IRS Targets Private Foundations That May Be Used by Wealthy Taxpayers in Tax Planning

​In remarks at the NYU Tax Controversy Forum on June 18, 2020, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials indicated that the agency is analyzing the use of private foundations for tax planning. Ms. Tamera Ripperda, who is the commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TEGE) Division and previously served as the industry director for the Global High Wealth in the Large Business and International (LB&I) Division, said the agency is focusing on cross-division collaborations to target high-income, high-wealth taxpayers.

The TEGE Division has trained more than 400 LB&I agents this year on the use of private foundations in tax planning for high-net-worth individuals. Additionally, the divisions are using data analytics to identify linkages between LB&I and TEGE cases. Commissioner Ripparda stated that TEGE has identified more than 1,000 private foundations “that have linkages or that are interwoven into these global high-wealth enterprises,” and the IRS will likely examine many of these entities.

Practice Point: Several years ago, the IRS launched its “Wealth Squad,” a team of agents trained in looking through entities and tax structures to focus on the overall strategy of ultra-wealthy taxpayer to reduce their tax incidence. (See this link for more information on that program.) The IRS’s examination of private foundations as a tool to reduce taxes for wealthy is the next chapter for the IRS to crack down on perceived abuse. It is clear that lawmakers and US Treasury officials are increasingly focused on perceived lax enforcement and low audit rates of high-income, high-wealth taxpayers. Taxpayers who use private foundations in their planning should begin working with their tax advisers now to review potential exposure and make sure they are prepared for an expected IRS audit.

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.


Brian MooreBrian Moore
Brian Moore focuses his practice on US and international tax matters. Read Brian Moore's full bio.

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