An empirical study of the attitudes of the accounting profession concerning the practice of tax accounting
The presence of both CPAs and tax attorneys in many of the same areas of tax practice has produced intermittent conflict between these two professions for the last fifty years. This dispute over the available work asserted itself in two directions. On the one hand tax attorneys who felt threatened by accountants practicing in the tax area went to court. They used their state bar associations to secure a legal determination that a particular non-lawyer practitioner was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The other direction this conflict took is the so called "conference approach," where leading members of both professions meet and work out mutually agreeable limits of professional practice for each group. Repeated attempts to define a boundary line between the two professions in the area of tax practice never have met with much concrete success. The issue of the CPAs role in the practice of law is one which needs additional legal and empirical research. Accordingly this study attempted to define the limits within which CPAs may practice tax law and to determine, through an examination of the tax practices of selected accounting and law firms in the Houston metropolitan area, whether such accounting firms are operating within those limits. This study included a thorough review- of the literature, an analysis of the various proposals and agreements between the professions, and a discussion of all of these sources as they relate to the actual state of tax practice. The methodology used in this research is a combination of traditional legal research together with the use of the questionnaire technique. The legal research will explain the current state of the law as it applies to tax practice by CPAs. Primarily through the use of questionnaires, the study then determines the current state of tax practice in firms of CPAs engaged in tax law in the metropolitan Houston area. The questionnaires illuminate how much of contemporary tax practice by CPAs is currently authorized under the definition of-tax practice which we have formulated, and how much of this practice is unauthorized in light of these same standards.