(1) Tax Court cases are NOT responsive here because an important purpose of RA 5 is to make sure that you are or become familiar with the other federal courts that handle taxpayer vs. IRS litigation. It is okay if it's a federal appeals court and the case had started out in Tax Court (thus "Commissioner" rather than "United States" in the caption). Just not a T.C. or T.C. Memo case as your only source.
(2) Be sure that the 7525 issue is centered on tax advice from a CPA or accounting firm. Nothing originating with a law firm. Nothing resembling financial statement audit workpapers or anything else other than tax advice, which typically in these cases will be taking the form of a written tax opinion that the IRS is trying to get its hands on through the pretrial discovery process.
It would be unusual — not unheard of, but unusual — for a 7525 case to involve only single document — a tax opinion and nothing else at all. Most 7525 cases involve multiple documents that the IRS is trying to get its hands on. It doesn't matter what the court decides as to any other documents. The only thing that matters in this assignment is the Court's 7525-based decision as to tax advice that had been communicated to a client by a CPA or accounting firm. That's what matters. What happens as to any other documents irrelevant.
ACCT 6356.501 Tax Research – Fall 2022
RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT 5
Other Federal Courts
( Please submit as a Word document by email by 4:00 p.m. next Thursday, 9/29. )
This assignment is worth up to a maximum of five (5) points. Your answer should be written in your own words without any “cutting & pasting” from the source doc-ument(s) you cite except that very brief quotations are acceptable if properly attri-buted.
Points will be deducted for, among other things, (i) spelling and grammatical er-rors that Word highlighted but you failed to correct and (ii) other egregious errors, including substantive misstatements.
Any submissions received after 4:00 p.m. are worth a maximum of three (3) points. Submissions not received by 7:00 p.m. will not be scored (zero points).
Consult the Citation Style guide in the Syllabus. Be sure to include your name on your work.
* * * *
The common-law attorney-client privilege has a statutory counterpart that is available to CPAs: Code § 7525 (Confidentiality privileges relating to taxpayer communications). Section 7525 offers the same protection(s) for tax-related communications between a “federally authorized tax practitioner” and her or his client that the attorney-client privilege provides for communicated legal advice.
Sadly, there is relatively rampant misunderstanding of the circumstances and extent of the protection provided by the § 7525 privilege – just as there is, by the way, for the attorney-client privilege itself. Most misunderstandings lean toward over-optimism that the privilege is available and applicable to particular commu-nications in the first place. There also is wide misunderstanding of the fragility of the privilege even where it unquestionably was applicable in the first instance.
Locate, properly cite, and nicely summarize two federal court cases ( not from the Tax Court) dealing with the § 7525 privilege as applicable to written tax advice that a CPA (or accounting firm) had provided to a client, corporate or human.
The first case should be one holding that the privilege is applicable and does protect the subject advice against IRS “discovery” efforts. The other case should hold just the opposite – that is, that the privilege either (i) was not applicable in the first place or (ii) was waived if initially applicable.
Your summaries should be detailed enough that the reasons for the courts’ deci-sions are clear – in other words, that after reading your summary I don’t feel the need to find and read the actual case in order to understand exactly what you’re trying to tell me as to what happened and why.
Note: Many cases involving the § 7525 privilege also deal with the so-called “work product doctrine.” That doctrine is beyond the scope of this assignment and should not be discussed.
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