California allows CPAs to represent taxpayers in tax appeals

October 26, 2017

Together with the support of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and California CPA firms, the California Society of CPAs (CALCPA) spearheaded an effort to clarify California legislation that created two new agencies through the overhaul of the state’s Board of Equalization in June.

Established by constitutional amendment in 1879, the Board was responsible for ensuring property tax assessments were uniform throughout the state. On June 27, however, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill that divested the Board of its administration of various state taxes and fees as well as its tax appellate functions and transferred these roles to two newly created agencies, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA). The bill further classified the OTA as a judicial body, effectively stripping CPAs’ ability to represent clients before the tribunal.

Thanks to the CALCPA’s efforts, Governor Brown signed legislation on September 16 clarifying that the OTA is an administrative body, not a judicial body or tax court. It provided that appeals from the OTA will be made in superior court and that such review will be without deference to the OTA’s decision. Additionally, it specifically includes CPAs in the list of parties eligible to represent taxpayers before the new body.