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CPA says, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"


Why would Michael Gray, CPA of San Jose, California give a presentation to the Tax Interest Group of the Peninsula Silicon Valley Chapter, California Society of Certified Public Accountants dressed as Patrick Henry? The presentation was about the IRS Disclosure and Use Rules, and took place at Hobee’s Restaurant in Belmont on Wednesday, November 17.

“I wanted to stress the importance of what I was presenting, and urge our members to take action and contact their representatives in Congress urging changes in the “use” prohibition for tax return preparers,” said Michael Gray, CPA.

Under the “Use” rules, which are intended to protect taxpayer privacy, tax return preparers are prohibited from using information provided by taxpayers to prepare their income tax returns to promote other services provided by the preparer, such as tax planning, estate planning, or financial planning, without first receiving the taxpayer’s written consent. The preparer is also prohibited from discussing these auxiliary services in person with a tax return preparation client without first receiving the client’s written consent.

“Tax return preparers can understand why they must protect their clients’ information from outside users, but the prohibition from providing related services offered by the same firm without written consent is beyond comprehension. Most tax return preparation clients expect to receive advice beyond simply preparing their income tax return. In essence, it’s a gag order.”

Mr. Gray concluded his presentation by reciting the final paragraph of Patrick Henry’s most famous speech, including the immortal phrase, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

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