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Tax Preparer Pro Bono

 
 
MTW
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      01-31-2005, 12:01 AM
Dannie wrote:

> One reason why I tell all people I do returns for (and don't
> charge) that I am keeping no copy of any of their paperwork.
> I do make a copy for them and it is up to them to bring me a
> copy of last years returns before I attempt to do the new
> year. This is a pain and I have done 1040x's but it means
> reentering the data from the paper 1040.


That sounds like a prudent procedure under the
circumstances. I suppose you could give the client a
diskette copy of his tax data file, and that ~might~ save
you some reentry time in the future ???

MTW

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MTW
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      01-31-2005, 12:01 AM
Stuart Bronstein wrote:

> I've never studied this. But my understanding has been
> that, if you charge for doing a return you are required to
> sign it, but if you don't charge, you are not. But that's
> all I know about this, if that's even accurate.


You are generally correct with respect to responsibility for
signing the return, but that's not really what I'm getting
at. The questions I'm raising are:

1) Does an unpaid preparer have a lesser responsibility with
respect to the protection of a client's confidential
information than does a paid preparer?

2) Is a taxpayer entitled to less privacy protection by
virtual of using an unpaid preparer, than he would otherwise
be entitled to if he used a paid preparer?

3) If an unpaid preparer was sued in any form of civil or
criminal matter, at either the state or federal level for
making unauthorized disclosures of client data, would the
fact that he had not been paid constitute an irrefutable
defense?

If the answer to either of these questions is "yes," then I
would dearly love to see some "authoritative support" for
such conclusions. <grin>

MTW

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Arthur Kamlet
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      01-31-2005, 11:53 PM
MTW <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Stuart Bronstein wrote:


>> I've never studied this. But my understanding has been
>> that, if you charge for doing a return you are required to
>> sign it, but if you don't charge, you are not. But that's
>> all I know about this, if that's even accurate.


> You are generally correct with respect to responsibility for
> signing the return, but that's not really what I'm getting
> at. The questions I'm raising are:
>
> 1) Does an unpaid preparer have a lesser responsibility with
> respect to the protection of a client's confidential
> information than does a paid preparer?
>
> 2) Is a taxpayer entitled to less privacy protection by
> virtual of using an unpaid preparer, than he would otherwise
> be entitled to if he used a paid preparer?
>
> 3) If an unpaid preparer was sued in any form of civil or
> criminal matter, at either the state or federal level for
> making unauthorized disclosures of client data, would the
> fact that he had not been paid constitute an irrefutable
> defense?


This last one could include pro bono tax preparation through
the VITA/TCE/AARP-TaxAide and similar volunteer programs,
where the volunteer has been certified to rpepare simple tax
returns.

A volunteer acting within thhe scope of this certification
receives protection under 42 USC 14503, Public Law 105-19,
The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997

The relevant portion of that act states

SEC. 4. LIMITATION ON LIABILITY FOR VOLUNTEERS.
(a) LIABILITY PROTECTION FOR VOLUNTEERS- Except as
provided in
subsections (b) and (d), no volunteer of a nonprofit
organization
or governmental entity shall be liable for harm caused
by an act or
omission of the volunteer on behalf of the organization
or entity
if--
(1) the volunteer was acting within the scope of
the
volunteer's responsibilities in the nonprofit
organization or
governmental entity at the time of the act or
omission;
(2) if appropriate or required, the volunteer was
properly
licensed, certified, or authorized by the
appropriate
authorities for the activities or practice in the
State in
which the harm occurred, where the activities were
or practice
was undertaken within the scope of the volunteer's
responsibilities in the nonprofit organization or
governmental
entity;
(3) the harm was not caused by willful or criminal

misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct,
or a
conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or
safety of the
individual harmed by the volunteer; and
(4) the harm was not caused by the volunteer
operating a
motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle
....

__
Art Kamlet ArtKamlet @ AOL.com Columbus OH K2PZH

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Stuart Bronstein
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      02-02-2005, 07:43 PM
MTW wrote:

> You are generally correct with respect to responsibility for
> signing the return, but that's not really what I'm getting
> at. The questions I'm raising are:
>
> 1) Does an unpaid preparer have a lesser responsibility with
> respect to the protection of a client's confidential
> information than does a paid preparer?
>
> 2) Is a taxpayer entitled to less privacy protection by
> virtual of using an unpaid preparer, than he would otherwise
> be entitled to if he used a paid preparer?
>
> 3) If an unpaid preparer was sued in any form of civil or
> criminal matter, at either the state or federal level for
> making unauthorized disclosures of client data, would the
> fact that he had not been paid constitute an irrefutable
> defense?
>
> If the answer to either of these questions is "yes," then I
> would dearly love to see some "authoritative support" for
> such conclusions.


The terms of section 6103 prohibit any government employee
or "other person" from disclosing return information. I
didn't see an exemption for unpaid preparers or anyone else.
So my educated guess is that the answers to all of your
questions would be "no."

Stu

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MTW
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      02-07-2005, 06:19 PM
Stuart Bronstein wrote:

> The terms of section 6103 prohibit any government employee
> or "other person" from disclosing return information. I
> didn't see an exemption for unpaid preparers or anyone else.
> So my educated guess is that the answers to all of your
> questions would be "no."


Hence, I would continue to advise a cautious approach to
unpaid preparers who are functioning OUTSIDE of the
protection afforded by officially sanctioned tax volunteer
programs.

MTW

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