Acts of dishonesty can cost a tax practitioner his or her ability to practice before the IRS. Charles M. Edgar (“Edgar”), formerly a licensed CPA and attorney in Massachusetts, recently learned this lesson.
On May 1, 2014, the Service issued a news release (“IR-2014-58”), announcing the disbarment of Edgar. While the saga of Edgar is long and somewhat convoluted, it illustrates a significant point—failure to act honestly in matters before the IRS constitutes a violation of Circular 230. It will cost you severely.
The Secretary of Treasury has express authority to regulate practice before the IRS, including the power to suspend or disbar an individual from practice before the Service for failing to comply with Circular 230. In such instances, the practitioner must be provided notice and an opportunity for a hearing before an administrative law judge.
Circular 230 grants the Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility authority to bring proceedings to suspend or disbar practitioners from practice before the Service. Generally, an administrative law judge, not the Office of Professional Responsibility, determines the appropriate sanction, if any, taking into consideration all relevant facts and circumstances.
Circular 230 specifically provides that a practitioner may be sanctioned for giving “false or misleading” information to the Treasury or any officer or employee thereof. For this purpose, “information” means any facts or statements made in testimony, on federal tax returns, financial statements, and other documents or statements (written or oral).
Circular 230 also provides that a practitioner may be sanctioned if he or she is disbarred or suspended from practice as an attorney, CPA, PA, or actuary.
Larry J. Brant
Larry J. Brant is a Shareholder and the Chair of the Tax & Benefits practice group at Foster Garvey, a law firm based out of the Pacific Northwest, with offices in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; New York, New York, Spokane, Washington; and Beijing, China. Mr. Brant practices in the Portland office. His practice focuses on tax, tax controversy and transactions. Mr. Brant is a past Chair of the Oregon State Bar Taxation Section. He was the long-term Chair of the Oregon Tax Institute, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Portland Tax Forum. Mr. Brant has served as an adjunct professor, teaching corporate taxation, at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College. He is an Expert Contributor to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst. Mr. Brant is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel. He publishes articles on numerous income tax issues, including Taxation of S Corporations, Reasonable Compensation, Circular 230, Worker Classification, IRC § 1031 Exchanges, Choice of Entity, Entity Tax Classification, and State and Local Taxation. Mr. Brant is a frequent lecturer at local, regional and national tax and business conferences for CPAs and attorneys. He was the 2015 Recipient of the Oregon State Bar Tax Section Award of Merit.