MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Before the Court is the Government's petition to enforce a summons issued by the Internal Revenue Service [IRS]. The summons, issued by Special Agent Pennington, pursuant to 26 U. S. C. § 7602,
directed respondents, A&M Berk Tax Service [Berk] and Arnold Berkowitz to appear and produce the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of all clients and customers for whom they prepared 1971 Federal Income Tax Returns. Respondents filed a motion to quash the summons alleging that such summons was illegal and unconstitutional. This motion was denied on the ground that the proper time to challenge an internal revenue summons was at an enforcement proceeding. Reisman v. Caplin, 375 U.S. 440, 84 S. Ct. 508, 11 L. Ed. 2d 459 (1964). Respondent Berkowitz appeared on August 14, 1972, pursuant to the summons, but refused to testify or to produce the required documents. The Government thereby commenced this proceeding under 26 U. S. C. §§ 7402(b)
An order to show cause was signed, after which a hearing was held on November 28, 1972, wherein testimony was taken and arguments were heard. Upon motion, further hearing was held on February 14, 1973.
Briefly stated, the facts leading to the issuance of the summons are as follows: Section 7601 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, 26 U. S. C. § 7601,
directs the Secretary or his delegate "to the extent he deems it practicable" to cause Treasury Department officers or employees "to proceed * * * and inquire after and concerning" all persons "who may be liable to pay any internal revenue tax". Pursuant to this section, the IRS initiated its Tax Preparers Project, whereby certain tax preparers are selected at random and are visited by undercover agents with assumed information to be submitted to the preparer for the preparation of a tax return. The project is designed to identify tax returns that have been inaccurately prepared by commercial tax preparers. In the instant case, an IRS agent submitted assumed information to respondents, who prepared and filed the return. It was subsequently determined that the return was inaccurately prepared and, consequently, the instant summons was issued.
As previously mentioned, Section 7601 flatly imposes the duty upon the Secretary to canvass and to inquire concerning all persons who may be liable to pay any internal revenue tax. Donaldson v. United States, 400 U.S. 517, 523, 27 L. Ed. 2d 580, 91 S. Ct. 534 (1971). A taxpayer may challenge a summons issued pursuant to Section 7602 at an enforcement proceeding brought by the IRS. Reisman v. Caplin, supra. At such a proceeding, the IRS need show only "that the investigation will be conducted pursuant to a legitimate purpose, that the inquiry may be relevant to the purpose, that the information sought is not already within the Commissioner's possession, and that the administrative steps required by the Code have been followed * * *." United States v. Powell, 379 U.S. 48, 57-58, 13 L. Ed. 2d 112, 85 S. Ct. 248 (1964). The Court further held that a summons issued under Section 7602 in aid of an IRS investigation is for a legitimate purpose "if it is issued in good faith and prior to a recommendation for criminal prosecution." Donaldson v. United States, supra, 400 U.S. at 536, or stated otherwise, the taxpayer must negative the existence of a proper purpose of the summons. United States v. Egenberg, 443 F.2d 512 (3rd Cir. 1971); United States v. Erdner, 422 F.2d 835 (3rd Cir. 1970); United States v. DeGrosa, 405 F.2d 926 (3rd Cir. 1969). The IRS, through Special Agent Pennington and Thomas Martin, Chief of the IRS Intelligence Division, testified that the purpose of the investigation was to determine the correct federal tax liabilities of all taxpayers for whom respondents prepared 1971 federal income tax returns.
Respondents make essentially five points in support of their contention that the summons is invalid, which are as follows: (1) the IRS has no right to issue a summons for records already in their possession; (2) the IRS may utilize Section 7602 summons only to secure information from the taxpayer under investigation himself, not from third persons other than the taxpayer; (3) only one inaccuracy has been found and the IRS is now engaging in a burdensome fishing expedition into all respondents' clients; (4) the fact that the IRS informed respondents that criminal charges could be brought against them if further inaccurate returns were found rendered the summons invalid, since it could be inferred that the sole purpose of the summons was for a criminal investigation; and (5) the information sought is protected by the accountant-client privilege. We will discuss each contention seriatim.
Initially, respondents argue that United States v. Powell, supra, and its progeny prohibit the IRS from issuing a summons for records already in their custody and possession. Donaldson v. United States, supra ; United States v. Harrington, 388 F.2d 520 (2d Cir. 1968). The IRS concedes that the information sought is in its files, but argues that it cannot be readily identified or collected, since a tax preparer is under no obligation to identify his tax returns. In a similar case, the IRS sought a list of the taxpayers whose returns were prepared by a professional tax preparer. United States v. Theodore, 347 F. Supp. 1070, 72-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P 9690 (D. S. C. 1972). The tax preparer asserted the identical argument as respondents do here, which was flatly rejected by the Court, stating:
"At the hearing, respondents complained that the Commissioner already had the returns in his possession and therefore could not summon copies of the same from the respondents. 26 U. S. C. 7605(b). Practically, it would constitute an enormous and unjustifiably expensive undertaking for the Commissioner to search all of the returns in Chamblee, Georgia, to find those returns prepared by the respondents. This project will be facilitated by the production of the copies of the returns in the possession of the respondents. It is not an abuse of this court's process to require the respondents to assist the Commissioner by producing the returns. United States v. Powell, supra, [379 U.S. p. 58, 85 S. Ct. 248, 13 L. Ed. 2d 112]."