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Communicating Research Results

Communicating Research Results

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Communicating Research Results

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  1. Communicating Research Results • Aspects of tax research communication: • Communications and the tax professional • The file memo • Evaluating the sources of law • Client letters • Oral presentations of research results

  2. Communications and the Tax Professional • Audience • Supervisor • Client • Other • Form • Telephone call • Informal discussion in person • E-mail • Letter • For tax professional • Tax knowledgeable/tax limited client • Memo

  3. The File Memo • The memo is for the researcher’s benefit • Purpose: • Organize facts, issues, and conclusions • Facilitate technical review by supervisor or colleague • Allow for subsequent examination of research issue

  4. The File Memo: Format and Content • Facts • Brief summary of relevant facts and issues • Issues • A list of tax issues being researched • Conclusions • Quickly determine whether each issue is “pro” or “con” for taxpayer

  5. The File Memo: Format and Content • Support • Detailed review and evaluation of controlling laws • Full citations • Strengths and weaknesses are developed • Actions to be taken • Recommendations for subsequent actions for client • Other strategies for tax positions

  6. The File Memo: Facts • Taxpayer will not always provide all relevant facts • Taxpayer may forget (potentially detrimental) facts • Taxpayer does not always know which documents are important • Must rely on taxpayer’s memory • Loss of records/witnesses • The researcher must use experience to obtain all the relevant facts from the taxpayer

  7. The File Memo: Links and Attachments • Only most important documents, such as • Case briefs • Highlighted copies of primary sources of law • Highlighted copies of explanatory material • Related in-house memos • Journal articles

  8. Evaluating Sources of Tax Law • Regulations seldom held to be invalid • Revenue Rulings and Revenue Procedures frequently modified or held invalid • Higher court decisions receive additional precedential weight • District and Circuit Court opinions directly affect only taxpayers in those jurisdictions

  9. Evaluating Sources of Tax Law • A well-written court case opinion contains a wealth of information on tax issues: • Identifies pertinent tax law • States competing interpretations of the law • Identifies critical facts and issues • Often includes lengthy concurring and dissenting opinions

  10. Evaluating the Sources of Law • Important Circuits • 2nd Circuit (includes New York) • Authoritative in traditional sense • 9th Circuit (includes California) • First to introduce innovative or unusual interpretations • Federal Circuit • Authoritative in traditional sense

  11. Evaluating the Sources of Law • Older cases • Geometrically declining importance, except for • Supreme Court cases • 2nd, 9th and Federal circuits • If it is the only precedent available • Court decisions can be unpredictable

  12. Evaluating the Sources of Law • Tax treatises and journals • Identify current, critical tax issues • Can include comprehensive summary of controlling law • IRS agents are only bound by • IRC • Administrative pronouncements • Supreme Court decisions

  13. Client Letters • Telephone calls to clients are prevalent • Should be followed up with a detailed letter • Letter should be brief • Sometimes easier to explain complicated issues in face-to-face meetings

  14. Client Letters: Format and Content • Salutation/social graces/general conclusion • Summary of results • Objective of research • Statement of facts/disclaimer

  15. Client Letters: Format and Content • Summary of critical sources • Implications of the results • Assumptions/limitations • Closing/reference to follow-up meeting/social graces • Attachments

  16. Effective Written Business Communication • Main point(s) in first paragraph • State well-defined purpose • Avoid filler language, clichés and jargon • Revise several times if needed • Use social amenities • Use edit and proofreading aids

  17. Client File • Client file includes • Client letter • File memo • Engagement letter • Billing and collection history • Relevant authoritative sources • Links to other important sources