Ethics Regulations and Procedures
A. APPLICATION OF REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES
These Regulations and Procedures apply to investigations and sanctions pertaining to violations of the Institute's Code of Ethics alleged to have been committed by any person who, at the time of the alleged misconduct, was a member of the Institute. The Committee on Professional Ethics has the power, with or without complaint, to investigate alleged violations of the Institute's Code of Ethics.
As evidenced by a person's membership in the Institute and the payment of annual membership fees by or on the person's behalf, each member of the Institute acknowledges that membership in the Institute for Professionals in Taxation® and any CMI or CCIP designation which may be conferred by the Institute is not a right but, rather, is a privilege conditioned upon such member's adherence to the Institute's by-laws, the Code of Ethics of the Institute and the Institute's continuing education requirements. Moreover, all members of the Institute acknowledge and agree to be bound by these Regulations and Procedures in the event any complaint may be brought by or against them, and that utilization by any person (whether or not a member of the Institute) of the Regulations and Procedures set forth herein shall be tantamount to agreement to a legally-binding arbitration from which no appeal or other proceedings arising from matters pertaining to the Institute's Code of Ethics or to these Regulations and Procedures may be filed in any court of law.
Whether or not these Regulations and Procedures are invoked or utilized, nothing contained therein is intended to affect or limit the right of any person to commence, maintain or defend a private civil action in a court of law in any matter unrelated to proceedings governed by these Regulations and Procedures or the Institute's Code of Ethics; provided however that subparagraph 5 of Section L shall have continuing application.
B. COMPLAINT PROCEDURE.
Any person, whether or not a member of the Institute, who wishes to file a complaint with the Committee alleging professional misconduct or other violation of the Institute's Code of Ethics by a member (of whatever class of membership) of the Institute, shall do so in the following manner:
- The complaint must be in writing. must be signed by the person who is the complainant and shall include the name, address and telephone number of the complainant.
- The complaint must identify by name, last known address and telephone number (if known) of each person committing the alleged misconduct (i.e., the respondent).
- The complaint must set forth, in detail, the alleged misconduct or violation and the circumstances and events pertaining thereto, together with references to the Canon(s) alleged to have been violated.
- If the alleged violation or misconduct is based upon or indicated by written document(s), copies of said document(s), if available to the complainant, must be sent with the complaint. If any such document(s) is not available to the complainant, then a statement to that effect and, to the complainant's best knowledge, setting forth the location or source of such document(s) shall accompany the complaint.
- The complaint shall be mailed in a sealed envelope, marked "Confidential", addressed to:
Chair, Committee on Professional Ethics
Institute for Professionals in Taxation®
at the principal office of the Institute.
Upon receipt of any complaint, the Institute's Executive Director shall cause the same promptly to be forwarded, in unopened condition, to the Chair of the Committee on Professional Ethics. The Chair shall then photocopy the complaint and any accompanying documents and transmit copies of same to each member of the Committee.
C. SERVING NOTICE OF COMPLAINT AND SUBSEQUENT SERVICE OF NOTICES.
The Chair shall send a copy of the complaint and any accompanying documents to the respondent (in the manner hereinafter provided) within 15 calendar days of the Chair's receipt of same. Such transmittal shall include a notice to the respondent (a) that an investigation of the complaint is being made; and (b) that, if respondent intends to present any defense thereto, a notice thereof must be sent in writing to the Chair within 30 days of the Chair's mailing of the complaint and notice, which response must include the address and telephone number of the respondent, and may include any other relevant matters which respondent considers important for the Committee's investigation. The notice to respondent also shall include a copy of the Regulations and Procedures of the IPT Committee on Professional Ethics and shall further state that if no notice of intent to present a defense is received within the 30-day time period, the Committee may conclude that the respondent has no defense to the complaint and may take appropriate action based upon the matters alleged in the complaint and any supporting evidence presented by the complainant.
For purposes of serving notice to a complainant and respondent, as provided in these Regulations and Procedures, the following shall apply:
- Original service of the complaint and other materials to the respondent shall be both by first-class mail and certified mail, return receipt requested, which mailing shall clearly state the return mailing address of the sender, and with such mailings to be made to the address of the respondent as indicated in the complaint and to any other address which the Institute may have for the respondent. Unless all such mailings are returned as undeliverable, the Chair may conclude that notice has been duly given to the respondent. In the event all original service mailings are returned as undelivered or undeliverable, the Chair shall undertake reasonable measures to determine an address where the respondent may be served with notice of the complaint. At such time as a valid address of respondent has been determined, said address shall be utilized for future notices, unless and until a different address is indicated.
- With respect to subsequent notices to a complainant and a respondent, notices shall be in writing and sent both by first-class mail and certified mail, return receipt requested, which mailings shall clearly state the return mailing address of the sender. Unless all mailings to a party shall be returned as undelivered or undeliverable, it shall be presumed that the addressee received the notification
In the event respondent does not send notice of an intent to present a defense within 30 days following the original mailing to him or her of a copy of the complaint and other materials, the Committee may conclude that respondent has no defense to the complaint and may make appropriate findings as provided in Section D.
D. COMMITTEE INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINT.
Within 15 calendar days after transmittal of a complaint to Committee members, the Chair shall contact all Committee members for the purpose of commencing an investigation of the complaint. Such investigation shall be for the purpose of determining probable cause or, in a circumstance where the respondent fails to assert any defense, whether a finding of Canon violation(s) is supported by credible evidence. Such investigation may be conducted in a summary and informal manner, including telephone communications and/or conferences.
An investigation may be made by the Chair and/or any one or more of the Committee members designated by the Chair for such purpose. A written record of all investigations shall be made. If statements are taken from witnesses, they shall be reduced to writing, at least in memorandum form. Persons being investigated are not entitled to be present throughout the investigation or to cross-examine witnesses. Unless prevented by circumstances beyond the control of the Committee, investigations should be completed within 90 calendar days of receipt of a complaint by the Chair.
The following provisions are intended to facilitate timely completion of investigations:
- The respondent against whom a complaint is filed or any witness called on during an investigation may, in lieu of an oral interview (or in addition thereto), submit a written statement to the Committee;
- The Chair and/or those Committee members designated to undertake the investigation may interview and/or obtain additional information from the complainant or any other person if such action is considered useful to make a more complete investigation of probable cause;
- In lieu of a formal Committee meeting, investigations and the Committee's deliberations may be conducted by telephone.
- Where the respondent fails to offer any defense or present any evidence on his or her behalf, and the Committee determines that sufficient credible evidence exists to support a finding of Canon violation(s) or, in the alternative, a finding of no violation, a formal hearing is unnecessary and the Committee may thereafter proceed under Section H.
After completion of its investigation, the Committee shall make a finding as to whether or not there is probable cause to believe that the respondent may have violated the Institute's Code of Ethics. If the finding is that no probable cause exists, the complainant and the respondent shall be so notified in writing within 10 days of such determination, and no right of further review shall exist. In such case, the complaint and record of the Committee's investigation and finding shall be sealed as a part of the Committee's confidential records.
E. COMMITTEE ALTERNATIVES IF IT FINDS PROBABLE CAUSE OF VIOLATION.
If, after completing an investigation, the Committee finds that there is probable cause to believe that the individual under investigation may have violated the Institute's Code of Ethics, the Committee shall undertake the following:
- In those cases where the Committee finds that the violation is of such nature that substantial sanctions are not warranted, and, if appropriate, that corrective action has been taken by the respondent, a written admonition shall be administered to the individual under investigation. The written admonition shall set forth the specific acts of misconduct or violation charged and shall briefly state the grounds upon which the admonition is based. Notice of the written admonition shall be sent to the respondent and the complainant and a copy of such admonition shall become a part of the record. Within 15 days of the Committee's mailing of such admonition, the respondent so admonished shall accept or reject the admonition in writing. Failure of the respondent to timely respond in writing is an acceptance of the admonition. If the admonition is rejected, the matter shall be referred for a hearing before the Committee, in accordance with the following paragraph 2.
- In those cases where the Committee determines that hearing proceedings are warranted, the respondent and the complainant shall be notified in writing that a hearing will be held by the Committee on the alleged violation. The notice shall set forth the specific acts of violation charged, and shall state briefly the grounds upon which the proceedings are based. Any number of acts may be set forth in the same notice, though each act shall be stated separately. The notice of intention to hold a hearing shall be sent to the respondent and complainant. The notice shall be accompanied by a copy of any statements or evidence obtained in the investigation or with a notice that such material is voluminous and is available for inspection and copying. The notice shall also state that the respondent is to file an answer or other response with the Committee not later than 30 days following the mailing date of the notice of intention to hold a hearing. If an answer or other response is not timely sent by the respondent to the Committee Chairperson, the Committee may deem such failure as an admission of the allegations and consent by the respondent for the Committee to make findings and impose appropriate sanctions upon the respondent upon the available record, in which case the Committee hearing may be held by telephone conference if the Committee Chair determines that a formal in-person hearing is unnecessary.
The date, time and place of hearings, including reschedulings thereof, shall be determined by the Chair of the Committee, giving reasonable regard to the schedules of the participating persons and the timely completion of the proceedings. Hearing notices (including notices of rescheduled hearing) shall be in writing and sent to all Committee members and to complainant and respondent at least 30 days prior to the date of the hearing. A majority of the members of the Committee shall constitute a necessary quorum to hear and make determinations. The Hearing Officer shall be the Committee Chair or such other Committee member as the Chair may designate for that purpose. The Committee may engage counsel to assist its hearing and determination. The respondent and the complainant, at the election of each, may be represented by counsel at the hearing. The respondent, the complainant and the Committee shall have the opportunity to examine the entire record and all documents thereof and, in addition, shall have the opportunity to examine and cross-examine all witnesses. The Hearing Officer shall have full authority to control the procedures of the hearing; provided, however, that the Committee shall not be bound by the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law. Testimony given at the hearing shall be recorded and, if requested by the Hearing Officer, transcribed as an expense of the Institute. Copies of the original complaint, investigatory materials, interview statements and notes and any other materials made part of the hearing record, together with the transcribed testimony and any hearing exhibits will be made available to respondent or complainant upon payment of the Institute's reasonable expenses for personnel and copying charges. The failure of either the respondent or the complainant to attend a convened in-person hearing shall not affect the Committee's power and responsibility to make findings and determinations based upon the available record.
G. LACK OF COMPLAINANT ACTIVITY AND RESPONDENT RESIGNATION DOES NOT NULLIFY PROCEEDINGS.
Neither the unwillingness nor neglect of the complainant to prosecute the charges contained in the original complaint nor respondent's resignation as a member of the Institute shall preclude the Committee from completing the proceedings under these rules.
H. ACTIONS TAKEN AS A RESULT OF HEARING OR RESPONDENT'S FAILURE TO DEFEND.
If a majority of those members of the Committee participating in the determination finds the respondent not guilty of any violation of the Code, the charges shall be dismissed, and the record so noted and sealed. In such case, this determination shall be final and not subject to any review.
If a majority of those members of the Committee participating in the determination finds the respondent guilty of a violation of the Code, the Committee shall have the following four options separately or in combination:
- in those cases where there is a finding that the Code violation is of such nature that substantial sanctions are not warranted, a written admonition may be administered to the respondent; or
- suspension of membership in the Institute for a set period of time or upon conditions set by the Committee, or both; or,
- expulsion from membership in the Institute; or,
- if the respondent is a certified member of the Institute, decertification of that professional designation.
The Committee shall notify the respondent and complainant of its decision in writing and of the actions undertaken as a result thereof. In the event of a finding of a violation of the Code, said notice shall specify which Canon(s) of the Code were violated.
I. BOARD OF GOVERNORS REVIEW OF COMMITTEE DECISION.
Within 30 days following mailing of the notification of a Committee decision, the respondent (but not the complainant) may appeal the Committee's decision to the Board of Governors of the Institute. In such case, the Board of Governors shall, at its next regularly scheduled meeting (provided the same not be scheduled earlier than 30 days following receipt of an appeal), review the Committee's decision. The review by the Board of Governors shall be restricted to the Committee's certified record, with no new evidence allowed to be introduced by either the respondent, the complainant or the Committee.
The Chair of the Committee or other Committee member designated by the Chair shall present to the Board the record and, if applicable, the transcript of the hearing and shall summarize the case and the evidence therein. Neither the complainant nor the respondent nor any representative thereof shall be permitted to attend the review by the Board of Governors; provided, however, that said parties shall be permitted to file with the Board, not later than 15 calendar days prior to the Board's scheduled meeting, a written statement or brief presenting or arguing such party's position. At the conclusion of the review determination, the Board shall make its decision in executive session and shall notify the complainant and respondent and the Chair of its decision within 10 calendar days of the review hearing decision.
Said review by the Board of Governors shall determine:
whether there was a reasonable basis for the factual determination made by the Committee;
- whether the Committee made a reasonable interpretation of the Code; and
- whether proper procedures were followed by the Committee.
Based upon that review, the Board of Governors shall either affirm in full or overturn in full the Committee's decision or remand the matter to the Committee for further action consistent with the Board's findings and shall notify the respondent in writing of same.
J. CRIMINAL CONVICTION OF MEMBER.
- Subject to the remaining provisions of this Section J, a member of the Institute, regardless of class of membership, who has been convicted of any crime committed in connection with the member's involvement in a tax matter (i.e., Canon 2), whether the conviction resulted from a plea of guilty, nolo contendere or from a verdict after trial and without regard to whether sentence is imposed or not, is automatically expelled from the Institute, without further action by the Committee or the Board of Governors. The Committee shall cause to be served on the member a notification of expulsion from the Institute, which shall identify the criminal conviction on which the expulsion is based. Automatic expulsion from the Institute also will constitute automatic decertification of any Certified Member designation. The sole defenses to expulsion under this subparagraph are (a) that the conviction did not occur or (b) that the crime was not in connection with the member's involvement in a tax matter. A person asserting either defense shall file a response to that effect with the Chair of the Committee within 30 days following issuance of the Committee's notice of expulsion and shall include in such response a detailed explanation of the basis for the defense. In such case, the Committee shall undertake an investigation and, if it deems appropriate, a hearing in accordance with the procedures and regulations set forth hereinabove in these Regulations and Procedures.
- All orders and notices in this Section J (except those solely between Committee members) shall be transmitted by both first-class mail and certified mail, return receipt requested to the last known address of the addressee, as provided in these Regulations and Procedures in Section C.
- An expelled member may seek review by the Board of Governors of the Committee's determination under paragraph 1 of this Section J, in the same manner as provided above in Section I; provided, however, that such application for review shall not affect or delay the prior effective date of the expulsion. In the event the Board review determines that the member's expulsion was erroneous or not warranted, membership and any associated certification shall be reinstated retroactively to the date of the original expulsion notice.
- Expulsion under this Section J shall automatically result in loss of all member benefits and privileges, including any professional designation, and the member is prohibited from using or identifying himself or herself with such designation or IPT membership in any way.
- The name of any member who has been expelled or decertified pursuant to this Section J shall be published on the Institute's website and in its newsletters.
- The reversal or remand of a criminal conviction shall not, by itself, operate to reinstate the previously-convicted person's membership in the Institute or that person's CMI or CCIP designation. In such case, the previously-convicted person may apply to the Committee for reinstatement of membership in the Institute and (if applicable) reinstatement of the person's CMI or CCIP designation, following which the facts and circumstances attending to the conviction and reversal or remand may be taken into consideration as to whether such former member warrants readmission and reinstatement of the CMI OR ccip designation. Following any Committee determination to disallow readmission or reinstatement, a further appeal to the Board may be undertaken as provided in Section I.
K. REINSTATEMENT OF MEMBER.
If a member has been expelled and/or decertified by the Institute, said member may apply for reinstatement of membership at any time after five years from the date of expulsion. Said reinstatement of membership shall be at the discretion of the Board of Governors. A reinstated member who seeks recertification must re-commence all required experience, education and testing prerequisites.
L. GENERAL PROVISIONS.
- The Institute's Code of Ethics and these Regulations and Procedures shall be published by the Institute on its website and in any other manner as may be determined by the Institute's Executive Director. Any amendments or additions to these Regulations and Procedures must be adopted by the Board of Governors and, in such case, shall be published as soon as is reasonably practicable after adoption.
- Upon request of a majority of the Board of Governors, the Chair of the Committee may give an informal opinion on matters of special concern, which informal opinion may be published for the membership at the Board's discretion.
- The records of all proceedings before the Committee and, upon appeal, to the Board of Governors, prior to the final determination of any proceeding, shall remain confidential and may be inspected only by the Committee, it's counsel, the respondent, the respondent's duly authorized representative and, in the event of a further appeal to the Board, by the Board of Governors.
- At such time as the final determination on a complaint proceeding has resulted in a determination that a respondent should be suspended, expelled and/or decertified, that determination, together with the name of the sanctioned respondent shall be published on the Institute's website and in its newsletters. Sanctions involving admonition shall be published at the discretion of the Committee.
- By their membership in the Institute, the members and any complainant (whether or not a member of the IPT) who are subject to or who undertake to invoke these Regulations and Procedures acknowledge and grant a full and complete release of the Institute, its Board of Governors and officers, employees and agents and all members of the Committee on Professional Ethics of any claimed legal action or liability arising from any proceeding instituted hereunder, including the final determinations and/or sanctions resulting therefrom.
- In the event any legal action is filed in a court of law, in contravention of these Regulations and Procedures, the filing party agrees that the Institute may move to dismiss or undertake other action deemed appropriate and that a verified copy of these Regulations and Procedures shall be sufficient evidence of an agreement to be bound hereby. In addition, in any such action to dismiss or terminate, the Institute shall have the right to recover its reasonable attorneys fees and filing expenses in connection therewith.
- Any person suspended or expelled from membership and certification shall not be permitted to represent himself or herself as a member or a certified member of the Institute. In the event of any violation of this provision, the former member agrees that the Institute may undertake equitable or other legal proceedings deemed appropriate to enjoin or prevent such mis-representation, and that a verified copy of these Regulations and Procedures, together with a verified copy of the expulsion, suspension and decertification sanction shall be sufficient evidence of the Institute's right of action hereunder. In addition, the Institute shall have the right to recover its reasonable legal fees and filing expenses in connection therewith.
- No Committee or Board member shall be permitted to participate in consideration of any complaint or any appeal with respect to any matter in which the complainant or respondent is employed by the same or any related company or firm as the Committee or Board member may be employed.
(as adopted March 22,2009)