4-30-048  <<  4-30-050 >>   4-30-051

WAC 4-30-050

Records and clients confidential information.

(1) Client: The term "client" as used throughout WAC 4-30-050 and 4-30-051 includes former and current clients. For purposes of this section, a client relationship has been formed when confidential information has been disclosed by a prospective client or another authorized person in an initial interview to obtain or provide professional services.
(2) Sale or transfer of client records: No statement, record, schedule, working paper, or memorandum, including electronic records, may be sold, transferred, or bequeathed without the consent of the client or another authorized person.
(3) Disclosure of client confidential records and client relationships:
(a) Confidential client communication or information: Licensees, CPA-Inactive certificate holders, nonlicensee firm owners, and employees of such persons must not without the specific consent of the client or another authorized person disclose any confidential communication or information pertaining to the client obtained in the course of performing professional services.
(b) Licensees, CPA-Inactive certificate holders, nonlicensee firm owners, and employees of such persons who have provided records to a client or another authorized person are not obligated to provide such records to other individuals associated with the client.
(c) When a licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, nonlicensee firm owner, or employee is engaged to prepare a married couple's joint tax return, both spouses are considered to be clients, even if the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, nonlicensee firm owner, or employee was engaged by one spouse and deals exclusively with that spouse.
Accordingly, if the married couple is undergoing a divorce and one spouse directs the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, nonlicensee firm owner, or employee to withhold joint tax information from the other spouse, the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, nonlicensee firm owner, or employee shall provide the information to both spouses, in compliance with this rule. The licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, nonlicensee firm owner, or employee should consider reviewing the legal implications of such disclosure with an attorney and any responsibilities under any applicable tax performance standards promulgated by the United States Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service.
This rule also applies to confidential communications and information obtained in the course of professional tax compliance services unless state or federal tax laws or regulations require or permit use or disclosure of such information.
Consents may include those requirements of Treasury Circular 230 and IRC Sec. 7216 for purposes of this rule, provided the intended recipients are specifically and fully identified by full name, address, and other unique identifiers.
(4) Disclosing information to third-party service providers: Licensees, CPA-Inactive certificate holders, or nonlicensee firm owners must do one of the following before disclosing confidential client information to third-party service providers:
(a) Enter into a contractual agreement with the third-party service provider to assist in providing the professional services to maintain the confidentiality of the information and provide a reasonable assurance that the third-party service provider has appropriate procedures in place to prevent the unauthorized release of confidential information to others. The nature and extent of procedures necessary to obtain reasonable assurance depends on the facts and circumstances, including the extent of publicly available information on the third-party service provider's controls and procedures to safeguard confidential client information; or
(b) Obtain specific consent from the client before disclosing confidential client information to the third-party service provider.
(5) Disclosure of client records in the course of a firm sale, or transfer upon death of a licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, or nonlicensee firm owner.
A licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, or nonlicensee firm owner, or the successor in interest of a deceased licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, or nonlicensee firm owner, that sells or transfers all or part of a practice to another person, firm, or entity (successor firm) and will no longer retain ownership in the practice must do all of the following:
(a) Submit a written request to each client subject to the sale or transfer, requesting the client's consent to transfer its files to the successor firm or other entity and notify the client that its consent may be presumed if it does not respond to the licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, or nonlicensee firm owner's request within a period of not less than ninety days, unless prohibited by law. The licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, or nonlicensee firm owner, or successor in interest of a deceased firm owner, should not transfer any client files to the successor firm until either the client's consent is obtained or the ninety days has lapsed, whichever is shorter. The licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, or nonlicensee firm owner must retain evidence of consent, whether obtained from the client or presumed after ninety days.
(b) It is permissible for the successor in interest of a deceased licensee, CPA-Inactive certificate holder, or nonlicensee firm owner to contract with a responsible custodian to securely store client records until such time as consent or transfer has been obtained.
(6) This rule does not:
(a) Affect in any way the obligation of those persons to comply with a lawfully issued subpoena or summons;
(b) Prohibit disclosures in the course of a quality review of a licensee's attest, compilation, or other reporting services governed by professional standards;
(c) Preclude those persons from responding to any inquiry made by the board or any investigative or disciplinary body established by local, state, or federal law or recognized by the board as a professional association; or
(d) Preclude a review of client information in conjunction with a prospective purchase, sale, or merger of all or part of the professional practice of public accounting of any such persons.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 18.04.055 and 2017 c 304. WSR 18-04-071, § 4-30-050, filed 2/2/18, effective 3/5/18. Statutory Authority: RCW 18.04.055(2), 18.04.405(1). WSR 13-04-011, § 4-30-050, filed 1/25/13, effective 2/25/13. Statutory Authority: RCW 18.04.055(2), 18.04.390 (4)(b), and 18.04.405(1). WSR 11-06-062, amended and recodified as § 4-30-050, filed 3/2/11, effective 4/2/11; WSR 08-18-016, § 4-25-640, filed 8/25/08, effective 9/25/08; WSR 05-01-137, § 4-25-640, filed 12/16/04, effective 1/31/05; WSR 03-24-033, § 4-25-640, filed 11/25/03, effective 12/31/03. Statutory Authority: RCW 18.04.055(2). WSR 02-22-082, § 4-25-640, filed 11/5/02, effective 12/31/02. Statutory Authority: RCW 18.40.055 [18.04.055]. WSR 93-22-046, § 4-25-640, filed 10/28/93, effective 11/28/93.]
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