More On Marijuana Businesses And Tax Ethics

With more states moving to allow recreational use of marijuana, we’ll see more tax practitioners asked by either new or existing clients if they will help them with the accounting, tax or legal needs of their marijuana business. Despite state actions, the production, sale and use of marijuana is a crime under federal law. Thus, for licensed practitioners, there is concern about ethical violations of helping someone commit a crime.

I’ve got an updated article on this topic in the Massachusetts Society of CPA’s Spring 2015 journal – here.  Also, more here.

I’d like to see states be more specific with these laws so far as helping attorneys and CPAs.  For example, why not add a law to specify that an attorney or CPA licensed in the state will not face any disciplinary action for assisting a marijuana client as long as done in the same manner that the practitioner serves other clients.

While it seems that the keepers/enforcers of these rules of conduct are not pursing disciplinary actions, it would still be good to have that explicit in the state statute.

What do you think?

Original Post By:  Annette Nellen

Annette Nellen, CPA, Esq., is a professor in and director of San Jose State University’s graduate tax program (MST), teaching courses in tax research, accounting methods, property transactions, state taxation, employment tax, ethics, tax policy, tax reform, and high technology tax issues.

Annette is the immediate past chair of the AICPA Individual Taxation Technical Resource Panel and a current member of the Executive Committee of the Tax Section of the California Bar. Annette is a regular contributor to the AICPA Tax Insider and Corporate Taxation Insider e-newsletters. She is the author of BNA Portfolio #533, Amortization of Intangibles.

Annette has testified before the House Ways & Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee, California Assembly Revenue & Taxation Committee, and tax reform commissions and committees on various aspects of federal and state tax reform.

Prior to joining SJSU, Annette was with Ernst & Young and the IRS.

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