The AICPA Tax Executive Committee (TEC) is updating the Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs).
The SSTS Revision Task Force is leading the process, which covers a broad spectrum of member interests — from sole practitioners to university faculty as well as small, medium and large firms and AICPA Private Companies Practice Section members.
“Revising the standards is a powerful step forward to enhancing services provided by AICPA members so that they continue to be perceived as the premier providers of tax services,” said Jan F. Lewis, chair of the TEC.
The SSTSs take root in the Statements on Responsibilities in Tax Practice (SRTPs), a body of advisory opinions on best tax practices issued by the AICPA beginning in 1964. For years, the courts, the IRS, state accountancy boards and accounting membership bodies relied on the SRTPs as the de facto charter for professional CPA conduct.
In an effort to self-regulate, the AICPA issued the SSTSs in 2000 free from third-party legislation.
For 22 years, our standards have guided the conduct and professionalism of CPAs across the U.S., and this year’s proposals could (at the time of writing) affect the regulatory standards of 665,612 U.S.-based accountants.
The proposed standards are intended to meet the demands of a thriving and evolving profession. Members are encouraged to carefully analyze the findings and conclusions of the combined document, which includes:
Part 1: Exposure draft (ED)
Part 2: Invitation to comment (ITC)
Proposals outlined will be finalized no later than May 31, 2023, and will be effective Jan. 1, 2024.
The invitation to comment differs from the exposure draft by presenting an issue that requires additional research; in this case, the issue is quality tax management. If substantiated, the proposal may appear in a subsequent draft.Ultimately, we want the public’s view of CPAs to be synonymous with professionalism and expertise. This solidifies our hard work and strengthens AICPA as a world-leading membership body of accounting and finance professionals.
The task force proposes an organizational restructure of the standards that:
Incorporates general tax guidance with broad applicability, including updated standards on data protection and reliance on tools
Improves tax return preparation guidance
Enhances tax advice guidance
Offers new guidance standards for members offering tax representation services
The three additional proposals include:
Data protection —Technological advancements and privacy laws have changed how professionals use and safeguard clients’ tax data. This new standard clearly states a member’s responsibility to protect confidential client information.
Reliance on tools —With developments in artificial intelligence, data science, quantum computers and other technologies, reliance on digital tools will only continue. Yet, tax professionals lack any written standard on the best and most appropriate use of technologies. The task force believes an updated standard that protects members (but also does not absolve them of deliberate malpractice) is essential for an increasingly digital-reliant profession.
Tax representation — Certain legislation is not in keeping with modern-day CPA firms’ multifaceted tax remits, rendering many standards increasingly incompatible with a more digitally focused profession.
Whether you agree with a proposal or believe it would be counterintuitive to the aims of our organization, we encourage constructive criticism, both positive and negative.
Access the exposure draft, which includes a landing page with additional information.
Following a thorough review of the materials and appropriate feedback, please complete your invitation to comment. You can also email your submission; please include an e-signature with your name and firm.
Submit responses in Word format or type them into the body of the email.
The comment period ends onDec. 31, 2022.
We will consider all responses received within the stipulated time frame. Comments collected in response to the ED and ITC will be included in the AICPA public record.
With continued research and insights from collaborative subject matter experts like you, we can ensure that our collective aims and goals remain rooted in excellence.