Death of the CAP Program?

By and on April 13, 2016

According to participants in a recent webcast, the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Large Business & International Division (LB&I) is no longer accepting applicants for its Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program.  CAP is a real-time audit program that seeks to resolve the tax treatment of all or most return issues before the tax return is filed.  The CAP program began in 2005 on an invitation-only basis with 17 taxpayers, and was subsequently expanded to include pre-CAP, CAP and CAP Maintenance components.  Taxpayers and IRS leadership generally praised the CAP program as one of the most successful corporate tax enforcement programs, with surveys showing that over 90 percent of CAP taxpayers reported overall satisfaction with the program.

When the IRS announced its recent shift in the examination process to identifying and focusing on specific areas of risk, as opposed to general return review, the future of CAP became uncertain.  High-ranking IRS officials questioned whether it made sense to continue spending time and resources on CAP taxpayers, who are viewed as the most compliant and transparent taxpayers.  It remains to be seen whether the IRS will phase out the CAP program entirely for currently participating taxpayers.  CAP taxpayers may want to discuss the matter with their Examination Teams to see if they can gain any insight into future developments in this area and to plan ahead if the CAP program is ultimately eliminated.

The end of the CAP program, as well as the end of the continuous audit program, marks a shift in the way that the IRS intends to audit large taxpayers in the wake of very limited resources.  The IRS’s shift to auditing issues may be more efficient, but will likely miss more garden-variety adjustments, like depreciation and expense deductions.

Andrew R. RobersonAndrew R. Roberson
Andrew (Andy) R. Roberson focuses his practice on tax controversy and litigation matters. He represents clients before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Examination Division and Appeals Office and has been involved in more than 50 matters at all levels of the federal court system, including the US Tax Court, several US courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. Andy has experience settling tax disputes through alternative dispute resolution procedures, including Fast Track Settlement and Post-Appeals Mediation, and in representing clients in Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) audits. He also represents individuals in Global High Wealth Industry Group audits and in connection with offshore disclosure programs. Read Andy Roberson's full bio.


Kevin SpencerKevin Spencer
Kevin Spencer focuses his practice on tax controversy issues. Kevin represents clients in complicated tax disputes in court and before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the IRS Appeals and Examination divisions. In addition to his tax controversy practice, Kevin has broad experience advising clients on various tax issues, including tax accounting, employment and reasonable compensation, civil and criminal tax penalties, IRS procedures, reportable transactions and tax shelters, renewable energy, state and local tax, and private client matters. After earning his Master of Tax degree, Kevin had the privilege to clerk for the Honorable Robert P. Ruwe on the US Tax Court. Read Kevin Spencer's full bio.

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