Statements on Standards for Tax Services

    Statements on Standards for Tax Services 

    The AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs) are enforceable tax practice standards for members of the AICPA. The SSTSs apply to all members regardless of the jurisdictions in which they practice and the types of taxes with respect to which they are providing services.  The SSTSs and interpretations delineate members' responsibilities to taxpayers, the public, the government and the profession. They are intended to be part of an ongoing process of articulating standards of tax practice for members.

    Standards Interpretations FAQs
    Download a complete copy of the SSTSs or browse the individual standards below.

    Two interpretations have been issued, to date:
    SSTS Interpretation No. 1-1
    SSTS Interpretation No. 1-2

    Additional guidance is available in the form of Frequently Asked Questions, developed by the SSTS Guidance Task Force.

    Under a 1999 resolution of AICPA Council, the Tax Executive Committee was authorized to promulgate professional practice standards with respect to tax services.  These enforceable Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs) apply to all tax services, and are designed to:

    • Identify and develop appropriate standards in providing tax services and promote their uniform application by CPAs.
    • Increase the understanding of CPA responsibilities by Treasury and IRS officials and encouraging the development of similar standards for their personnel.
    • Foster increased public compliance with and confidence in our tax system through awareness of good standards of tax practice.
    • Enhance the CPA professional designation.

    The SSTSs were originally issued in 2000 and were updated in 2009. The full text of the current SSTSs are available below.

    Frequently Asked Questions

     

     

    Tax Standards and Interpretations

    Statements on Standards for Tax Services - Effective January 1, 2010 (Full Document)

    This document includes all seven of the statements on standards for tax services along with the history and ongoing process.

    SSTS No. 1, Tax Return Positions

    This statement sets forth the applicable standards for members when recommending tax return positions, or preparing or signing tax returns filed with any taxing authority. 

    This statement also addresses a member's obligation to advise a taxpayer of relevant tax return disclosure responsibilities and potential penalties. 

    SSTS No. 2, Answers to Questions on Returns

    This statement sets forth the applicable standards for members when signing the preparers declaration on a tax return if one or more questions on the return have not been answered.  The term "questions" includes requests for information on the return, in the instructions, or in the regulations, whether or not stated in the form of a question.

    SSTS No. 3, Certain Procedural Aspects of Preparing Returns

    This statement sets forth the applicable standards for members concerning the obligation to examine or verify certain supporting data or to consider information related to another taxpayer when preparing a taxpayer's tax return.

    SSTS No. 4, Use of Estimates

    This statement sets forth the applicable standards for members when using the estimates in the preparation of a tax return.

       
       
      SSTS No. 5, Departure From a Position Previously Concluded in an Administrative Proceeding or Court Decision

    This statement sets forth the applicable standards for members in recommending a tax return position that departs from the position determined in an administrative proceeding or in a court decision with respect to the taxpayer's prior return.

       
       
      SSTS No. 6, Knowledge of Error:  Return Preparation and Administrative Proceedings

    This statement sets forth the applicable standards for member who becomes aware of (a) an error in a taxpayer's previously filed tax return; (b) an error in a return that is the subject of an administrative proceeding; or (c) a taxpayer's failure to file a required tax return.

       
       
      SSTS No. 7, Form and Content of Advice to Taxpayers

    This statement sets forth the applicable standards for members concerning certain aspects of providing advice to a taxpayer and considers the circumstances in which a member has a responsibility to communicate with a taxpayer when subsequent developments affect advice previously provided.  The statement does not however, cover a member's responsibilities when the expectation is that the advice rendered is likely to be relied on by parties other than the taxpayer.

       
       
      SSTS Interpretation No. 1-1

    This interpretation provides that a member should not recommend a tax return position or take a position on a tax return that the member prepares unless that position satisfies applicable reporting and disclosure standards.  The tax laws of various taxing jurisdictions contain similar limitations on the ability to recommend or take certain tax return positions. 

       
       
      SSTS Interpretation No. 1-2

    This interpretation has its origins in the AICPA's desire to provide adequate guidance to its members with respect to providing services in connection with tax planning.  Its goal is to clarify existing standards, recognizing the compelling need for a comprehensive interpretation of a member's responsibilities in connection with tax planning.  This guidance is intended to clarify how those standards would apply across the spectrum of tax planning.
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