Discussion:US Tax Court Exam

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Agham12 (talk|edits) said:

8 May 2010
The application for the 2010 US Tax Court Exam is available. Is anyone considering taking the exam? Is it worth the effort? Except for the low pass rate, the knowledge gained is obviously helpful to a tax practice but we haven't had many clients with notice deficiency letters that required filing petitions with the Tax Court. Someone has a different opinion?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

8 May 2010
have you checked the yellow box?????

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

9 May 2010
Agham, I think the average run of the mill client can do better in tax court representing himself, as strange as that sounds.

The judge, being a natural advocate himself, will tend to become the client's advocate.

Of course, a large figure in dispute will naturally lessen the court's sympathies toward the petitioner, and they would be better off with representation.

Jerrykern (talk|edits) said:

10 May 2010
You should check out this Starkman guy's website. He's posted some sample exams. That looks insanely difficult to me. Low pass rate? I'm surprised anyone passes.

NMexEA (talk|edits) said:

10 May 2010
Two points:

The Taxpayer Advocate actually publishes annual statistics about the kinds of cases the Tax Court hears. The data are broken down into represented and pro se and results. An all-too-brief summary appears in the EA Journal from time to time.

If you want to take the TC exam, DO NOT attempt it through self-study. Very few indeed are the J.D.s that would dare to take a state bar exam without a bar prep course even if they are already admitted elsewhere, even if they went to Harvard. The TC exam is a bar exam not an accounting exam like the SEE. To pass it, you will have to learn to analyze and write effectively in a way that lawyers will understand.

Nevertheless, if you are interested, do it!

Nyceacpa (talk|edits) said:

10 May 2010
I have been studying and hope to take the exam this November.

Does anyone know if it is OK not to include the names of 2 references in item 11. on the application, perhaps with a note that I will provide the names upon passing the exam? I would rather not have to ask people only to have to tell them I failed the exam if I fail.

Also, if anyone wants to chat offline about the exam, please contact me.

NMexEA (talk|edits) said:

10 May 2010
If the TC Bar Exam is run like virtually every State Bar exam, you need to give them exactly what they ask for when they ask for it. Most Bar licensing authorities pre-screen applicants before even allowing them to sit the exam.

NMexEA (talk|edits) said:

10 May 2010
Oh, and keep us posted on your progress!

Agham12 (talk|edits) said:

11 May 2010
Nyceacpa I do not know if it would be an ok idea to not provide the info. for the requested references. The application might be returned. I know this is a big hassle but if you are taking a review course, the course provider can help you with the references.

I am not sure if I will go ahead with this since it is too late and I didn't sign up for any bar review courses. You can contact http://www.maxstaxes.com/ and ask them about the references. How long has it been since you have been preparing for it?

NMexEA (talk|edits) said:

11 May 2010
Agham, there are self-paced versions of the TC Bar review out there. Since they offer the exam just every two years (I gather) it would be unfortunate to miss the 2010 session.

One thing I admit I wonder about, just a bit. This is an essay exam written by and graded by lawyers and not just lawyers but lawyers with advanced degrees in law from the two or three best tax law schools in the country. Not to throw any rocks, folks, please don't think it, but accounting and tax people often seem to be a little lacking in the ability to express themselves in clear, grammatically correct English. This might be a problem because words are as important to lawyers as numbers are to accountants.

Potential TC Bar examinees might want to chat with the local community college Business English instructor. An informal evaluation and perhaps even a three credit writing course might make all the difference.

Just a thought.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

11 May 2010
everyone who has taken Sherrill Gregory's tax court exam prep class has had much success with the exam. Her course has an extremely high pass rate for the real thing.

NMexEA (talk|edits) said:

12 May 2010
Like I said, don't try to study for it on your own. Not only do Ms. Gregory's students do well, they represent a large proportion of total exam passers in each cycle.

My only concern is that the exam prep courses are very expensive, on a par with Becker's CPA review. More expensive, even, than most state Bar Exam review courses. Is the TC license worth that investment? I don't know and I don't know how to find out, except by posting here...

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

8 November 2012
The EAs in my study group have an average of $15,000 in cash invested in passing the exam, NMexEA. This includes classes, study materials, and travel to study groups.

In addition, we probably each have $60,000 to $80,000 in potentially billable time at our $200 to $250/hour rates invested in passing.

Midtenntax (talk|edits) said:

8 November 2012
I am a CPA. Is there anything extra I need to do in order to represent a client before the Tax Court? Does a CPA need to pass the Tax Court Bar Exam? I thought a CPA was granted full rights to do everything a tax attorney and EA can do.

I honestly don't ever plan on representing a client before the court (at least not at this stage in my tax career). It's more of an FYI for me.

Uncle Sam (talk|edits) said:

9 November 2012
I thought a CPA was granted full rights to do everything a tax attorney and EA can do.

Yes - but not practice in tax court - that's reserved for attorneys as well as non-attorneys who pass the U. S. Tax Court Exam.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 November 2012
Not even EAs can practice before Tax Court, Midtenntax, unless they've also passed the exam then become admitted, or are otherwise admitted as an attorney already admitted to the bar in a state.

Circular 230 Federally Authorized Tax Practitioners are authorized to represent clients before all ADMINISTRATIVE levels of the IRS. Tax Court is not a division of the IRS, even though it gets its jurisdiction from the US tax code.

Midtenntax (talk|edits) said:

9 November 2012
Thanks, Kevin and Uncle Sam, for the clarification. As stated in my post, I don't intend on representing clients in Tax Court at this stage in my career. I'd probably do more harm than good.

Taxguruette (talk|edits) said:

23 July 2013
Which company is the better one for studying for the tax court exam and why?

Taxguruette (talk|edits) said:

23 July 2013
Which company is the better one for studying for the tax court exam and why?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

23 July 2013
Sherrill Gregory Trovato's class has a higher percentage of passers than all the others combined. Of the 11 people who passed this past year, 10 had taken her class (including me) and the 11th purchased her material. The others? No passers that we know of.

I had taken a class by Steve Diamond, CPA 14 years ago and did not pass, mostly because he failed to teach one whole part of the exam (the easiest part, if you just study). Generally, you get what you pay for.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

23 July 2013
http://www.taxcourtexam.com/instructor_s_bio.html

DublinTax (talk|edits) said:

23 July 2013
I took the exam of 2012 along with Kevin. I failed very narrowly in the easiest part of the exam - ethics by 2 points and it is my fault that I took easy on that part.I took Sherrill's course and it is very good. You will get all the necessary information and tools to pass the exam. It is worth the money only if you are committed to do your part. I will taking it in 2014.

NMexEA (talk|edits) said:

23 July 2013
A quibble...CPAs and EAs can represent clients before the IRS on an equal footing with attorneys in CIVIL matters. If a case begins to turn criminal, only an attorney enjoys attorney/client privilege.

A footnote to the quibble...nonattorney USTCPs are admitted to the practice of law in a court of record. They are not attorneys under Cir. 230 but Tax Court rules draw no distinction so the full privilege should be in effect for any case on the Court's docket including cases referred to Appeals.

All very confusing.

Joanmcq (talk|edits) said:

23 July 2013
I would like to plan to take the exam in 2014; I hope I can find the time for studies and the exam itself.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

23 July 2013
Good luck, Joan. Sherrill's one year class starts this November. If you cannot devote one hour a day to it for one year, and one day a week after tax season, then you cannot possibly pass. In my most humble opinion, it has to be the ONLY goal of the year.

Joanmcq (talk|edits) said:

24 July 2013
Does the class run during tax season?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

24 July 2013
There are monthly homework assignments from November to November. The live sessions after tax season are only 10% of the work you will need to do. If you skimp on the assignments during tax season, you will have to make up for that time later, otherwise you will have missed important lessons critical for passing. Some of the concepts require actual thinking and not mere memorization. The entire exam is essay, there are no multiple choice or fill in the blank questions, so you really can't fake it. Either you know your stuff or you don't, but fewer than half who pass actually pass on their first attempt at this bi-annual exam. I know of people who have sat for the exam more than three times.

NMexEA (talk|edits) said:

24 July 2013
So tell me, Kevin...if you are preparing a case for trial in Tax Court and the client says, "Oh, I didn't report that income from my trust in Guatemala...the IRS will never find out about it and what they don't know won't hurt them. Why should I pay taxes on income they can't prove? Besides, I wouldn't want them to look at how I made that money. I could end up in Leavenworth." would you consider that communication privileged or not?

For me as an attorney, it is probably privileged. For an EA or CPA, I doubt that it is privileged since it sounds pretty decidedly criminal. But for you as a USTCP, what do you think?

DublinTax (talk|edits) said:

24 July 2013
If it previleged for an attorney then it is for USCTP also. What make you think otherwise. EA or CPA are different

PollyAdler (talk|edits) said:

24 July 2013
It is different Dublin, even if you have the high status of a non-attorney USCTP, you are not an attorney and you don't have the privilege as NMex outlines.

H.D. Freifunk (talk|edits) said:

24 July 2013
Ja. Ja. NMex ist korrekt.

Prof. Freifunk, not translated by bing.

DublinTax (talk|edits) said:

24 July 2013
http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/jom/matters/matters-9706.html

"Some unusual questions regarding attorney-client privilege have arisen in connection with patent agents. Some courts have concluded that even though patent agents are not lawyers, they are lawfully engaging in conduct that causes them to act like lawyers; they have held that the privilege applies. In other cases, emphasis has been placed on the fact that the patent agent is primarily a conveyor of information intended ultimately to be disclosed to the public, and, as a result, the attorney-client privilege has not been applied."

"Generally, in order for the attorney-client privilege to apply, there must be an attorney-client relationship and the communication must be made by the client in confidence for the purpose of obtaining legal advice."

What is the relationship between USTCP and his CLIENT. Dont you agree it is attorney - client relationship.. I think attorney -client privilege exists as long as there is such relationship and communication happens to seek legal advise.

The question is not whether USCTP IS AN ATTORNEY OR NOT but is there a attorney client relationship or not. That determines the previlege.

H.D. Freifunk (talk|edits) said:

25 July 2013
Sehen Sie Freund, einige Pink Panther-Flims. Inspektor Clouseau spricht von der: Gesetz. Er nennt es "Lieu".

You must look at the written U.S. law and Regs. on this specific subject, as Inspector Clouseau might say.

Prof. Freifunk, half translated by bing.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

25 July 2013
In my studies for the exam, somewhere I was led to believe that the court granted attorney-client privilege to non-attorneys acting as attorneys.

DublinTax (talk|edits) said:

25 July 2013
http://www.usip.com/pdf/Article_Patents/aty-clnt.pdf

Based on the above analysis relating patent attorneys I would think courts will uphold the USTCP and client privilege.

A client comes to an attorney and says "Oh, I didn't report that income from my trust in Guatemala...the IRS will never find out about it and what they don't know won't hurt them. Why should I pay taxes on income they can't prove? Besides, I wouldn't want them to look at how I made that money. I could end up in Leavenworth."

In which cases would you consider that communication privileged or not?

1) Client came for his tax prep 2) Client came for representation work with IRS 3) Client came for trial in court 4) Client came for representation with IRS and then proceeded to court

for an attorney I would think scenario 1 and 2 are not protected and scenario 3 is protected. And Scenario 4 is tricky. Usual scenario for an attorney is case 3 but for USTCP case 4 Although USTCP and client privilege exists, the scenario 4 kind of jeopardizes it.

PollyAdler (talk|edits) said:

25 July 2013
Yes Dublin, but don't analyze, especially in this area of the law. I think NMex stated the black letter law correctly, unless Kevin can cite a case with broad applicaton.

There is a comical element to this as well. If you asked 20 lawyers and judges to tell you what the state law is on attorney-client privilege in their state, I would guess that only six of them would get it right. There is a lot of talk that goes on about privilege even in the courtroom that is mostly wrong. It only gets a close look if it becomes a real issue and the parties actually take a look at the law, brief it, argue it and so on.

I remember years ago reading a law review article about the privilege in my state. I realized about halfway through that I knew practically nothing about the privilege in my state, and I don't think too many lawyers even took the time to read the article; maybe they did. The full time criminal lawyers might know more about it than the general civil lawyers who might take an occassional criminal case.

PollyAdler (talk|edits) said:

25 July 2013
Excuse me Dublin, am I bad.

I was misquoting what NMex said about the law. Here is what he said about USTCPs: "....nonattorney USTCPs are admitted to the practice of law in a court of record. They are not attorneys under Cir. 230 but Tax Court rules draw no distinction so the full privilege should be in effect for any case on the Court's docket including cases referred to Appeals."

As Kevin suggested, there might very well be a case out there that had to construe this very issue.

My apologies.

NMexEA (talk|edits) said:

25 July 2013
Here's a REAL hijack but related. Sort of.

In New Mexico, "any person" who becomes aware that a child is abused or neglected must make a referral to CYFD. That's what is says and there's no exception for clergy, lawyers, or physicians. So the debate raged (and I mean RAGED). Suppose a person approaches me and say, "Oh, you're a lawyer, right? I need to talk to a lawyer...I slept with my 11 year old step daughter six times last year before her mother took her away to Clovis and I'm scared she's gonna tell the cops."

Notice there's no hint of ongoing abuse. Report? Or not report?

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

25 July 2013
For the record, I would say that I would not report it under your law NMex (note I am not saying how I might actually finesse it. :)). On the other hand, I can see that the man is assumed to know New Mexico law before he opens his mouth to anyone, so he is charged with knowing the risk that he is taking by running his mouth, even to a lawyer in this situation.

Since the girl is only 11, I would not quibble too much about what the meaning of "still being abused" is. What is abuse? Does the spectre of it not follow one?

I've never had to deal with a blurter out of the gate on a serious issue. I made the worst assumption about the word "slept". I don't know if this is what Michael Jackson meant by slept or not. Hmmm, the more I think about this the more I understand why the debate raged.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

26 July 2013
The mailman delivered my Tax Court admission certificate yesterday. I took it to get it framed thinking it represented an entire year of my life studying for the exam. But this morning I realized that it really represented 26 years of my career in taxation. I could not have been prepared to study for the exam last year without having first built a strong foundation the prior 25 years. So yes, I bought the expensive frame and museum glass.

NMexEA (talk|edits) said:

26 July 2013
Yew betcha!!

Now, be sure and tell us when you file your first petition and have your first hearing. Don't let feeling nervous keep you from actual practice. You'll be fine.

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