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Preview and Analysis of Proposed Statements on Standards for Tax Services

Why the AICPA’s Tax Executive Committee (TEC) anticipates that revised Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTS) will become effective no earlier than January 1, 2010.

May 2009
by John Gardner, et al./The Tax Adviser

The AICPA’s Tax Executive Committee (TEC), the standard-setting body authorized to promulgate standards of tax practice for AICPA members, released an exposure draft of proposed Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTS Nos. 1–7) on November 26, 2008. Comments on the exposure draft may be submitted until May 15, 2009.1 The TEC anticipates that revised SSTS, based on the exposure draft with possible modifications for comments received, will become effective no earlier than January 1, 2010.

The preface to the proposed SSTS states that standards are the foundation of any profession. AICPA members are aided in fulfilling their ethical responsibilities through the existence of these enforceable tax practice standards against which a member’s professional performance is measured. These standards apply to all members providing tax services regardless of the jurisdiction in which they practice. A member’s compliance with the standards also reaffirms the public’s awareness of the professionalism that is associated with CPAs and the AICPA.

The proposed SSTS have their historical origins in the AICPA’s Statements on Responsibilities in Tax Practice (SRTPs), originally issued between 1964 and 1977. By the 1990s, the SRTPs, originally considered advisory in nature, had become recognized and relied upon by the IRS, state boards of accountancy, and other professional organizations as the appropriate articulation of professional conduct by CPAs engaged in tax practice. In August 2000, the TEC issued the current SSTS, largely mirroring the content and language of the SRTPs, but changing them from best practices to enforceable standards.

Since the TEC issued the SSTS, members have asked for clarification on various matters contained therein. In addition, with changes in federal and state laws on tax practice matters, a need arose to revise the statements. Thus, a task force, appointed in 2003, began the revision process for the SSTS, culminating in the TEC’s exposure of the proposed SSTS in November 2008.

This article has been excerpted from The Tax Adviser. View the full article here (PDF).