Title 31 United State Code section 330 was first published as the Horse Act of 1884 which granted the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to regulate agents representing claimants before the Treasury Department. Guidance was provided to these agents by the Treasury in the form of circulars. In 1921, the circulars were combined into a single governing circular: Treasury Department Circular 230, Laws and Regulations Governing the Recognition of Attorneys and Agents and Other Persons Representing Claimants Before the Treasury Department. Thus the term “Circular 230” was born.
Today, Circular 230, Regulations Governing Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service, contains rules governing the recognition of attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents, registered tax return preparers, and other persons representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. It is divided into several parts:
- Subpart A — Rules Governing Authority to Practice
- Subpart B — Duties and Restrictions Relating to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service
- Subpart C — Sanctions for Violation of the Regulations
- Subpart D — Rules Applicable to Disciplinary Proceedings
- Subpart E — General Provisions
The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is responsible for matters related to practitioner conduct and is responsible for discipline, including disciplinary proceedings and sanctions. The Mission of OPR is to: “Interpret and apply the standards of practice for tax professionals in a fair and equitable manner.”
Circular 230 governs federal tax practice standards, which are administered by OPR. However, a multitude of standards and ethics rules can apply to a member's tax practice including the AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct, the AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs), the Internal Revenue Code, state licensing boards, professional associations and various other laws and regulations. This page contains guidance, information, practice aids, and other resources related to Circular 230, which govern a CPA’s practice before the Internal Revenue Service. Please visit our Tax Ethics & Professional Standards page and SSTS page for more information and resources regarding enforceable ethics standards for AICPA members who perform tax services.
On June 12, 2014, changes to the Circular 230 were published in the Federal Register and became effective immediately.
- Tax Research Information & Tools: This resource page serves to help members understand the hierarchy of taxing authorities, effectively perform and document client research, and communicate findings to clients and other stakeholders.
- Why the AICPA SSTSs and IRS Circular 230 Should Be Added to CPAs’ Lists of Favorite Resources, The Tax Adviser, July 2016
- Documentation is your Ally for Tax and Other Services, Journal of Accountancy, July 2015
- Supervisory Obligations Under Circular 230, The Tax Adviser, May 2015
- The Importance of Tax Quality Control, Journal of Accountancy, April 2015
- Due Diligence in Tax Services: Practice guide that provides guidance as to what due diligence consists of in the context of tax services. (May 2015)
- Practicing Before the IRS – Circular 230 A to Z Rebroadcast, IRS Video Portal. Karen L. Hawkins, Director - Office of Professional Responsibility (originally broadcast June 2015)