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Stop Putting That IRS Circular 230 Disclaimer on Email

It seems that every attorney appends boilerplate disclaimers — sometimes lengthy ones — at the bottom of emails. For many, it may be a standard footer the entire firm uses. For others, it might be something borrowed from another lawyer. Whatever the value of these disclaimers in general, many still contain some language that is not only unnecessary but inaccurate in its most familiar form — the IRS Circular 230 disclaimer.

On June 9, 2014, the IRS finalized a rulemaking process that rendered the Circular 230 disclaimer obsolete. The IRS Office of Professional Responsibility has been asking practitioners to remove the Circular 230 language from email footers since the change was finalized.

Karen Hawkins, former director of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility ("OPR"), warned at the time that the language of most Circular 230 disclaimers is no longer accurate. "My only concern and my message is, if a disclaimer says 'The Internal Revenue Service says' or 'I am required under Circular 230' I can promise you that you will get a letter from my office asking you to cease and desist using that kind of language because I don't want taxpayers to be misinformed" (read her comments at

Many attorneys might not even know why they incorporated the Circular 230 language into their email footers in the first place. It was designed to allow practitioners to inform clients that their advice was not intended to help people cheat on their taxes. Find out more in the March Illinois Bar Journal.

Posted on March 8, 2018 by Mark S. Mathewson
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