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Regulations Governing Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Office of the Secretary, Treasury.

ACTION:

Final regulations.

SUMMARY:

This document contains final regulations governing practice before the Internal Revenue Service (Circular 230). These regulations affect individuals who are eligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. These regulations modify the general standards of practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

DATES:

Effective Date: These regulations are effective July 26, 2002.

Applicability Date: For dates of applicability, see § 10.91.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Brinton Warren at (202) 622-4940.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Paperwork Reduction Act

The collection of information contained in these final regulations has been reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) under control number 1545-1726. The collection of information in these final regulations is in §§ 10.6, 10.29, and 10.30.

Section 10.6 requires an enrolled agent to maintain records and educational materials regarding his or her satisfaction of the qualifying continuing professional education credit. Section 10.6 also requires sponsors of qualifying continuing professional education programs to maintain records and educational material concerning these programs and those who attended them. The collection of this material helps to ensure that individuals enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Start Printed Page 48761Service are informed of the newest developments in Federal tax practice.

Section 10.29 requires a practitioner to obtain and retain for a reasonable period written consents to representation whenever such representation conflicts with the interests of the practitioner or the interests of another client of the practitioner. The consents are to be obtained after full disclosure of the conflict is provided to each party. Section 10.30 requires a practitioner to retain for a reasonable period any communication and the list of persons to whom that communication was provided with respect to public dissemination of fee information. The collection of consents to representation and communications concerning practitioner fees protects the practitioner against claims of impropriety and ensures the integrity of the tax administration system.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid control number.

Books or records relating to a collection of information must be retained as long as their contents might become material in the administration of any internal revenue law. Generally, tax returns and tax return information are confidential, as required by 26 U.S.C. 6103.

Background

Section 330 of title 31 of the United States Code authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to regulate the practice of representatives before the Treasury Department. The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized, after notice and an opportunity for a proceeding, to suspend or disbar from practice before the Department those representatives who are, inter alia, incompetent, disreputable, or who violate regulations prescribed under section 330 of title 31. Pursuant to section 330 of title 31, the Secretary has published the regulations in Circular 230 (31 CFR part 10). These regulations authorize the Director of Practice to act upon applications for enrollment to practice before the Internal Revenue Service, to make inquiries with respect to matters under the Director of Practice's jurisdiction, to institute proceedings for suspension or disbarment from practice before the Internal Revenue Service, and to perform such other duties as are necessary to carry out these functions.

The regulations have been amended from time to time to address various specific issues in need of resolution. For example, on February 23, 1984, the regulations were amended to provide standards for providing opinions used in tax shelter offerings (49 FR 6719). On October 17, 1985, the regulations were amended to conform to legislative changes requiring the disqualification of an appraiser who is assessed a penalty under section 6701 of the Internal Revenue Code for aiding and abetting the understatement of a tax liability (50 FR 42014). The regulations were most recently amended on June 20, 1994 (59 FR 31523), to provide standards for tax return preparation, to limit the use of contingent fees in tax return or refund claim preparation, to provide expedited rules for suspension, and to clarify or amend certain other items.

On June 15, 1999, an advance notice of proposed rulemaking was published (64 FR 31994) requesting comments on amendments to the regulations that would take into account legal developments, professional integrity and fairness to practitioners, taxpayer service, and sound tax administration. On May 5, 2000, an advance notice of proposed rulemaking was published (65 FR 30375) requesting comments on amendments to the regulations relating to standards of practice governing tax shelters and other general matters. On January 12, 2001, a notice of proposed rulemaking (REG-111835-99) was published (66 FR 3276) that proposed amendments to the regulations, requested comments on the proposed amendments, and announced a public hearing on the subject of the proposed amendments. The January 12, 2001 notice of proposed rulemaking addressed both general matters pertaining to practice before the Internal Revenue Service and also matters pertaining specifically to tax shelter opinions. A public hearing was held on these proposals on May 2, 2001. The final regulations in this document encompass only those proposals addressing non-tax shelter related matters pertaining to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. Accordingly, this document does not contain final regulations governing standards for tax shelter opinions. The standards that currently govern tax shelter opinions remain in effect. The Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service intend to issue a second notice of proposed rulemaking that re-proposes amendments for such standards. The Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service also intend to issue an additional advance notice of proposed rulemaking that will cover additional non-tax shelter matters pertaining to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. Many of the matters covered by the advance notice of proposed rulemaking will be distinct from those that have been the focus of the non-tax shelter revisions of Circular 230 to this point, e.g., matters concerning unenrolled practice and whether the use of contingent fee arrangements should be further restricted.

Summary of Comments

Fifty-one written comments were received concerning revisions to Circular 230. All comments were considered and are available for public inspection upon request. These comments addressed both the tax shelter and non-tax shelter related proposed amendments. Many commentators expressed general support for amending Circular 230. The following paragraphs provide a summary of significant comments concerning the non-tax shelter proposals.

One commentator recommended specific language for proposed § 10.6 with respect to determining credits for continuing professional education through distance learning programs, and another recommended that the standards for continuing professional education classes be modified to include more diverse subjects beyond those strictly related to taxation, such as in the fields of financial services and practice management.

With regard to unenrolled practice under proposed § 10.7(c)(1)(viii), one commentator argued that a restriction on the right of non-practitioners to practice hampers the ability of taxpayers to obtain a speedy and inexpensive resolution of matters before the Internal Revenue Service. In contrast, some commentators recommended that unenrolled practice as permitted by § 10.7(c)(1)(viii) be further restricted or eliminated outright. One of these commentators suggested that it is not appropriate to allow a tax return preparer who may not have demonstrated knowledge of tax law or tax procedure to represent a taxpayer during an examination merely because the preparer has signed the return under examination.

A number of commentators expressed concern regarding the information to be furnished to the Internal Revenue Service under proposed § 10.20. Commentators were concerned that the proposal is overly burdensome, puts an improper affirmative obligation on a practitioner, fails to respect privileged communications, and impairs a represented taxpayer's right to challenge an unlawful request for information by the Internal Revenue Service. Particular concern was expressed as to the removal Start Printed Page 48762of the phrase “of doubtful legality,” appearing in the current section governing the topic.

Commentators both supported and criticized the proposed amendment to § 10.21 regarding a practitioner's duties when discovering a client's error or omission on a return, claim for refund, or other document. Two commentators suggested that the proposal to mandate that a practitioner advise a client regarding the consequences of not taking corrective action was a good one, but should be expanded to include advice regarding the consequences of taking corrective action. Some commentators criticized the proposal on the ground that it would require some practitioners to offer advice beyond their competence.

Commentators suggested that the Internal Revenue Service's interpretation of § 10.26 is too strict and thus imposes obligations on the firms of former government employees that are more burdensome than the related criminal statute.

With regard to the proposed clarification of the prohibition on contingent fees in § 10.27, one commentator was supportive of the clarification, but recommended further amendments to address ambiguities, uncertainties, and opportunities for abuse with regard to the section's application. Another commentator urged that the section be amended so that contingent fees can be charged for advice regarding return positions on original returns when the practitioner reasonably anticipates that the return position will be substantively reviewed by the Internal Revenue Service prior to the filing of the return.

A number of commentators expressed concern regarding the proposed amendment in § 10.28 that would require a practitioner to return a client's records upon a client's request regardless of a dispute over fees. One commentator recommended that the section distinguish between records pertaining to tax and non-tax matters because Circular 230 should not attempt to regulate a practitioner's conduct with respect to non-tax matters. A number of commentators urged that the section be revised to distinguish more completely the records of the client from the practitioner's work product, so that a client may not take advantage of a practitioner by obtaining the practitioner's work product without paying for it. A number of commentators objected to the section on the grounds that it conflicts with state laws governing attorneys' liens.

With regard to the proposal regarding representation of conflicting interests in § 10.29, many commentators expressed concern with the use of the word “potential” to modify “conflicting interests,” arguing that the use of the word made the section's application too ambiguous. A number of commentators objected to the proposal that consents from taxpayers be in writing, some arguing that the requirement could create disharmony among clients. Some commentators observed that the section incongruously failed to require written consents when the conflict arises with the practitioner's own interest.

Some commentators objected to the proposal in § 10.30 to prohibit enrolled agents from using the term licensed in describing their professional designation. These commentators argued that the term “licensed” is not misleading to the public and does accurately describe the professional status of enrolled agents.

With regard to the proposal to add censure as a sanction available under Circular 230, as proposed in § 10.50, some commentators questioned the statutory authority for the censure sanction. One commentator expressed concern that the censure sanction as proposed did not fulfill the role of an intermediate sanction because the remedial conditions proposed for censured practitioners appear to be of indefinite duration.

With regard to proposed § 10.53, governing the receipt of information by the Director of Practice concerning practitioners, some commentators recommended that the section provide for the destruction of information determined to be frivolous and also establish a timetable for the Director of Practice's destruction of records in general.

With regard to the proposed amendments in Subpart D, governing the conduct of disciplinary proceedings under Circular 230, one commentator praised the proposal to merge the provisions governing proceedings for appraisers into the same subpart. One commentator urged that the standard of proof in a Circular 230 hearing be specified, and that such standard should be one of clear and convincing evidence. This commentator also recommended that Subpart D be amended to provide for additional discovery procedures.

Explanation of Provisions

The final regulations adopted in this document concern only the non-tax shelter related provisions as proposed in the January 12, 2001, notice of proposed rulemaking. The Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service intend to issue a second notice of proposed rulemaking that re-proposes amendments for the standards governing tax shelter opinions.

Who May Practice

Paragraph (d)(2) of § 10.3 of the regulations adopts the proposed changes that expanded the list of issues with respect to which an enrolled actuary is authorized to represent a taxpayer in limited practice before the Internal Revenue Service. The list is expanded to include issues involving 26 U.S.C. 419 (treatment of funded welfare benefits), 419A (qualified asset accounts), 420 (transfers of excess pension assets to retiree health accounts), 4972 (tax on nondeductible contributions to qualified employer plans), 4976 (taxes with respect to funded welfare benefit plans), and 4980 (tax on reversion of qualified plan assets to employer).

Enrollment

Section § 10.6 sets forth the conditions and process for renewal of enrollment to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. One condition for renewal of enrollment is that the enrolled agent complete a minimum number of hours of continuing professional education in programs comprised of current subject matter in Federal taxation or Federal tax related matters. The final regulations do not adopt the commentator's suggestion to expand the subjects of qualifying tax programs to non-tax related matters, nor do they adopt the suggested language for determining distance learning credits.

Section § 10.6 as adopted differs from the proposed section in that it incorporates a system of rolling renewals for enrollment. The year in which enrolled agents will be required to apply for renewal of enrollment will vary based on the last digit of the enrolled agent's social security number. This change is ministerial only and is made in order to balance the workflow involved in processing renewals.

The final regulations adopt new paragraph 10.6(a) that clarifies that enrollment and the renewal of enrollment of actuaries is also governed by the regulations of the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries at 20 CFR 901.1 et seq.

Unenrolled Practice

The final regulations adopt the provisions governing unenrolled practice as proposed in paragraph 10.7(c)(viii). This amendment preserves the scope of unenrolled practice as it has existed and only makes non-substantive changes in nomenclature that are necessitated by the Start Printed Page 48763organizational restructuring of the Internal Revenue Service.

Information To Be Furnished

Section 10.20 of the regulations adopts the proposed changes in modified form. Paragraph (a) of § 10.20 requires a practitioner to respond promptly to a proper and lawful request for records and information, unless the practitioner believes in good faith and on reasonable grounds that the records or information are privileged. The right and ability of practitioners to resist efforts that the practitioner believes to be of doubtful legality is preserved. The phrase “of doubtful legality” was excised from § 10.20 merely to eliminate the redundancy in the section's text, which requires requests from the Internal Revenue Service to be “proper and lawful,” not to effectuate a substantive change with regard to a practitioner's ability to resist efforts by the government to obtain documents or information that are irrelevant to an inquiry, confidential, privileged, or otherwise immune from compulsion.

The final regulations adopt, with amendment and clarification, the proposed amendment to require a practitioner to provide information regarding the identity of persons the practitioner reasonably believes may have possession or control of requested documents. The requirement, in paragraph (a)(2) of § 10.20, applies only when requested records or information are not in the possession or control of the practitioner or the practitioner's client. The paragraph is modified from its proposed form to clarify that the practitioner's duty is limited only to making reasonable inquiry of the practitioner's client and that there exists no obligation on the practitioner to make inquiry of any other person or to independently verify information provided by a client.

The right and ability of a practitioner to resist a request by the Director of Practice regarding an alleged violation of Circular 230 that the practitioner believes to be of doubtful legality is similarly unchanged in paragraph (b), which requires practitioners to provide information to the Director of Practice regarding the alleged violations of Circular 230 by any person. An alleged violation under paragraph (b) is not limited to a violation that is the subject of a proceeding under subpart D, for the necessary reason that the Director of Practice should be able to obtain evidence regarding alleged violations to determine whether they merit formal charges.

Knowledge of Client's Omission

Section 10.21 of Circular 230 has historically required a practitioner to advise a client promptly of any noncompliance, error, or omission. The proposed rules expanded the practitioner's duty under § 10.21 to include providing advice to the client regarding the manner in which the error or omission might be corrected and the possible consequences of a failure to take such corrective action. Rather than adopting § 10.21 as proposed, the final regulations modify the preexisting duty by simply requiring that, in addition to notifying the client of the fact of the noncompliance, error, or omission, the practitioner advise the client of the consequences as provided under the Code and regulations of the noncompliance, error, or omission. This change requires practitioners to provide information that taxpayers who consult tax professionals typically expect to receive.

Diligence as to Accuracy

The final regulations adopt the proposed clarification in § 10.22 that a practitioner is presumed to have exercised due diligence if the practitioner relies on the work product of another person and the practitioner uses reasonable care in engaging, supervising, training, and evaluating such person, taking proper account of the relationship between the practitioner and the person. It is expected that practitioners will use common sense and experience in guiding their conduct under this section. The section applies both in the context of a firm and in circumstances involving a practitioner's engagement of an outside practitioner. For example, in circumstances in which a practitioner must hire another practitioner for a specialized or complicated matter, such practitioner's duty under the section will be more focused on the reasonable care taken in the engagement of the specialist. Supervising and training are not part of a practitioner's engagement of a specialist. Conversely, in the context of a firm, the section's application will focus more on supervising and training, if there is an issue with regard to a supervisory practitioner's reliance on a subordinate. Finally, the presumption of due diligence provided by this section does not apply for purposes of § 10.33 and § 10.34, governing tax shelter opinions and standards for advising with respect to tax return positions, respectively, which have their own rules concerning due diligence.

Practice by Former Government Employees, Their Partners and Their Associates

The final regulations adopt without change the proposed amendments found in § 10.25 (former § 10.26) governing the restrictions on the practice of former Government employees, their partners, and their associates with respect to matters that the former Government employees participated in during the course of their Government employment. This section reflects changes to the Federal statutes governing post-employment restrictions applicable to former Government employees. The former § 10.25, governing the practice of partners of former Government employees, is removed, as was proposed, because the statutory prohibition implemented by the provision was repealed.

Contingent Fees

The final regulations adopt the proposed clarification governing the prohibition on contingent fees in connection with advice rendered in connection with a position taken or to be taken on an original tax return. The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service remain concerned regarding the use of contingent fees and will request further public comments regarding contingent fees in the upcoming advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

Return of Client's Records

The final regulations adopt, with substantial changes, the proposed amendment to § 10.28 that requires a practitioner to return a client's records upon the client's request, regardless of a fee dispute. As recommended by one commentator, the section's application is restricted by paragraph (a) to the client's records that are necessary for the client to comply with his or her Federal tax obligations.

Further, as recommended by a number of commentators, the term records of the client is defined to exclude items such as returns or other documents prepared by the practitioner that the practitioner is withholding pending the client's payment of fees for those documents. These changes are incorporated to protect practitioners from being disadvantaged or compromised by clients seeking to obtain an unfair advantage under this section. In consideration of various state laws that may permit liens on a client's records in favor of practitioners during the course of fee disputes, the regulations provide that a practitioner must only return those records that Start Printed Page 48764must be attached to the client's return if a fee dispute has triggered an applicable state lien provision. The practitioner, however, must provide the client access to review and copy any of the client's records retained by the practitioner under state law that are necessary for the client to comply with his Federal tax obligations.

Conflicting Interests

The final regulations adopt the amendments as proposed in § 10.29, with modification. The modifier potential has been removed in the identification of conflicts of interest. The final regulations have been modified from the proposed regulations to conform more closely with the approach of the recently revised Model Rule 1.7 of the American Bar Association Rules of Professional Conduct. Section 10.29 requires a client to give informed consent, confirmed in writing, to representation by a practitioner when the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client or there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the practitioner's responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the practitioner. The adoption of this requirement results in parallel application to conflicts with another client and conflicts with the practitioner's own interest. The section requires a practitioner to retain the written consent for at least 36 months after the conclusion of the representation and to provide the written consents to the Internal Revenue Service, if requested to do so.

Solicitation

The final regulations adopt some but not all of the changes to the solicitation standards from the proposed regulations. Under the final regulations, a practitioner is prohibited from making written and oral solicitations of employment in matters related to the Internal Revenue Service if such solicitations would violate Federal or State statutes or other rules applicable to the practitioner regarding the uninvited solicitation of prospective clients. For example, if an attorney is prohibited under that attorney's governing State bar rules from making a certain type of uninvited solicitation, the attorney's uninvited solicitation with respect to a matter related to the Internal Revenue Service will constitute a violation of § 10.30. Conversely, if such a solicitation is permissible under the relevant State bar rule, the making of the solicitation with respect to a matter related to the Internal Revenue Service is permissible under § 10.30.

Section 10.30 also expands the prohibition of deceptive and other improper solicitation practices to cover private, as well as public, solicitations. The final regulations provide that a practitioner may not, in matters related to the Internal Revenue Service, assist, or accept assistance from, any person or entity who, to the knowledge of the practitioner, obtains clients, or otherwise practices in a manner forbidden under this section.

In consideration of the comments received, the final regulations do not adopt the change that would have prohibited enrolled agents from using the term licensed in describing their professional designation. The Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service recognize the valuable services provided by the over thirty-thousand enrolled agents in the United States, but want to ensure that the respective roles of enrolled agents, attorneys and certified public accountants are understood by taxpayers. The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service will solicit comments in an advance notice of proposed rulemaking regarding whether an additional designation may be employed to describe the professional services of enrolled agents.

Sanctions

The final regulations adopt the additional sanction of censure, which is defined as a public reprimand, as proposed in the amendments to § 10.50. The sanction of censure is not listed with disbarment or suspension in 31 U.S.C. 330(b), but the authority of the Secretary to regulate practice before the Internal Revenue Service is not limited to those specific sanctions. A censure sanction is authorized by the general grant of authority to “regulate the practice of representatives of persons before the Department of the Treasury” as provided in 31 U.S.C. 330(a). Additionally, the final regulations are modified in § 10.79 to clarify that suspended representatives may be subject to conditions and the conditions placed upon suspended or censured practitioners may only be imposed for a period that is reasonable in light of the gravity of a practitioner's violations.

Disreputable Conduct

Section 10.51 defines disreputable conduct for which a practitioner may be censured, suspended, or disbarred. Such disreputable conduct includes the filing of a complaint against Internal Revenue Service personnel under section 1203 of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, if the practitioner knows the complaint is false. Similarly, disreputable conduct also includes knowingly advancing frivolous arguments in collection due process hearings, or in connection with offers in compromise, installment agreements, or the appeals process. Additionally, the definition of disreputable conduct is amended, as proposed, to include conviction of any felony involving conduct that renders the practitioner unfit to practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

Receipt of Information Concerning Practitioner

The final regulations incorporate provisions for the destruction of documents by the Director of Practice. Section 10.53 of the final regulations requires the Director of Practice to destroy reports as soon as permissible under the applicable record control schedules approved by the National Archives and Records Administration and designated in the Internal Revenue Manual.

Evidence that alleges practitioner misconduct, but which is on its face without merit, should not be maintained in a manner that falsely conveys a willingness of the Director of Practice to use such evidence at an indefinite time in the future. This same principle applies to evidence that merits investigation, but is eventually determined to be insufficient to justify the initiation of disciplinary proceedings. If the currently applicable records control schedule proves to be unsuitable in assuring fairness to practitioners, or if it proves to be unworkable given the demands placed upon the Director of Practice, the Internal Revenue Service will initiate the public process required to request a change of the records control schedule through the National Archives and Records Administration.

Consolidation of Appraiser Disqualification Rules

The final regulations adopt without change the consolidation of the virtually identical rules applicable to disciplinary proceedings against practitioners and appraisers that heretofore have been separately set out in separate subparts. The final regulations consolidate the rules regarding sanctions of practitioners and appraisers under subpart D.

Various Aspects of Disciplinary Proceedings

The final regulations adopt the proposed rules of subpart D regarding the conduct of disciplinary proceedings Start Printed Page 48765largely without change. In response to the request of a commentator, § 10.76 has been modified to specifically provide that the standard of proof in Circular 230 proceedings is that of a preponderance of the evidence, if the sanction sought by the Director of Practice is censure or a suspension of less than six month's duration. If the Director of Practice seeks a sanction of disbarment or a suspension of six months or longer or the disqualification of an appraiser, the standard of proof is clear and convincing evidence. The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service conclude that the preponderance of evidence standard is justified in the case of the less severe sanctions of censure and suspension of a short duration. When the Director of Practice seeks a more significant sanction, the clear and convincing evidence standard is adopted to protect the interests of the practitioner.

Effective Date

These regulations are effective on July 26, 2002.

Special Analyses

It has been determined that these regulations are not a significant regulatory action as defined in Executive Order 12866. Therefore, a regulatory assessment is not required. It is hereby certified that these regulations will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because the general requirements, including the collection of information requirements, of these regulations are substantially the same as the requirements of the regulations that these regulations replace. Persons authorized to practice have long been required to comply with certain standards of conduct when practicing before the Internal Revenue Service. These regulations do not alter the basic nature of the obligations and responsibilities of these practitioners. These regulations clarify those obligations in response to public comments and judicial decisions, and make other modifications to reflect the development of electronic media. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 6) is not required. Pursuant to section 7805(f) of the Internal Revenue Code, this notice of proposed rulemaking was submitted to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration for comment on its impact on small businesses.

Drafting Information

The principal authors of these regulations are Richard S. Goldstein and Brinton T. Warren, of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Procedure and Administration), Administrative Provisions and Judicial Practice Division.

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List of Subjects in 31 CFR Part 10

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Adoption of Amendments to the Regulations

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Accordingly,

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1. The table of contents reads as follows:

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PART 10—PRACTICE BEFORE THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

10.0
Scope of part.
Subpart A—Rules Governing Authority to Practice
10.1
Director of Practice.
10.2
Definitions.
10.3
Who may practice.
10.4
Eligibility for enrollment.
10.5
Application for enrollment.
10.6
Enrollment.
10.7
Representing oneself; participating in rulemaking; limited practice; special appearances; and return preparation.
10.8
Customhouse brokers.
Subpart B—Duties and Restrictions Relating to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service
10.20
Information to be furnished.
10.21
Knowledge of client's omission.
10.22
Diligence as to accuracy.
10.23
Prompt disposition of pending matters.
10.24
Assistance from or to disbarred or suspended persons and former Internal Revenue Service employees.
10.25
Practice by former Government employees, their partners and their associates.
10.26
Notaries.
10.27
Fees.
10.28
Return of client's records.
10.29
Conflicting interests.
10.30
Solicitation.
10.31
Negotiation of taxpayer checks.
10.32
Practice of law.
10.33
Tax shelter opinions.
10.34
Standards for advising with respect to tax return positions and for preparing or signing returns.
Subpart C—Sanctions for Violation of the Regulations
10.50
Sanctions.
10.51
Incompetence and disreputable conduct.
10.52
Violation of regulations.
10.53
Receipt of information concerning practitioner.
Subpart D—Rules Applicable to Disciplinary Proceedings
10.60
Institution of proceeding.
10.61
Conferences.
10.62
Contents of complaint.
10.63
Service of complaint; service and filing of other papers.
10.64
Answer; default.
10.65
Supplemental charges.
10.66
Reply to answer.
10.67
Proof; variance; amendment of pleadings.
10.68
Motions and requests.
10.69
Representation; ex parte communication.
10.70
Administrative Law Judge.
10.71
Hearings.
10.72
Evidence.
10.73
Depositions.
10.74
Transcript.
10.75
Proposed findings and conclusions.
10.76
Decision of Administrative Law Judge.
10.77
Appeal of decision of Administrative Law Judge.
10.78
Decision on appeal.
10.79
Effect of disbarment, suspension, or censure.
10.80
Notice of disbarment, suspension, censure, or disqualification.
10.81
Petition for reinstatement.
10.82
Expedited suspension upon criminal conviction or loss of license for cause.
Subpart E—General Provisions
10.90
Records.
10.91
Saving clause.
10.92
Special orders.
10.93
Effective date.
Start Authority

Authority: Sec. 3, 23 Stat. 258, secs. 2-12, 60 Stat. 237 et. seq.; 5 U.S.C. 301, 500, 551-559; 31 U.S.C. 321; 31 U.S.C. 330.

End Authority
Scope of part.

This part contains rules governing the recognition of attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, and other persons representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. Subpart A of this part sets forth rules relating to the authority to practice before the Internal Revenue Service; subpart B of this part prescribes the duties and restrictions relating to such practice; subpart C of this part prescribes the sanctions for violating the regulations; subpart D of this part contains the rules applicable to disciplinary proceedings; and subpart E of this part contains general provisions including provisions relating to the availability of official records.

End Part Start Amendment Part

2. In part 10, subpart A is revised to read as follows:

End Amendment Part

Subpart A—Rules Governing Authority to Practice

Director of Practice.

(a) Establishment of office. The Office of Director of Practice is established in the Office of the Secretary of the Treasury. The Director of Practice is Start Printed Page 48766appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her designate.

(b) Duties. The Director of Practice acts on applications for enrollment to practice before the Internal Revenue Service; makes inquiries with respect to matters under his or her jurisdiction; institutes and provides for the conduct of disciplinary proceedings relating to attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, enrolled actuaries and appraisers; and performs other duties as are necessary or appropriate to carry out his or her functions under this part or as are prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her delegate.

(c) Acting Director of Practice. The Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her delegate, will designate an officer or employee of the Treasury Department to act as Director of Practice in the absence of the Director or a vacancy in that office.

Definitions.

As used in this part, except where the text clearly provides otherwise:

(a) Attorney means any person who is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, including a Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.

(b) Certified public accountant means any person who is duly qualified to practice as a certified public accountant in any State, territory, or possession of the United States, including a Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.

(c) Commissioner refers to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

(d) Practice before the Internal Revenue Service comprehends all matters connected with a presentation to the Internal Revenue Service or any of its officers or employees relating to a taxpayer's rights, privileges, or liabilities under laws or regulations administered by the Internal Revenue Service. Such presentations include, but are not limited to, preparing and filing documents, corresponding and communicating with the Internal Revenue Service, and representing a client at conferences, hearings, and meetings.

(e) Practitioner means any individual described in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), or (d) of § 10.3.

(f) A tax return includes an amended tax return and a claim for refund.

(g) Service means the Internal Revenue Service.

Who may practice.

(a) Attorneys. Any attorney who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the Internal Revenue Service may practice before the Internal Revenue Service by filing with the Internal Revenue Service a written declaration that he or she is currently qualified as an attorney and is authorized to represent the party or parties on whose behalf he or she acts.

(b) Certified public accountants. Any certified public accountant who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the Internal Revenue Service may practice before the Internal Revenue Service by filing with the Internal Revenue Service a written declaration that he or she is currently qualified as a certified public accountant and is authorized to represent the party or parties on whose behalf he or she acts.

(c) Enrolled agents. Any individual enrolled as an agent pursuant to this part who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the Internal Revenue Service may practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

(d) Enrolled actuaries. (1) Any individual who is enrolled as an actuary by the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries pursuant to 29 U.S.C. 1242 who is not currently under suspension or disbarment from practice before the Internal Revenue Service may practice before the Internal Revenue Service by filing with the Internal Revenue Service a written declaration stating that he or she is currently qualified as an enrolled actuary and is authorized to represent the party or parties on whose behalf he or she acts.

(2) Practice as an enrolled actuary is limited to representation with respect to issues involving the following statutory provisions in title 26 of the United States Code: sections 401 (relating to qualification of employee plans), 403(a) (relating to whether an annuity plan meets the requirements of section 404(a)(2)), 404 (relating to deductibility of employer contributions), 405 (relating to qualification of bond purchase plans), 412 (relating to funding requirements for certain employee plans), 413 (relating to application of qualification requirements to collectively bargained plans and to plans maintained by more than one employer), 414 (relating to definitions and special rules with respect to the employee plan area), 419 (relating to treatment of funded welfare benefits), 419A (relating to qualified asset accounts), 420 (relating to transfers of excess pension assets to retiree health accounts), 4971 (relating to excise taxes payable as a result of an accumulated funding deficiency under section 412), 4972 (relating to tax on nondeductible contributions to qualified employer plans), 4976 (relating to taxes with respect to funded welfare benefit plans), 4980 (relating to tax on reversion of qualified plan assets to employer), 6057 (relating to annual registration of plans), 6058 (relating to information required in connection with certain plans of deferred compensation), 6059 (relating to periodic report of actuary), 6652(e) (relating to the failure to file annual registration and other notifications by pension plan), 6652(f) (relating to the failure to file information required in connection with certain plans of deferred compensation), 6692 (relating to the failure to file actuarial report), 7805(b) (relating to the extent to which an Internal Revenue Service ruling or determination letter coming under the statutory provisions listed here will be applied without retroactive effect); and 29 U.S.C. 1083 (relating to the waiver of funding for nonqualified plans).

(3) An individual who practices before the Internal Revenue Service pursuant to paragraph (d)(1) of this section is subject to the provisions of this part in the same manner as attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents.

(e) Others. Any individual qualifying under paragraph (d) of § 10.5 or § 10.7 is eligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service to the extent provided in those sections.

(f) Government officers and employees, and others. An individual, who is an officer or employee of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the United States Government; an officer or employee of the District of Columbia; a Member of Congress; or a Resident Commissioner may not practice before the Internal Revenue Service if such practice violates 18 U.S.C. 203 or 205.

(g) State officers and employees. No officer or employee of any State, or subdivision of any State, whose duties require him or her to pass upon, investigate, or deal with tax matters for such State or subdivision, may practice before the Internal Revenue Service, if such employment may disclose facts or information applicable to Federal tax matters.

Eligibility for enrollment.

(a) Enrollment upon examination. The Director of Practice may grant enrollment to an applicant who demonstrates special competence in tax matters by written examination administered by, or administered under the oversight of, the Director of Practice and who has not engaged in any conduct that would justify the censure, suspension, or disbarment of any practitioner under the provisions of this part. Start Printed Page 48767

(b) Enrollment of former Internal Revenue Service employees. The Director of Practice may grant enrollment to an applicant who, by virtue of his or her past service and technical experience in the Internal Revenue Service, has qualified for such enrollment and who has not engaged in any conduct that would justify the censure, suspension, or disbarment of any practitioner under the provisions of this part, under the following circumstances—

(1) The former employee applies for enrollment to the Director of Practice on a form supplied by the Director of Practice and supplies the information requested on the form and such other information regarding the experience and training of the applicant as may be relevant.

(2) An appropriate office of the Internal Revenue Service, at the request of the Director of Practice, will provide the Director of Practice with a detailed report of the nature and rating of the applicant's work while employed by the Internal Revenue Service and a recommendation whether such employment qualifies the applicant technically or otherwise for the desired authorization.

(3) Enrollment based on an applicant's former employment with the Internal Revenue Service may be of unlimited scope or it may be limited to permit the presentation of matters only of the particular class or only before the particular unit or division of the Internal Revenue Service for which the applicant's former employment has qualified the applicant.

(4) Application for enrollment based on an applicant's former employment with the Internal Revenue Service must be made within 3 years from the date of separation from such employment.

(5) An applicant for enrollment who is requesting such enrollment based on his or her former employment with the Internal Revenue Service must have had a minimum of 5 years continuous employment with the Internal Revenue Service during which he or she must have been regularly engaged in applying and interpreting the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder relating to income, estate, gift, employment, or excise taxes.

(6) For the purposes of paragraph (b)(5) of this section, an aggregate of 10 or more years of employment in positions involving the application and interpretation of the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, at least 3 of which occurred within the 5 years preceding the date of application, is the equivalent of 5 years continuous employment.

(c) Natural persons. Enrollment to practice may be granted only to natural persons.

Application for enrollment.

(a) Form; address. An applicant for enrollment must file an application on Form 23, “Application for Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service,” properly executed under oath or affirmation, with the Director of Practice. The address of the applicant entered on Form 23 will be the address under which a successful applicant is enrolled and is the address to which the Director of Practice will send correspondence concerning enrollment. An enrolled agent must send notification of any change to his or her enrollment address to the Director of Practice, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20224, or at such other address specified by the Director of Practice. This notification must include the enrolled agent's name, old address, new address, social security number or tax identification number, signature, and the date.

(b) Fee. The application for enrollment must be accompanied by a check or money order in the amount set forth on Form 23, payable to the Internal Revenue Service, which amount constitutes a fee charged to each applicant for enrollment. This fee will be retained by the United States whether or not the applicant is granted enrollment.

(c) Additional information; examination. The Director of Practice, as a condition to consideration of an application for enrollment, may require the applicant to file additional information and to submit to any written or oral examination under oath or otherwise. The Director of Practice will, on written request filed by an applicant, afford such applicant the opportunity to be heard with respect to his or her application for enrollment.

(d) Temporary recognition. On receipt of a properly executed application, the Director of Practice may grant the applicant temporary recognition to practice pending a determination as to whether enrollment to practice should be granted. Temporary recognition will be granted only in unusual circumstances and it will not be granted, in any circumstance, if the application is not regular on its face, if the information stated in the application, if true, is not sufficient to warrant enrollment to practice, or if there is any information before the Director of Practice indicating that the statements in the application are untrue or that the applicant would not otherwise qualify for enrollment. Issuance of temporary recognition does not constitute enrollment to practice or a finding of eligibility for enrollment, and the temporary recognition may be withdrawn at any time by the Director of Practice.

(e) Appeal from denial of application. The Director of Practice must inform the applicant as to the reason(s) for any denial of an application for enrollment. The applicant may, within 30 days after receipt of the notice of denial of enrollment, file a written appeal of the denial of enrollment with the Secretary of the Treasury or his or her delegate. A decision on the appeal will be rendered by the Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her delegate, as soon as practicable.

Enrollment.

(a) Roster. The Director of Practice will maintain rosters of all individuals—

(1) Who have been granted active enrollment to practice before the Internal Revenue Service;

(2) Whose enrollment has been placed in inactive status for failure to meet the requirements for renewal of enrollment;

(3) Whose enrollment has been placed in inactive retirement status;

(4) Who have been censured, suspended, or disbarred from practice before the Internal Revenue Service;

(5) Whose offer of consent to resign from enrollment to practice before the Internal Revenue Service has been accepted by the Director of Practice under § 10.61; and

(6) Whose application for enrollment has been denied.

(b) Enrollment card. The Director of Practice will issue an enrollment card to each individual whose application for enrollment to practice before the Internal Revenue Service is approved after July 26, 2002. Each enrollment card will be valid for the period stated on the enrollment card. An individual is not eligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service if his or her enrollment card is not valid.

(c) Term of enrollment. Each individual enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service will be accorded active enrollment status subject to his or her renewal of enrollment as provided in this part.

(d) Renewal of enrollment. To maintain active enrollment to practice before the Internal Revenue Service, each individual enrolled is required to have his or her enrollment renewed. Failure by an individual to receive notification from the Director of Practice Start Printed Page 48768of the renewal requirement will not be justification for the failure to satisfy this requirement.

(1) All individuals licensed to practice before the Internal Revenue Service who have a social security number or tax identification number that ends with the numbers 0, 1, 2, or 3, except for those individuals who received their initial enrollment after November 1, 2003, must apply for renewal between November 1, 2003, and January 31, 2004. The renewal will be effective April 1, 2004.

(2) All individuals licensed to practice before the Internal Revenue Service who have a social security number or tax identification number that ends with the numbers 4, 5, or 6, except for those individuals who received their initial enrollment after November 1, 2004, must apply for renewal between November 1, 2004, and January 31, 2005. The renewal will be effective April 1, 2005.

(3) All individuals licensed to practice before the Internal Revenue Service who have a social security number or tax identification number that ends with the numbers 7, 8, or 9, except for those individuals who received their initial enrollment after November 1, 2005, must apply for renewal between November 1, 2005, and January 31, 2006. The renewal will be effective April 1, 2006.

(4) Thereafter, applications for renewal will be required between November 1 and January 31 of every subsequent third year as specified in paragraph (d)(1), (2) or (3) of this section according to the last number of the individual's social security number or tax identification number. Those individuals who receive initial enrollment after November 1 and before April 2 of the applicable renewal period will not be required to renew their enrollment before the first full renewal period following the receipt of their initial enrollment.

(5) The Director of Practice will notify the individual of his or her renewal of enrollment and will issue the individual a card evidencing enrollment.

(6) A reasonable nonrefundable fee may be charged for each application for renewal of enrollment filed with the Director of Practice.

(7) Forms required for renewal may be obtained from the Director of Practice, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20224.

(e) Condition for renewal: Continuing professional education. In order to qualify for renewal of enrollment, an individual enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service must certify, on the application for renewal form prescribed by the Director of Practice, that he or she has satisfied the following continuing professional education requirements.

(1) For renewed enrollment effective after March 31, 2004. (i) A minimum of 16 hours of continuing education credit must be completed during each calendar year in the enrollment term.

(2) For renewed enrollment effective after April 1, 2007. (i) A minimum of 72 hours of continuing education credit must be completed during each three year period described in paragraph (d)(4) of this section. Each such three year period is known as an enrollment cycle.

(ii) A minimum of 16 hours of continuing education credit, including 2 hours of ethics or professional conduct, must be completed in each year of an enrollment cycle.

(iii) An individual who receives initial enrollment during an enrollment cycle must complete two (2) hours of qualifying continuing education credit for each month enrolled during the enrollment cycle. Enrollment for any part of a month is considered enrollment for the entire month.

(f) Qualifying continuing education— (1) General. To qualify for continuing education credit, a course of learning must—

(i) Be a qualifying program designed to enhance professional knowledge in Federal taxation or Federal tax related matters, i.e., programs comprised of current subject matter in Federal taxation or Federal tax related matters, including accounting, tax preparation software and taxation or ethics; and

(ii) Be conducted by a qualifying sponsor.

(2) Qualifying programs—(i) Formal programs. A formal program qualifies as continuing education programs if it—

(A) Requires attendance. Additionally, the program sponsor must provide each attendee with a certificate of attendance; and

(B) Requires that the program be conducted by a qualified instructor, discussion leader, or speaker, i.e., a person whose background, training, education and experience is appropriate for instructing or leading a discussion on the subject matter of the particular program; and

(C) Provides or requires a written outline, textbook, or suitable electronic educational materials.

(ii) Correspondence or individual study programs (including taped programs). Qualifying continuing education programs include correspondence or individual study programs that are conducted by qualifying sponsors and completed on an individual basis by the enrolled individual. The allowable credit hours for such programs will be measured on a basis comparable to the measurement of a seminar or course for credit in an accredited educational institution. Such programs qualify as continuing education programs if they—

(A) Require registration of the participants by the sponsor;

(B) Provide a means for measuring completion by the participants (e.g., a written examination), including the issuance of a certificate of completion by the sponsor; and

(C) Provide a written outline, textbook, or suitable electronic educational materials.

(iii) Serving as an instructor, discussion leader or speaker. (A) One hour of continuing education credit will be awarded for each contact hour completed as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker at an educational program that meets the continuing education requirements of paragraph (f) of this section.

(B) Two hours of continuing education credit will be awarded for actual subject preparation time for each contact hour completed as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker at such programs. It is the responsibility of the individual claiming such credit to maintain records to verify preparation time.

(C) The maximum credit for instruction and preparation may not exceed 50 percent of the continuing education requirement for an enrollment cycle.

(D) An instructor, discussion leader, or speaker who makes more than one presentation on the same subject matter during an enrollment cycle, will receive continuing education credit for only one such presentation for the enrollment cycle.

(iv) Credit for published articles, books, etc. (A) Continuing education credit will be awarded for publications on Federal taxation or Federal tax related matters, including accounting, financial management, tax preparation software, and taxation, provided the content of such publications is current and designed for the enhancement of the professional knowledge of an individual enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

(B) The credit allowed will be on the basis of one hour credit for each hour of preparation time for the material. It is the responsibility of the person claiming the credit to maintain records to verify preparation time.

(C) The maximum credit for publications may not exceed 25 percent Start Printed Page 48769of the continuing education requirement of any enrollment cycle.

(3) Periodic examination. (i) Individuals may establish eligibility for renewal of enrollment for any enrollment cycle by—

(A) Achieving a passing score on each part of the Special Enrollment Examination administered under this part during the three year period prior to renewal; and

(B) Completing a minimum of 16 hours of qualifying continuing education during the last year of an enrollment cycle.

(ii) Courses designed to help an applicant prepare for the examination specified in paragraph (a) of § 10.4 are considered basic in nature and are not qualifying continuing education.

(g) Sponsors. (1) Sponsors are those responsible for presenting programs.

(2) To qualify as a sponsor, a program presenter must—

(i) Be an accredited educational institution;

(ii) Be recognized for continuing education purposes by the licensing body of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, including a Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.

(iii) Be recognized by the Director of Practice as a professional organization or society whose programs include offering continuing professional education opportunities in subject matters within the scope of paragraph (f)(1)(i) of this section; or

(iv) File a sponsor agreement with the Director of Practice and obtain approval of the program as a qualified continuing education program.

(3) A qualifying sponsor must ensure the program complies with the following requirements—

(i) Programs must be developed by individual(s) qualified in the subject matter;

(ii) Program subject matter must be current;

(iii) Instructors, discussion leaders, and speakers must be qualified with respect to program content;

(iv) Programs must include some means for evaluation of technical content and presentation;

(v) Certificates of completion must be provided to the participants who successfully complete the program; and

(vi) Records must be maintained by the sponsor to verify the participants who attended and completed the program for a period of three years following completion of the program. In the case of continuous conferences, conventions, and the like, records must be maintained to verify completion of the program and attendance by each participant at each segment of the program.

(4) Professional organizations or societies wishing to be considered as qualified sponsors must request this status from the Director of Practice and furnish information in support of the request together with any further information deemed necessary by the Director of Practice.

(5) A professional organization or society recognized as a qualified sponsor by the Director of Practice will retain its status for one enrollment cycle. The Director of Practice will publish the names of such sponsors on a periodic basis.

(h) Measurement of continuing education coursework. (1) All continuing education programs will be measured in terms of contact hours. The shortest recognized program will be one contact hour.

(2) A contact hour is 50 minutes of continuous participation in a program. Credit is granted only for a full contact hour, i.e., 50 minutes or multiples thereof. For example, a program lasting more than 50 minutes but less than 100 minutes will count as one contact hour.

(3) Individual segments at continuous conferences, conventions and the like will be considered one total program. For example, two 90-minute segments (180 minutes) at a continuous conference will count as three contact hours.

(4) For university or college courses, each semester hour credit will equal 15 contact hours and a quarter hour credit will equal 10 contact hours.

(i) Recordkeeping requirements. (1) Each individual applying for renewal must retain for a period of three years following the date of renewal of enrollment the information required with regard to qualifying continuing professional education credit hours. Such information includes—

(i) The name of the sponsoring organization;

(ii) The location of the program;

(iii) The title of the program and description of its content;

(iv) Written outlines, course syllibi, textbook, and/or electronic materials provided or required for the course;

(v) The dates attended;

(vi) The credit hours claimed;

(vii) The name(s) of the instructor(s), discussion leader(s), or speaker(s), if appropriate; and

(viii) The certificate of completion and/or signed statement of the hours of attendance obtained from the sponsor.

(2) To receive continuing education credit for service completed as an instructor, discussion leader, or speaker, the following information must be maintained for a period of three years following the date of renewal of enrollment—

(i) The name of the sponsoring organization;

(ii) The location of the program;

(iii) The title of the program and description of its content;

(iv) The dates of the program; and

(v) The credit hours claimed.

(3) To receive continuing education credit for publications, the following information must be maintained for a period of three years following the date of renewal of enrollment—

(i) The publisher;

(ii) The title of the publication;

(iii) A copy of the publication;

(iv) The date of publication; and

(v) Records that substantiate the hours worked on the publication.

(j) Waivers. (1) Waiver from the continuing education requirements for a given period may be granted by the Director of Practice for the following reasons—

(i) Health, which prevented compliance with the continuing education requirements;

(ii) Extended active military duty;

(iii) Absence from the United States for an extended period of time due to employment or other reasons, provided the individual does not practice before the Internal Revenue Service during such absence; and

(iv) Other compelling reasons, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

(2) A request for waiver must be accompanied by appropriate documentation. The individual is required to furnish any additional documentation or explanation deemed necessary by the Director of Practice. Examples of appropriate documentation could be a medical certificate or military orders.

(3) A request for waiver must be filed no later than the last day of the renewal application period.

(4) If a request for waiver is not approved, the individual will be placed in inactive status, so notified by the Director of Practice, and placed on a roster of inactive enrolled individuals.

(5) If a request for waiver is approved, the individual will be notified and issued a card evidencing renewal.

(6) Those who are granted waivers are required to file timely applications for renewal of enrollment.

(k) Failure to comply. (1) Compliance by an individual with the requirements of this part is determined by the Director of Practice. An individual who fails to meet the requirements of eligibility for renewal of enrollment will be notified by the Director of Practice at Start Printed Page 48770his or her enrollment address by first class mail. The notice will state the basis for the determination of noncompliance and will provide the individual an opportunity to furnish information in writing relating to the matter within 60 days of the date of the notice. Such information will be considered by the Director of Practice in making a final determination as to eligibility for renewal of enrollment.

(2) The Director of Practice may require any individual, by notice sent by first class mail to his or her enrollment address, to provide copies of any records required to be maintained under this part. The Director of Practice may disallow any continuing professional education hours claimed if the individual fails to comply with this requirement.

(3) An individual who has not filed a timely application for renewal of enrollment, who has not made a timely response to the notice of noncompliance with the renewal requirements, or who has not satisfied the requirements of eligibility for renewal will be placed on a roster of inactive enrolled individuals. During this time, the individual will be ineligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

(4) Individuals placed in inactive enrollment status and individuals ineligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service may not state or imply that they are enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service, or use the term enrolled agent, the designation “E. A.,” or other form of reference to eligibility to practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

(5) An individual placed in an inactive status may be reinstated to an active enrollment status by filing an application for renewal of enrollment and providing evidence of the completion of all required continuing professional education hours for the enrollment cycle. Continuing education credit under this paragraph (k)(5) may not be used to satisfy the requirements of the enrollment cycle in which the individual has been placed back on the active roster.

(6) An individual placed in an inactive status must file an application for renewal of enrollment and satisfy the requirements for renewal as set forth in this section within three years of being placed in an inactive status. The name of such individual otherwise will be removed from the inactive enrollment roster and his or her enrollment will terminate. Eligibility for enrollment must then be reestablished by the individual as provided in this section.

(7) Inactive enrollment status is not available to an individual who is the subject of a disciplinary matter in the Office of Director of Practice.

(l) Inactive retirement status. An individual who no longer practices before the Internal Revenue Service may request being placed in an inactive status at any time and such individual will be placed in an inactive retirement status. The individual will be ineligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. Such individual must file a timely application for renewal of enrollment at each applicable renewal or enrollment period as provided in this section. An individual who is placed in an inactive retirement status may be reinstated to an active enrollment status by filing an application for renewal of enrollment and providing evidence of the completion of the required continuing professional education hours for the enrollment cycle. Inactive retirement status is not available to an individual who is subject of a disciplinary matter in the Office of Director of Practice.

(m) Renewal while under suspension or disbarment. An individual who is ineligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service by virtue of disciplinary action is required to be in conformance with the requirements for renewal of enrollment before his or her eligibility is restored.

(n) Verification. The Director of Practice may review the continuing education records of an enrolled individual and/or qualified sponsor in a manner deemed appropriate to determine compliance with the requirements and standards for renewal of enrollment as provided in paragraph (f) of this section.

(o) Enrolled actuaries. The enrollment and the renewal of enrollment of actuaries authorized to practice under paragraph (d) of § 10.3 are governed by the regulations of the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries at 20 CFR 901.1 through 901.71.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under Control No. 1545-0946 and 1545-1726)
Representing oneself; participating in rulemaking; limited practice; special appearances; and return preparation.

(a) Representing oneself. Individuals may appear on their own behalf before the Internal Revenue Service provided they present satisfactory identification.

(b) Participating in rulemaking. Individuals may participate in rulemaking as provided by the Administrative Procedure Act. See 5 U.S.C. 553.

(c) Limited practice—(1) In general. Subject to the limitations in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, an individual who is not a practitioner may represent a taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service in the circumstances described in this paragraph (c)(1), even if the taxpayer is not present, provided the individual presents satisfactory identification and proof of his or her authority to represent the taxpayer. The circumstances described in this paragraph (c)(1) are as follows:

(i) An individual may represent a member of his or her immediate family.

(ii) A regular full-time employee of an individual employer may represent the employer.

(iii) A general partner or a regular full-time employee of a partnership may represent the partnership.

(iv) A bona fide officer or a regular full-time employee of a corporation (including a parent, subsidiary, or other affiliated corporation), association, or organized group may represent the corporation, association, or organized group.

(v) A regular full-time employee of a trust, receivership, guardianship, or estate may represent the trust, receivership, guardianship, or estate.

(vi) An officer or a regular employee of a governmental unit, agency, or authority may represent the governmental unit, agency, or authority in the course of his or her official duties.

(vii) An individual may represent any individual or entity, who is outside the United States, before personnel of the Internal Revenue Service when such representation takes place outside the United States.

(viii) An individual who prepares and signs a taxpayer's tax return as the preparer, or who prepares a tax return but is not required (by the instructions to the tax return or regulations) to sign the tax return, may represent the taxpayer before revenue agents, customer service representatives or similar officers and employees of the Internal Revenue Service during an examination of the taxable year or period covered by that tax return, but, unless otherwise prescribed by regulation or notice, this right does not permit such individual to represent the taxpayer, regardless of the circumstances requiring representation, before appeals officers, revenue officers, Counsel or similar officers or employees of the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Treasury.

(2) Limitations. (i) An individual who is under suspension or disbarment from practice before the Internal Revenue Service may not engage in limited practice before the Internal Revenue Service under paragraph (c)(1) of this section. Start Printed Page 48771

(ii) The Director, after notice and opportunity for a conference, may deny eligibility to engage in limited practice before the Internal Revenue Service under paragraph (c)(1) of this section to any individual who has engaged in conduct that would justify censuring, suspending, or disbarring a practitioner from practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

(iii) An individual who represents a taxpayer under the authority of paragraph (c)(1) of this section is subject, to the extent of his or her authority, to such rules of general applicability regarding standards of conduct and other matters as the Director of Practice prescribes.

(d) Special appearances. The Director of Practice may, subject to such conditions as he or she deems appropriate, authorize an individual who is not otherwise eligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service to represent another person in a particular matter.

(e) Preparing tax returns and furnishing information. Any individual may prepare a tax return, appear as a witness for the taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service, or furnish information at the request of the Internal Revenue Service or any of its officers or employees.

(f) Fiduciaries. For purposes of this part, a fiduciary (i.e., a trustee, receiver, guardian, personal representative, administrator, or executor) is considered to be the taxpayer and not a representative of the taxpayer.

Customhouse brokers.

Nothing contained in the regulations in this part will affect or limit the right of a customhouse broker, licensed as such by the Commissioner of Customs in accordance with the regulations prescribed therefor, in any customs district in which he or she is so licensed, at a relevant local office of the Internal Revenue Service or before the National Office of the Internal Revenue Service, to act as a representative in respect to any matters relating specifically to the importation or exportation of merchandise under the customs or internal revenue laws, for any person for whom he or she has acted as a customhouse broker.

Start Amendment Part

3. In part 10, subpart B is amended by revising §§ 10.20 through 10.32 and revising § 10.34.

End Amendment Part

Subpart B—Duties and Restrictions Relating to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service

Information to be furnished.

(a) To the Internal Revenue Service. (1) A practitioner must, on a proper and lawful request by a duly authorized officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service, promptly submit records or information in any matter before the Internal Revenue Service unless the practitioner believes in good faith and on reasonable grounds that the records or information are privileged.

(2) Where the requested records or information are not in the possession of, or subject to the control of, the practitioner or the practitioner's client, the practitioner must promptly notify the requesting Internal Revenue Service officer or employee and the practitioner must provide any information that the practitioner has regarding the identity of any person who the practitioner believes may have possession or control of the requested records or information. The practitioner must make reasonable inquiry of his or her client regarding the identity of any person who may have possession or control of the requested records or information, but the practitioner is not required to make inquiry of any other person or independently verify any information provided by the practitioner's client regarding the identity of such persons.

(b) To the Director of Practice. When a proper and lawful request is made by the Director of Practice, a practitioner must provide the Director of Practice with any information the practitioner has concerning an inquiry by the Director of Practice into an alleged violation of the regulations in this part by any person, and to testify regarding this information in any proceeding instituted under this part, unless the practitioner believes in good faith and on reasonable grounds that the information is privileged.

(c) Interference with a proper and lawful request for records or information. A practitioner may not interfere, or attempt to interfere, with any proper and lawful effort by the Internal Revenue Service, its officers or employees, or the Director of Practice, or his or her employees, to obtain any record or information unless the practitioner believes in good faith and on reasonable grounds that the record or information is privileged.

Knowledge of client's omission.

A practitioner who, having been retained by a client with respect to a matter administered by the Internal Revenue Service, knows that the client has not complied with the revenue laws of the United States or has made an error in or omission from any return, document, affidavit, or other paper which the client submitted or executed under the revenue laws of the United States, must advise the client promptly of the fact of such noncompliance, error, or omission. The practitioner must advise the client of the consequences as provided under the Code and regulations of such noncompliance, error, or omission.

Diligence as to accuracy.

(a) In general. A practitioner must exercise due diligence—

(1) In preparing or assisting in the preparation of, approving, and filing tax returns, documents, affidavits, and other papers relating to Internal Revenue Service matters;

(2) In determining the correctness of oral or written representations made by the practitioner to the Department of the Treasury; and

(3) In determining the correctness of oral or written representations made by the practitioner to clients with reference to any matter administered by the Internal Revenue Service.

(b) Reliance on others. Except as provided in §§ 10.33 and 10.34, a practitioner will be presumed to have exercised due diligence for purposes of this section if the practitioner relies on the work product of another person and the practitioner used reasonable care in engaging, supervising, training, and evaluating the person, taking proper account of the nature of the relationship between the practitioner and the person.

Prompt disposition of pending matters.

A practitioner may not unreasonably delay the prompt disposition of any matter before the Internal Revenue Service.

Assistance from or to disbarred or suspended persons and former Internal Revenue Service employees.

A practitioner may not, knowingly and directly or indirectly:

(a) Accept assistance from or assist any person who is under disbarment or suspension from practice before the Internal Revenue Service if the assistance relates to a matter or matters constituting practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

(b) Accept assistance from any former government employee where the provisions of § 10.25 or any Federal law would be violated.

Start Printed Page 48772
Practice by former Government employees, their partners and their associates.

(a) Definitions. For purposes of this section—

(1) Assist means to act in such a way as to advise, furnish information to, or otherwise aid another person, directly or indirectly.

(2) Government employee is an officer or employee of the United States or any agency of the United States, including a special government employee as defined in 18 U.S.C. 202(a), or of the District of Columbia, or of any State, or a member of Congress or of any State legislature.

(3) Member of a firm is a sole practitioner or an employee or associate thereof, or a partner, stockholder, associate, affiliate or employee of a partnership, joint venture, corporation, professional association or other affiliation of two or more practitioners who represent nongovernmental parties.

(4) Practitioner includes any individual described in paragraph (f) of § 10.2.

(5) Official responsibility means the direct administrative or operating authority, whether intermediate or final, and either exercisable alone or with others, and either personally or through subordinates, to approve, disapprove, or otherwise direct Government action, with or without knowledge of the action.

(6) Participate or participation means substantial involvement as a Government employee by making decisions, or preparing or reviewing documents with or without the right to exercise a judgment of approval or disapproval, or participating in conferences or investigations, or rendering advice of a substantial nature.

(7) Rule includes Treasury Regulations, whether issued or under preparation for issuance as Notices of Proposed Rule Making or as Treasury Decisions; revenue rulings; and revenue procedures published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin. Rule does not include a transaction as defined in paragraph (a)(8) of this section.

(8) Transaction means any decision, determination, finding, letter ruling, technical advice, Chief Counsel advice, or contract or the approval or disapproval thereof, relating to a particular factual situation or situations involving a specific party or parties whose rights, privileges, or liabilities under laws or regulations administered by the Internal Revenue Service, or other legal rights, are determined or immediately affected therein and to which the United States is a party or in which it has a direct and substantial interest, whether or not the same taxable periods are involved. Transaction does not include rule as defined in paragraph (a)(7) of this section.

(b) General rules. (1) No former Government employee may, subsequent to his or her Government employment, represent anyone in any matter administered by the Internal Revenue Service if the representation would violate 18 U.S.C. 207 or any other laws of the United States.

(2) No former Government employee who participated in a transaction may, subsequent to his or her Government employment, represent or knowingly assist, in that transaction, any person who is or was a specific party to that transaction.

(3) A former Government employee who within a period of one year prior to the termination of Government employment had official responsibility for a transaction may not, within two years after his or her Government employment is ended, represent or knowingly assist in that transaction any person who is or was a specific party to that transaction.

(4) No former Government employee may, within one year after his or her Government employment is ended, appear before any employee of the Treasury Department in connection with the publication, withdrawal, amendment, modification, or interpretation of a rule in the development of which the former Government employee participated or for which, within a period of one year prior to the termination of his or her Government employment, he or she had official responsibility. This paragraph (b)(4) does not, however, preclude such former employee from appearing on his or her own behalf or from representing a taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service in connection with a transaction involving the application or interpretation of such a rule with respect to that transaction, provided that such former employee does not utilize or disclose any confidential information acquired by the former employee in the development of the rule.

(c) Firm representation. (1) No member of a firm of which a former Government employee is a member may represent or knowingly assist a person who was or is a specific party in any transaction with respect to which the restrictions of paragraph (b)(2) or (3) of this section apply to the former Government employee, in that transaction, unless the firm isolates the former Government employee in such a way to ensure that the former Government employee cannot assist in the representation.

(2) When isolation of a former Government employee is required under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, a statement affirming the fact of such isolation must be executed under oath by the former Government employee and by another member of the firm acting on behalf of the firm. The statement must clearly identify the firm, the former Government employee, and the transaction(s) requiring isolation and it must be filed with the Director of Practice (and at such other place(s) directed by the Director of Practice) and in such other place and in the manner prescribed by rule or regulation.

(d) Pending representation. Practice by former Government employees, their partners and associates with respect to representation in pecific matters where actual representation commenced before July 26, 2002 is governed by the regulations set forth at 31 CFR part 10 revised as of July 1, 2002. The burden of showing that representation commenced before July 26, 2002 lies with the former Government employees, and their partners and associates.

Notaries.

A practitioner may not take acknowledgments, administer oaths, certify papers, or perform any official act as a notary public with respect to any matter administered by the Internal Revenue Service and for which he or she is employed as counsel, attorney, or agent, or in which he or she may be in any way interested.

Fees.

(a) Generally. A practitioner may not charge an unconscionable fee for representing a client in a matter before the Internal Revenue Service.

(b) Contingent fees. (1) For purposes of this section, a contingent fee is any fee that is based, in whole or in part, on whether or not a position taken on a tax return or other filing avoids challenge by the Internal Revenue Service or is sustained either by the Internal Revenue Service or in litigation. A contingent fee includes any fee arrangement in which the practitioner will reimburse the client for all or a portion of the client's fee in the event that a position taken on a tax return or other filing is challenged by the Internal Revenue Service or is not sustained, whether pursuant to an indemnity agreement, a guarantee, rescission rights, or any other arrangement with a similar effect.

(2) A practitioner may not charge a contingent fee for preparing an original tax return or for any advice rendered in connection with a position taken or to be taken on an original tax return. Start Printed Page 48773

(3) A contingent fee may be charged for preparation of or advice in connection with an amended tax return or a claim for refund (other than a claim for refund made on an original tax return), but only if the practitioner reasonably anticipates at the time the fee arrangement is entered into that the amended tax return or refund claim will receive substantive review by the Internal Revenue Service.

Return of client's records.

(a) In general, a practitioner must, at the request of a client, promptly return any and all records of the client that are necessary for the client to comply with his or her Federal tax obligations. The practitioner may retain copies of the records returned to a client. The existence of a dispute over fees generally does not relieve the practitioner of his or her responsibility under this section. Nevertheless, if applicable state law allows or permits the retention of a client's records by a practitioner in the case of a dispute over fees for services rendered, the practitioner need only return those records that must be attached to the taxpayer's return. The practitioner, however, must provide the client with reasonable access to review and copy any additional records of the client retained by the practitioner under state law that are necessary for the client to comply with his or her Federal tax obligations.

(b) For purposes of this section, Records of the client include all documents or written or electronic materials provided to the practitioner, or obtained by the practitioner in the course of the practitioner's representation of the client, that preexisted the retention of the practitioner by the client. The term also includes materials that were prepared by the client or a third party (not including an employee or agent of the practitioner) at any time and provided to the practitioner with respect to the subject matter of the representation. The term also includes any return, claim for refund, schedule, affidavit, appraisal or any other document prepared by the practitioner, or his or her employee or agent, that was presented to the client with respect to a prior representation if such document is necessary for the taxpayer to comply with his or her current Federal tax obligations. The term does not include any return, claim for refund, schedule, affidavit, appraisal or any other document prepared by the practitioner or the practitioner's firm, employees or agents if the practitioner is withholding such document pending the client's performance of its contractual obligation to pay fees with respect to such document.

Conflicting interests.

(a) Except as provided by paragraph (b) of this section, a practitioner shall not represent a client in his or her practice before the Internal Revenue Service if the representation involves a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest exists if:

(1) The representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or

(2) There is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the practitioner's responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the practitioner.

(b) Notwithstanding the existence of a conflict of interest under paragraph (a) of this section, the practitioner may represent a client if:

(1) The practitioner reasonably believes that the practitioner will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;

(2) The representation is not prohibited by law;

(3) Each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.

(c) Copies of the written consents must be retained by the practitioner for at least 36 months from the date of the conclusion of the representation of the affected clients and the written consents must be provided to any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service on request. y

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under Control No. 1545-1726)
Solicitation.

(a) Advertising and solicitation restrictions. (1) A practitioner may not, with respect to any Internal Revenue Service matter, in any way use or participate in the use of any form of public communication or private solicitation containing a false, fraudulent, or coercive statement or claim; or a misleading or deceptive statement or claim. Enrolled agents, in describing their professional designation, may not utilize the term of art “certified” or imply an employer/employee relationship with the Internal Revenue Service. Examples of acceptable descriptions are “enrolled to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service,” “enrolled to practice before the Internal Revenue Service,” and “admitted to practice before the Internal Revenue Service.”

(2) A practitioner may not make, directly or indirectly, an uninvited written or oral solicitation of employment in matters related to the Internal Revenue Service if the solicitation violates Federal or State law or other applicable rule, e.g., attorneys are precluded from making a solicitation that is prohibited by conduct rules applicable to all attorneys in their State(s) of licensure. Any lawful solicitation made by or on behalf of a practitioner eligible to practice before the Internal Revenue Service must, nevertheless, clearly identify the solicitation as such and, if applicable, identify the source of the information used in choosing the recipient.

(b) Fee information. (1)(i) A practitioner may publish the availability of a written schedule of fees and disseminate the following fee information—

(A) Fixed fees for specific routine services.

(B) Hourly rates.

(C) Range of fees for particular services.

(D) Fee charged for an initial consultation.

(ii) Any statement of fee information concerning matters in which costs may be incurred must include a statement disclosing whether clients will be responsible for such costs.

(2) A practitioner may charge no more than the rate(s) published under paragraph (b)(1) of this section for at least 30 calendar days after the last date on which the schedule of fees was published.

(c) Communication of fee information. Fee information may be communicated in professional lists, telephone directories, print media, mailings, electronic mail, facsimile, hand delivered flyers, radio, television, and any other method. The method chosen, however, must not cause the communication to become untruthful, deceptive, or otherwise in violation of this part. A practitioner may not persist in attempting to contact a prospective client if the prospective client has made it known to the practitioner that he or she does not desire to be solicited. In the case of radio and television broadcasting, the broadcast must be recorded and the practitioner must retain a recording of the actual transmission. In the case of direct mail and e-commerce communications, the practitioner must retain a copy of the actual communication, along with a list or other description of persons to whom the communication was mailed or otherwise distributed. The copy must be retained by the practitioner for a period of at least 36 months from the date of the last transmission or use.

(d) Improper associations. A practitioner may not, in matters related Start Printed Page 48774to the Internal Revenue Service, assist, or accept assistance from, any person or entity who, to the knowledge of the practitioner, obtains clients or otherwise practices in a manner forbidden under this section.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under Control No. 1545-1726)
Negotiation of taxpayer checks.

A practitioner who prepares tax returns may not endorse or otherwise negotiate any check issued to a client by the government in respect of a Federal tax liability.

Practice of law.

Nothing in the regulations in this part may be construed as authorizing persons not members of the bar to practice law.

* * * * *
Standards for advising with respect to tax return positions and for preparing or signing returns.

(a) Realistic possibility standard. A practitioner may not sign a tax return as a preparer if the practitioner determines that the tax return contains a position that does not have a realistic possibility of being sustained on its merits (the realistic possibility standard) unless the position is not frivolous and is adequately disclosed to the Internal Revenue Service. A practitioner may not advise a client to take a position on a tax return, or prepare the portion of a tax return on which a position is taken, unless—

(1) The practitioner determines that the position satisfies the realistic possibility standard; or

(2) The position is not frivolous and the practitioner advises the client of any opportunity to avoid the accuracy-related penalty in section 6662 of the Internal Revenue Code by adequately disclosing the position and of the requirements for adequate disclosure.

(b) Advising clients on potential penalties. A practitioner advising a client to take a position on a tax return, or preparing or signing a tax return as a preparer, must inform the client of the penalties reasonably likely to apply to the client with respect to the position advised, prepared, or reported. The practitioner also must inform the client of any opportunity to avoid any such penalty by disclosure, if relevant, and of the requirements for adequate disclosure. This paragraph (b) applies even if the practitioner is not subject to a penalty with respect to the position.

(c) Relying on information furnished by clients. A practitioner advising a client to take a position on a tax return, or preparing or signing a tax return as a preparer, generally may rely in good faith without verification upon information furnished by the client. The practitioner may not, however, ignore the implications of information furnished to, or actually known by, the practitioner, and must make reasonable inquiries if the information as furnished appears to be incorrect, inconsistent with an important fact or another factual assumption, or incomplete.

(d) Definitions. For purposes of this section—

(1) Realistic possibility. A position is considered to have a realistic possibility of being sustained on its merits if a reasonable and well informed analysis of the law and the facts by a person knowledgeable in the tax law would lead such a person to conclude that the position has approximately a one in three, or greater, likelihood of being sustained on its merits. The authorities described in 26 CFR 1.6662-4(d)(3)(iii), or any successor provision, of the substantial understatement penalty regulations may be taken into account for purposes of this analysis. The possibility that a tax return will not be audited, that an issue will not be raised on audit, or that an issue will be settled may not be taken into account.

(2) Frivolous. A position is frivolous if it is patently improper.

Start Amendment Part

4. In part 10, subparts C, D, and E are revised to read as follows:

End Amendment Part

Subpart C—Sanctions for Violation of the Regulations

Sanctions.

(a) Authority to censure, suspend, or disbar. The Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her delegate, after notice and an opportunity for a proceeding, may censure, suspend or disbar any practitioner from practice before the Internal Revenue Service if the practitioner is shown to be incompetent or disreputable, fails to comply with any regulation in this part, or with intent to defraud, willfully and knowingly misleads or threatens a client or prospective client. Censure is a public reprimand.

(b) Authority to disqualify. The Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her delegate, after due notice and opportunity for hearing, may disqualify any appraiser with respect to whom a penalty has been assessed under section 6701(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.

(1) If any appraiser is disqualified pursuant to this subpart C, such appraiser is barred from presenting evidence or testimony in any administrative proceeding before the Department of Treasury or the Internal Revenue Service, unless and until authorized to do so by the Director of Practice pursuant to § 10.81, regardless of whether such evidence or testimony would pertain to an appraisal made prior to or after such date.

(2) Any appraisal made by a disqualified appraiser after the effective date of disqualification will not have any probative effect in any administrative proceeding before the Department of the Treasury or the Internal Revenue Service. An appraisal otherwise barred from admission into evidence pursuant to this section may be admitted into evidence solely for the purpose of determining the taxpayer's reliance in good faith on such appraisal.

Incompetence and disreputable conduct.

Incompetence and disreputable conduct for which a practitioner may be censured, suspended or disbarred from practice before the Internal Revenue Service includes, but is not limited to—

(a) Conviction of any criminal offense under the revenue laws of the United States;

(b) Conviction of any criminal offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust;

(c) Conviction of any felony under Federal or State law for which the conduct involved renders the practitioner unfit to practice before the Internal Revenue Service;

(d) Giving false or misleading information, or participating in any way in the giving of false or misleading information to the Department of the Treasury or any officer or employee thereof, or to any tribunal authorized to pass upon Federal tax matters, in connection with any matter pending or likely to be pending before them, knowing such information to be false or misleading. Facts or other matters contained in testimony, Federal tax returns, financial statements, applications for enrollment, affidavits, declarations, or any other document or statement, written or oral, are included in the term information.

(e) Solicitation of employment as prohibited under § 10.30, the use of false or misleading representations with intent to deceive a client or prospective client in order to procure employment, or intimating that the practitioner is able improperly to obtain special consideration or action from the Internal Revenue Service or officer or employee thereof.

(f) Willfully failing to make a Federal tax return in violation of the revenue laws of the United States, willfully evading, attempting to evade, or participating in any way in evading or attempting to evade any assessment or payment of any Federal tax, or Start Printed Page 48775knowingly counseling or suggesting to a client or prospective client an illegal plan to evade Federal taxes or payment thereof.

(g) Misappropriation of, or failure properly and promptly to remit funds received from a client for the purpose of payment of taxes or other obligations due the United States.

(h) Directly or indirectly attempting to influence, or offering or agreeing to attempt to influence, the official action of any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service by the use of threats, false accusations, duress or coercion, by the offer of any special inducement or promise of advantage or by the bestowing of any gift, favor or thing of value.

(i) Disbarment or suspension from practice as an attorney, certified public accountant, public accountant, or actuary by any duly constituted authority of any State, territory, possession of the United States, including a Commonwealth, or the District of Columbia, any Federal court of record or any Federal agency, body or board.

(j) Knowingly aiding and abetting another person to practice before the Internal Revenue Service during a period of suspension, disbarment, or ineligibility of such other person.

(k) Contemptuous conduct in connection with practice before the Internal Revenue Service, including the use of abusive language, making false accusations and statements, knowing them to be false, or circulating or publishing malicious or libelous matter.

(l) Giving a false opinion, knowingly, recklessly, or through gross incompetence, including an opinion which is intentionally or recklessly misleading, or engaging in a pattern of providing incompetent opinions on questions arising under the Federal tax laws. False opinions described in this paragraph (l) include those which reflect or result from a knowing misstatement of fact or law, from an assertion of a position known to be unwarranted under existing law, from counseling or assisting in conduct known to be illegal or fraudulent, from concealing matters required by law to be revealed, or from consciously disregarding information indicating that material facts expressed in the tax opinion or offering material are false or misleading. For purposes of this paragraph (l), reckless conduct is a highly unreasonable omission or misrepresentation involving an extreme departure from the standards of ordinary care that a practitioner should observe under the circumstances. A pattern of conduct is a factor that will be taken into account in determining whether a practitioner acted knowingly, recklessly, or through gross incompetence. Gross incompetence includes conduct that reflects gross indifference, preparation which is grossly inadequate under the circumstances, and a consistent failure to perform obligations to the client.

Violation of regulations.

A practitioner may be censured, suspended or disbarred from practice before the Internal Revenue Service for any of the following:

(a) Willfully violating any of the regulations contained in this part.

(b) Recklessly or through gross incompetence (within the meaning of § 10.51(l)) violating § 10.33 or 10.34.

Receipt of information concerning practitioner.

(a) Officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service. If an officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service has reason to believe that a practitioner has violated any provision of this part, the officer or employee will promptly make a written report to the Director of Practice of the suspected violation. The report will explain the facts and reasons upon which the officer's or employee's belief rests.

(b) Other persons. Any person other than an officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service having information of a violation of any provision of this part may make an oral or written report of the alleged violation to the Director of Practice or any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service. If the report is made to an officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service, the officer or employee will make a written report of the suspected violation to the Director of Practice.

(c) Destruction of report. No report made under paragraph (a) or (b) of this section shall be maintained by the Director of Practice unless retention of such record is permissible under the applicable records control schedule as approved by the National Archives and Records Administration and designated in the Internal Revenue Manual. The Director of Practice must destroy such reports as soon as permissible under the applicable records control schedule.

(d) Effect on proceedings under subpart D. The destruction of any report will not bar any proceeding under subpart D of this part, but precludes the Director of Practice's use of a copy of such report in a proceeding under subpart D of this part.

Subpart D—Rules Applicable to Disciplinary Proceedings

Institution of proceeding.

(a) Whenever the Director of Practice determines that a practitioner violated any provision of the laws governing practice before the Internal Revenue Service or the regulations in this part, the Director of Practice may reprimand the practitioner or, in accordance with § 10.62, institute a proceeding for censure, suspension, or disbarment of the practitioner. A proceeding for censure, suspension, or disbarment of a practitioner is instituted by the filing of a complaint, the contents of which are more fully described in § 10.62.

(b) Whenever the Director of Practice is advised or becomes aware that a penalty has been assessed against an appraiser under section 6701(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, the Director of Practice may reprimand the appraiser or, in accordance with § 10.62, institute a proceeding for disqualification of the appraiser. A proceeding for disqualification of an appraiser is instituted by the filing of a complaint, the contents of which are more fully described in § 10.62.

(c) Except as provided in § 10.82, a proceeding will not be instituted under this section unless the proposed respondent previously has been advised in writing of the law, facts and conduct warranting such action and has been accorded an opportunity to dispute facts, assert additional facts, and make arguments (including an explanation or description of mitigating circumstances).

Conferences.

(a) In general. The Director of Practice may confer with a practitioner or an appraiser concerning allegations of misconduct irrespective of whether a proceeding for censure, suspension, disbarment, or disqualification has been instituted against the practitioner or appraiser. If the conference results in a stipulation in connection with an ongoing proceeding in which the practitioner or appraiser is the respondent, the stipulation may be entered in the record by either party to the proceeding.

(b) Resignation or voluntary censure, suspension or disbarment. In lieu of a proceeding being instituted or continued under paragraph (a) of § 10.60, a practitioner may offer his or her consent to the issuance of a censure, suspension or disbarment, or, if the practitioner is an enrolled agent, may offer to resign. The Director of Practice may, in his or her discretion, accept or decline the offered censure, suspension, Start Printed Page 48776disbarment, or offer of resignation by an enrolled agent, in accordance with the consent offered. In any declination, the Director of Practice may state that he or she would accept an offer of censure, suspension, or disbarment, or, if the practitioner is an enrolled agent, offer of resignation, containing different terms; the Director of Practice may, in his or her discretion, accept or reject a revised offer of censure, suspension, disbarment, or offer of resignation by an enrolled agent, submitted in response to the declination or may counteroffer and act upon any accepted counteroffer.

(c) Voluntary disqualification. In lieu of a proceeding being instituted or continued under paragraph (b) of § 10.60, an appraiser may offer his or her consent to disqualification. The Director of Practice may, in his or her discretion, accept or decline the offered disqualification, in accordance with the consent offered. In any declination, the Director of Practice may state that he or she would accept an offer of disqualification containing different terms; the Director of Practice may, in his or her discretion, accept or reject a revised offer of censure, suspension or disbarment submitted in response to the declination or may counteroffer and act upon any accepted counteroffer.

Contents of complaint.

(a) Charges. A complaint must name the respondent, provide a clear and concise description of the facts and law that constitute the basis for the proceeding, and be signed by the Director of Practice or a person representing the Director of Practice under § 10.69(a)(1). A complaint is sufficient if it fairly informs the respondent of the charges brought so that he or she is able to prepare a defense. In the case of a complaint filed against an appraiser, the complaint is sufficient if it refers to a penalty imposed previously on the respondent under section 6701(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.

(b) Specification of sanction. The complaint must specify the sanction sought by the Director of Practice against the practitioner or appraiser. If the sanction sought is a suspension, the duration of the suspension sought must be specified.

(c) Demand for answer. The Director of Practice must, in the complaint or in a separate paper attached to the complaint, notify the respondent of the time for answering the complaint, the time for which may not be less than15 days from the date of service of the complaint, the name and address of the Administrative Law Judge with whom the answer must be filed, the name and address of the person representing the Director of Practice to whom a copy of the answer must be served, and that a decision by default may be rendered against the respondent in the event an answer is not filed as required.

Service of complaint; service and filing of other papers.

(a) Service of complaint.

(1) In general. The complaint or a copy of the complaint must be served on the respondent by any manner described in paragraphs (a)(2) or (3) of this section.

(2) Service by certified or first class mail. (i) Service of the complaint may be made on the respondent by mailing the complaint by certified mail to the last known address (as determined under section 6212 of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder) of the respondent. Where service is by certified mail, the returned post office receipt duly signed by the respondent will be proof of service.

(ii) If the certified mail is not claimed or accepted by the respondent, or is returned undelivered, service may be made on the respondent, by mailing the complaint to the respondent by first class mail. Service by this method will be considered complete upon mailing, provided the complaint is addressed to the respondent at the respondent's last known address as determined under section 6212 of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder.

(3) Service by other than certified or first class mail. (i) Service of the complaint may be made on the respondent by delivery by a private delivery service designated pursuant to section 7502(f) of the Internal Revenue Code to the last known address (as determined under section 6212 of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder) of the respondent. Service by this method will be considered complete, provided the complaint is addressed to the respondent at the respondent's last known address as determined under section 6212 of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder.

(ii) Service of the complaint may be made in person on, or by leaving the complaint at the office or place of business of, the respondent. Service by this method will be considered complete and proof of service will be a written statement, sworn or affirmed by the person who served the complaint, identifying the manner of service, including the recipient, relationship of recipient to respondent, place, date and time of service.

(iii) Service may be made by any other means agreed to by the respondent. Proof of service will be a written statement, sworn or affirmed by the person who served the complaint, identifying the manner of service, including the recipient, relationship of recipient to respondent, place, date and time of service.

(4) For purposes of this paragraph (a), “respondent” means the practitioner or appraiser named in the complaint or any other person having the authority to accept mail on behalf of the practitioner or appraiser.

(b) Service of papers other than complaint. Any paper other than the complaint may be served on the respondent, or his or her authorized representative under § 10.69(a)(2) by:

(1) Mailing the paper by first class mail to the last known address (as determined under section 6212 of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder) of the respondent or the respondent's authorized representative,

(2) Delivery by a private delivery service designated pursuant to section 7502(f) of the Internal Revenue Code to the last known address (as determined under section 6212 of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations thereunder) of the respondent or the respondent's authorized representative, or

(3) As provided in paragraphs (a)(3)(ii) and (a)(3)(iii) of this section.

(c) Service of papers on the Director of Practice. Whenever a paper is required or permitted to be served on the Director of Practice in connection with a proceeding under this part, the paper will be served on the Director of Practice's authorized representative under § 10.69(a)(1) at the address designated in the complaint, or at an address provided in a notice of appearance. If no address is designated in the complaint or provided in a notice of appearance, service will be made on the Director of Practice, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20224.

(d) Filing of papers. Whenever the filing of a paper is required or permitted in connection with a proceeding under this part, the original paper, plus one additional copy, must be filed with the Administrative Law Judge at the address specified in the complaint or at an address otherwise specified by the Administrative Law Judge. All papers filed in connection with a proceeding under this part must be served on the other party, unless the Administrative Law Judge directs otherwise. A certificate evidencing such must be attached to the original paper filed with the Administrative Law Judge.

Start Printed Page 48777
Answer; default.

(a) Filing. The respondent's answer must be filed with the Administrative Law Judge, and served on the Director of Practice, within the time specified in the complaint unless, on request or application of the respondent, the time is extended by the Administrative Law Judge.

(b) Contents. The answer must be written and contain a statement of facts that constitute the respondent's grounds of defense. General denials are not permitted. The respondent must specifically admit or deny each allegation set forth in the complaint, except that the respondent may state that the respondent is without sufficient information to admit or deny a specific allegation. The respondent, nevertheless, may not deny a material allegation in the complaint that the respondent knows to be true, or state that the respondent is without sufficient information to form a belief, when the respondent possesses the required information. The respondent also must state affirmatively any special matters of defense on which he or she relies.

(c) Failure to deny or answer allegations in the complaint. Every allegation in the complaint that is not denied in the answer is deemed admitted and will be considered proved; no further evidence in respect of such allegation need be adduced at a hearing.

(d) Default. Failure to file an answer within the time prescribed (or within the time for answer as extended by the Administrative Law Judge), constitutes an admission of the allegations of the complaint and a waiver of hearing, and the Administrative Law Judge may make the decision by default without a hearing or further procedure. A decision by default constitutes a decision under § 10.76.

(e) Signature. The answer must be signed by the respondent or the respondent's authorized representative under § 10.69(a)(2) and must include a statement directly above the signature acknowledging that the statements made in the answer are true and correct and that knowing and willful false statements may be punishable under 18 U.S.C. 1001.

Supplemental charges.

If it appears that the respondent, in his or her answer, falsely and in bad faith, denies a material allegation of fact in the complaint or states that the respondent has insufficient knowledge to form a belief, when the respondent in fact possesses such information, or if it appears that the respondent has knowingly introduced false testimony during proceedings for his or her censure, suspension, disbarment, or disqualification, the Director of Practice may file supplemental charges against the respondent. The supplemental charges may be heard with other charges in the case, provided the respondent is given due notice of the charges and is afforded an opportunity to prepare a defense to such charges.

Reply to answer.

The Director of Practice may file a reply to the respondent's answer, but unless otherwise ordered by the Administrative Law Judge, no reply to the respondent's answer is required. If a reply is not filed, new matter in the answer is deemed denied.

Proof; variance; amendment of pleadings.

In the case of a variance between the allegations in pleadings and the evidence adduced in support of the pleadings, the Administrative Law Judge, at any time before decision, may order or authorize amendment of the pleadings to conform to the evidence. The party who would otherwise be prejudiced by the amendment must be given a reasonable opportunity to address the allegations of the pleadings as amended and the Administrative Law Judge must make findings on any issue presented by the pleadings as amended.

Motions and requests.

(a) Motions. At any time after the filing of the complaint, any party may file a motion with the Administrative Law Judge. Unless otherwise ordered by the Administrative Law Judge, motions must be in writing and must be served on the opposing party as provided in § 10.63(b). A motion must concisely specify its grounds and the relief sought, and, if appropriate, must contain a memorandum of facts and law in support. Before moving, a party must make a good faith effort to resolve with the other party any dispute that gives rise to, or is a concern of, the motion. The movant must certify such an attempt was made and state, if it is known, whether the opposing party opposes the motion.

(b) Response. Unless otherwise ordered by the Administrative Law Judge, the nonmoving party is not required to file a response to a motion. If the Administrative Law Judge does not order the nonmoving party to file a response, the nonmoving party is deemed to oppose the motion.

(c) Oral motions and arguments. The Administrative Law Judge may, for good cause and with notice to the parties, permit oral motions and oral opposition to motions. The Administrative Law Judge may, within his or her discretion, permit oral argument on any motion.

Representation; ex parte communication.

(a) Representation. (1) The Director of Practice may be represented in proceedings under this part by an attorney or other employee of the Internal Revenue Service. An attorney or an employee of the Internal Revenue Service representing the Director of Practice in a proceeding under this part may sign the complaint or any document required to be filed in the proceeding on behalf of the Director of Practice.

(2) A respondent may appear in person, be represented by a practitioner, or be represented by an attorney who has not filed a declaration with the Internal Revenue Service pursuant to § 10.3. A practitioner or an attorney representing a respondent or proposed respondent may sign the answer or any document required to be filed in the proceeding on behalf of the respondent.

(b) Ex parte communication. The Director of Practice, the respondent, and any representatives of either party, may not attempt to initiate or participate in ex parte discussions concerning a proceeding or potential proceeding with the Administrative Law Judge (or any person who is likely to advise the Administrative Law Judge on a ruling or decision) in the proceeding before or during the pendency of the proceeding. Any memorandum, letter or other communication concerning the merits of the proceeding, addressed to the Administrative Law Judge, by or on behalf of any party shall be regarded as an argument in the proceeding and shall be served on the other party.

Administrative Law Judge.

(a) Appointment. Proceedings on complaints for the censure, suspension or disbarment of a practitioner or the disqualification of an appraiser will be conducted by an Administrative Law Judge appointed as provided by 5 U.S.C. 3105.

(b) Powers of the Administrative Law Judge. The Administrative Law Judge, among other powers, has the authority, in connection with any proceeding under § 10.60 assigned or referred to him or her, to do the following:

(1) Administer oaths and affirmations;

(2) Make rulings on motions and requests, which rulings may not be appealed prior to the close of a hearing except in extraordinary circumstances and at the discretion of the Administrative Law Judge; Start Printed Page 48778

(3) Determine the time and place of hearing and regulate its course and conduct;

(4) Adopt rules of procedure and modify the same from time to time as needed for the orderly disposition of proceedings;

(5) Rule on offers of proof, receive relevant evidence, and examine witnesses;

(6) Take or authorize the taking of depositions;

(7) Receive and consider oral or written argument on facts or law;

(8) Hold or provide for the holding of conferences for the settlement or simplification of the issues with the consent of the parties;

(9) Perform such acts and take such measures as are necessary or appropriate to the efficient conduct of any proceeding; and

(10) Make decisions.

Hearings.

(a) In general. An Administrative Law Judge will preside at the hearing on a complaint filed under paragraph (c) of § 10.60 for the censure, suspension, or disbarment of a practitioner or disqualification of an appraiser. Hearings will be stenographically recorded and transcribed and the testimony of witnesses will be taken under oath or affirmation. Hearings will be conducted pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 556. A hearing in a proceeding requested under paragraph (g) of § 10.82 will be conducted de novo. An evidentiary hearing must be held in all proceedings prior to the issuance of a decision by the Administrative Law Judge unless: the Director of Practice withdraws the complaint; the practitioner consents to a sanction pursuant to § 10.61(b); a decision is issued by default pursuant to § 10.64(d), a decision is issued under § 10.82(e); the respondent requests a decision on the record without a hearing; or the Administrative Law Judge issues a decision on a motion that disposes of the case prior to the hearing.

(b) Publicity of proceedings. A request by a practitioner or appraiser that a hearing in a disciplinary proceeding concerning him or her be public, and that the record of such disciplinary proceeding be made available for inspection by interested persons may be granted by the Administrative Law Judge where the parties stipulate in advance to protect from disclosure confidential tax information in accordance with all applicable statutes and regulations.

(c) Location. The location of the hearing will be determined by the agreement of the parties with the approval of the Administrative Law Judge, but, in the absence of such agreement and approval, the hearing will be held in Washington, D.C.

(d) Failure to appear. If either party to the proceeding fails to appear at the hearing, after notice of the proceeding has been sent to him or her, the party will be deemed to have waived the right to a hearing and the Administrative Law Judge may make his or her decision against the absent party by default.

Evidence.

(a) In general. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law and equity are not controlling in hearings or proceedings conducted under this part. The Administrative Law Judge may, however, exclude evidence that is irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious,

(b) Depositions. The deposition of any witness taken pursuant to § 10.73 may be admitted into evidence in any proceeding instituted under § 10.60.

(c) Proof of documents. Official documents, records, and papers of the Internal Revenue Service and the Office of Director of Practice are admissible in evidence without the production of an officer or employee to authenticate them. Any such documents, records, and papers may be evidenced by a copy attested or identified by an officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service or the Treasury Department, as the case may be.

(d) Withdrawal of exhibits. If any document, record, or other paper is introduced in evidence as an exhibit, the Administrative Law Judge may authorize the withdrawal of the exhibit subject to any conditions that he or she deems proper.

(e) Objections. Objections to evidence are to be made in short form, stating the grounds for the objection. Except as ordered by the Administrative Law Judge, argument on objections will not be recorded or transcribed. Rulings on objections are to be a part of the record, but no exception to a ruling is necessary to preserve the rights of the parties.

Depositions.

(a) Depositions for use at a hearing may be taken, with the written approval of the Administrative Law Judge, by either the Director of Practice or the respondent or their duly authorized representatives. Depositions may be taken before any officer duly authorized to administer an oath for general purposes or before an officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service who is authorized to administer an oath in internal revenue matters.

(b) The party taking the deposition must provide the deponent and the other party with 10 days written notice of the deposition, unless the deponent and the parties agree otherwise. The notice must specify the name of the deponent, the time and place where the deposition is to be taken, and whether the deposition will be taken by oral or written interrogatories. When a deposition is taken by written interrogatories, any cross-examination also will be by written interrogatories. Copies of the written interrogatories must be served on the other party with the notice of deposition, and copies of any written cross-interrogation must be mailed or delivered to the opposing party at least 5 days before the date that the deposition will be taken, unless the parties mutually agree otherwise. A party on whose behalf a deposition is taken must file the responses to the written interrogatories or a transcript of the oral deposition with the Administrative Law Judge and serve copies on the opposing party and the deponent. Expenses in the reporting of depositions will be borne by the party that requested the deposition.

Transcript.

In cases where the hearing is stenographically reported by a Government contract reporter, copies of the transcript may be obtained from the reporter at rates not to exceed the maximum rates fixed by contract between the Government and the reporter. Where the hearing is stenographically reported by a regular employee of the Internal Revenue Service, a copy will be supplied to the respondent either without charge or upon the payment of a reasonable fee. Copies of exhibits introduced at the hearing or at the taking of depositions will be supplied to the parties upon the payment of a reasonable fee (Sec. 501, Public Law 82-137)(65 Stat. 290)(31 U.S.C. 483a).

Proposed findings and conclusions.

Except in cases where the respondent has failed to answer the complaint or where a party has failed to appear at the hearing, the parties must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to submit proposed findings and conclusions and their supporting reasons to the Administrative Law Judge.

Decision of Administrative Law Judge.

(a) As soon as practicable after the conclusion of a hearing and the receipt of any proposed findings and conclusions timely submitted by the parties, the Administrative Law Judge will enter a decision in the case. The Start Printed Page 48779decision must include a statement of findings and conclusions, as well as the reasons or basis for making such findings and conclusions, and an order of censure, suspension, disbarment, disqualification, or dismissal of the complaint. If the sanction is censure or a suspension of less than six month's duration, the Administrative Law Judge, in rendering findings and conclusions, will consider an allegation of fact to be proven if it is established by the party who is alleging the fact by a preponderance of evidence in the record. In the event that the sanction is disbarment or a suspension of a duration of six months or longer, an allegation of fact that is necessary for a finding against the practitioner must be proven by clear and convincing evidence in the record. An allegation of fact that is necessary for a finding of disqualification against an appraiser must be proven by clear and convincing evidence in the record. The Administrative Law Judge will provide the decision to the Director of Practice and a copy of the decision to the respondent or the respondent's authorized representative.

(b) In the absence of an appeal to the Secretary of the Treasury or his or her designee, or review of the decision on motion of the Secretary or his or her designee, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge will, without further proceedings, become the decision of the agency 30 days after the date of the Administrative Law Judge's decision.

Appeal of decision of Administrative Law Judge.

Within 30 days from the date of the Administrative Law Judge's decision, either party may appeal to the Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her delegate. The respondent must file his or her appeal with the Director of Practice in duplicate and a notice of appeal must include exceptions to the decision of the Administrative Law Judge and supporting reasons for such exceptions. If the Director of Practice files an appeal, he or she must provide a copy to the respondent. Within 30 days after receipt of an appeal or copy thereof, the other party may file a reply brief in duplicate with the Director of Practice. If the reply brief is filed by the Director of Practice, he or she must provide a copy of it to the respondent. The Director of Practice must provide the entire record to the Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her delegate, after the appeal and any reply brief has been filed.

Decision on appeal.

On appeal from or review of the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, the Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her delegate, will make the agency decision. The Secretary of the Treasury, or his or delegate, will provide a copy of the agency decision to the Director of Practice and the respondent or the respondent's authorized representative. The decision of the Administrative Law Judge will not be reversed unless the appellant establishes that the decision is clearly erroneous in light of the evidence in the record and applicable law. Issues that are exclusively matters of law will be reviewed de novo. In the event that the Secretary of the Treasury, or his or her delegate, determines that there are unresolved issues raised by the record, the case may be remanded to the Administrative Law Judge to elicit additional testimony or evidence. A copy of the agency decision or that of his or her delegate will be provided to the Director of Practice and the respondent contemporaneously.

Effect of disbarment, suspension, or censure.

(a) Disbarment. When the final decision in a case is against the respondent (or the respondent has offered his or her consent and such consent has been accepted by the Director of Practice) and such decision is for disbarment, the respondent will not be permitted to practice before the Internal Revenue Service unless and until authorized to do so by the Director of Practice pursuant to § 10.81.

(b) Suspension. When the final decision in a case is against the respondent (or the respondent has offered his or her consent and such consent has been accepted by the Director of Practice) and such decision is for suspension, the respondent will not be permitted to practice before the Internal Revenue Service during the period of suspension. For periods after the suspension, the practitioner's future representations may be subject to conditions as authorized by paragraph (d) of this section.

(c) Censure. When the final decision in the case is against the respondent (or the respondent has offered his or her consent and such consent has been accepted by the Director of Practice) and such decision is for censure, the respondent will be permitted to practice before the Internal Revenue Service, but the respondent's future representations may be subject to conditions as authorized by paragraph (d) of this section. o

(d) Conditions. After being subject to the sanction of either suspension or censure, the future representations of a practitioner so sanctioned shall be subject to conditions prescribed by the Director of Practice designed to promote high standards of conduct. These conditions can be imposed for a reasonable period in light of the gravity of the practitioner's violations. For example, where a practitioner is censured because he or she failed to advise his or her clients about a potential conflict of interest or failed to obtain the clients' written consents, the Director of Practice may require the practitioner to provide the Director of Practice or another Internal Revenue Service official with a copy of all consents obtained by the practitioner for an appropriate period following censure, whether or not such consents are specifically requested.

Notice of disbarment, suspension, censure, or disqualification.

On the issuance of a final order censuring, suspending, or disbarring a practitioner or a final order disqualifying an appraiser, the Director of Practice may give notice of the censure, suspension, disbarment, or disqualification to appropriate officers and employees of the Internal Revenue Service and to interested departments and agencies of the Federal government. The Director of Practice may determine the manner of giving notice to the proper authorities of the State by which the censured, suspended, or disbarred person was licensed to practice.

Petition for reinstatement.

The Director of Practice may entertain a petition for reinstatement from any person disbarred from practice before the Internal Revenue Service or any disqualified appraiser after the expiration of 5 years following such disbarment or disqualification. Reinstatement may not be granted unless the Director of Practice is satisfied that the petitioner, thereafter, is not likely to conduct himself contrary to the regulations in this part, and that granting such reinstatement would not be contrary to the public interest.

Expedited suspension upon criminal conviction or loss of license for cause.

(a) When applicable. Whenever the Director of Practice determines that a practitioner is described in paragraph (b) of this section, the Director of Practice may institute a proceeding under this section to suspend the practitioner from practice before the Internal Revenue Service. Start Printed Page 48780

(b) To whom applicable. This section applies to any practitioner who, within 5 years of the date a complaint instituting a proceeding under this section is served:

(1) Has had his or her license to practice as an attorney, certified public accountant, or actuary suspended or revoked for cause (not including a failure to pay a professional licensing fee) by any authority or court, agency, body, or board described in § 10.51(i); or

(2) Has, irrespective of whether an appeal has been taken, been convicted of any crime under title 26 of the United States Code, any crime involving dishonesty or breach of trust, or any felony for which the conduct involved renders the practitioner unfit to practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

(3) Has violated conditions designed to promote high standards of conduct established pursuant to § 10.79(d).

(c) Instituting a proceeding. A proceeding under this section will be instituted by a complaint that names the respondent, is signed by the Director of Practice or a person representing the Director of Practice under § 10.69(a)(1), is filed in the Director of Practice's office, and is served according to the rules set forth in paragraph (a) of § 10.63. The complaint must give a plain and concise description of the allegations that constitute the basis for the proceeding. The complaint must notify the respondent—

(1) Of the place and due date for filing an answer;

(2) That a decision by default may be rendered if the respondent fails to file an answer as required;

(3) That the respondent may request a conference with the Director of Practice to address the merits of the complaint and that any such request must be made in the answer; and

(4) That the respondent may be suspended either immediately following the expiration of the period within which an answer must be filed or, if a conference is requested, immediately following the conference.

(d) Answer. The answer to a complaint described in this section must be filed no later than 30 calendar days following the date the complaint is served, unless the Director of Practice extends the time for filing. The answer must be filed in accordance with the rules set forth in § 10.64, except as otherwise provided in this section. A respondent is entitled to a conference with the Director of Practice only if the conference is requested in a timely filed answer. If a request for a conference is not made in the answer or the answer is not timely filed, the respondent will be deemed to have waived his or her right to a conference and the Director of Practice may suspend such respondent at any time following the date on which the answer was due.

(e) Conference. The Director of Practice or his or her designee will preside at a conference described in this section. The conference will be held at a place and time selected by the Director of Practice, but no sooner than 14 calendar days after the date by which the answer must be filed with the Director of Practice, unless the respondent agrees to an earlier date. An authorized representative may represent the respondent at the conference. Following the conference, upon a finding that the respondent is described in paragraph (b) of this section, or upon the respondent's failure to appear at the conference either personally or through an authorized representative, the Director of Practice may immediately suspend the respondent from practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

(f) Duration of suspension. A suspension under this section will commence on the date that written notice of the suspension is issued. A practitioner's suspension will remain effective until the earlier of the following—

(1) The Director of Practice lifts the suspension after determining that the practitioner is no longer described in paragraph (b) of this section or for any other reason; or

(2) The suspension is lifted by an Administrative Law Judge or the Secretary of the Treasury in a proceeding referred to in paragraph (g) of this section and instituted under § 10.60.

(g) Proceeding instituted under § 10.60. If the Director of Practice suspends a practitioner under this section, the practitioner may ask the Director of Practice to issue a complaint under § 10.60. The request must be made in writing within 2 years from the date on which the practitioner's suspension commences. The Director of Practice must issue a complaint requested under this paragraph within 30 calendar days of receiving the request.

Subpart E—General Provisions

Records.

Availability. The Director of Practice will make available for public inspection at the Office of Director Practice the roster of all persons enrolled to practice, the roster of all persons censured, suspended, or disbarred from practice before the Internal Revenue Service, and the roster of all disqualified appraisers. Other records of the Director of Practice may be disclosed upon specific request, in accordance with the applicable disclosure rules of the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department.

Saving clause.

Any proceeding instituted under regulations in effect prior to July 26, 2002 that is not final prior to July 26, 2002 will not be affected by this part and will apply the rules set forth at 31 CFR part 10 revised as of July 1, 2002. Any proceeding under this part based on conduct engaged in prior to July 26, 2002, which is instituted after that date, shall apply Subpart D and E of this part, but the conduct engaged in prior to July 26, 2002 shall be judged by the regulations in effect at the time the conduct occurred.

Special orders.

The Secretary of the Treasury reserves the power to issue such special orders as he or she deems proper in any cases within the purview of this part.

Effective date.

Subject to § 10.91, this part is applicable on July 26, 2002.

Start Signature

Robert E. Wenzel,

Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

Approved: July 17, 2002.

David Aufhauser,

General Counsel, Office of the Secretary

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 02-18598 Filed 7-25-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4830-01-P