SSTSSStrategic System Test Support Study
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While direct ethical guidance may not be available to practitioners in all situations, it is still the practitioner's responsibility to apply the requirements of Circular 230, the Internal Revenue Code, and the SSTSs to these relatively new business practices.
It should also be noted that Circular 230 pertains to federal tax issues, whereas the SSTSs pertain to all areas of taxation.
Risk management tip: While most tax professionals are aware of the SSTSs and Circular 230, many do not realize that the SSPFPS also applies to situations where the CPA identifies the client's personal financial goals, designs financial strategies, and makes personalized recommendations that, when implemented, assist the client in achieving those goals.
During the exposure period for the updated SSTSs (2009), the AICPA received a number of questions and comments from CPAs and others.
A full copy of the SSTSs is also available at
While this column focuses on the requirements for tax practitioners, all practitioners can benefit from documenting their advice in accordance with Circular 230, the SSTSs, and the other recommendations provided.
Regardless of the state of flux with the application of Circular 230 to CPAs engaged in tax preparation and not representation, CPAs are advised to review the AICPAs professional conduct standards and SSTSs.
This section should also include a listing and description of the AICPA's seven SSTSs, which are mandatory and enforceable for all AICPA members who provide tax services.
For example, the sample TPQC document creates a monitoring function in paragraph 1 of the "Monitoring" section by including language that "[t]he firm conducts an inspection program regarding its TPQC policies and procedures for conformity with the SSTSs, Circular 230, and other applicable professional standards, laws, and regulations, and industry-preferred practices."
Focus groups were held in Des Moines, Iowa, and Kansas City, Missouri, to gather insights into the most contentious passages in the SSTSs. Tax professionals from the major national firms, regional firms, and local firms studied the SSTSs and emphasized passages that evinced their ethical concerns.
* The Tax Executive Committee adopted the Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs) and Interpretation 1-1 as enforceable standards under the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct.