Letter 6014 – Notice to Witness in Criminal Investigation of a Return Preparer

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    Jim Liang

    My client received Letter 6014 – Notice to Witness in Criminal Investigation of a Return Preparer. Client understandably does not want to speak to IRS-CI.

    I am debating whether to contact SA to prevent them from contacting client directly, either by phone or in person (I’m guessing the later is probably unlikely due to COVID), and to confirm that they are only interested in client as witness (letter states client is not subject of investigation, but I would confirm again if I contacted them). My fear in contacting them though is that it will more likely lead to an interview than had I not contacted them, and even though they are only a witness, it could lead to the client becoming a subject or worse depending on what is said.

    Alternatively, I’m debating whether to ignore the letter and simply instruct client to refer SA to me if they reach out to client directly. The hope would be that SA interviews other witnesses first and is no longer interested in interviewing my client.

    I realize the IRS could compel my client to speak at some point, but I feel that would be a move of last resort by the IRS. Surely there are other witnesses and evidence that the IRS has or could pursue other than my client to investigate return preparer. And if they do issue summons or subpoena client for grand jury, deal with it then. I want to avoid a summons or grand jury subpoena, but I feel the odds of either happening are probably low.

    I believe the client has committed no wrong doing and simply misunderstand what is deductible and what is not. Even so, I don’t see an upside to responding to letter other than to gather information, confirm status of client, i.e., witness, and prevent them from contacting client directly. The potential downside of contacting SA is it leads to interview and client says something that makes IRS believe they are culpable.

    Anyone have any thoughts?

    Eric Green

    Jim, are you an attorney? If not the client may want to hire a criminal tax attorney. Someone needs to discern if the client has potential exposure and that person needs to be an attorney so anything discovered is under attorney-client privilege.

    Jim Liang

    Sorry, I should have mentioned I am an attorney.

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