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§10.51 – Incompetence and Disreputable Conduct

Incompetence and disreputable conduct for which an attorney, certified public accountant, enrolled agent, or enrolled actuary may be disbarred or suspended from practice before the Internal Revenue Service includes (but is not limited to) the following:


  • Conviction of any criminal offense which violated U.S. revenue laws, or an offense which involves dishonesty, or breach of trust.

  • A felony conviction for conduct violating Federal or State law which causes the practitioner to be unfit to practice before the IRS.

  • Providing false (or misleading) information, any participation in providing false or misleading information to the Department of the Treasury or an officer or employee of the Department, or to any authoritative body empowered to pass upon Federal tax matters, which relates to any matter pending or which will be pending before them, with full knowledge that this information will be false or misleading. The term “information” includes 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.

  • Soliciting employment as prohibited under §10.30, using false or deceiving statements which intentionally mislead a current or prospective client with the intent of securing employment or indicating that the practitioner can improperly obtain special consideration or action from the Internal Revenue Service or an officer or employee of the department. 

  • Willfully failing to make a Federal tax return in violation of the federal tax laws, or willfully evading, attempting to evade, or participating in any way in evading or attempting to evade any assessment of payment of Federal tax. 

  • Suggesting to a prospective or current client a plan for evading Federal taxes or payment of Federal taxes or concealing his own or another person’s assets to evade Federal taxes or payment of Federal taxes.

  • Misappropriate, or fail in a prompt manner, to submit funds from a client where the client intended those funds to pay taxes or other obligations due the U.S.

  • Attempt to influence, directly or indirectly, or offer or agree to attempt to influence, any official action of an officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service through extortion, allegations, duress or intimidation, by offering a bribe, promising an advantage or by giving a gift, a favor or something of value.

  • Official disbarment or being suspended from practice as an attorney, certified public accountant, public accountant, or actuary by an official authority of any State, possession, territory, Commonwealth, the District of Columbia, any Federal court or Federal agency, body or board.

  • Aiding and abetting (with full knowledge) a person to practice before the Internal Revenue Service during a period in which that other person has received a suspension, disbarment, or is ineligible. 

  • Conducting oneself in a disrespectful manner when engaged in practice before the Internal Revenue Service, to include using abusive language, making deceitful allegations and statements with full knowledge that they are false, or circulation or publishing of malicious or slanderous material.

  • Rendering a false opinion, knowingly, recklessly, or through gross incompetence, to include an intentional or recklessly misleading opinion, or exhibiting a pattern of rendering incompetent opinions on questions which arise under the Federal tax laws.  As described in this paragraph false opinions 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 concealment of matters required by law to be revealed; or from conscious disregard of information indicating that material facts expressed in the tax opinion or offering material are false or misleading.  In addition, the terms “reckless conduct,” “pattern of conduct,” and “gross incompetence,” for purposes of applying this paragraph, will be defined as follows: 

  • “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, a preparation which is grossly inadequate under the circumstances, and a consistent failure to perform obligations to the client. 

Intentional failure to sign a tax return prepared by the practitioner when the signature is required by Federal tax laws unless that failure is a result of reasonable cause and not willful neglect.


The new regulations have expanded the definitions of incompetence and disreputable conduct to include: Willfully failing to file a tax return prepared by the practitioner on electronic or magnetic when required to do so by Federal tax laws unless that failure is due to a reasonable cause (not willful neglect).

  • Intentional preparation of all or substantially all, or signing a tax return or claim for a refund while not possessing a current or otherwise valid preparer tax identification number 

  • Representing a taxpayer before the IRS while, knowingly, not having proper authorization to do so.

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Cathy Fisher

Common Cents Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation

Serving Henderson, NC, Buncombe County, Polk County, Transylvania County

E: cathy@commoncentsqbo.com

P: 828-595-2835

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