IRS Resumes Examinations of Stock Based Compensation in Cost Sharing Agreements

On July 31, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International (LB&I) division formally withdrew its Directive (LB&I-04-0118-005) instructing examiners on transfer pricing selection related to stock based compensation (SBC) in Cost Sharing Arrangements (CSAS). See here for IRS Notice of Withdrawal.

The Directive was issued January 12, 2018, after the Tax Court’s opinion in Altera which invalidated Treasury Regulation § 1.482-7A(d)(2). The IRS appealed Altera and issued Directive LB&I-04-0118-005, which we previously discussed here. The Directive instructed examiners to “[s]top opening issues related to stock-based compensation (SBC) included in cost-sharing arrangements (CSAS) intangible development costs (IDCs) until the Ninth Circuit issues an opinion in the Altera case on appeal.” At the time, the IRS indicated that it would issue further guidance once Altera was finally decided. On June 7, 2019, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Tax Court’s decision.

As such, the IRS withdrew the Directive and instructed examiners to resume opening new examinations of stock-based compensation in cost sharing arrangements. The IRS noted that the issues may be factually intensive and transfer pricing teams should develop the facts to support their analyses and conclusions. 

Practice Point: On July 24, 2019, Altera filed a petition to seek rehearing en banc. Several amicus briefs have been filed in support of the rehearing petition. And given the importance of the issue, we expect that the court will order the government to file a response to the petition. We will report on further developments.

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.


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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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