When and How Can the Attorney-Client Privilege Include Your Accountant

When it comes to litigating cases involving your tax information, the knowledge of your accountant could be just as important to your defense as that of your attorney. Your communications with your attorney are generally protected by attorney-client privilege, meaning that their knowledge cannot be used against you in your case. Accountants, however, don’t have the benefit of such a privilege – not by default, at least. An experienced attorney can make use of a Kovel letter and the relationship it embodies to extend this privilege to an accountant in order to protect some of the most pertinent information to your defense.

What Is a Kovel Letter?

The ability to use a Kovel letter is established in precedent, not statute, meaning that the concept arose from a court case. As such, careful consideration has to be given to how and when a Kovel letter is used to protect a client’s information. An attorney may retain an accountant using very specific language to ensure that their relationship is investigatory, under the attorney’s supervision, and only for the purposes of assisting the attorney in their defense of the client. This agreement is known as a Kovel letter, and its specific language is utilized to confirm the confidentiality of attorney-client privilege to an accountant.

How Does a Kovel Letter Work?

As previously discussed, Kovel letters aren’t defined by any statute, only by precedent. As such, attorneys must be sure to match the circumstances of the precedent as closely as possible. One of the most important aspects of a Kovel letter is that the attorney is retaining the accountant for their own assistance and legal consultation. Attorneys often work closely with experts to prepare their cases, such as investigators, psychologists, physicians,  and others. Because these experts are privy to the details of their client’s case, the attorney-client privilege also extends to them. Retaining an accountant for the purpose of legal advice falls under the same category. As established in United States V. Kovel, the accountant essentially functions as an interpreter – taking in the information pertinent to the case, and returning useful advice to the attorney. 

Depending on the circumstances of your case, a Kovel letter may become necessary. Our team has extensive experience in when and how Kovel letters are needed for a successful defense, and we’re ready to use our knowledge to provide you with the strongest defense available. If you’re facing potential tax litigation, contact us at (305) 374-5544 today to schedule your consultation.

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Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

As experienced trial lawyers with a passion for justice, our firm provides clients with compelling advocacy, attorney availability, and creative solutions to your tax or criminal law matters.

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