Whether accounting firms and tax practitioners should be allowed to seek patent protection for the tax advice that they offer is a question being raised on Capitol Hill in response to a recent upsurge in patent applications by the developers of new tax reduction strategies.By describing their strategies as "business methods," a number of shelter promoters have convinced the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect their estate and gift tax reduction programs from copycats.

Announcing a new round of hearings on the issue, officials at the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures credited concerns raised by a number of tax practitioners with focusing attention on such patents.

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