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Louisiana provides for a statutory accountant-client privilege, which is currently before the 2012 Legislative Session to exempt the Louisiana Legislative Auditor from the privilege. 2012 S.B. 666. The privilege provides no exception for tax collectors, therefore, one can easily argue that accountant-client communications are privileged in tax audit and litigation.
Louisiana Code of Evidence art. 515:
A. Definitions. As used in this Article:
(1) “Client” is a person, including a public officer, corporation, partnership, unincorporated association, or other organization or entity, public or private, to whom professional services are rendered by an accountant, or who consults an accountant with a view to obtaining professional services from the accountant.
(2) “Representative of the client” is either of the following:
(a) A person having authority to obtain professional services from an accountant, or to act on advice so obtained, on behalf of the client.
(b) Any other person who makes or receives a confidential communication for the purpose of effectuating representation by an accountant for the client, while acting in the scope of employment for the client.
(3) “Accountant” is the holder of a license issued pursuant to the Louisiana Accountancy Act and shall include all persons and entities within the definition of licensee in R.S. 37:73(8).
(4) “Representative of the accountant” means a person engaged by the accountant to assist the accountant in the accountant’s rendition of professional services.
(5) “Confidential communication” is any communication not intended to be disclosed to persons other than:
(a) Those to whom disclosure is made in furtherance of obtaining or rendering professional accounting services for the client.
(b) Those reasonably necessary for the transmission of the communication.
(c) When special circumstances warrant, those who are present at the behest of the client and are reasonably necessary to facilitate the communication.
B. General rule of privilege. A client has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent another person from disclosing, a confidential communication, whether oral, written, or otherwise, made for the purpose of facilitating the rendition of professional accounting services to the client, as well as the perceptions, observations, and the like, of the mental, emotional, or physical condition of the client in connection with such a communication. This privilege includes the protection of other confidential information or material obtained by the accountant from the client for the purpose of rendering professional services. This privilege exists when the communication is:
(1) Between the client or a representative of the client and the client’s accountant or a representative of the accountant.
(2) Between the accountant and a representative of the accountant.
(3) By the client or his accountant or a representative of either, to an accountant or lawyer, or representative of an accountant or lawyer, who represents another party concerning a matter of common interest.
(4) Between representatives of the client or between the client and a representative of the client.
(5) Among accountants and their representatives representing the same client.
(6) Between representatives of the client’s accountant.
C. Exceptions. There is no privilege under this Article as to a communication:
(1)(a) If the services of the accountant were sought or obtained to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit what the client or his representative knew or reasonably should have known to be a crime or fraud.
(b) Made in furtherance of a crime or fraud.
(2) Which was with a client now deceased relevant to an issue between parties who claim through that decedent, regardless of whether the claims are by testate or intestate succession or by transaction inter vivos.
(3) Which is relevant to an issue of breach of duty by an accountant to the client or by a client to the client’s accountant.
(4)(a) Which is relevant to an issue of authenticity or capacity concerning a document which the accountant signed as a witness or notary.
(b) Concerning the testimony of a representative of an accountant regarding a communication relevant to an issue of authenticity or capacity concerning a document to which the representative is a witness or notary.
(5) Which is relevant to a matter of common interest between or among two or more clients if the communication was made by any of them or their representative to an accountant or his representative retained or consulted in common, when subsequently offered by one client against the other in a civil action.
(6) Concerning the identity of the accountant’s client or his representative, unless disclosure of the identity by the accountant or his representative would reveal either the reason for which accounting services were sought or a communication which is otherwise privileged under this Article.
(7) Concerning information required to be disclosed by the standards of the public accounting profession in reporting on the examination of financial statements whose proceedings are protected from discovery pursuant to R.S. 37:86.
(8) Concerning disclosures in investigations or proceedings of the State Board of Certified Public Accountants of Louisiana pursuant to the provisions of Part I of the Louisiana Accountancy Act whose proceedings are protected from discovery pursuant to R.S. 37:86.
(9) Concerning disclosures in ethical investigations of an accountant conducted by private professional organizations whose proceedings are protected from discovery pursuant to R.S. 37:86 or in the course of quality or peer reviews.
(10) In any domestic proceeding including the partition of community property and the settlement of claims arising from matrimonial regimes, spousal support, and child support.
D. Who may claim privilege. The privilege may be claimed by the client, the client’s agent or accountant, or the successor, trustee, or similar representative of a client that is a corporation, partnership, unincorporated association, or other organization, whether or not in existence. The person who was the accountant or the accountant’s representative at the time of the communication is presumed to have authority to claim the privilege on behalf of the client, former client, or deceased client.
E. Scope. Nothing in this Article is intended to affect the absolute privileges against disclosure contained in R.S. 37:86(B) through (E).
La. Code Evid. Ann. art. 515
Another look at the accountant’s privilege can be found at: http://WWW.aicpa.org