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Ethics for Tax Lawyers: Answers to Your Most Difficult Questions

(474 reviews)

Produced on December 05, 2019

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Course Information

Time 1h 2m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Ethics Tax

Course Description

The tax law is complicated and the right answer is not always clear. How sure do you have to be before you can tell a client it is okay to take a deduction, exclude income, or characterize income as capital gain?  Can you accept what a taxpayer tells you, or do you have to audit a taxpayer’s records? When can the taxpayer be subject to penalties? And, when can you as the advisor be subject to penalties?  

This course, presented by Bryan Skarlatos of Kostelanetz & Fink LLP, is not a dry recitation of Circular 230 and the ethical rules. We will discuss the history and evolution of ethical standards for tax practitioners and we will use real life hypothetical examples to show how those standards apply in every day practice. All the sources of ethical standards in tax practice will be discussed including:

  • AICPA Statements on Standards for Tax Services
  • National Association of Enrolled Agents Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Tax Executive Institute Standards of Conduct
  • Circular 230
  • ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
  • ABA Ethical Opinions
  • Civil Penalty Standards
  • Criminal Penalty Standards

A course like this is essential for tax professionals who want to represent their clients effectively while staying on the right side of the line and avoiding penalties.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Analyze the ethical positions in the AICPA Statements on Standards for Tax Services to find out how certain you have to be before you can advise a client to take a tax position on a return
  2. Review the ethical guidelines in Circular 230 and recognize when you can rely on your client for information and when you have to dig deeper
  3. Explore the difference between professional ethical standards of conduct, Circular 230 standards, and tax penalties
  4. Study why penalties are assessed for misconduct, which penalties apply to what types of conduct, and who can be subject to penalties, the taxpayer, the preparer, or both
  5. Examine situations where practitioner conduct is so egregious that it can trigger a fraud penalty
  6. Discover what types of misconduct turn a civil penalty case into a criminal tax prosecution

Credit Information

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Bryan Skarlatos

Kostelanetz & Fink

For more than thirty years, Bryan C. Skarlatos has represented individuals and corporations in civil and criminal tax controversies, white collar criminal and regulatory investigations, tax whistleblower matters and voluntary disclosures. He is often hired as an expert on tax standards, penalties and procedures.  

Mr. Skarlatos is an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law, where he teaches a course on Tax Penalties and Prosecutions and he is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel.  He has also served as the chair of tax committees for many bar associations including the American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association and New York City Bar Association. 

Mr. Skarlatos has been recognized by New York Super Lawyers as one of the Top 100 lawyers in New York and he is listed in Best Lawyers in America where he was named Tax Litigator of the Year in New York for 2014 and 2017.  He also is ranked in Band One of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, which describes him as having a, “smart reassuring presence with insight into the government…extremely knowledgeable and very well connected to the various taxing authorities…Clients applaud him as being exceptionally brilliant at coming up with great outcomes.”

 Mr. Skarlatos speaks throughout the country on tax-related topics and he frequently is quoted in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, Bloomberg, Reuters, Financial Times, Tax Analysts-Tax Notes, and Bloomberg BNA Daily Tax Report.


Allan S.

Very well done. Top notch. Highly Recommend. Thanks.

William D.

Excellent lecturer

Alison C.

Great course, both presentation and written materials.

Jesse L.

Very solid presenter. Thank you.

Maria P.

great class

Robert M.

outstanding presenter, very knowledgable

Patrick K.

Really very good - a sobering reminder of our obligations. Only wish it were longer - so much to think about

Kimberly T.

One of the better presenters on this topic

Michael H.

Engaging and informing. ... Like some of the best teachers I had during law school.

Edward K.

Great content! Excellent presenter!

cecilia a.

Excellent presentation!!!!!

Channa R.

Great course and presented expertly! The only issue was that occasionally there was a technical issue.

Ken A.

One of the best presenters, knew materials well and excellent presentation skills

Rene B.

An outstanding course! Appreciate the guidance.

Eric P.

Excellent program.

Catherine H.

great presenter, great way to convey the content, thanks very much

Laura G.

Excellent presentation! The speaker broke the concepts down and address issues with the most impact within an hour. I would highly recommend this course.

Dan D.

Brian S was excellent!!


Excellent presentation and presenter - very clear & practical.

Jeff U.

Great speaker and program!

Steven F.


Steven M.

There are probably a few areas of the law where so many of the answers to client questions cannot be known with certainty. It was good to have some guidance on the ethical issues involved in answering such questions.

Robert J.

Good presentation

Thomas L.

One of the best ethics programs I have ever attended. Thank you for making an ethics program both enjoyable and thought provoking.

Travis M.

The presenter was excellent and effectively used examples to present the content..

Jules E L.

One of the best courses I have taken. Lecturer was excellent.

Donald L. M.

good course

susan k.

Great program.

Paul Z.

Excellent speaker good recap at the end

Joseph M.

Excellent speaker and Law Firm

Joanne K.

The speaker was articulate and very knowledgeable. He held my interest for the entire course!

Robert V.

best class ever taken. the gentleman was competent, diligent and articulate.

Louis t. A.

Excellent speaker. He was energetic, interesting and well versed in subject matter. Covered a lot in relatively short time frame

Robert W.

very well presented

Georgian P.

Excellent Tax Information! Speaker was knowledgeable, informative and very interesting. Enjoyed this course and this speaker. He communicated well and covered the material effectively. Look forward to taking more of his courses!

Robert H.

Excellent! I recommend this course and I will seek out any other training taught by the instructor.

Stuart H.

The speaker was particularly good and engaging.

Christina C.

Great presenter! Did a really good job being engaging!

Andrew D.

Great presenter. Good content.

Letcher E.

Very interesting. Would like a follow up seminar.

John K.

Well done. Pragmatic.

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