Category Archives: Accountant Malpractice

A First of its Kind: FDIC v. Independent Auditor

A recent decision in a closely watched accounting malpractice matter – the first of its kind initiated by the FDIC - may suggest cause for concern for accountants. As receiver for a failed bank, the FDIC may sue professionals who played a role in the failure of the institution. In the wake of recent bank failures, the FDIC has targeted officers and directors, attorneys, and brokers. Until recently, however, the FDIC had not pursued an audit firm. That all changed on November 1, 2012 when the FDIC, as receiver for the failed Colonial Bank, initiated a $1 billion malpractice claim against the bank’s auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers and Crowe Horwath. This lawsuit, and a recent decision denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss, raise critical questions.

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Responding to Legal Audit Letters = Risk Management Headache

As many of you probably know, auditing standards require that an auditor confer with the attorneys for the audited entity about certain types of loss contingencies, such as pending litigation and unasserted claims. During this process, the audited entity/client asks that its attorneys respond to the “legal audit letter.” Some attorneys may view this procedure as cumbersome and perhaps even annoying, but it is a required element of the auditing process and must be taken seriously. This is especially so because the attorney’s response to the legal audit letter presents risk management problems particularly with respect to the potential waiver of the attorney-client privilege.

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Golfer Tees-Up Professional Malpractice Lawsuit

A professional golfer – with a famous ex-fiance - recently filed a professional malpractice claim against his former accountant for allegedly concealing unpaid taxes in excess of $500,000. Hank Kuehne is an amateur champion who last played in a major tournament at the 2012 Honda Classic, but is perhaps best known for his prior engagement to tennis great Venus Williams. Reportedly, Kuehne had no idea of his mounting tax liability until he fired his advisor and retained a new accountant to manage his portfolio. A classic example of poor communication leading to malpractice.

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Who Really Owns a CPA’s Working Papers?

Accountants are well aware that clients, former clients, and others periodically request (or sometimes demand) copies of the accountant’s work-papers. The question invariably is: who owns those materials? Moreover, what is the accountant obligated to turn over and what categories of materials may be withheld? An accountant, and those that represent them, must be aware of the critical legal and regulatory issues facing the accounting profession when handling such a request.

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An Unsavory Brew: Yuengling Sued for $6.6 Million in Back Taxes

With tax season upon us, tax professionals may cringe at another example of the potential for malpractice arising from questionable tax advice. However, America’s Oldest Brewery is in the midst of a very public dispute with the City of Brotherly Love regarding allegedly unpaid taxes. The City of Philadelphia recently sued Yuengling in an attempt to recover $6.6 million in back taxes, interest, and penalties allegedly owed to the City. Although Yuengling is located outside of Philadelphia, the City contends that the brewery failed to pay a tax imposed on entities that regularly conduct business in the City. Yuengling has vowed to vigorously defend itself in this lawsuit.

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Why Avoiding the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ May Have Caused Increased Risks to CPAs

We avoided the fiscal cliff. That is old news and, for most Americans, it is also good news. But, the developing fallout and the impact of Congresses’ eleventh-hour solution has particular implications on accountants gearing up for tax season. On January 2, 2013 Congress enacted the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012; a fiscal cliff tax package whopper which effectively changed the rule-book. At a time of year when accountants across the country are typically saying "so long" to their families to prepare for the hibernation that is tax-season, this year’s crop of tax-preparers is stuck in its tracks waiting for the IRS to issue updated software. From a professional liability and risk management standpoint, this is troublesome.

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