Attorney-Client Privilege in Tax Disputes

Law Offices of David L. Silverman

The attorney-client privilege protects confidential communications between attorneys and clients. The privilege extends to an accountant hired by an attorney to assist in understanding the client’s financial information. U.S. v. Adelman, 68 F.3d 1495 (2nd Cir. 1995). Privileged attorney-client communications include expressions conveyed through conversations, documents, records and internal memoranda. Even billing and travel records, and expense reports, may be protected if they relate to a privileged matter.

U.S. v. Frederick held that advice rendered in connection with tax return preparation — whether by an attorney or by an accountant — is not privileged. Moreover, protected client communications made during tax planning may lose privileged status if those communications are incorporated into tax return preparation. 182 F.3d 496 (7th Cir. 1999). However, documents prepared for a tax audit may be privileged if they relate to impending litigation rather than to the submission of revised tax returns. Id.

The disclosure of…

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