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Weekly IRS Roundup October 7 – October 11, 2019

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of October 7 – October 11, 2019.

October 7, 2019: The IRS announced that taxpayers who requested the six-month filing extension should complete their tax returns and file on or before the October 15 deadline.

October 8, 2019: The Treasury and the IRS released the 2019–2020 Priority Guidance Plan that sets forth guidance priorities. This plan prioritizes implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Pub. L. 115-97, 131 Stat. 2054 and of the Taxpayer First Act, Pub. L. 116-25, 133 Stat. 981, enacted on July 1, 2019. In addition, the 2019–2020 Priority Guidance Plan reflects the deregulatory policies and reforms described in Section 1 of Executive Order 13789 (April 21, 2017; 82 FR 19317) and Executive Order 13777 (February 24, 2017; 82 FR 12285).

October 9, 2019: The Treasury and the IRS published a correction to a notice of proposed rulemaking (REG-104870-18) that was published in the Federal Register on September 9, 2019. The proposed regulations cover the timing of an income inclusion under section 451 and reflect changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

October 9, 2019: The Treasury and the IRS published a notice of public hearing on proposed regulations, which cross-references temporary regulations under section 245A that limit the dividends received deduction available for certain dividends received from current or former controlled foreign corporations. The public hearing is being held on Friday, November 22, 2019. The IRS must receive outlines of the topics to be discussed at the public hearing by Monday, November 11, 2019.

October 9, 2019: The Treasury and the IRS issued proposed regulations that provide guidance on the tax consequences of the transition to the use of reference rates other than interbank offered rates (IBORs) in debt instruments and non-debt contracts. The proposed regulations address the possibility that an alteration of the terms of a debt instrument or a modification of the terms of other types of contracts to replace an IBOR to which the terms of the debt instrument or other contract refers with a new reference rate could result in the realization of income, deduction, gain, or loss for federal income tax purposes or could result in other tax consequences. The proposed regulations will affect parties to debt instruments and other contracts that reference an IBOR.

October 9, 2019:  The IRS issued guidance on the taxation of cryptocurrencies by releasing Rev. Proc. 2019-24 and Frequently Asked Questions on Virtual Currency Transactions. For a more detailed discussion of this guidance, see our post here

October 10, 2019: The IRS published draft instructions for Form 1040 and the new Form 1040-SR available to taxpayers age 65 and older.

October 11, 2019: The IRS published its nonacquiescence with GreenTeam Materials Recovery Facility PN v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2017-122 and, generally, indicated it will not follow the decision in disposing of cases involving other [...]

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IRS Proposes to Withdraw Debt-Equity Documentation Regulations

Over the years, the determination of whether an item constitutes debt or equity has generated significant litigation. Courts have developed multifactor tests and engaged in intensive fact finding to make this determination. Arguably, part of the reason for the numerous disputes was the lack of regulations under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 385, which explicitly authorizes the US Department of Treasury (Treasury) to issue regulations to determine whether an interest in a corporation is to be treated for purposes of the Code as stock or indebtedness.

Proposed regulations under Code Section 385 were issued on April 14, 2016, but did not receive a warm welcome from the tax bar. This was particularly so with respect to strict contemporaneous written documentation requirements in the proposed regulations. After receiving substantial comments, Treasury released final regulations effective as of October 21, 2016, which retained the strict documentation requirements. However, President Trump subsequently issued Executive Order 13771 and Executive Order 13789 calling for a reduction in regulatory burdens and costs. In late 2017, Treasury indicated that it might revoke the documentation requirements under the Code Section 385 regulations. That day has now come.

Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have now issued proposed regulations removing the strict documentation requirements. Written or electronic comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by the IRS by late December.

Prior coverage of the Code Section 385 regulations can be found in our previously posted articles.

Practice Point: Although the strict requirements for documenting may be just a memory at this point, the need to document your lending transactions, especially intercompany transactions, is still present. At the very least, the old rules may have instilled more discipline into lending transactions, which may help support positions (e.g., Code Section 165 deductions) on your return.




Treasury Releases Report on Regulatory Reform Accomplishments

On April 24, 2018, the US Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released a report (Report) outlining the efforts undertaken to-date by Treasury to implement the president’s regulatory reform agenda.  The efforts have been in furtherance of President Trump’s Executive Order 13771 and Executive Order 13789 calling for a reduction in regulatory burdens and costs.

The Report highlights Treasury’s extensive efforts to support President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda.  In particular, the Report provides that Treasury has:

  • Reduced its regulatory agenda by approximately 100 regulations from its Fall 2017 agenda
  • Issued a notice to eliminate almost 300 “deadwood” tax regulations that are duplicative or obsolete
  • Withdrawn two regulations deemed “significant” in an October 2017 report (see prior discussion here)
  • Issued a series of reporting providing specific recommendations to make the US financial regulatory system more efficient

The Report also provides that, since the issuance of Executive Order 13771 (outlining the Trump administration’s “one-in-two-out” principle), Treasury has focused on burden-reducing measures and that no new “regulatory” actions have been undertaken.  Rather, actions from Treasury’s fall 2017 agenda have either been identified as “deregulatory” or have not yet been classified.

The Report also notes that Treasury has also undertaken a retrospective review of significant recent tax regulations pursuant to Executive Order 13789 and identified eight regulations for rescission or modification (largely consistent with the October 2017 report).

Treasury has indicated that these actions will “advance the President’s policy of regulatory efficiency in support of lower individual and corporate compliance burdens.”

Practice Point:  Taxpayers should continue to monitor Treasury’s action with respect to regulatory reform, especially in light of the regulatory process in connection with US tax reform.




New Proposed Regulations Limit Use of Non-Government Attorneys

On March 28, 2018, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published Proposed Regulation § 301.7601-1(b)(3)(i) and (ii) which permits the IRS to hire outside specialists to assist in determining the correctness of a taxpayer’s tax liability. The Proposed Regulation also contains an exception specifically prohibiting the IRS from hiring outside attorneys to review summoned information or question witnesses providing testimony under oath.

The participation of outside attorneys became controversial during the audit of a large technology company when the IRS hired an outside law firm to augment its own resources for the transfer pricing audit of the company. On October 16, 2017, in response to the requirements of Executive Order 13789, requiring the Secretary of the Treasury to review all regulations issued after January 1, 2016, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced that they were considering proposing an amendment to Treas. Reg. § 301.7602-1(b)(3) in order to narrow the scope with respect to non-government attorneys. See our prior coverage here. (more…)




Treasury and IRS Throw Out 298 Regulations and Amend 79 Others

Following up on our prior posts here and here, the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have proposed to remove 298 regulations and amend 79 regulations. The Treasury’s and the IRS’s action is in response to Executive Order 13789 (April 21, 2017), which called on the Treasury and the IRS to identify and reduce tax regulatory burdens that impose undue financial burdens on US taxpayers or otherwise add undue complexity to federal tax laws.

The 298 regulations are proposed to be removed because they have no current or future applicability and, therefore, no longer provide useful guidance. However, the proposed removal is not intended to alter any non-regulatory guidance that cites or relies on these regulations. The regulations proposed to be removed fall into one of three categories:

  • Regulations interpreting provisions of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) that have been repealed;
  • Regulations interpreting Code provision that, while not repealed, have been significantly revised, and the existing regulations do not account for these statutory changes (note that to fall within this category, the statutory changes must have rendered the entire regulation inapplicable); and
  • Regulations that, by the terms of the relevant Code provisions or the regulations themselves, are no longer applicable (g., expired temporary regulations, certain transition rules)

The 79 regulations proposed to be amended are regulations that make reference to the 298 regulations proposed to be removed.

Before the proposed regulations removing and withdrawing regulations are adopted as final regulations, the Treasury and the IRS will give consideration to any written comments provided by the public. Comments must be received by May 14, 2018. A public hearing may be scheduled if requested in writing by any person that timely submits written comments.

Practice Point: Taxpayers and practitioners may want to review the list of regulations proposed to be removed to determine whether the regulations continue to serve a useful purpose and should be retained.




The Slow Death of the Section 385 Regulations

Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 385 provides that the US Department of the Treasury (Treasury) is authorized to issue regulations to determine whether an interest in a corporation is to be treated for purposes of the Code as stock or indebtedness. After decades of inaction, proposed regulations were issued on April 14, 2016. The proposed regulations were not well-received; the tax bar had serious and substantial comments to the proposed regulations. Among the most important critiques, there were criticisms for the potential overbreadth of the regulations’ application to foreign-to-foreign transactions, the lack of a de minimis exception for smaller companies and for the anticipated burden of the contemporaneous documentation requirements.

Treasury released final regulations under Code Section 385, which are effective as of October 21, 2016. Although the proposed regulations were changed in some respects, the final regulations retained strict documentation requirements.

In Executive Order 13789, the President called on Treasury to identify and reduce tax regulatory burdens that impose undue financial burdens on US taxpayers, or otherwise add undue complexity to federal tax law. In response, Treasury indicated on October 2, 2017, that it would potentially revoke the documentation requirements under the proposed regulations. (more…)




IRS Releases 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan

The US Department of Treasury (Treasury) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issue Priority Guidance Plans each year to identify the tax issues they believe should be addressed through regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notice and other published administrative guidance. On October 20, 2017, the IRS and Treasury released the 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan.

  • Part 1 focuses on the eight regulations from 2016 that were identified pursuant to Executive Order 13789 (see here for prior coverage on Treasury’s report in response to this Order) and the intended actions related to those regulations.
  • Part 2 describes certain projects that Treasury and the IRS have identified as burden reducing and that they believe can be completed in the eight and a half months remaining in the plan year.
  • Part 3 describes the various projects related to the implementation of the new statutory partnership audit regime. See here for prior coverage.
  • Part 4 describe specific projects by subject area that will the focus of the balance of Treasury’s and the IRS’s efforts for the plan year.

Practice Point: The Priority Guidance Plan is a useful tool for taxpayers in that it highlights areas in which Treasury and the IRS are focused, both in the short-term and the long-term. Although items in the Priority Guidance Plan are subject to modification, they provide a blueprint for issues that the government views as important. For example, the plan reports guidance projects relating to Internal Revenue Code Section 199, focused on the treatment of computer software and films. These issues have created substantial controversy for the IRS and taxpayers, as we have previously reported. See https://www.taxcontroversy360.com/2017/04/the-irss-assault-on-section-199-computer-software-doesnt-compute/ and https://www.taxcontroversy360.com/2017/03/irs-campaign-focuses-on-definition-of-qualified-film-under-section-199/. Additional guidance would be welcomed.




Tax in the City® New York Event Success

Female tax professionals gathered in McDermott Will & Emery’s New York office for an annual New York rendition of Tax in the City®: A Women’s Tax Roundtable on Thursday, September 14. Featuring a CLE/CPE presentation about Privilege and the Ethics of Social Media by Kristen Hazel and Robin Greenhouse, an update on tax reform by Sandra McGill and an overview of recent state and local tax news by Alysse McLoughlin, the event culminated in a networking reception over cocktails.

Topics covered at the event included:

  • Best practices for preserving attorney-client privilege and work product protection; strategies to prevent an inadvertent waiver.
  • Ethics of social media (think before you post).
  • Tax reform:
    • Where are we now (framework to be issued week of September 25 and legislation sometime in October, possibly after budget).
    • What could tax reform look like (e.g., reduced tax rate, one-time tax on unrepatriated foreign earnings, move to territorial tax with DRD and corresponding changes to foreign tax credit system, changes to IRS Subpart F, elimination of certain deductions and/or adjustments to the taxation of carried interests).
    • What should taxpayers be thinking about (e.g., taking steps to best position your organization to proactively react to tax reform both now and when the reform measures become effective).
  • Status of certain tax regulations identified in Notice 2017-38 per mandate of EO 13789: Treasury provided recommendations to President Trump on September 18, 2017, and its report should be published sometime this month. We discussed possible change/revocation/deferred effective dates for regulations under Sections 367, 385 and 987 and steps taxpayers are taking today to address these regulations.
  • Partnership Update:
    • New TEFRA rules are effective January 1, 2018: TEFRA partnership agreements should be reviewed; assess whether the agreement should be amended (or other agreements implemented) to address these new rules.
    • Grecian Magnesite Mining: Tax Court held that gain derived by foreign person from disposition of its interest in a partnership engaged in US trade or business was treated as the disposition of a capital asset not as the disposition of the partner’s share of the underlying partnership assets and was not subject to US federal income tax as effectively connected income. It is unclear whether this case will be appealed.
  • State tax apportionment issues: We discussed the difficulty in establishing the proper level of reserves due to both the uncertainty in applying the statutory sourcing methods and the state taxing authorities’ ability to use their discretionary authority to revise the statutory sourcing methods.

We invite all tax professionals who identify as female to join Tax in the City®’s official LinkedIn group to continue the conversation and share tax developments in between events and meetings! Click here to join.

Established in 2014 by McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Tax in the City® is a discussion and networking group for women in tax that fosters collaboration and mentorship and facilitates in-person connections and roundtable events around the country. This New York edition of [...]

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