Board Certifed in Tax Law in Florida
Under Rule 6-5, a lawyer who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and meets the standards prescribed below may be issued an appropriate certificate identifying the lawyer as "Board Certified in Tax Law." The purpose of the standards is to identify those lawyers who practice in the area of taxation and have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency to be properly identified to the public as board certified in tax law.
Definitions for Board Certification in Tax Law in Florida
The definitions for the board certification rules for tax law include:
(a) Tax Law.
"Tax law" means legal issues involving federal, state, or local income, estate, gift, ad valorem, excise, or other taxes.
The "practice of law" for this area is defined as set out in rule 6-3.5(c)(1). Notwithstanding anything in the definition to the contrary, legal work done primarily for a purpose other than legal advice or representation (including, but not limited to, work related to the sale of insurance or retirement plans or work in connection with the practice of a profession other than the law) shall not be treated as the practice of law.
Minimum Standards for Becoming Board Certified in Tax Law
The minimum standards for becoming board certified in tax law can be found in Rule 6-5.3.
(a) Minimum Period of Practice.
Every applicant shall have been engaged in the practice of law in the United States, or engaged in the practice of United States law while in a foreign country, and shall have been a member in good standing of the bar of any state of the United States or the District of Columbia for a period of 5 years as of the date of application.
(1) The years of practice of law need not be consecutive.
(2) Notwithstanding the definition of "practice of law" in rule 6-3.5(c)(1), receipt of an LL.M. degree in taxation (or such other related fields approved by the board of legal specialization and education and the tax certification committee) from an approved law school shall be deemed to constitute 1 year of the practice of law for purposes of the 5-year practice requirement (but not the 5-year bar membership requirement) under this subdivision.
However, an applicant may not receive credit for more than 1 year of practice for any 12-month period under this subdivision; accordingly, for example, an applicant who, while being engaged in the practice of law, receives an LL.M. degree by attending night classes, would not receive credit for the practice of law requirement by virtue of having received the LL.M. degree.
(b) Substantial Involvement.
Every applicant must demonstrate substantial involvement in the practice of tax law during the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application. Upon an applicant's request and the recommendation of the tax certification committee, the board of legal specialization and education may waive the requirement that the 3 years be "immediately preceding" the date of application if the board of legal specialization and education determines the waiver is warranted by special and compelling circumstances.
Substantial involvement is defined as at least 500 hours per year in the practice of law in which an applicant has had substantial and direct participation in legal matters involving significant issues of tax law. An applicant must furnish information concerning the frequency of the applicant's work and the nature of the issues involved.
For the purposes of this subdivision the "practice of law" shall be as defined in rule 6-3.5(c)(1), except that it shall also include time devoted to lecturing and/or authoring books or articles on tax law if the applicant was engaged in the practice of law during such period. Demonstration of compliance with this requirement shall be made initially through a form of questionnaire approved by the tax certification committee but written or oral supplementation may be required.
(c) Peer Review.
Every applicant shall submit the names and addresses of 5 other attorneys who are familiar with the applicant's practice, not including attorneys who currently practice in the applicant's law firm, who can attest to the applicant's reputation for involvement in the field of tax law in accordance with rule 6-3.5(c)(6), as well as the applicant's character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism. The board of legal specialization and education or the tax certification committee may authorize references from persons other than attorneys in such cases as they deem appropriate. The board of legal specialization and education and the tax certification committee may also make such additional inquiries as they deem appropriate.
Every applicant must demonstrate that during the 3-year period immediately preceding the date of application, the applicant has met the continuing legal education requirements in tax law as follows. The required number of hours shall be established by the board of legal specialization and education and shall in no event be less than 90 hours. Credit for attendance at continuing legal education seminars shall be given only for programs that are directly related to tax law. The education requirement may be satisfied by 1 or more of the following:
(2) lecturing at, and/or serving on the steering committee of, such continuing legal education seminars;
(3) authoring articles or books published in professional periodicals or other professional publications;
(4) teaching courses in "tax law" at an approved law school or other graduate level program presented by a recognized professional education association;
(5) completing such home study programs as may be approved by the board of legal specialization and education or the tax certification committee; or
(6) such other methods as may be approved by the board of legal specialization and education and the tax certification committee.
The board of legal specialization and education or the tax certification committee shall, by rule or regulation, establish standards applicable to this rule, including, but not limited to, the method of establishment of the number of hours allocable to any of the above-listed paragraphs. Such rules or regulations shall provide that hours shall be allocable to each separate but substantially different lecture, article, or other activity described in subdivisions (2), (3), and (4) above.
Every applicant must pass a written examination designed to demonstrate sufficient knowledge, skills, and proficiency in the field of tax law to justify the representation of special competence to the legal profession and the public.
Recertification in Tax Law in Florida
Rule 6-5.4 sets out the requirements for recertification in tax law in Florida. To be eligible for recertification, an applicant must meet the following requirements:
(a) Substantial Involvement.
A satisfactory showing, as determined by the board of legal specialization and education and the tax certification committee, of continuous and substantial involvement in the field of tax law throughout the period since the last date of certification. Demonstration of substantial involvement shall be in accordance with rule 6-5.3(b), except that the board of legal specialization and education and/or the tax certification committee may accept an affidavit from the applicant which attests to the applicant's proficiency in tax law consistent with the purpose of the substantial involvement requirement.
Demonstration that the applicant has completed at least 125 hours of continuing legal education since the filing of the last application for certification (or recertification). The continuing legal education must logically be expected to enhance the proficiency of attorneys who are board certified tax lawyers. If the applicant has not attained 125 hours of continuing legal education, but has attained more than 60 hours during such period, successful passage of the written examination given by the board of legal specialization and education to new applicants shall satisfy the continuing legal education requirements.
(c) Peer Review.
Completion of the reference requirements set forth in rule 6-5.3(c).
If, after reviewing the material submitted by an applicant for recertification, the board of legal specialization and education and the tax certification committee determine that the applicant may not meet the standards in tax law established under this chapter, the board of legal specialization and education and the tax certification committee may require, as a condition of recertification, that the applicant pass the written examination given by the board of legal specialization and education to new applicants.