An accountant may wear many hats. Let's see, there is most trusted advisor, auditor, tax preparer, tax advisor, financial planner, advocate, and consultant, to name just a few. Lately, it seems that the Big Five is having a little trouble with some of those hats. For example, the Department of Justice and the SEC weren't happy with how Andersen was wearing its audit hat with regard to Enron.

And just recently, the IRS indicated it wasn't satisfied with some accounting firms' tax advisory caps. In one instance, the IRS reached agreement with PricewaterhouseCoopers on resolving issues relating to tax shelter registration for some of its clients. PwC also made a substantial payment to IRS without admitting any wrongdoing and promised to do a better job of registering tax shelters and maintaining lists of investors in tax shelters. That was followed shortly by enforcement actions instituted by the IRS against KPMG and BDO Seidman also to compel disclosure about tax shelter dealings.

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