Washington (Jan. 28, 2004) -- Representatives of the nation’s tax lawyers joined with leaders from the accounting profession in calling for a more vigorous enforcement stance by the Internal Revenue Service over the next five years.

Testifying at a Jan. 26 meeting of the IRS Oversight Board, American Institute of CPAs spokesman Mark VanDeveer listed “strengthened enforcement activities” as one of three highest priorities for the tax service in the years ahead.

Although several of the nation’s largest accounting firms have drawn heavy fire in Washington for their role in promoting abusive tax shelters, VanDeveer told the oversight board that the AICPA supports the agency’s recent crackdown on “abusive tax shelters.”

In urging that enforcement be given high priority at the tax service, he said that the IRS must take action to “strengthen the integrity of the tax system through enhanced enforcement actions.” VanDeveer, who chairs the institute’s IRS practice and procedures committee, also called for a “re-engineering” of tax audits as part of a move toward improved enforcement.

American Bar Association Taxation Section chair Richard Shaw joined the AICPA in calling for more rigorous enforcement by the IRS. In his presentation to the watchdog group, Shaw said that continued improvement in IRS enforcement activity is necessary and called on the agency to “continue its efforts to encourage tax practitioners to help promote compliance” with the tax laws. Shaw also called the agency’s recently proposed tax shelter opinion revisions to Circular 230 “a major step in the right direction.”

“As tax lawyers, we recognize the professional ethical responsibility of lawyers to the system,” Shaw said, adding, “We are committed to doing our part to help restore public confidence in the tax system.”

-- Ken Rankin

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