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The United States Treasury Department has issued final regulations, which became effective on June 20, 2005, governing the issuance of written tax advice. These regulations are commonly referred to as the “Circular 230” rules.
Circular 230 contains new extensive due diligence requirements for “covered opinions” and “other written tax advice.” It also sets forth minimum required practice rules with respect to a written discussion of a federal tax issue. The regulations are intended to bolster the efforts of the Treasury Department and the IRS to combat abusive tax shelter advice and to enhance public confidence in the honesty and integrity of tax professionals. The regulations are also intended to deter taxpayers from engaging in abusive transactions by limiting or eliminating their ability to avoid penalties through inappropriate reliance on a tax advisor’s advice. Additionally, the regulations are aimed at preventing unprincipled tax advisors and promoters from marketing abusive transactions to large numbers of customers (mostly unsophisticated taxpayers) based on an opinion that fails to consider adequately the facts of the particular transaction.
An email communication may be subject to these new regulations because it is “written advice” and may not comply with the Circular 230 rules if it fails to provide a full analysis and discussion of all relevant facts and an evaluation of each significant federal tax issue raised by the transaction in question.
However, a written communication, such as an email message, may be exempt from the Circular 230 rules if an appropriate disclaimer is used to explain that the written communication is not intended or written to be used, and that it cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.
Therefore, Weir & Partners LLP has adopted a policy requiring that every outgoing email communication from Weir & Partners LLP contain a cautionary legend with the appropriate disclaimer. This policy benefits our clients because it avoids the necessity of conducting a Circular 230 due diligence analysis for each and every written communication that touches upon a federal tax issue, even if given informally, and the higher legal fees associated with such an analysis.
Furthermore, we would like to assure our clients that the presence of the disclaimer does not affect the quality of our advice, nor does it indicate that our clients should not rely on our advice.
We encourage you to contact an attorney of Weir & Partners LLP should you have any questions or concerns about the Circular 230 rules or the policy we have adopted to comply with these rules.
This is only a summary and is not intended to constitute tax advice. New Treasury Regulations require us to inform you that any tax advice used in this communication was not intended or written by the practitioner to be used (1) to avoid any penalty that may be imposed under federal tax law, or (2) for promotion, marketing or recommending to another person the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed herein. If you intend to seek tax advice then you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax adviser.