My favorite Forbes contributor is at again.
For the past year and a half, Forbes blogger Stephen Dunn and I have been having a “spirited discussion” regarding the content of some of the tax resolution articles that he posts on the Forbes.com site.
Stephen is an experienced tax litigation attorney, and writes about tax law matters for Forbes. Every six months or so, he’ll write a fairly scathing commentary on the subject of tax resolution.
On the surface, Stephen’s pieces are consumer warnings about the flagrant tax resolution con artists that exist. His observations about that unruly sector are warranted, but his articles on the subject always take a sharp turn that really rub me the wrong way.
This article that he posted a few days ago is his most egregious yet — they keep getting worse.
Instead of just delivering a necessary consumer warning regarding due diligence, Stephen tends to veer off and attack the competency of CPAs and Enrolled Agents in regards to IRS collections matters. The fact that he does this in such a frequently read location is what makes me feel compelled to correct him.
I think it’s one thing to educate consumers, but it’s a whole other thing to misinform consumers for the sake of spreading an “attorney only” agenda. It’s also just not cool to openly disparage his professional colleagues (CPAs and EAs). You can read my lengthy comment to him at the bottom of his article, so I won’t rehash the whole thing here. But more than anything, it’s the smug sense of superiority that comes across in his writing that really gets my goat.
Fortunately, not all attorneys are like Mr. Dunn. All of the attorneys that I’ve trained in IRS collections representation over the past few years have actually been a pleasure to work with — every single one of them. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but the fact that so many attorneys have come to somebody like me to obtain tax resolution training is a testament to the fact that the financial and tax procedure aspects of tax resolution are significantly outside the normal realm of “litigation” as to require specialized training. Even NTPI and ASTPS workshops have plenty of attorneys in attendance.
IRS collections representation is extremely multi-disciplinary. It seldom requires interpretation of law, almost always requires financial analysis, and always requires good communication and negotiation skills. All practitioners, regardless of background, must cross a skill set bridge in order to competently deliver collections representation services.
What do you think? Am I being overly defensive of CPAs and EAs? Am I misinterpreting his words? I’d love to hear what you think, either in the comments of this post on my blog or in the comments at the Forbes article.