IRS disbars CPA for Circular 230 Violations, including false statements and unconscionable fees

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced that its Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) obtained the disbarment of Certified Public Accountant Anthony A. Tiongson for charging unconscionable fees, giving irresponsible advice to clients and making false statements to federal and state authorities, among other things.

Tiongson is prohibited from preparing tax returns or representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service for a minimum of five years. Tiongson practiced in California.

“Practitioners who abuse the trust of their clients by charging unconscionable fees for taking frivolous positions on their tax returns can expect to hear from my office in the IRS," said Karen L. Hawkins, director of OPR

In a Final Agency Decision, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) disbarred Tiongson on March 1. The ALJ found that Tiongson’s advice to clients to use Form 2555 to treat California earned income as foreign source income on at least fifty-two tax returns, constituted disreputable conduct under Circular 230, and his failure to research the legitimacy of the filing position specifically violated the Circular’s due diligence standards.

The ALJ also found Circular 230 violations in Tiongson’s use of a contingent fee structure and in the false statement to IRS Criminal Investigation regarding his fee structure. He was also found to have made false claims to the California Board of Accountancy that he ceased advising use of Form 2555 after becoming aware of the first IRS examination of his clients’ returns.

The ALJ also found that Tiongson violated Circular 230 by engaging in a pattern of delaying IRS examination and collection actions by repeatedly raising numerous frivolous arguments, long-rejected by the IRS and by case law. Tiongson’s litigation threats against IRS employees, as part of client settlement proposals, were also determined to be violations.

"The mere possession of a professional license does not give a practitioner the right to make his or her own rules, or to threaten IRS personnel doing their jobs,” Hawkins said.

The ALJ found other violations of Circular 230 including: Tiongson did not respond to OPR requests for information and he submitted a Form 2848, Power of Attorney, naming an unlicensed individual as a second “authorized” representative in a collection matter thereby aiding an ineligible person to practice before the IRS.

Although the Decision was entered as a default judgment, Tiongson was represented by counsel during the proceedings. The text of the ALJ Decision can be found on IRS.gov.

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