The CPA's Responsibility in Tax Practice
by THOMAS J. GRAVES Partner, Executive Office
Presented in introducing panel discussion at the 76th Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Certified
Public Accountants, Minneapolis—October 1963
OUR recent attention to questions of "good tax practice" and re-sponsibilities in tax practice may have left the impression that we believe our standards of responsibility are inadequate. Any such conclusion
would certainly be far from correct.
Our deliberations on our role in tax practice may have been too informal in the past, and we may have failed to articulate our understanding
of the proper courses of action in some of the difficult questions
we face from time to time, but we need feel no urge to apologize for the manner in which members of the profession have done their work. When confronted with problems of distinguishing between our responsibility to serve our clients well and our obligation to deal fairly with the Government, we usually have found satisfactory answers
in our Code of Professional Ethics—with its emphasis on integrity and high standards of personal conduct—and in the rules of conduct set forth in Circular 230, the rules of practice before the Treasury Department. The fact that these inquiries were individual and personal, rather than organized and formal, has not prevented members of our profession from conducting themselves in the tax field in a manner that has commanded the respect of both the business
public and public officials.
Thus, our present examination of our responsibilities should be seen in its proper perspective as what it really is—an attempt to express formally the standards that have come to be recognized and thus to gain a more uniform understanding of them throughout the profession.
Actually, formal consideration within the profession of the responsibilities of the tax practitioner is not new.
Serious discussions of the functions of CPAs in tax practice, apart from the standards of conduct expected of CPAs generally, can be traced to the middle 1950s when the late Marquis G. Eaton, then president of the Institute, appointed a Committee on Tax