From the February 2010 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Tax Prep Snooping

A recent decision by the full panel of the First Circuit Federal Court of Appeals that left corporate finance and tax departments concerned about the confidentiality of their papers appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. Textron, the defendant in the case, announced on Dec. 24 that it was filing an appeal to the nation's highest court. The 3-2 August decision, which reversed an earlier 2-1 decision by a three-judge appellate panel in the same circuit, establishes that at least for now, in the New England states (and Puerto Rico) covered by the Boston-based First Circuit, a company's tax accrual working papers, long held under the work product doctrine to be confidential documents, can no longer be considered automatically out of reach of the Internal Revenue Service.

In United States v. Textron and Subsidiaries, the case involving the Providence, R.I.-based aerospace and defense conglomerate, the First Circuit panel held that, "If a blueprint to Textron's possible improper deductions can be found in Textron's files, it is properly available to the government unless privileged.


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