8e-sm-01 - Federal Tax Research Eighth Edition Page 1-1...

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Federal Tax Research, Eighth Edition Page 1-1 CHAPTER 1 AN INTRODUCTION TO TAX PRACTICE AND ETHICS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1-1. In the United States, the tax system is an outgrowth of the following five disciplines: law, accounting, economics, political science, and sociology. The environment for the tax system is provided by the principles of economics, sociology, and political science, while the legal and accounting fields are responsible for the system's interpretation and application. Each of these disciplines affects this country's tax system in a unique way. Economists address such issues as how proposed tax legislation will affect the rate of inflation or economic growth. Measurement of the social equity of a tax, and determining whether a tax system discriminates against certain taxpayers, are issues that are examined by sociologists and political scientists. Finally, attorneys are responsible for the interpretation of the taxation statutes, and accountants ensure that these same statutes are applied consistently. See page 4 of the text. 1-2. The four major categories of tax practice are: tax compliance tax planning tax litigation tax research See page 5 of the text. 1-3. Tax compliance consists of gathering pertinent information, evaluating and classifying that information, and filing any necessary tax returns. Compliance also includes other functions necessary to satisfy governmental requirements, such as representing a client during an IRS
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Federal Tax Research, Eighth Edition Page 1-2 audit. See page 5 of the text. 1-4. Most of the tax compliance work is performed by commercial tax preparers, enrolled agents, attorneys, and CPAs. Noncomplex individual, partnership, and corporate tax returns often are completed by commercial tax preparers. The preparation of more complex returns usually is performed by enrolled agents, attorneys, and CPAs. The latter groups also provide tax planning services and represent their clients before the IRS. An enrolled agent is one who is admitted to practice before the IRS by passing a special IRS- administered examination, or who has worked for the IRS for five years, and is issued a permit to represent clients before the IRS. CPAs and attorneys are not required to take this examination and are automatically admitted to practice before the IRS if they are in good standing with the appropriate professional licensing board. See page 5 of the text and Circular 230. 1-5. Tax planning is the process of arranging one's financial affairs to minimize any tax liability. Much of modern tax practice centers around this process, and the resultant outcome is tax avoidance. There is nothing illegal or immoral in the avoidance of taxation, as long as the taxpayer remains within legal bounds. In contrast, tax evasion constitutes the illegal nonpayment of a tax. Activities of this sort clearly violate existing legal constraints and fall outside of the domain of the professional tax practitioner.
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