The recently enacted 2017 tax reform act imposes a new “base erosion and anti-abuse tax” (BEAT) on large corporations. The BEAT operates as a limited-scope alternative minimum tax, applied by adding back to taxable income certain deductible payments made to related foreign persons. Although positioned as an anti-abuse rule, the BEAT presents challenges for a wide range of common business structures employed by both non-US-based and US-based multinationals.

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International (LB&I) Division recently released several directives (LB&I Directives) geared toward transfer pricing. LB&I acknowledges that significant LB&I resources are devoted to transfer pricing issues, and such issues make up a substantial portion of the LB&I inventory. It appears that these directives are aimed at ensuring that LB&I resources are utilized in the most efficient and effective manner on transfer pricing issues. A link to each LB&I Directive and a short summary is provided below.

Interim Instructions on Issuance of Mandatory Transfer Pricing Information Document Request (IDR) in LB&I Examinations

This LB&I Directive advises LB&I examiners that it is no longer necessary to issue the mandatory transfer pricing information document request (IDR) to taxpayers that have filed Form 5471, Information Return of U.S. Person with Respect To Certain Foreign Corporations, or Form 5472, Information Return of a 25% Foreign-Owned U.S. Corporation or a Foreign Corporation Engaged in a U.S. Trade or Business, or engaged in cross-border transactions. An update to Part 4.60.8 of the Internal Revenue Manual will be made in the future to further explain this change. Continue Reading IRS Releases Several Transfer Pricing Directives

On January 10, 2018, the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina E. Olson released her 2017 Annual Report to Congress. (For our coverage of the 2016 Annual Report, see here). The NTA also released the inaugural “Purple Book,” which “is a compendium of 50 legislative recommendations for strengthening taxpayer rights and improving tax administration that we and others have made over the years.” We will be reviewing the 2017 Annual Report and the Purple Book in the coming days for items of interest.

Practice Point: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization within the IRS, is an excellent (and often underutilized) resource for individual and corporate taxpayers who may be at a standstill with the Internal Revenue Service—especially on a technical, administrative or “red-tape” issue. Taxpayers of all shapes and sizes should consider, where appropriate, utilizing the TAS in appropriate circumstances where they are encountering delays in the administration of their tax disputes

Private equity sponsors and their lenders are particularly impacted by two key changes to business tax provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: the new limitation on deductibility of business interest expense and the temporary increase in the amount of capital expenditures that may be currently expensed.

In our latest Tax Takes video, Gary Rosenbaum and Alexander Lee discuss changes to the interest deductibility cap and other considerations for sponsors and lenders under the new tax legislation.

On the Subject: The Impact of Tax Reform on Finance

Alexander LeeGary Rosenbaum and Sarah Steigleder examine the key changes to business tax provisions and their implications for credit terms and deal structures.

On January 3, 2018, Chief Judge Marvel of the US Tax Court (Tax Court) announced that Senior Judge Robert A. Wherry, Jr. fully retired as of January 1, 2018, and would no longer be recalled for judicial service.

Judge Wherry was appointed on April 23, 2003, by President George W. Bush. In 2014, Judge Wherry took senior status and continued to try cases. By statute, the Tax Court is composed of 19 presidentially appointed judges. Judges are appointed for a term of 15 years and after an appointed term has expired, or they reach a specified age, may serve as a “senior judge” if recalled by the Tax Court. The Tax Court also has several special trial judges, who generally preside over small tax cases. Continue Reading Senior Tax Court Judge Robert A. Wherry, Jr. Retires

Wrapping Up December – and Looking Forward to January

You can view all of the topics we discussed over the last month, and take a look at the upcoming tax controversy events where our lawyers will be speaking in January.

Upcoming Tax Controversy Activities in January:

January 23, 2018: Diann Smith will be presenting “State Transfer Pricing Audits: Effective Strategies to Minimize Your Risk” at the 27th Annual Ohio Tax Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

January 24, 2018:  Stephen Kranz is presenting “Handling State Tax Controversies to Win!!” at the 27th Annual Ohio Tax Conference in Columbus, Ohio, solving tax problems holistically to achieve success, understanding the offensive and defensive tools available and the avenues for relief when interacting with the government, planning and building the team to effectively work all avenues the government offers, tools available including FOIA, policy solutions, and litigation, with Jeff McGhehey, Senior Manager, Indirect Tax, The Home Depot.

Happy New Year to all our readers! To start off the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released two pieces of guidance on international tax issues which are noteworthy. Each is briefly discussed below.

The first piece of guidance is Notice 2018-7, which announces the IRS’s intent to issue regulations for determining amounts included in gross income by a United States shareholder under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 951(a)(1) by reason of Code Section 965. The IRS has requested comments on the Notice and has indicated that it expects to issue additional guidance under Code Section 965.

The second piece of guidance is a Practice Unit on the substantial contribution test for the controlled manufacturing exception under the Code Section 954 regulations. This Practice Unit discusses the substantial contribution test and provides insight into the IRS’s approach in analyzing this issue in examinations of taxpayers. We previously posted about the purpose of Practice Units here, but to briefly recap this type of guidance is intended as job aids and training materials for IRS employees. A complete list of Practice Units can be found here.

Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) are facing an evolving international tax landscape with long-term implications for tax compliance, planning and controversy. Understanding these changes requires continual effort. Tax Executives Institute recently invited us to explore Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting issues at the 2017 Global Tax Symposium in Houston, Texas. We had a lively discussion and know this will be a hot topic as jurisdictions begin reviewing the CbC reports.

As background, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project has been a key driver of international tax reform.  BEPS “Action 13” outlined a CbC reporting standard that has been adopted in more than 55 jurisdictions. The CbC report is an annual filing obligation identifying, among other things, the amount of revenue, profit before income tax, and income tax paid and accrued for each tax jurisdiction in which the taxpayer does business. The resulting transparency directly affects global tax strategies since the CbC report is subject to automatic exchange provisions and more than 1,000 such relationships have been established worldwide. Tax authorities will be using this information to perform tax risk assessments so taxpayers need heightened sensitivity to the breadth and depth of information available through the CbC report. If you are involved in the process of preparing a CbC report, discussing the CbC report with a tax authority, or are otherwise interested in how the CbC report could be used by a tax authority, the OECD’s Handbook on Effective Tax Risk Assessment is a valuable resource.

Continue Reading Tax Planning in a World of Increased Transparency

As taxpayers are (or should be) aware, federal income tax returns must be timely filed to avoid potential penalties under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 6651. Historically, this meant mailing a tax return and, for returns filed close to the due date, ensuring that the “timely mailed, timely filed rule” applies (see here for our recent post on the “mailbox rule”). In recent years, there has been a push to electronically file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, for one reason or another, the potential exists that an e-filed return may be rejected. Continue Reading E-Filing: Comments Provided to IRS Regarding Transmission Failures