Simply Tax Episode 60: Tax Return Positions with Ed Karl

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Applying tax law to real life situations can seem gray at times in spite of the black and white words on the law’s pages. In a mock interview, guest Ed Karl—vice president of taxation at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)—breaks down the AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTS) and shares key insights on taking tax return positions on gray areas of the tax law after tax reform.


  • What are the SSTSs and to whom do they apply? @0:25
  • The value proposition of the SSTSs to the CPA profession @1:12
  • An example of areas covered by the SSTSs @2:55
  • Standards for tax return positions @3:39
  • Required disclosure for positions of less than substantial authority @6:49
  • Can you just rely on an article from the internet to support a conclusion? @9:06
  • Tips for approaching gray areas @10:05
  • Does putting a tax return on extension increase the chances of an IRS exam? @12:51
  • Is answering a quick client question considered giving tax advice? @14:01
  • Ed’s advice for CPAs and CPA firms on working with and learning more about the SSTSs @17:05
  • “Just put it in writing!” @18:51


Edward Karl, CPA, is the vice president of taxation at the AICPA. He’s responsible for the review, formulation and submission of technical and policy recommendations for improvement of the federal tax process to Congress, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS. Mr. Karl also serves as a principal liaison for the AICPA with the IRS and is responsible for tax ethical issues, which includes the management of the AICPA’s SSTSs. Finally, Mr. Karl oversees the tax division’s delivery of services to members, focusing on helping AICPA members provide the highest quality professional tax services.

“Reporters” from the tax intern group of BKD Chicago in order of appearance:

  • Mark Christman | University of North Carolina | Graduating June 2019
  • Yosue Perez | Northern Illinois University | Graduating May 2019
  • Olivia Salach | Loyola University Chicago | Graduating May 2020
  • Letty Valles | Dominican University (River Forest) | Graduating May 2019
  • Emily Szmania | Loyola University Chicago | Graduated November 2018
  • Kamile Petraityte | Saint Xavier University | Graduating May 2020



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