The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International (LB&I) Division continues to churn out new audit “campaigns.” The most recent announcement on October 30, 2018, identifies five new campaigns, which were identified through LB&I data analysis and suggestions from IRS employees. With the addition of these new campaigns, LB&I has now identified 50 campaigns since the program’s initial release on January 13, 2017.
The five new LB&I campaigns are listed verbatim by title and description.
Individual Foreign Tax Credit Phase II
Section 901 of the Internal Revenue Code alleviates double taxation through a dollar-for-dollar credit against U.S. tax on foreign-sourced income in the amount of foreign taxes paid on that income.
Individuals who meet certain requirements may qualify for the foreign tax credit. This campaign addresses taxpayers who have claimed the credit but do not meet the requirements. The IRS will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including examination.
Offshore Service Providers
The focus of this campaign is to address U.S. taxpayers who engaged Offshore Service Providers that facilitated the creation of foreign entities and tiered structures to conceal the beneficial ownership of foreign financial accounts and assets, generally, for the purpose of tax avoidance or evasion. The treatment stream for this campaign will be issue-based examinations.
FATCA Filing Accuracy
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was enacted in 2010 as part of the HIRE Act. The overall purpose is to detect, deter and discourage offshore tax abuses through increased transparency, enhanced reporting and strong sanctions. Foreign Financial Institutions and certain Non-Financial Foreign Entities are generally required to report the foreign assets held by their U.S. account holders and substantial U.S. owners under the FATCA. This campaign addresses those entities that have FATCA reporting obligations but do not meet all their compliance responsibilities. The Service will address noncompliance through a variety of treatment streams, including termination of the FATCA status.
1120-F Delinquent Returns Campaign
The objective of the Delinquent Returns Campaign is to encourage foreign entities to timely file Form 1120-F returns and address the compliance risk for delinquent 1120-F returns. This is accomplished by field examinations of compliance risk delinquent returns and external education outreach programs. The campaign addresses delinquent-filed returns, Form 1120-F U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation.
Form 1120-F must be filed on a timely basis and in a true and accurate manner for a foreign corporation to claim deductions and credits against its effectively connected income. For these purposes, Form 1120-F is generally considered to be timely filed if it is filed no later than 18 months after the due date of the current year’s return. The filing deadline may be waived, in situations based on the facts and circumstances, where the foreign corporation establishes to the satisfaction of the commissioner that the foreign corporation acted reasonably and in good faith in failing to file Form 1120-F per Treas. Reg. Section 1.882-4(a)(3)(ii). LB&I Industry Guidance 04-0118-007 dated 2/1/2018 established procedures to ensure waiver requests are applied in a fair, consistent and timely manner under the regulations.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit
The IRS has agreed to accept the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) year of credit eligibility issue into the Industry Issue Resolution (IIR) program (pursuant to Rev. Proc. 2016-19). This campaign addresses the consequences of WOTC certification delays and the burden of amended return filings. The campaign’s objective is to collaborate with industry stakeholders, Chief Counsel, and Treasury to develop an LB&I directive for taxpayers experiencing late certifications and to promote consistency in the examinations of WOTC claims.
Due to delays associated with the WOTC certification process, taxpayers are often faced with the burdensome requirement of amending multiple years of federal and state returns to claim the WOTC in the year qualified WOTC wages were paid. This requirement, coupled with any resulting examinations of this issue, is an inefficient use of both taxpayer and IRS resources. The IIR is intended to provide remedies to reduce taxpayer burden, promote consistency, and decrease examination time to most effectively use IRS resources.
Practice Point: With 50 LB&I campaigns announced to date, the IRS’s shift to issue-based examinations is in full force. As we have previously noted, taxpayers need to be aware of whether they have any issues that are the subject of a campaign and, if so, to have an “audit ready” file in place for when the IRS starts asking questions about a campaign issue.