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Taxpayer First Act: Changes to the IRS Appeals Process

The enactment of the Taxpayer First Act, H.R. 3151 (116th Cong.) (TFA) brings with it several changes to the procedures and operations of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The TFA touches on the following subjects: Establishing the IRS Independent Office of Appeals Improving customer service Changes to enforcement Modernization of the Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate and the IRS Cybersecurity and identity protection, technological changes, and expanded use of electronic systems IRS hiring and disclosure changes Provisions relating to exempt organizations Changes to the penalty for failure to file Determination of budgetary effects Other miscellaneous provisions This post does not discuss each subject, but rather focuses on changes to the IRS Appeals process. The TFA establishes a new “Internal Revenue Service Independent Office of Appeals” that is under the direction of the “Chief of Appeals.” The right of appeal is “generally available to all...

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Is an Increase in LB&I Assertion of Penalties on the Horizon?

On May 31, 2019, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report indicating that changes may be in the works regarding assertion of accuracy-related penalties in examinations handled by the IRS Large Business & International (LB&I) Division. The TIGTA report reviewed the results of closed LB&I examinations for the fiscal years 2015 through 2017 and concluded that the IRS assessed accuracy-related penalties upon only 6% of the 4,600 examined returns with additional tax assessments of $10,000 or more. In comparison, the IRS Small Business / Self Employed (SB/SE) Division assessed accuracy-related penalties upon 25% of its examined returns with additional tax assessments of $10,000 or more. TIGTA concluded that accuracy-related penalties are infrequently proposed by LB&I, and that LB&I examiners propose penalties at proportionally lower rates than their colleagues in SB/SE. Further, TIGTA found that LB&I...

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Sacked in Tax Court! Procedural Missteps by the IRS Leave the Government’s Blindside Exposed

In Kearse v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2019-53, the Tax Court held the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abused its discretion as part of the taxpayer’s Collection Due Process hearing (CDP hearing) because the Appeals officer failed to properly verify that the assessment of the taxpayer’s unpaid 2010 liability was preceded by a duly mailed notice of deficiency. The taxpayer, well-known to sports fans, was Jevon Kearse. Mr. Kearse, nicknamed “The Freak” for his athletic ability, played for 11 seasons in the National Football League and tallied 74 career sacks as a dominating defensive end. Based on the description of events by the Tax Court, Mr. Kearse’s attorneys outmaneuvered the IRS similar to the way Mr. Kearse had offensive tackles tripping over their shoestrings. Mr. Kearse’s tax case stemmed from the IRS’s disallowance of a bad debt deduction he claimed for the 2010 tax year (which he later claimed was a deductible theft loss). According to the IRS, Mr....

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What Happens At Exam, Stays At Exam!

A recent case decided by the US Tax Court reminds us that when you litigate a case in Tax Court, what happened during the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) examination and Appeals bears very little relevance (if any) once you get to court. Generally, Tax Court’s proceedings are de novo, and the court looks solely to the IRS’s position in the Notice of Deficiency (Notice). The Revenue Agent’s Report and other statements made by the IRS before the issuance of the Notice are typically ignored. In Moya v. Commissioner, 152 TC No. 11 (Apr. 17, 2019), the IRS determined deficiencies related to the disallowance of certain business expense deductions. The taxpayer did not assign error to the disallowance, but instead argued that the Notice was invalid because the IRS had violated her right to be informed and her right to be heard under an IRS news release and an IRS publication outlining various rights of taxpayers. Specifically, the taxpayer asserted that she had...

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Desmond Renominated as Chief Counsel

On March 2, 2018, President Trump nominated Michael Desmond to be the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unfortunately, the Senate did not get around to confirming him. On January 16, 2019, President Trump renominated Mr. Desmond, and the US Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled a hearing for February 5th to consider his renomination. The Chief Counsel is the top legal advisor to the IRS Commissioner on all matters pertaining to the interpretation, administration and enforcement of the Internal Revenue laws. The Chief Counsel also provides legal guidance and interpretive advice to the IRS, Treasury and to taxpayers. Mr. Desmond clerked for Judge Ronald S.W. Lew of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. From 1995 through 2000, he served as a trial attorney in the Tax Division at the Department of Justice, and from 2005 through 2008 he served as tax legislative counsel at the Department of the Treasury,...

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Joint Committee Releases Overview of Its Refund Review Process

Clients ask us all of the time, “What is the Joint Committee on Taxation’s (JCT) process for reviewing refund claims granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)?” Recently, the JCT has released an overview of its process. Wait, what? After the IRS has agreed to issue you a refund, there is a congressional committee that has to check the IRS’s work? Yep! Internal Revenue Code (IRC) §6405 prohibits the IRS/US Department of the Treasury from issuing certain refund payments to taxpayers until 30 days after a “report” is given to the JCT. Only refunds “in excess” of $5 million for corporate taxpayers and $2 million for all other taxpayers (partnerships, individuals, trusts, etc.) are required to be reported to the JCT. A refund claim is an amount listed on an amended return (e.g., Forms 1140X and 1120X), tentative carrybacks (e.g., Forms 1139 and 1045), and refunds attributable to certain disaster losses. Numerous types of refund payments are excepted from JCT...

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In-Person IRS Appeals Conferences Are Here to Stay

On November 28, 2018, the IRS issued a memorandum to its Appeals division employees, providing guidance on how and where to conduct Appeals conferences with taxpayers. As we have previously reported, the IRS Appeals division has been in flux for the last several years constrained by limited resources, retiring Appeals Officers, and an ever-growing case load. Because taxpayers have a right to seek redress before an independent Appeals Officer, the IRS has been exploring different ways to use technology to hold virtual taxpayer conferences. Numerous taxpayers, however, continue to believe that an in-person conference is the most efficient and beneficial way to resolve their differences with the IRS. Apparently, the IRS recognizes this as well. In a memorandum to Appeals employees, the IRS provides “interim” guidance for in-person conferences. The memo includes revisions to the Internal Revenue Manual. Of particular note is the ability of IRS Appeals to send...

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Weekly IRS Roundup September 3 – 7, 2018

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 3 – 7, 2018: September 4, 2018: The IRS reminded taxpayers that they have until September 28, 2018, to apply for the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. September 5, 2018: In response to taxpayer inquiries, the IRS clarified that taxpayers generally can deduct business-related payments to charities or governmental entities even if they also receive a state or local tax credit. September 6, 2018: The IRS released a Practice Unit on “Determining an Individual’s Residency for Treaty Purposes.” September 6, 2018: The IRS published Revenue Procedure 2018-47, which provides guidance to regulated investment companies regarding the application of the section 4982 excise tax to amounts included in income under the new Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 965 transition tax. September 7, 2018: The IRS published Revenue Ruling...

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Weekly IRS Roundup August 27 – 31, 2018

Presented below is our summary of significant IRS guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 27 – 31, 2018: August 27, 2018: The IRS announced changes to its Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program. We posted about the changes to CAP here. August 28, 2018: In Notice 2018-70, the IRS announced that it will issue proposed regulations clarifying the definition of a “qualifying relative” for various purposes, including the new $500 credit for certain dependents. August 30, 2018: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed its review of a proposal to remove parts of the Internal Revenue Code Section 385 regulations, which address the treatment of debt among members of an expanded affiliated group. August 31, 2018: The IRS released Revenue Procedure 2018-58, which includes the current list of jurisdictions subject to reporting requirements for certain deposit interest paid to nonresident alien individuals. August 31, 2018: The IRS published...

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IRS Announces That CAP Will Continue

On August 27, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that the Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program will continue, with some modifications.  As we previously discussed, the IRS began an assessment of the CAP program in August 2016 to determine if any recalibration was needed. CAP is an IRS program that seeks to identify and resolve tax issues through open, cooperative, and transparent interaction between the IRS and Large Business and International (LB&I) taxpayers prior to the filing of a return.  The goal of CAP is greater certainty of the treatment of tax positions sooner and with less administrative burden than conventional post-file audits.  The program began in 2005, and became permanent in 2011.  Several notable taxpayers publically disclose their involvement in the CAP program. With shrinking IRS resources, taxpayers and practitioners alike were worried that the IRS would scrap the program, relegating CAP taxpayers to roll the...

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