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bigduckontax, Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 4790
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I needed to get some tax assistance which meant me engaging

Customer Question

I needed to get some tax assistance which meant me engaging a tax advisor. As it happens, they needed to see a divorce consent order which contained some information that related to a tax position that I would have preferred them not to see nor include for my tax affairs. This could walk a very fine line between thinking there was some wrongdoing but there are circumstances that prevent me from discussing this further with them and I fear that they may report it as a suspicious activity.
The question I have is whether accountants are legally required to report a suspicion or is it at their discretion and whether it is possible for me to submit a redacted version of my consent order and ask them to destroy the un-redacted version and effectively "un know" what they have seen from the original thereby effectively continuing as if they didn't know any better?
I have not signed any paperwork with them but given them just an email confirmation that I would like to continue with their services. I am afraid that with them seeing what they have seen that my only option is to stop their service and go to someone else this time submitting a redacted version.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  bigduckontax replied 2 years ago.
Hello Jason, I am Keith, one of the experts on Just Answer, and pleased to be able to help you with your question. Why on earth would a tax advisor need to see your divorce consent order? Sounds very fishy to me. Tell them to take a running jump, don't pay them and employ a more competent professional.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Keith, this is related to Capital Gains Tax so seeing my Consent Order was important to assess the split of the assets.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It's not dodgy ... they are a reputable organisation. Am I able to instruct them to destroy previous copies of the consent order and use the redacted version? And can I ask them to effectively forget that they have seen the original without fear that they might report me later on?
Expert:  bigduckontax replied 2 years ago.
Right, I see the requirement. Just let them have a copy of the original consent order. Why use a redacted version?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Keith, please can you read my question above so as not to waste each other's time.My question is simple: As I have not signed any formal paperwork with them to engage their services, can I ask them to trash the original un-redacted version of the consent order and use the redacted version instead or would this be a breach of trust? As I mentioned, I sent them the unredacted version by mistake which contained information that I would have preferred to have kept private. But now that they have seen this, do you think it would be a breach of trust or principle to ask them to trash that version and use the redacted version instead (with this sensitive information blanked out) and start afresh - essentially asking them to forget that they even saw the original? An addition to this is whether, for purpose of tax advising, redacted documents are acceptable or not?
Expert:  bigduckontax replied 2 years ago.
As you have not formally engaged them then you are entitled to a return of all documentation after, of course, settling their bill for outstanding expenses. You can ask them to destroy certain documents instead of returning them, but I would not advise this course of action. It is much better to get the whole shooting match back and then you will know which documents you have destroyed. Unfortunately, as the documents have been seen then the matters which you would have preferred kept private are now out of the bag, but professional protocol should keep such information privy between client and professional adviser. Redacted documents might be acceptable for a tax advisor, but I personally would not be happy with them in case some of the redactions are actually germane to the taxation position.