Standards for Tax Services Proposed

The AICPA tax executive committee recently published exposure drafts of proposed Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs) and an interpretation of SSTS no. 1, Tax Return Positions.

Although the guidelines, issued by the tax executive committee as Statements on Responsibilities in Tax Practice (SRTPs) between 1964 and 1977, have been relied upon by the courts, the IRS, state accountancy boards and other professional organizations as an “official” articulation of appropriate conduct in a CPA’s tax practice, they were originally published as advisory opinions and were educational in nature. Over the years, the SRTPs have become, de facto, enforceable standards of professional practice as tax practitioners are regularly held accountable for failing to follow them.

To remedy the lack of formal standards in the tax area, the tax executive committee, with the support of the AICPA’s board of directors, seeks to adopt enforceable standards. The AICPA council laid the groundwork in October 1999 by designating the committee as a standard-setting body, which authorizes it to adopt these statements as enforceable standards after a 90-day exposure period.

The comment period ends July 18, 2000. The draft is available, free of charge, online at or by writing to the AICPA Order Department, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.

The tax executive committee is expected to vote on whether to approve the draft later this summer. When the standards become final, they will be binding upon members and will appear in the Official Releases section of the JofA.


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