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.
For purposes of this statement, administrative proceeding includes an examination by a taxing authority or an appeals conference relating to a return or a claim for refund.
For purposes of this statement, court decision means a decision by any court having jurisdiction over tax matters.
The tax return position with respect to an item as determined in an administrative proceeding or court decision does not restrict a member from recommending a different tax position in a later year’s return, unless the taxpayer is bound to a specified treatment in the later year, such as by a formal closing agreement Therefore, the member may recommend a tax return position or prepare or sign a tax return that departs from the treatment of an item as concluded in an administrative proceeding or court decision with respect to a prior return of the taxpayer provided the requirements of Statement on Standards for Tax Services (SSTS) No. 1, Tax Return Positions, are satisfied.
If an administrative proceeding or court decision has resulted in a determination concerning a specific tax treatment of an item in a prior year’s return, a member will usually recommend this same tax treatment in subsequent years. However, departures from consistent treatment may be justified under such circumstances as the following:
Court decisions, rulings, or other authorities that are more favorable to a taxpayer’s current position may have developed since the prior administrative proceeding was concluded or the prior court decision was rendered.
A taxpayer may have yielded in the administrative proceeding for settlement purposes or not appealed the court decision, even though the position met the standards in SSTS No. 1.
The determination in the administrative proceeding or the court’s decision may have been caused by a lack of documentation. Supporting data for the later year may be appropriate.
Taxing authorities tend to act consistently in the disposition of an item that was the subject of a prior administrative proceeding but generally are not bound to do so. Similarly, a taxpayer is not bound to follow the tax treatment of an item as consented to in an earlier administrative proceeding.
The consent in an earlier administrative proceeding and the existence of an unfavorable court decision are factors that the member should consider in evaluating whether the standards in SSTS No. 1 are met.
The AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs) are enforceable tax practice standards for members of the AICPA. Additional guidance is also found in the corresponding interpretations and frequently asked questions (FAQs). Access to the complete set of SSTSs and guidance are available in the AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services Library.