Update on IRS Enforcement Efforts

By and on November 16, 2022

We frequently post about the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) tax enforcement trends and announcements. Prior examples from this year include the release of a five-year strategic plan emphasizing enforcement, the plan to hire up to 200 additional attorneys to assist with litigation efforts, the implementation of the Large Partnership Compliance (LPC) Pilot Program, a focus on tax compliance of non-US citizens and residents, and the creation of a new Joint Strategic Emerging Issues Team to identify emerging “abusive transactions.” Over the past several weeks, the IRS has provided additional updates on its enforcement efforts and future plans, including the following:

  • The IRS is considering raising the economic substance doctrine more frequently in transfer pricing examinations—even those where taxpayers have transfer pricing documentation—and asserting penalties more often in transfer pricing cases. This follows the announcement last April that executive approval is no longer needed before asserting the codified economic substance doctrine under Internal Revenue Code Section 7701(o).
  • The IRS plans to grow the LPC program and envisions it functioning similar to corporate examinations conducted by the Large Business & International Division.
  • The IRS’s Criminal Investigation (CI) Division is highly focused on criminal digital asset cases and intends to make many of these cases public. This follows the recent release of the CI Division’s annual report.
  • The IRS intends to expend more resources on examinations of high-income/high-net-worth taxpayers.
  • The IRS has proposed to require the disclosure of more information regarding corporate taxpayers’ uncertain tax positions, including citations to contrary authorities, which, if finalized, will likely lead to more examinations and challenges to tax reporting positions.

Practice Point: Tax enforcement has been down over the past several years, including a slowdown in audit operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. With increased funding from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and proposed restrictions on access to IRS Appeals for certain matters, we expect more examinations and tax disputes in the near future. Taxpayers and their advisors should prepare. Consider working with your tax controversy advisor to discuss your more vulnerable return positions to see how to better defend against the impending tax enforcement wave!

Andrew 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 over 75 matters at all levels of the federal court system, including the US Tax Court and Federal District Courts, 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. In addition to representing corporations and partnerships in tax disputes, he also represents high net-worth individuals and assists taxpayers needing to make voluntary disclosures. Read Andy Roberson's full bio.


Kevin 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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