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Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

On July 30, 2002, President Bush signed into law the most significant legislation affecting the accounting profession since 1933--the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Act), which may have implications for CPA tax advisers.

The Act creates a five-member Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (Board), with authority to set and enforce auditing, attestation, quality control and ethics (including independence) standards for public companies. It is also empowered to inspect the auditing operations of public accounting firms that audit public companies and impose disciplinary and remedial sanctions for violations of the Board's rules, securities laws and professional auditing standards.

Among other provisions, the Act lists eight types of services that are "unlawful" if provided to a publicly held company by its auditor:

1. Bookkeeping.

2. Information systems design and implementation.

3. Appraisals or valuation services.

4. Actuarial services.

5. Internal audits.

6. Management and human resources services.

7. Broker/dealer and investment banking services.

8. Legal or expert services related to audit services.

A "catch-all" category authorizes the Board to determine by regulation any service it wishes to prohibit. Other nonaudit services--including tax services--require pre-approval by the audit committee on a case-by-case basis. Pre-approved nonaudit services must be disclosed to investors in periodic reports.

The Act does not define "expert" services; it is not known how broadly the Board or the SEC will define this term. Some traditional tax services may be construed as "expert" services that any firm providing audit services to publicly held audit clients cannot also provide. The AICPA will work with the Board or the SEC to help it understand the importance of auditors providing tax services for publicly held audit clients. In addition, tax services performed by an auditor for a publicly held company would require pre-approval by the client's audit committee.

For a detailed description of the Act, see
Federal tax burden per capita, FYs 1992-2002

 Current Constant
 dollars 2002 dollars

'92 $4,163 $5,010
'93 $4,381 $5,150
'94 $4,710 $5,423
'95 $4,985 $5,617
'96 $5,315 $5,875
'97 $5,716 $6,198
'98 $6,142 $6,578
'99 $6,443 $6,805
'00 $7,046 $7,277
'01 $6,875 $6,948
'02e $6,918 $6,918

Source: Tax Foundation

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Circular 230 Alert?

The IRS released final regulations (TD 9011) on Circular 230 non-tax-shelter matters, located at IRB 2002-33, 356, and at bullet.html. On that webpage, select "Internal Revenue Bulletin 2002-33 Weekly," then click "Retrieve Selected Files." Treasury is expected to re-propose the Circular 230 tax-shelter provisions soon.
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Article Details
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Author:Laffie, Lesli S.
Publication:The Tax Adviser
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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