, Fraud and Abuse Cases. BeforeIn her current role as a Special Agent, Linda worked as an IT auditor and conducted security auditsthe publicly available application of the IRS. Linda is part of the Oakland group of TIGTA, theResponsibility for all of Northern California. Linda is a member of TIGTA's cyber investigationsquad. She has a master's degree in accounting and is a certified public accountant.
Linda to start the presentation. Linda, the floor is yours. LINDA CIESLAK: Okay, great. Thanks toTo you, Karen, and let me say a warm welcome to all of you today. We are so lucky to have you all herefor this topic. First, let's take a look at what we're going to cover today. So we areFirst we will talk about TIGTA, who we are, our role in protecting the integrity of the taxAdministration, and then we'll go into the difference between TIGTA and IRS, do itpretty clear what we're doing. We will also discuss creator ethics under Circular 230, andThen we'll go into a little bit about IRS impersonation scams and what to do if you're a victimOne of your customers is a victim of one. Speaking of circular 230, that is, both registered andUnregistered practitioners are subject to and able to comply with the rules of IRS Circular 230be able to practice before the IRS. Circular 230 is therefore titled Regulations Governing Practicebefore the Internal Revenue Service and today this session will go into detailvia Circular 230 and the details below. But before we start, I want to mentionthat there is a difference between an enrolled creator and a non-enrolled creator. And theThe difference is that they are only non-matriculated creators, which can also be called return creatorsentitled to represent a taxpayer for a given year. It must be a year that sheeither prepared or signed for the return or submitted a refund request. Unregistered practitioners cannot do thisrepresenting a taxpayer before IRS appeals or national offices, and gives more details onCircular 230 about what non-enrolled preparers can and cannot do to pre-practicethe tax office. However, in this presentation we will mainly focus on enrolled practitionerssubject to IRS Circular 230 and all regulations contained therein. The IRS has the ability topursuant to Circular 230 to admit an agent to the registered practice after demonstrating that this is the casegood character, good reputation, necessary qualifications and the competence to practice beforehandthe tax office. Who is TIGTA and who am I? I'm a special agent with the Treasury Department's Inspector Generalfor the tax administration known as TIGTA. We are the agency responsible for everyonethe oversight of the IRS. We investigate all crimes that violate the integrity of theService. We're an agency within the Department of the Treasury, but we're separate from itIRS. This allows us to report directly to the Treasury Secretary instead of reporting to himthe IRS officer who leaves us bias free because we don't have to report throughthe IRS and we can report to the Treasury Secretary on their systematic problems. tigta agents,We're special agents like the FBI, the Secret Service, the DEA. We all fall under the sameGovernment job streak and we go to the same academy as them all. TIGTA is different from IRSCID, also known as IRS CI, in a confusing way; I know it cana little difficult to understand what we do and what they do. The responsibility priority of CI isreally criminal tax fraud. And that's what they touch; whereas TIGTA is responsibleProtecting the IRS from both internal and external threats is a priority. Responsibilities of TIGTAcan somehow overlap with CI in some places, which as said gets confusing. IRS, like mesaid, handles all tax fraud, but we have a letter of intent with IRS CI thatDetails what they take and what we take to know if a case comes to us when it's in oursjurisdiction or not. And when IRS employees commit tax fraud, those cases overlapjurisdictions, so we work them in conjunction with IRS CI. We make TIGTA plays a part inInvestigations into misconduct by tax practitioners, although much of this is accountabilityby IRSCI. But we will go into more detail in this presentation on when this falls under IRS andif that falls under TIGTA. Regarding the misconduct of IRS employees, we are investigatingeverything from employees, like stealing government property, to sexual harassment at the IRSand we even investigate rude and unprofessional behavior at the IRS. In the case of threats andAttack, TIGTA sometimes responds with lights and sirens, investigating threats andAttacks on IRS employees. A good example of this is that we recently had IRS receiptsOfficer who was on site trying to collect from a taxpayer. The taxpayer comes to his sensesthe door with a shotgun said something along the lines of leave me the expletive. Wewent to the taxpayer's residence, confronted him, explained to him that it was a covenantOffense of threatening an IRS employee in the performance of his or her duties. We can tag hisAccount so IRS taxpayers know it could be dangerous to contact him and then imIn the future, they can customize their interactions with him. It continues with TIGTA'sResponsibilities while I work for TIGTA's investigative department, we also have an examFunction that audits IRS programs. And I know this can be confusing to the public because we do itdo not conduct audits of taxpayers for the IRS. We conduct audits of the IRS and audits of IRS systems. AThe most famous audit TIGTA conducted was in 2013. There was a claim that IRS was usedinappropriate criteria for identifying political groups. The final conclusions can be drawn from this testcan be found on the TIGTA website. And it's our job, it's the job of the test, it's the job of the testrecommend actions to help the IRS correct systemic deficiencies, and these reports, such as Isaid, will be posted on our website for the public to see, and will also be sent to Congressreview and hopefully help the IRS resolve some of their internal control issues orsystematic flaws they have. TIGTA is divided into five regional field divisions andthen these are further broken down into our own areas of responsibility. So if you look at this map,Like I said, I'm in Northern California. I'm in Oakland so my duty station is Oakland, weI have an office in Sacramento and an office in Honolulu, all part of my group. So we coverNorthern California and all Pacific Territories. So if you look at this map, you seeWherever you are in the country, you can see which field office you should contact for TIGTA whenYou encounter a problem. And visit our website at www.tigta.gov for contact informationfor your local office. BREHMER: Hey, Linda, I'll interrupt you and ask you aAsk. CIESLAK: Yes BREHMER: You just mentioned the website when you go to itwebsite and you are trying to find this link for local offices can you help us find out whereon the site people find this? CIESLAK: Yes. So go to the home page on our websitewhich in turn is www.tigta.gov scroll to the bottom of the page and you will find threeBoxes saying for citizens, for researchers and for tax preparers. If you click the forCitizen Box, it has a link to local office information and contact information. Bremen: OKGreat. So go to the site, scroll down, look for the box that says for citizens and you're donewhere to find this link to local offices. CIESLAK: Yes, exactly. BREHMER: Great, thank youLinda and I will give it back to you. CIESLAK: Okay, great. So TIGTA is happy to continueUse this triangle performance model to explain what we're investigating, our investigationProgram. In the middle the OI program, which we call the Office of Investigations, OI, so these are oursfocus of investigation. It is divided into three parts, employee integrity, employees andInfrastructure security and then external attempts to corrupt the tax administration. when wereWhen we talk about TIGTA's jurisdiction in relation to tax professionals, it falls under the exteriorAttempts to corrupt the tax administration are part of our triangle. As I said before, we haveshared jurisdiction of tax professionals with IRS CI. And our internal memorandum fromUnderstanding with them helps provide guidance as to what our specific responsibilities and tasks arewhat's theirs then, and we'll discuss that in more detail after our first surveyAsk. So Karen, why don't we stop here and ask our first question. BREHMER: That would be agreat idea. Hey Linda, one thing real quick, a question came in. could you just tell usagain, what does the acronym TIGTA stand for, what is the full name of your organization? CIESLAK:Yes. So my agency that I work for is the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administrationwhat i know is a bite, like that. BREMER: Okay, all right. Thanks a lot for this. ok audienceWe will now have our first poll. It is one which is one of the followingResponsibility of TIGTA? A, Audit or audit of tax returns, B, Threats to investigateIRS, C, Regulation of Foreign Investments or D, Administration of Tax Cuts and JOBS Act? So I amI'm going to give you a few more seconds here to re-read the question, look again at the answers,and then click the radio button that you think best answers this question. AndWe'll give everyone a few more seconds and make your selection. And we will stop thisPoll now and we'll share the correct answer on the next slide. And the correct answer is B,Investigate threats to the IRS. And I see that 90 percent of you answered correctlyGreat. Thank you audience and thank you Linda for explaining things well because they areget it. And I'm turning it over to you, Linda, to discuss circular 230. CIESLAK: OKgreat, thanks Karen, good job. So let's go ahead and talk about Circular 230.
Hopefully you're all somewhat familiar with this, but we'll get to that in a momentof details. Circular 230 is a 44-page document published by the IRS. It describes who ismay practice as an enrolled practitioner who may practice while not enrolled, andthe scope of their duties. It notes that not everyone is able to practice beforethe tax office. In addition, the admission requirements and the area of application for practice are describedany type of enrolled practitioner. It also outlines the rules for practice before the IRSand the procedure for sanctions and penalties for rule violations. All peoplelisted on this next slide are covered in Circular 230 and are eligible for practicebefore the IRS if the conditions discussed in 230 are met. I should mention when we talkWe're generally pretty lax about types of jobs that are practiced before the IRSinterchange the terms tax professional, tax preparer, tax practitioner and registered agent.
However, it should be clear that these terms can and do mean really different things, even if weUse them interchangeably somehow. A tax professional or tax preparer can be an unincorporated agent,However, a tax practitioner must specifically be a registered agent. A tax by definitionPraktiker includes all types of registered agents listed on this slide and theTerm enrolled agent, lowercase E, lowercase A also covers all. Let's talk about themIndividuals not eligible to practice before the IRS under Circular 230. First, just becauseFalling into one of the professions listed in the last slide does not mean youautomatically have the right to practice before the IRS. For example, if you are a lawyer andOnce your license has been revoked or suspended, you are not authorized to continue practicingthe IRS, and the same goes for CPAs or any other profession. Also every currentEmployees of the federal, judiciary, legislature or executive branch, even iftheir duties are not at all related to the administration of taxes, are not professionally qualifiedbefore the tax office. In particular, it should be emphasized that current IRS employees cannot practicebefore the IRS as either a registered or unregistered agent; however we see though it isviolates these rules, although it violates the IRS employee ethics rules, it is not uncommonthat IRS employees engage in tax preparation as a sideline where they prepare asGhost Preparer, meaning they refuse to sign the statement as a preparer, even though theyprepared it. When an IRS employee does this and participates in tax preparation in a way that he doesIf this is not the case, it is TIGTA's responsibility to investigate. And then finally specify employees whoseDuties relate to the administration of tax laws, even if they are not eligible under state tax lawsto practice before the IRS. However, as I mentioned earlier, there are instances where the registration has been deregisteredAgents can practice before the IRS. These situations are really clearly outlined in the Circular230. So if you have questions about whether or not you can practice and what you can or cannotdo, you should locate and read Circular 230, but practice before doing soIRS, unregistered agents must continue to follow all rules outlined in Circular 230.
Just because they aren't enrolled doesn't mean they don't have to be. And in general a taxpayer aTax Preparer I'm sorry, can represent a taxpayer if given the appropriate power of attorneyTaxpayers made through IRS Form 2848 Power of Attorney and Declarationrepresentative form. You can also represent a taxpayer if the taxpayer is physically presentwith you. Proceeding with reasons that make a person unfit before practicingIRS. First, any person convicted under the United States tax lawsHaving a federal crime under Title 26 of the Internal Revenue Code, generallya six-year statute of limitations, and then all Title 26 offenses generally have athree-year statute of limitations. To make it a little clearer for those who don't really knowDifference, a felony and a misdemeanor are really different basis of the possiblePrison sentence, which can be carried out for the crime, because crimes are often much more seriousCrime. They have a possible prison sentence of one year or more and the misdemeanors that tend to do soIn the case of less serious crimes, a prison sentence of less than one year is possible. We should talk about itTitle 26, which again, as I said, is the Internal Revenue Code. It is different from title 18 ofthe United States Code, the federal government's primary penal code. Under title 18, theCrimes and administrative offenses generally become statute-barred after five yearshave a general annual charter. So, to be perfectly clear, the interiorThe Revenue Code generally has a longer statute of limitations on all offenses than the regular onesCriminal Code, Federal Criminal Code. As I mentioned before, keep going with people who cando not practice before the IRS if you have been disbarredto the extent revoked, you can no longer represent clients before the IRS. And along the sameLines if the IRS's Office of Professional Responsibility, which we call the OPR, suspends your applicationto practice under Circular 230, then you are no longer entitled to represent your clients in courtof the IRS. I should add, if you're talking about being expelled or suspended, be careful if you areReceive support from someone and they have been expelled or suspended, they cannot afford itAssisting with all paperwork filed with the IRS. Also practice beforehandthe IRS must have approved your application for enrollment. Just because you appliedBeing an enrolled agent but not hearing anything yet doesn't mean you can start practicingbefore the tax office. Also, if you have been denied permission to become a registered agent thenYou must not appear as one. If you refuse to comply with any of the revenue procedures belowCircular 230 or you are violating an ethics rule, then there is a good chance that OPR will not allow you to do sodon't practice anymore. And finally, as I have said in the past, all Federal Employees Nomatter their duties are barred from performing before the IRS. So, Karen, I think this is aA good time to stop for another poll question. BREHMER: Yes, it's a good time for another questionelection question. OK. Audience, here is our second poll based on the informationThat's what Linda just shared, who can't practice before the IRS? Is it A, tax attorneys; B,appraiser; C, IRS clerk; or D, auditor? And again we searchwho cannot practice before the IRS. So take a minute, look at the question, look at the answersonce again. Then click the radio button that you think best answers that question.
Give you a few more seconds to make your selection. We will stop the poll now andWe share the correct answer on the next slide. And the right thing is C. IRS employees are not allowed to do thispractice before the IRS. And I see that 87 percent of you answered correctly. That's nicedamn good. Hey Linda, a question came in. Could you please repeat the website for TIGTA?
Can you tell us again what it is? CIESLAK: Yes. So our website is www.tigta.gov andthat is T-I-G-T-A. And at the end of the slideshow there is also a slide that has it allour contact details on it. Bremen: OK. Great. Thank you very much. In order. poll questionCompleted. I give you the floor for our next topic. CIESLAK: Okay. Great. SoundsGood. We will now talk a little more about unregistered creators. As I mentionedThe behavior of previous unregistered creators still falls under Circular 230. This slide kind of shows ita bit of what they're not allowed to do. Non-matriculated creators have a very strict rulewhat they are allowed to practice before the IRS. And they are not allowed to do any of the actions thatare listed on this slide. Moving on to the next slide, here are more tasks beyond thatthe area of the enrolled creator. And what I want to talk to you about is whether you are aware of itan unregistered creator who commits one of these violations and does one of the thingsoutside of their remit, it is best to either alert or inform TIGTAwarn the IRS's Office of Professional Responsibility, which we call the OPR. Contact informationfor OPR, as I just mentioned, will be on a slide at the end of this PowerPoint presentation. I also wantsay there are cases where penalties are imposed by the IRS on a taxpayer or a taxPreparers require that the IRS office that imposed them refer it internally to IRS OPR. And thisThese include cases such as promoting abusive tax breaks or aiding and abetting understatementof tax liability along with others. As we've already discussed, unregistered creators have a great deallimited power of attorney. You can act as a representative with a signed Form 2848, which in turnis a power of attorney form, or if they are accompanied by the taxpayer, they can only representbefore an investigating IRS officer. They cannot represent a taxpayer before the appeals, nor can theynational office. The IRS's Office of Professional Responsibility is the office that has beenAppointed on behalf of the IRS Commissioner not only to determine who is eligible to practicebefore the IRS, but also to set and enforce standards of competency and integrity for allPractitioner. Besides what we have already discussed, there are some other cases ofMisconduct that should be referred to OPR and now we will go through which cases you are referringto our to our office, to OPR and to the IRS CI. So TIGTA's role as a special agent, as aSpecial Agent at TIGTA, my job really is to be a fact finder. And that applies to all of oursinvestigations. Our investigations into tax practitioners, into IRS employees, don't careSpecifically, what we do, our role in relation to Circular 230 violations is that weInvestigations to determine the facts of the violation. We're writing a report on what we found andthen we forward the report to OPR, the Office of Professional Responsibility. We don't have themPower to take IRS disciplinary action or sanction against tax practitioners. Only IRS OPR hasthis power. However, we have authority in criminal matters involving tax practitionersrefer the case to the United States Attorney's Office for possible prosecution. An instance ofhow do OPR help, we recently investigated a man claiming to be a chartered accountant. He used the CPADesignation on his 2848 form, and I think he got away with it a few years, firstWe have this case that looks like it used an expired CPA license, so it didn'ta big deal, but it looked like he just didn't extend it. And while we investigated, weeventually discovered that he had never actually passed the CPA exam, despite trying many times,and he happened to have a really common name and found a CPA in another state andstarted using this man's CPA license number. Unfortunately for him, the real CPA passed away andhis driver's license eventually expired, and that's how we ended up catching him. And that was a casethat we referred to OPR to deal with that. Now we will go through some quick examples of itobjectionable conduct in Circular 230 for which a practitioner could be sanctioned by OPR, ordisciplined in other ways, and then we're going to talk about who to contact if youbecome aware of these violations. So a conviction is not just a crimeis considered objectionable conduct under any of the tax laws of the US Code, but also aConviction for an offense involving honesty or breach of trust will also be considereddubious behavior. All such violations, if known to you, will be addressed by OPR.
In addition, as a registered doctor, you are required to provide informationthe IRS if they request it. If you knowingly provide anyone with false or misleading informationTreasury Department officials, this is a violation of Circular 230 and should either, if it is criminal,reported to IRSCI or it should be reported to OPR for administrative purposes. Circular 230includes advertising and solicitation restrictions for enrolled practitioners to be discussedThey are all allowed to do to get new orders, to advertise for new customers. It says specificallythat a practitioner may not use any form of solicitation in relation to IRS mattersWorks that contain false, fraudulent or extortionate statements or misleading and deceptive claims.
As this is a violation of Circular 230. When you see other tax preparers, you taxWhen practitioners do this, it should be reported to the IRS OPR. I would even like to mention one caseWhile I want to make it clear that I'm not OPR, I don't work for OPR. I can not speakto their regular practice. We recently saw a case where OPR fined both of themand 12-month suspension followed by five-year probation for what they believe cheatingApplication for employment. In this particular case, the practitioner created false advertisingThis should lead potential customers to believe that the company has successfully helpedThousands of taxpayers that they employed multiple attorneys, registered agents, CPAs, and even multipleformer IRS employees. In fact, the company was just a practitioner, it was a registered agentand he was the only practitioner in the company, so he obviously puffed up what he couldDo. The advertising has also wrongly increased the chances of tax relief for customers through counterfeitingthe percentage of customers who received offers and compromises. And this was a case like I saidthat OPR has decided to take action. You cannot lead your customers in this direction eitherbelieve you can somehow obtain special clearance from the IRSthem, either because you have relationships with employees or for other reasons. You can notAttract clients by telling them there is something you can do because of your relationship with the IRSthat someone else can't. These violations should be reported to TIGTA if you are aware of theminvestigate. Karen, do you want to say something? BREHMER: Yes, that was just too good for meis interesting material you share about the kinds of things that can go wrong and where they happenshould be reported but just wondering if people are listening and maybe getting themconfused about where to report this thing or where to report this thing when your office comessomething that should go to a CI or should go to OPR or if these guys get something that shouldgo to your office. Do you share this information with each other in any way? CIESLAK:Yes. As part of our letter of intent that we have with the IRS, we have oneProcedures in place when we receive a complaint that we believe should belong to one of the IRSoffices, we will forward it to them. So don't worry too much about who to reportThings too, I'm just trying to help you all understand our jurisdiction and what we do. BREHMER:Yes. OK. Very interesting. In order. I think you have more things to explain, so I'll do itgive you back the word CIESLAK: Okay. Go on. Both injuries on the slideof Circular 230 are not only violations of Circular 230, but also criminal agencies. So asregistered agent if you willfully fail to file a federal tax return when attempting to evadeFederal taxes either for yourself or for your customers or if you propose an illegal evasion schemeTaxes, you will have big problems with IRS CI. These aren't just crimeswhich should be forwarded to IRS CI for possible criminal charges, but they are also sent toOPR to determine if the tax professional should be barred from exercising prior toIRS. I want to point out, and I think it's important to talk about, bullet point numberSecond, as a registered practitioner before the IRS, you practice what you do yourselfTaxes and how you manage your own taxes can affect your work. If you try to hide your ownFortune if you are trying to find another way to avoid taxes could definitely make it possible ortrick OPR into believing that you are incapable of representing your clients before the IRS. Certain types ofRegistered practitioners before the IRS have the ability to collect funds from clients andReferral to the IRS for payment. If you misuse or improperly transfer these funds,This is an investigation that TIGTA will pursue. Embezzlement is particularly punishableCriminal offense and we usually see this when tax professionals divert funds away from their clients in this wayare intended to deposit and use their own taxes in an account maintained by the tax professionaltheir own use. So I think Karen we're ready for our third poll.
BREHMER: Yes, it's time for our third question. And, audience, I'll give you a fewThis time I have more seconds to reply than I have for the first two. The question is which IRSdoes the office decide on admission to practice? A, Employee Conduct and Compliance Office; B, officeprofessional responsibility; C, Office for Worker Protection; or D, Taxpayer AdvocateService. So look at the question again, look at all the answers, find out which one you arethink is the best. Then click the radio button that you think best answers thisAsk. We'll give you a few more seconds to make your selection and we'll finish thatvote now. And we'll show you the correct answer on the next slide. And the right answeris B, Office of Professional Responsibility. And I see that 93 percent of you answeredright, that's great. Linda, I'll hand it back to you in a moment. CIESLAK:OK. Sounds good. Then we just keep going. Thanks Karen we will holdWe're talking about Circular 230 and issues under Circular 230, but we're going to go ahead and talkabout ethics and behavior that can cover more about your personal life and not just your own lifeprofessional life. So let's first speak to the IRS as tax practitioners. You areexpects you to conduct yourself professionally and personally.
Objectionable conduct, as defined in the “Ethics” section of Circular 230, includes conduct that is notspecifically linked to your professional duties. So this could be like an arrest, e.gFor example, when we saw a practitioner who drove drunk and was cited with a DWI, thisis considered disreputable behavior in your private life. Also disrespectful behaviorcontains published opinions against the government or against the IRS. I want to be very clear about thatdoesn't mean you can't like your political viewsFacebook, that's fine. This is more about things like when you write an articlepublished about the fall of the American government, or if you write an article yourselfact as tax protesters and publish articles on the legality of the tax system. ThisTypes of violations OPR would likely look at. Circular 230 also contains rules for fees thatunenrolled and enrolled practitioners are allowed to charge fees. They specifically say that theymay not charge unreasonable amounts. So what does that mean, right?
Unscrupulous means concretely that it is a conscience shock. So you shouldn't beCharging your customers an amount that seems totally unreasonable or unfair. you should becharge you with what the profession considers an honest fee for your work. As we havealso discusses enrolled preparers in obtaining permission to practice before the IRSagree to comply with Circular 230, which states that a practitioner is obligated in a proper and lawful mannerRequest by an IRS official to promptly provide records of information on any prior matterof IRS practitioners violating this rule should be reported to the OPRthey will take care of it. Practitioners should also not interfere with the law andLegal Efforts of the IRS. Interference can be anything from abusive language in attendancean IRS employee, making a false accusation about an IRS employee, threatening an IRS employee,or to provide false opinions or incompetent opinions on any matter arising before an IRSEmployees. All of these violations will be investigated by TIGTA. They fall under oursjurisprudence because they affect the integrity of the service. Bullet point number two on thatSlide, Circular 230 states that a preparer who determines that a customer has not met the requirementsthe tax law has to point out this error to the client immediately. So just make sure you seeeverything you do. next slide. I'm sure you all hear about due dateDiligent enough. I won't go into that, but it should be obvious to be surethat you exercise due diligence in preparing, approving and filing declarations.
If you know of a tax advisor or tax practitioner who is recklessly neglecting his or her dutiesCareful, this is something you should consider reporting to OPR. And I think we areWe're going to have a few examples of ethics and behavior, but first, Karen, why don't we do one morevoting question? BREHMER: Yes. Let's do another poll question. And audience, that's ourslast poll. According to Circular 230, indecent conduct includes A not doing sopromptly remit a customer's tax payments; B, accidentally made a mistake on the customer's tax return;C, knowingly dating or living with an IRS employee; or D, conviction for driving under theinfluence? So you should be pros by now, you know the drill. Take a moment, lookIf you answer this question again, look at those answers again and then select the radio button you wantbelieve most likely answers the question. We'll give you a few more seconds to make yoursselection and I'll be quiet for a few seconds. And we're going to stop the poll now. AndWe share the correct answer on the next slide. And the correct answer is D, belief forDriving under the influence of alcohol falls under conduct not specifically associated with that of a practitionerprofessional duties. And let's see what came in here as an answer. Okay, 51 percent. Thewas a tricky question. Linda, would you take a moment and explain why D is the correct answer?
CIESLAK: Yes, I will. And I think that we kind of thought this one would have something like thatanswer. And I think it's a tricky question. So if we speak specificallyhere about sleazy behavior we spoke about in someone's private life. So I thinkLooking at the answers, we can automatically rule out B and C. You are welcome to date an IRSstaff if you wish. Option A is considered a suspicious behavior issue per circular230, but we were talking specifically about the private life of a tax professional. And this iswhy option D is correct that this is considered disreputable conduct as a tax practitionerPart of your personal life, not your professional life. Does that make sense Karen? BREHMER:Yeah! That makes sense. Yes. So we're just reminding people to point out that they're meant to bepay attention to things they do in their personal lives as well as things they do professionallyLife because there are certain things that a person might do in their personal life that aIssue under Circular 230. Is that a fair statement? CIESLAK: Yes, that's a fair statement.
Bremen: OK. Great. In order. Well, thanks for the clarification and I'll turn the floorback to you. CIESLAK: Okay. Sounds good. We will continue with some examplesof ethics and conduct violations under Circular 230. So, as a tax practitioner, you can firstnot unduly delay any matter before the IRS and any violations of which you are awareIncidents should be reported to OPR. In addition, this is interesting when you passbeing a notary of record, which some of you can be if you have a document that you haveeither prepared or assisted in the preparation, you may not act as a notary and sign themdocument. Please find another notary who has not worked on the preparationit to provide these services for it. If this is seen on IRS documents, it will be reportedto handle OPR. As a registered doctor, you have special access to the tax returnInformation and IRS systems that the general public does not have. With this level ofThe responsibility lies in the responsibility to protect tax information in the same manner as the IRSemployees and that I am responsible for protecting tax information. You are responsibleto prevent unauthorized disclosure of return information. If you unlawfully disclose eitherthe tax return information in a way that you should not, or when you are attempting to gain accessReturning information that you should not have permission to access, both are criminalcriminal offenses and TIGTA will investigate and possibly bring charges against you. A goodexample we have here is a case that we have not had that recently of a tax professional who,tried to persuade and harass staff members to unseat the then-candidate during the last electionDonald Trump tax returns. Obviously, if the IRS employee had done it, this would have been acrimes against the worker. We would have opened a case against them but they didn't and the taxPreparer, who tried very seriously to persuade them, was investigated by TIGTA. SoEnrolled agents have fairly specific rules for representing clients with conflicting interests.
This can only happen when the practitioner has the ability to do so with an open mind, and he has succeeded in doing soexpress consent by their customers of both parties and have a signed consent of both parties.
If not, you should refer someone to OPR if you know someone who doesn'thandle. And to talk again about an OPR case that I want to mention again, I'm not an OPR, Ican't speak to their normal practices, but we saw one instance where OPR censored a taxpractitioner for violating a conflict of interest rule. The practitioner in this case wasinstructed by a customer to take certain actions required by a settlement agreement between theclients and third parties. The settlement agreement directed transfers from the client to theThird party, and the practitioner was aware of these conditions. The practitioner then knowinglyprovided the third party with misleading information on which the third party relied, and the likeTrust and the resulting damage to the third party was definitely foreseeable for the practitioner.
OPR ruled that because the practitioner had knowingly provided misleading information, he had broken the regulationsthe duty of care towards the third party. And like I said, they scolded him. As weDiscussed Circular 230 addresses advertising rules for tax professionals trying to become newCompany, that's the second bullet point here. Violations of any of these rules shouldreported to OPR. An example we had recently, continue to the next slideTo talk about prospecting and advertising, we recently had an example from a company that shippedissued a letter soliciting new customers but making it appear as if the company was part of the IRS. Shehad a logo on it that looked like a government agency logo, although it definitely wasn'tIRS logo. The letter said the taxpayer owed thousands of dollars. The letter namedsomething like the claims office, which makes it sound like the IRS. And although it wasn'ta fraudulent letter, they never said they were the IRS. It was definitely misleading andcalling convinced customers who probably wouldn't have called, thinking it was the IRS.
So this is a matter that would be investigated by OPR. So this is the last of our examples.
Now let's recap who to contact and what we cover. Hopefully this chart is somehowmakes it a little clearer for you if it wasn't already clear. TIGTA, this is my agency, we are themFinancial Inspector General for Tax Administration. IRSCI is the criminal arm of the IRS, criminalInvestigative arm, and then IRS OPR is the Office of Professional Responsibility. You are thethose who oversee all enrolled agents. Our contact information for all three offices can be found belowhere below. When you contact TIGTA, there are a few things you should know. You firstmay remain anonymous when you call us or write us a letter. If you wantplease make sure to include anything you can think of related to yoursComplaint because it's difficult for us to investigate if we can't contact you and we don't know whatyou talk about This is our hotline, the 1-800 number. This is our postal address inD.C. even though we're across the country. The last thing I want to mention is TIGTAswebsite, www.tigta.gov, has an online complaint form. And this is the form where you or aThe customer became a victim of an IRS impersonation scheme. This is where you should go and fill it outFill out the form with all your information and someone from your local office will get in touch with youyou for more details on what happened. Bremen: OK. Thank you Linda We areNext I will do the Q&A section. First of all, I would like to thank everyone for participatingToday's Circular 230 Ethical Guidance for Tax Professionals presentation. And Linda is itwith us and she will answer your questions in a minute. If you haven't entered yoursquestions, there is still time. Go ahead and click the Ask a Question button, enter yoursquestion and click Submit. Well, one thing before we start, I know we won't have timeto answer all questions submitted, but we will answer as many as time allows. If you areParticipation to earn a certificate and associated continuing education credits for which you qualifyone credit if you attend at least 50 minutes after the webinar's official start time.
And that means the first few minutes of chatting we did before the hourdo not count towards those 50 minutes. OK, Linda, let's get started so we can reach as many as possiblequestions as possible. CIESLAK: Okay. BREHMER: A question that came in, yes, how many taxpayersWho threatens IRS employees, has ever been prosecuted, or are they just cautioned? CIESLAK: Yes,so I guess I can't tell you exactly how many were charged. I can saythat case matters. Every one of them we will bring and present to the US AttorneyPublic prosecutor. And then it's really up to the US Attorney's Office if they want thatprosecute or not. I can say that we have seen many of them prosecuted,but usually the taxpayers really regret what they said and they didn't understand what they wereThat was illegal, so we go out and explain it to them and it's sort of dealt withSituation. So it really depends on how bad the threat was I guess. BREHMER: OK, good,Alright, that's interesting to hear that answer. This question came in, you mentioned the fakeLetters and such, TIGTA investigates scams where someone poses as an IRS employeeor create a fake IRS letter? CIESLAK: We definitely do. This is a big part of oursjurisdiction. Of all the IRS scams you hear about, the big phone scams, TIGTA is the only oneagency that is investigating this and we've had some good press lately about the closure of themajor call centers in India running these scams. And we definitely have that toosmaller, like local scams with people creating fake letters, fake IRS letters and these toofall under our jurisdiction and we will, if we can, find out who did it and attempt to prosecute him.
BREHMER: OK, great. And you've mentioned phone scams here more than once, but you wouldThey tell us again how people report phone scams when they get these calls from people who aresay they are from the IRS? CIESLAK: Yes, absolutely. I kind of think you want to reportit to TIGTA is fine. The easiest way to do this is through our website www.tigta.gov. We have aComplaint form specifically for phone scams. And it just asks you like everyoneinformation you have, who called, what name they gave, what number they called from,how you paid them, how much you paid them, and then that basically goes to our national office,and we are keeping a database of all of them to see if we can see the bigger picture of these scams,but then each one is referred to a local office to contact the victim. I shallSay put it out there, it's very hard to get money back from these scams. BREHMER: Yes. Iheard that too. My niece actually lost a few hundred dollars to one of these phone scamsUnfortunately. CIESLAK: I'm sorry. BREHMER: She didn't call her aunt first, I didguess. So when people get the phone scam and they know it's a scam so they hang upno money lost. Does it still benefit them or does TIGTA benefit from reporting these things?that you can see where these come from? CIESLAK: Yes. So, like I said, we keep aDatabase of all phone scam information we receive to see if there is any connectionbetween calls.. so I don't think it's really worth taking the time to call, so just add,as in a quick online form with the number calling you so we have it in oursRecords. That can definitely be helpful, because you never know. But if you are not a victimIt's not important that you report it. BREHMER: Okay, that's fine, that's helpful.
Linda, a question came in, a series of questions came in and I happen to know the answer to thatthis question. CIESLAK: Okay, do it. BREHMER: So it's OK, I'll do this. A numberof people asked about the difference between unregistered return preparers andenrolled returnee, Circular 230 preparer, or individuals having annual filing seasonprogram participant. And they want to know who they could represent and to whomParts of the IRS? If any of you are wondering about this, there is a page on irs.gov. II'll give you the title of this page because it's quite long and I'll repeat it a few timesjust. The site understands the credentials and credentials of the tax preparer, OK. So thePage is again understanding the credentials and qualifications of the tax preparer. You can leaveirs.gov, type the entire sentence in the search box and you will find this page. And the reasonIt will help you in that it informs you about unrestricted agency rightshave registered agents, CPAs and attorneys. It speaks of limited representation rights forAnnual Login Seasonal Program participants and PTIN holders or unregistered creators. So forthose of you who have this question, it is answered in detail on this page. A second placeto go is the guide for form 2848, there is similar and detailed information about itAsk. So I covered that. Let's get back to the questions for you here, Linda. CIESLAK:That was great. That was helpful. Thanks Karen BREHMER: OK, you're welcome. CIESLAK: Goin advance. BREHMER: I worked for social security as a claims representativeIntern. Would that have stopped me from practicing before the IRS? CIESLAK: Yes. That isan interesting question because if you're a former government employee it can really depend. SoWhile you were working for the Social Security Administration you would have been disqualifiedHowever, I suspect that at the time you were working for the Social Security Administration you were not getting bytax matters. So, having left, it wouldn't be so difficult for you to start practicing now.
I don't really want to go into detail because it's quite detailed, but Circular 230 is whereI will point this out to you. It has rules for when someone leaves the federal government andgoes into private practice about what they are allowed and not allowed to do. Especially ifThey worked for the IRS and they worked on certain tax matters for how long after they leftgovernment service, they can start working on this matter in the private sector, and so onKind of waiting time you need in between. So that's a good place to go and read if that's the caseapplies to you. Bremen: OK. All right, great. Thank you very much. Linda, some people have asked me to do thisRepeat the name of this page in irs.gov, I'll get back to you with any questions. CIESLAK: Goread. BREHMER: The site on irs.gov understands the credentials of the tax preparer andqualifications. I said that too quickly. Understand information about the preparer of the tax return andQualifications, there is good information there. OK. Back to you Linda. I like this question Igotta ask you CIESLAK: OK. BREHMER: Do TIGTA agents carry weapons? CIESLAK: We carryWeapons. Yes. Bremen: OK. CIESLAK: I just got my gun. We are like everyone elseSpecial agents out there, we've got full law enforcement capabilities, so we're executing warrants, wehave arrest powers, we carry guns. I know it's not as strong as the FBI, but we arestill have it BREHMER: That's right. OK. Many people asked questions about the notaryPublic matter, can you explain when they can and cannot sign the document as thatNotary? CIESLAK: Yes. If you have worked on a document, if you have worked on or contributed to its preparationPreparing a document to be filed with the IRS then you cannot sign as a notarythis document. You need to find another notary for that. So if you had input to thatmaterial matters relating to the document, and if you require further clarification, I am, as always, at your disposalI will refer you to Circular 230 to read the rules and make sure you are on boardObservance. BREHMER: Okay, great, thanks. Another question when an accountant has previous clientsor non-customers who have committed tax evasion, there is nothing in the ethics policy about thisprevents the tax preparer from reporting what they know to the IRS, TIGTA, or OPR? CIESLAK:OK, that's a tough question. I don't want to misrepresent this. I don't know 100 percentthe answer to that. I think OPR would probably be the right place for you to ask thisis something you've been working on. I know you have more, especially as lawyersharder for you because you have attorney-client privilege, so I won't tell you, yeah,it's okay, or no, it's not okay. I would say either contact your licensing body and do what they doSay or contact OPR for information on how to do this. BREHMER: Okay, and that's a good thing. I am sorry, that istumped you with a question that wasn't. CIESLAK: That's fine. BREHMER: That's all right. You saidGuys, where to go, where to find these answers, that's great. Another questionThis happened quite often because people saw these adverts on TV or on the radioLower your tax liability with the IRS. And they kind of want to know if that's a violation or notPerhaps you can explain what things TIGTA would look for if you do thatInvestigation to determine if the venture went too far or if, no, it wasn't so badOK CIESLAK: Yes, I mean, of course you can advertise, right? It is the question ofhow misleading you are in your advertising or how much you talk yourself upThings that didn't really happen. So if you say all our customers reduce theirsLiability by 30 percent, and that's really not true, or more than half what you really areoverdo it, it becomes a big problem. There are really special features in thereCircular 230 on what you can and cannot say about advertising. And I would say if you areCommercials on TV, really make sure you read this and understand what you can and can't do.
But I mean just advertising on TV isn't a violation, it's just a matter of what to be careful ofyou say. BREHMER: Okay, that's fine. Another question that came in here, I don't know if youcan address this issue should a CPA contact OPR when convicted of DUI? I don't know. Youknow what I'm sure this question can happen, that's fine. CIESLAK: No, I mean I will say Iwould assume that OPR would comment on this. I don't know what the attitude is, but I mean if youIf you are a CPA and have had a DUI conviction then you should definitely contact your localAccounting committee I think. Don't quote me. I don't know 100 percent. And so it can beThe same goes for OPR, but I'm not 100 percent aware of their stance. I know if they find outit, they will examine it. BREHMER: Yes, okay. And that's interesting again, even your answersto our questions or to remind us, TIGTA, you look at what happened, you are a fact finder, youMake a report, you send it to OPR and they are the ones to decide, so your answeractually helped solidify what your role is and where your role ends and OPR's role begins.
CIESLAK: Good, good, I'm glad. BREHMER: Yes. And that's all the time we have for questions.
So I want to thank you again Linda for sharing your knowledge and experience in answeringthe questions. CIESLAK: Thank you for having me. BREHMER: Yes, we want to give you a chanceTell us some key points you want to leave with the audience. CIESLAK: Okay, sounds goodThere are a few I want to go through pretty quickly, so I know we're running out of time.
First, you as an accountant, as a tax professional, you are the first line of defenseFraud and corruption in the tax administration because you are out there working with taxpayers. IfIf you see anything, please let us know. We will also say that you are uniqueable to identify problems with the IRS systems and their processes. when you seeSystematic issues or what appears to be an internal control issueto the IRS, please report the TIGTA and maybe we can help fix it. Also report TIGTA everyoneMisconduct by your employees or by IRS employees, I'm sorry, or by other tax preparers. And thenalso report to TIGTA any allegations of a potential risk to the safety of IRS employees. If youYou have a taxpayer you work with or a client you work with who sayssomething like when this employee comes in and talks to me and like I'm going to hurt them, I do itare going to do something and you're really worried that they're actually going to do somethingPlease report it to us. And then finally warn your customers about the phone scam, make sure they do itknow who to contact and make sure they know the IRS won't call you and they understandAs for the scams, in particular, lately we have seen many scams that target the elderly eitheror immigrants. So if you have clients that fall into these categories, just make sure it's youthey warn. And that's about it, so back to you Karen. Thank you for having me today.
BREHMER: OK, great. Thank you Linda and target group, we are planning further webinarsduring the whole year. To register for upcoming IRS webinars, please visit irs.gov and use theKeyword webinars, and then you can select webinars for tax practitioners or webinars forsmall businesses. And yes, we will offer certificates and CE credits for other coming oneswebinars. You can also visit the IRS video portal at www.irsvideos.gov. We want to rememberYou will not be offered the continuing education credits or diplomas if you display onearchived version of one of our webinars after the live broadcast, even if you view the IRSvideo portal. Thanks again to Linda for a great webinar and I want to thank you tooour attendees for attending today's webinar Ethical Guidelines for Tax Professionals UnderCircular 230. If you attended today's webinar at least 50 minutes after it officially startedtime you will receive a certificate of completion that you can use with your certificationOrganization for a possible CPE credit. If you are eligible for further educationIRS and registered with your valid PTIN, your funds will be credited to your PTIN account. If youEligible for continuing education through the California Tax Education Councilbe posted to your C-TECH account. If you are registered through the Florida Institute of CPAsYour entry information will be provided directly to you. If you qualify and don't haveIf you received your certificate or credit by September 19, please email us email@example.com . And the email address is also displayed on the slide. If youIf you would like to know who your local stakeholder contact is, you can email usUse the address provided on this slide and we will send you this information. There is a pollWe would appreciate if you would take a few minutes to write a short review in front of youExit. If you would like to have more sessions like this let us know. If you have thoughtshow we can improve them, please let us know as well. If you have any wishes for the futureWebinar topics or relevant information you would like to see in an IRS Fact Sheet, Fact Tip or FAQon irs.gov, simply add these suggestions to the comments section of the survey. Everyone who clickedClick the poll button on the left side of your screen to begin, if you don't see it check itMake sure you have disabled your pop-up blocker. It was my pleasure to be here with you. And furtherOn behalf of the Internal Revenue Service and our moderator Linda, we would like to thank youattend today's webinar. It is important that the IRS stay in touch with the taxProfessional community, industry associations, federal, state and local authoritiesand individual taxpayers. You make our job a lot easier by sharing the information that makes this possiblefor the proper tax return. Thank you again for your time and presence, and we wish you the bestsuccess in your company or practice. You can leave the webinar at this point.
What is a Circular 230 tax professional? ›
Circular 230 provides ethical guidance for all tax preparers. CPAs, attorneys, and enrolled agents (EAs) who are in good standing with the IRS are authorized to provide any tax-related services to clients, assuming that the CPA, attorney, or EA is competent to perform those services.In what ways does Circular 230 affect a tax practitioners business? ›
Circular 230 prohibits a practitioner from using any form of public communication or private solicitation containing a false, fraudulent, or deceptive statement or claim (Circular 230, §10.30(a)).What are the four best practices under Circular 230? ›
- Establishing the facts;
- Determining relevancy;
- Evaluating reasonableness of assumptions or representations;
- Relating applicable law to relevant facts; and.
- Arriving at a conclusion supported by the law and the facts.
=Under Circular 230, contingent fees are permitted if disclosed in writing. =Paid preparers must inform the client if the client has made an error in a document submitted to the IRS.What are Circular 230 requirements? ›
Circular 230 defines “practice” and who may practice before the IRS; describes a tax professional's duties and obligations while practicing before the IRS; authorizes specific sanctions for violations of the duties and obligations; and, describes the procedures that apply to administrative proceedings for discipline.What is the difference between a tax preparer and a tax professional? ›
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a licensed professional with advanced education and training in many areas of accounting and business. A licensed tax preparer does not need advanced degrees for basic tax prep, but must show competence through a formal exam or IRS employment.What is not allowed under Circular 230? ›
Circular 230 contains rules of conduct in preparing tax returns. Persons preparing tax returns must not: Take a position on a tax return unless there is a realistic possibility of the position being sustained on its merits. Frivolous tax return positions are prohibited.Who issues Circular 230 which tax practitioners are regulated by it? ›
Effective June 20, 2005, new rules were issued by the U.S. Treasury Department to govern the conduct of tax practitioners, including lawyers and accountants. These rules are set forth in regulations known as “Circular 230”.What is not considered practice before the IRS per Circular 230? ›
Practitioner may not represent a client before the IRS if the representation involves a “conflict of interest.”What is reasonable basis Circular 230? ›
If a practitioner has advised the client with respect to a position or signed a return that is reasonably likely to give rise to a penalty, Circular 230 requires the practitioner to inform the client of the potential for penalties and of any opportunity to avoid such penalties by disclosure.
Is Circular 230 disclosure still required? ›
Then the IRS decided in about 2014 to require that tax practitioners stop using the Circular 230 disclaimer, so this was done, but the other disclaimers about confidentiality and misdirected email were retained. That's how we got to where we are, with many people using automatically added email disclaimers.What is Circular 230 conflict of interest? ›
Circular 230, the Treasury regulations governing ethical standards applicable to practice before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), deals with conflicting interests at Section 10.29 (31 C.F.R. §10.29). It forbids federal tax practitioners (a defined term that includes CPAs) from having conflicts of interest.What responsibilities to tax preparers have to act ethically? ›
Must not make fraudulent, untrue, or misleading statements or representations that are intended to induce a person to use their tax preparation services. Must not obtain the signature of a customer on a tax return or authorizing document that contains blank spaces to be filled in after it has been signed.Are Tax Preparers held accountable? ›
Tax Preparer Liability
Thus, for example, if a tax preparer committed an error–intentionally or unintentionally–on Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1041s, or 1065 (partnership) and 1041 (grantor trusts), the preparer was liable. Today, since 2007, a tax preparer will be liable for errors committed on any return.
If your tax preparer makes a mistake resulting in you having to pay additional taxes, penalties or interest, you have to pay these fees — not your tax preparer. Since it is your tax returns, it's your responsibility.Why is a CPA better than a tax preparer? ›
Since CPAs have advanced financial training, they may provide more services to their clients than tax preparers. They often work with individuals and companies to analyze their financial data and help them manage expenses. They may also assist with investments, audits, taxes and financial planning.What can CPAs do that others are not allowed to? ›
A CPA can represent taxpayers and companies in the event of an audit. While accountants can prepare tax returns, only a CPA can defend a return if the IRS or state tax authorities have questions or concerns.Is an EA higher than a CPA? ›
In fact, enrolled agent status is the highest credential awarded by the IRS. On the other hand, certified public accountants are licensed by their applicable state boards of accountancy.Which organization provides ethical obligations for tax professionals? ›
The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) webinars cover tax practice regulations, diligence obligations and professional responsibilities for tax professionals.What are the primary sources of ethical requirements for tax practitioners? ›
The primary source of ethics in tax practice is often the judgment of each tax professional, based on the information and circumstances of the situation. All practitioners are governed by Circular 230 and the Internal Revenue Code, and some by the AICPA or ABA Professional Standards.
What must tax preparers do under Circular 230 Subpart B? ›
A practitioner must exercise due diligence in (i) preparing IRS returns and documents, (ii) determining the correctness of representations made to the IRS and (iii) determining the correctness of representations made to their client [Section 10.22(a)].What does the IRS consider professional services? ›
This category of pay includes payments for professional services, such as fees of an attorney, physician, or accountant made directly to the person performing the services. It also includes honoraria paid by colleges and universities to visiting teachers, lecturers, and researchers.What is reasonable basis for a tax position? ›
Taxpayers have a reasonable basis when the taxpayer's position is supported by at least one authority. Reasonable basis is a relatively high standard of tax reporting, that is significantly higher than not frivolous or not patently improper.What does the IRS consider reasonable cause? ›
Fires, natural disasters or civil disturbances. Inability to get records. Death, serious illness or unavoidable absence of the taxpayer or immediate family. System issues that delayed a timely electronic filing or payment.What are the major changes to Circular 230? ›
Regulations issued in June amend Circular 230, eliminating the unpopular covered opinion rules and replacing them with more flexible standards for providing written tax advice, which apply generally to any federal tax matter.What is Circular 230 disclosure? ›
The IRS issued rules (known as “Circular 230”) that affect how tax professionals communicate with clients. The rules, which took effect in June 2005, apply whenever a practitioner provides written advice, including e-mails, faxes and letters, on tax issues.When was Circular 230 last updated? ›
Circular 230 was last revised in 2014, and it is time again to update it to address the many changes in the profession since then.What is considered professional services by the IRS? ›
This category of pay includes payments for professional services, such as fees of an attorney, physician, or accountant made directly to the person performing the services. It also includes honoraria paid by colleges and universities to visiting teachers, lecturers, and researchers.What is considered practice before the IRS per Circular 230? ›
Usually, attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), and enrolled agents may represent taxpayers before the IRS. Enrolled retirement plan agents, and enrolled actuaries may represent with respect to specified Internal Revenue Code sections delineated in Circular 230.