The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 71-1

February 19, 1971
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
An attorney is precluded from representing a client in tax matters in which the attorney was
involved earlier as an employee of the Internal Revenue Service.

EC 9-3; DR 9-101(B)

Misc.: 18 U.S.C. 207(a)
Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:
The inquiring attorney was employed by the Internal Revenue Service before
becoming an attorney and during such employment conducted an examination of
a certain taxpayer’s returns. The attorney later graduated from law school and is
now counsel for the taxpayer. As counsel for the taxpayer, he caused amended
returns to be filed which included the years of returns for which he conducted an
examination as an IRS agent, which amended returns brought about an increase in
tax. The IRS now desires to examine the amended returns on perhaps different
matters than those involved in the initial audits, and the inquiry is whether the
attorney may with propriety now represent the taxpayer for those same years for
which he conducted the examination as an agent of the IRS.
The inquiry must be answered in the negative as CPR DR 9-101(B) precludes a lawyer in
private employment handling a matter in which he had substantial responsibility while he was a
public employee. See also EC 9-3 in connection herewith and 18 U.S.C. 207(a).
Even though the audit or examination may involve a matter different from that for which
the inquirer originally examined the returns, the response would be the same since the avoidance
of the appearance of professional impropriety is the crux. Further, one must remember that the
purpose of a tax examination is the determination of a taxpayer’s liability and although the
“matter” or approach may be different in two examinations covering the same period, the
ultimate purpose does not vary.