Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of March 23 – 27, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

March 23, 2020: The US Tax Court cancelled trial sessions from May 4, 2020 through June 29, 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. For further discussion, see here.

March 23, 2020: The IRS updated Publication 946, “How to Depreciate Property”, for use in preparing 2019 tax returns. The updated publication notes the dollar amount in effect for tax IRC Section 179 expensing and the retroactive extension for 2019 and the expiration of certain depreciation at the end of 2020.

March 23, 2020: Final regulations under IRC section 901(m) were released that deal with transactions that generally are treated as asset acquisitions for US income tax purposes and either are treated as stock acquisitions or are disregarded for foreign income tax purposes. These regulations are necessary to provide guidance on applying section 901(m). These regulations affect taxpayers claiming foreign tax credits.

March 24, 2020: The IRS published Questions & Answers (Q&As) regarding the federal income tax filing and payment extension to July 15 to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Q&As provide supplemental information from Notice 2020-18. For further discussion, see here.

March 25, 2020: The IRS announced the “People First Initiative” in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to assist taxpayers in ways such as easing payment guidelines and postponing compliance actions. For further discussion, see here.

March 25, 2020: The IRS released guidance on Forms 8985 and 8986, Part II, Item G, to enter the date the audited partnership originally furnished the Forms 8986 to its partners.

March 27, 2020: The IRS announced Erin M. Collins will be the National Taxpayer Advocate and lead the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS. Collins will start as the National Taxpayer Advocate on March 30, 2020, ahead of the original scheduled start date, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 27, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Emily Mussio in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.

Yesterday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced in a memorandum to all Large Business & International (LB&I) division employees that it was suspending the normal Information Document Request (IDR) procedures. The letter suspends enforcement until July 15, 2020; however, LB&I managers will have the discretion to continue with the IDR enforcement process when in their judgment the interests of tax administration warrant (e.g., cases with short statutes, listed transactions or fraud development). The memorandum, however, does not tell examining agents to stop issuing IDRs or working on their cases as the suspension relates only to enforcement of IDRs.

Practice Point: The suspension of the IDR enforcement procedures is welcome news to taxpayers with ongoing audits. With tax professionals displaced in their homes while mandatory self-isolation continues, meeting IDR deadlines has been challenging. We suggest, however, that taxpayers try to continue to work on their responses to IDRs the best they can so that when the world goes back to normal, responding to IDRs will not be high on the list of things to be done.

On March 25, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced a new People First Initiative designed to provide relief to taxpayers on a variety of issues ranging from easing payment guidelines to postponing compliance actions in light of the challenges caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The initiative’s projected start date is April 1, 2020, and it is planned to continue through at least July 15, 2020. During this period, the IRS will avoid in-person contacts as much as possible while focusing on taking the steps necessary to protect all applicable statutes of limitation.

Access the full article.

Recently, the US Federal District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Meredith Corp. v. United States, No. 4:17-cv-00385 (S.D. Iowa Mar. 20, 2020), held that a magazine publisher was entitled to refund of federal income tax based for the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 199 domestic production deduction based upon the printing services performed by a contract manufacturer. At issue in the case was whether the publisher qualified as a printer of magazines for purposes of IRC section 199 despite hiring third-party printers to print its magazines. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) argued that the third-party printers, not the magazine publisher, had the “benefits and burdens of ownership,” and thus only the third-party printers were eligible for the IRC section 199 deduction. The case involved tax years 2006 through 2012. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repealed IRC section 199 domestic production deduction for tax years after 2018.

Continue Reading Taxpayer Victory in an IRC Section 199 Contract Manufacturing Case

After cancelling several trial sessions for March 2020 and April 2020, and closing its building until further notice, the US Tax Court (Tax Court) has announced that the remainder of its trial sessions through the end of June 2020 have been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The cancelled trial sessions will be rescheduled at a later date. Although the Tax Court’s building is closed, the court remains operational:

Tax Court personnel are working remotely. The eAccess and eFiling systems remain operational and the Court will continue to process items received electronically, serve orders and opinions, enter and serve decisions, work with litigants, and receive telephone calls.

Practice Point: Much like prior government shutdowns, the cancellation of a large number of trial sessions stemming from COVID-19 is a major disruption for the Tax Court, taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Those taxpayers whose cases have been delayed should continue to work with IRS Chief Counsel attorneys to try and resolve their cases without the need for trial.

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of March 16 – 20, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

March 17, 2020: The IRS published Rev. Rul. 2020-9 to provide various prescribed rates for federal income tax purposes for April 2020.

March 18, 2020: The US Tax Court announced that it will close effective March 18, 2020 until further notice. Mail will be held for delivery until the US Tax Court reopens. Taxpayers may comply with statutory deadlines for filing petitions or notices of appeal by timely mailing a petition or notice of appeal, which will be determined by the United States Postal Service’s postmark or the delivery certificate of a designated private delivery service. The eAccess and eFiling systems will remain operational. For more information, see here.

March 19, 2020: The IRS released clarifications to the Instructions for Form 1065-X, Amended Return or Administrative Adjustment Request (AAR). The clarifications relate to the changes resulting from the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.

March 20, 2020: The IRS announced that the due date for paying taxes and filing returns is pushed back from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 for individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Associated interest, additions to tax and penalties for late payment will also be suspended until July 15, 2020 and begin to accrue on July 16, 2020. This relief is automatic, no forms need to be filed to qualify. State filing and payment deadlines vary and taxpayers should consult the rules of each applicable state. For more information, see here.

March 20, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Emily Mussio in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.

On March 13, 2020, President Trump issued an emergency declaration that directed Secretary Mnuchin to provide appropriate relief from tax payment deadlines to Americans who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this direction, the IRS issued Notice 2020-17. The Notice declares that all taxpayers have been affected by the emergency and gives all taxpayers an extension of time until July 15, 2020, to make certain income tax payments that would otherwise have been due on April 15, 2020 (however, at this time, tax returns must still be filed by the April 15 deadline absent an extension).

We outline the specifics.

Access the full article.

At 9:00 PM last night, the US Tax Court (Tax Court) issued a press release announcing that it was closing its building. As we previously discussed, the Tax Court previously closed the building to the public but still allowed the hand-delivery of petitions. Now, all taxpayers must mail petitions to the Tax Court (other documents may be electronically filed), which highlights the importance of abiding by the rules for timely mailing to ensure that jurisdictional requirements are met. The full press release from the Tax Court reads as follows:

Effective immediately and until further notice, the United States Tax Court building is closed. Mail will be held for delivery until the Court reopens. Taxpayers may comply with statutory deadlines for filing petitions or notices of appeal by timely mailing a petition or notice of appeal to the Court. Timeliness of mailing of the petition or notice of appeal is determined by the United States Postal Service’s postmark or the delivery certificate of a designated private delivery service.

The eAccess and eFiling systems remain operational. Petitions and other documents may not be hand delivered to the Court.

If you have any questions, please contact the Public Affairs Office at (202) 521-3355.

On March 13, 2020, President Trump signed a Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the “Stafford Act”).

By invoking the Stafford Act, the President provides the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and US Department of the Treasury (the “Treasury”) significant authority to offer tax relief to those in federally designated disaster areas. While it is not uncommon for a state or locality to be designated as an emergency or disaster area, the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak has required a national response. The President’s declaration has led the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to declare an emergency in every state, territory and certain tribal lands. A list of each declaration is available on FEMA’s website and will be updated as more specific forms of relief are authorized.

Access the full article.

As the fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, the US Tax Court (Tax Court) has cancelled additional trial sessions. As we previously discussed, the Tax Court last week cancelled all trial sessions for March 2020. Now, the Tax Court has announced that all trial sessions for April 2020 are also cancelled. Additionally, although the Tax Court will remain open to receive mail and accept hand-delivered petitions, the Tax Court building will be closed to visitors.