An authorized certifying officer of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requested an advance decision regarding an employee's entitlement to reimbursement of an annual fee paid to a state bar association. The employee is an estate tax attorney for IRS. To qualify as an estate tax attorney with IRS, a person must be or become within 14 months of his employment a member in good standing of any state bar. The employee asserted that he draws no personal benefit from maintaining his active status in the bar since IRS attorneys are restricted to practicing law only for IRS. Because maintaining bar membership is a condition to his continued employment, the employee believes that he should be reimbursed for any membership fees incurred. GAO stated that, where a Federal employee must secure licenses to perform the duties of his position, it has repeatedly held that compliance is a matter of personal qualification and that payment by the Government of any fees incident to obtaining those licenses is not authorized. Accordingly, GAO concluded that the bar membership fee is not a reimbursable expense and may not be certified for payment.
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