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The following was written by James H. Chapman, EA, MPA, MA, Teaching Faculty Emeritus at the Tax Law Institute, 2008 - 2018

"Before making your final decision to attempt the US Tax Court Non-attorney [Bar Admissions] Examination, please note these statistics: Only a few candidates from the 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 testing session actually passed the exam and were admitted.  Several of those who passed the exam have been blocked from admission to the Bar by reason of their background check. Therefore only a select minority of those actually taking the exam actually pass and are admitted to the Bar. Also, the vast majority of candidates take the exam more than once."  

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e-mail michaeljerome.stuart@aya.yale.edu


What you can do to meet the moral character standards of the US Tax Court?

The following is reprinted courtesy of the US Justice Department

  • Identification Record Request/Criminal Background Check Info Criminal Background Check An FBI Identification Record—often referred to as a criminal history record or a “rap sheet”—is a listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI in connection with arrests and, in some instances, federal employment, naturalization, or military service. The process of responding to an Identification Record request is generally known as a criminal background check.
  • If the fingerprints are related to an arrest, the Identification Record includes name of the agency that submitted the fingerprints to the FBI, the date of the arrest, the arrest charge, and the disposition of the arrest, if known to the FBI. All arrest data included in an Identification Record is obtained from fingerprint submissions, disposition reports, and other information submitted by agencies having criminal justice responsibilities.

The US. Department of Justice Order 556-73 establishes rules and regulations for the subject of an FBI Identification Record to obtain a copy of his or her own record for review. The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division processes these requests.


Who May Request a Copy of a Record (or Proof That a Record Does Not Exist)?

  • Only you can request a copy of your own Identification Record. Individuals typically make this request for personal review, to challenge the information on record, to satisfy a requirement for adopting a child in the US. or internationally, or to satisfy a requirement to live, work, or travel in a foreign country (i.e., police certificate, letter of good conduct, criminal history background, etc.).

Background Checks for Employment or Licensing

  • If you are requesting a background check for employment or licensing within the US, you may be required by state statute or federal law to submit your request through your state identification bureau, the requesting federal agency, or another authorized channeling agency. You should contact the agency requiring the background check or the appropriate state identification bureau (or state police) for the correct procedures to follow for obtaining an FBI fingerprint background check for employment or licensing purposes.

How to Request a Copy of Your Record from the FBI
  • The FBI offers two methods for requesting your FBI Identification Record or proof that a record does not exist.
  • Option 1:  Submit your request directly to the FBI
  • Option 2:  Your fingerprints should be placed on a standard fingerprint form (FD-258) commonly used for applicant or law enforcement purposes. You must provide a current fingerprint card. Your name and date of birth must be provided on the fingerprint card. Visit https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks
  • Take note that an FBI-approved Channeler cannot authenticate (apostille) fingerprint search results. A request for your FBI Identification Record or proof that a record does not exist must be submitted directly to the FBI if an authentication (apostille) is needed.

What Happens Next?

  • If the FBI finds no record, you will receive a “no record” response. If you do have a criminal history record on file, you will receive your Identification Record or “rap sheet.”

Some other considerations...
  • do you have delinquent parking or moving violations
  • do you have unpaid alimony (and other debt) docketed in the courts in any jurisdiction
  • low credit scores
  • bad checks
  • liens and judgments
  • delinquent tax returns and IRS defaulted installment agreements
  • past and ongoing civil or criminal proceedings in foreign jurisdictions (other states and territories)

Warning
  • The above list is not exhaustive. It is intended to "raise the awareness" of anyone who plans to become a candidate for United States Tax Court Practitioner. The Tax Law Institute makes no representations other than to remind applicants that successfully achieving a 70% grade in all four tested subjects does not guarantee admission to practice before the US Tax Court. You must pass muster with the FBI.

Actual Accounts
(as told to us by the Bar Applicants)

  • The following are accounts of the experiences of two successful TLI Test-takers who did not pass muster with the FBI, and who thus were denied admission to practice as United States Tax Court Practitioners.
    • Successful Test-taker #1, was a licensed public accountant who loaned his personal vehicle to a sibling's boyfriend (who coincidentally resembled him), with his driver's license in the glove compartment. The boyfriend was stopped for speeding and produced the test-taker's driver's license, claiming it to be his own. The incident occurred at night so it was quite possible that the detaining officer did not look closely enough at the photo before issuing the citation. Anyway, the boyfriend never told the test-taker about the incident, nor did he ever pay the ticket he received. Some months passed. During that time, Test-taker #2 filled out his Application to sit for the Non-attorney Exam. He had no knowledge of the ticket and therefore believed his answers to be truthful to inquiring questions that appeared on the Application regarding outstanding civil judgments and violations, etc. The FBI discovered the unpaid infraction at the time of its investigation and reported the matter to the US Tax Court Office of Admissions. Test-taker #1 was denied admission to the Tax Court Bar.
    • Successful Test-taker #2 was a licensed attorney in neighboring country. He believed himself to be in "good standing" when he filled out the U.S. Tax Court Non-attorney Application to sit for the Exam. What he did not know was that because he had submitted late an annual report of his practice, that was required to remain in good standing as a practicing attorney in his country, he had been "temporarily de-listed" as a licensed attorney in his jurisdiction by the controlling authority for attorneys, equivalent to a State Bar in the U.S. When he learned of the consequences of his delinquency, he immediately submitted the required information well before the governing authority had a chance to send out formal notice to him. Consequently, no official notice was sent to him because the matter was recorded as "resolved" by an obliging clerk who didn't think it necessary to complete what he believed was an unnecessary mailing. Unfortunately, when the FBI investigated, after it became know that he had achieved successful grades in each of the four sections of the Non-attorney Exam, and unbeknownst to Test-taker #2, the matter of the temporary de-listing had, in fact, been officially recorded, but with no entry of resolution. Subsequently, it was found in the public record by the investigating FBI agent and reported to the US Tax Court Office of Admissions. Test-taker #2 was denied admission to the Tax Court Bar.

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