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

"Before making your final decision to attempt the U.S. 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."  


The following is reprinted courtesy of the U.S. Justice Department

What you can do to meet the moral character standard of the U.S. Tax Court?

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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.).

Requesting background checks for employment or licensing

If you are requesting a background check for employment or licensing within the U.S., 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 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...
  • Does the applicant have delinquent parking or moving violations?
  • Does the applicant have unpaid alimony (and other debt) docketed in the courts in any jurisdiction?
  • Does the applicant have a record of an encounter with law enforcement or the criminal courts?
  • 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 U.S. territories)

Caveat

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 U.S. Tax Court. The applicant must pass muster with the FBI.

Passing Muster with the FBI: Actual Accounts of Two Successful Test-takers

The following are accounts of two successful Test-takers who did not pass muster with the FBI. Both 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 could not distinguish differences before he issued the citation. The boyfriend never told Test-taker #1 about the incident, nor did he ever pay the ticket. Some months passed. Test-taker #2 filled out his Application for the non-attorney exam. He had no knowledge of the ticket and therefore believed his answers to be truthful to questions regarding civil judgments and violations, etc. The FBI discovered the unpaid infraction and reported the matter to the U.S. 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 a neighboring country. He believed himself to be in "good standing" when he filled out the non-attorney application. But he filed papers late that were required annually by his country's bar authority. Consequently, he was temporarily made "inactive" in that country's listing of approved attorneys. The attorney called the office of the Bar. According to the attorney, it turned out that a clerk did not update the records immediately, after supposedly telling the attorney that he would do so. So, when the FBI investigated the official entry was still "inactive." Subsequently, it was the published status that was reported to the U.S. Tax Court Office of Admissions. Test-taker #2 was denied admission to the Tax Court Bar.

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