It seems that every year, just like the spring equinox, you can count on Stephen Dunn, a tax litigation attorney and Forbes Magazine contributor, to write a negative article on the tax resolution industry and post it on Forbes.com.
The article “Tax Resolution’ Firms — Who Are These People?” he wrote a few days ago is his most disturbing to date. I do agree with some of his commentary such as consumers should be warned about the unscrupulous and disreputable tax resolution providers out there. But he goes much further this time and attempts to discredit CPA’s and Enrolled Agents by saying CPA’s are not trained in tax practice and procedure but should stick to auditing financial statements and preparing tax returns. Really? Is that what he really thinks? The last time I checked, IRS revenue officers use the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM), which is not codified law, to administer IRS collections procedure.
I hate it when people with so-called credibility take advantage of a reputable publications readership and misinform the public to enhance ones’ own stature.
As a CPA, I’ve been representing taxpayers for 16 years and have personally represented thousands of “good” people during this time. Over 90% of IRS representation work is considered administrative and does not require the practice of law or “knowing how to litigate”. What it does require, which Mr. Dunn conveniently leaves out of his article, is specialized knowledge and training in interpreting financial data, business acumen, in-depth knowledge of what goes into the preparation of a 1040, 1120, etc. and most importantly excellent advocacy, negotiation and communication skills. What Mr. Dunn doesn’t admit to or realize are that lawyers do not have a monopoly on this. As a matter of fact, two of the most recognized tax problem resolution education organizations and or associations (ASTPS and the NTPI) in the country are mostly comprised of CPAs and Enrolled Agents, not attorneys.
Over the years I have hired and managed dozens of lawyers, CPAs and EAs. It has been my experience that lawyers are not any better than their CPA and EA counterparts when it comes to providing client care and expert professional representation.
I cannot begin to tell you how many clients came to me who came from and were injured at the hands of an attorney to the point where it would be considered mal-practice by their insurance carriers. Case in point, most attorneys don’t realize that income taxes, if certain requirements are met, are dischargeable in bankruptcy. If they were only knowledgeable and trained to not only obtain the clients IRS transcripts and records of account, before filing a petition, but to also know how to PROPERLY analyze these documents their clients would not have to seek out the help and pay additional fees to a non-attorney practitioner to resolve the tax liability portion had the attorney knew what they were doing in the first place.
I have had the unique pleasure of training numerous attorneys on IRS collections and examination procedure. I get calls on a regular basis from attorneys all over the country asking me to teach them how to represent people with IRS problems. I give Mr. Dunn an “A plus” in self-aggrandizing and an “F minus” in consensus building among his brethren CPAs and EAs.
What do you think? I’d love to hear what your thoughts on the subject are. You can leave your comments in the comments section of my blog.