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Thread: Accountants Cannot Be Unpaid Agents Of Authorities

  1. #1
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    Accountants Cannot Be Unpaid Agents Of Authorities

    Apart from the financial and accounting services that accountants provide, many people are oblivious to the fact that accountants are just serving a host of government departments with the work that they render. Tax, statistics and labor related issues are areas where accountants are compelled to comply.

    It is believed that governments would collapse if accountants in practice were to stop submitting all the taxes on behalf of their business and individual clients. Hence, tax and legal subjects are compulsory for any accounting student.

    Like all sectors of the economy, accountants play a vital role in developing society, and their services to their respective countries should be acknowledged. Their skills enable states and countries to prosper.

    The statistics generated in tax forms, labor etc. is an important barometer of economic and employment growth. Accountants contribute to the formalization of businesses that would otherwise have been outside of the system. Their assistance, ensures that more businesses are established, bringing in more tax revenues for governments.

    Where do we draw the line? Are accountants obliged to co-operate in every arena?
    The accountant carries a huge responsibility in complying with the law at all times.
    The laws of democratic dispensations, however, entitle the accountant to privacy.
    Accountants are NOT at liberty to divulge certain information that is regarded as confidential. In their haste to appease authorities, they loose sight of the importance of accountant-client privilege.

    Authorities, in western countries, as well as other democracies, are passing numerous laws that effectively “coerce” accountants and financial advisors to report irregularities and “suspect” transactions in tax, share dealing and financial instrument trading. After Enron and WorldCom, authorities are keeping a close eye on financial advisors. These regulations are welcomed, but places advisors in a precarious position.

    Honest mistakes can me misconstrued, as serious transgressions. Accountants lack the capacity to scrutinize every transaction in their client’s books. The hosts of laws being passed in many countries are turning advisors into bloodhounds, when they should be “watch dogs”.

    A fine balance should be struck between the requirements of the law and the needs of business owners. Clients pay for the services, after all, and their opinion matters most. Of course, unethical or illegal behavior can never be countenanced.

    It is advisable that recourse should be sought in those laws that demand court orders or search warrants before information is obtained illegally by authorities. Many “demands” circumvent basic, common law principles.

    Accountants should act like attorneys, and defend their client’s interests, first and foremost.
    Sean Goss We all are scared, but only few are brave.

  2. Thank given for this post:

    Dave A (23-Mar-09), duncan drennan (23-Mar-09)

  3. #2
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    What an excellent article!

    Fascinating to see this from the accountant's perspective, particularly the pressure to realise value to the client.
    Quote Originally Posted by sgafc View Post
    The hosts of laws being passed in many countries are turning advisors into bloodhounds, when they should be “watch dogs”.
    So well put.

    When the watch dogs see something and don't bark, questions need to be asked. But I can't help thinking the current push is punishing the innocent.

    The mischievous have a knack for wriggling around the system regardless.

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