DOL Employee Benefit Plan Audit Inspections

Special attention should be paid to a new consent form now accompanying document requests from the Office of the Chief Accountant (OCA) under the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). Recent OCA document requests now include a request for the CPA to consent to the release of the CPA’s audit workpapers to other authorities. Many CPAs, believing they are required to sign the consent or not aware of its implications, are signing the consent.

February Tip of the Month – Avoiding Estate Tax Planning Disputes

Tax issues involving estate tax planning are frequently prone to disputes and claims. This is due in part to the long period of time that generally falls between the time when estate planning decisions are made, and the time when the results of the decisions are known.

Memories of the CPA’s advice and the client’s decisions fade over time, making documentation of the advice and decisions all the more important. Making matters worse, heirs typically aren’t involved in the planning and may allege that the decisions weren’t understood by the deceased.

January Tip of the Month – Documenting Advice and Decisions

In some engagements CPAs should not only document the advice given, but also obtain the client’s written consent to the decisions made. This can be done with an “informed consent” letter that provides advice and obtains the client’s understanding and consent. Informed consent letters clarify that the CPA advises and informs, and the client decides. With this letter, it is difficult for claimants to make it appear that the CPA made the decisions.

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