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Finally the IRS Clarifies Its Position on Cryptocurrency

It took five years, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has finally released some guidance on the taxation of cryptocurrencies! On October 9, 2019, the IRS released Revenue Ruling 2019-24 and several “frequently asked questions” (and answers) which deal with some (but not all) of the federal income tax issues involved with cryptocurrencies. Over the years, we have reported on the issues involved with cryptocurrencies, including the potential controversies that have ensued because of a lack of guidance. Call for Compliance: Cryptocurrency May Be Subject to US Tax Cryptocurrencies & State Tax: Transactions with Virtual Currency Digital Token Offerings and Sales under Regulation S Watch Your Mailbox: IRS Letters Warning of Cryptocurrency Non-Compliance on Their Way Governments Are Pulling Back the Crypto-Currency Curtain The IRS May Be Coming for Your Bitcoins IRS Criminal Investigation Division Expects Official “Stand up” of National Coordinated...

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Weekly IRS Roundup September 16 – 20, 2019

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 16 – 20, 2019. September 16, 2019: The IRS issued a news release about time-limited settlement offers made to eligible taxpayers under audit who participated in certain micro-captive insurance transactions. September 17, 2019: The Treasury and the IRS released a Chief Counsel Notice advising Chief Counsel attorneys about the prior Policy Statement on the Tax Regulatory Process issued by the Treasury and the IRS on March 5, 2019. We previously wrote about the Policy Statement here. The Chief Counsel Notice advises that any matter implicating any aspect of the Policy Statement must be coordinated with the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Procedure & Administration). September 17, 2019: The IRS issued a notice expanding the emergency housing and compliance monitoring relief that is provided in Rev. Proc. 2014-49, 2014-37...

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The Internal Revenue Service Is Expanding the 2020 Compliance Assurance Process

The Large Business and International Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) developed the Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program to improve large corporate taxpayer compliance with US federal tax obligations through the use of real-time issue resolution tools and techniques. On September 12, 2019, the IRS announced that it was accepting applications—for the first time since 2015—from new corporate taxpayers that meet the eligibility requirements for the CAP program. The application period for the 2020 CAP year begins on September 16, 2019, and ends on October 31, 2019. Generally, applicants must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible to apply for CAP: (1) applicants must have assets of $10 million or more; (2) applicants must be a US publicly traded corporation with a legal requirement to prepare and submit SEC Forms 10-K, 10-Q, and 8-K; and (3) the applicant must not be under investigation by, or in litigation with, any...

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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...

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More IRS “Campaigns?! IRS Announces Six More Examination Campaigns

On July 19, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business & International (LB&I) division announced the approval of six new campaigns. As in the past, the IRS stated that “LB&I’s goal is to improve return selection, identify issues representing a risk of non-compliance, and make the greatest use of limited resources.” This brings the total number of campaigns to 59! LB&I’s campaign announcements and approved campaigns are available on the IRS’s website. The six new LB&I campaigns are listed below, verbatim by title and description. S Corporations Built in Gains Tax C corporations that convert to S corporations are subjected to the Built-in Gains tax (BIG) if they have a net unrealized built-in gain and sell assets within 5 years after the conversion. This tax is assessed to the S corporation. LB&I has found that S corporations are not always paying this tax when they sell the C corporation assets after the conversion....

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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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Taxpayers Should Prepare for the Next Penalty Battleground

The IRS is using a new tool from its arsenal to enforce compliance for tax refund and credit claims: the Internal Revenue Code Section 6676 penalty. Taxpayers and their advisers need to be aware of the mechanics of this penalty and how best to avoid it being sustained. Andrew R. Roberson, Kevin Spencer and Evan Walters authored a comprehensive article on IRC Section 6676. They discuss: The origins of IRC Section 6676 How to contest the penalty and privilege concerns What taxpayers who are considering filing—or have already filed—refund claims should keep in mind now that the penalty is the IRS’s favorite new compliance tool Read the article here.

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IRS LB&I Sharpens Its Risk Analysis, Announces Large Corporate Compliance (LCC) Program

Last week, the IRS unveiled a major change in how it identifies its biggest and most complex large corporations for examination. The move is part of the IRS’s broader efforts toward “portfolio management”—maximizing and modernizing its resources to focus upon areas of highest tax compliance risk. The IRS's Large Business and International Division (LB&I) has just begun greater use of data analytics to identify the population of its largest and most complex corporate taxpayers. This new Large Corporate Compliance (LCC) program replaces the Coordinated Industry Case (CIC) program and covers compliance oversight for LB&I’s largest corporate taxpayers. LCC is one of LB&I’s portfolio of compliance programs. In a change from the prior system, which identified large cases on a manual and regional basis, LCC will automatically apply large case pointing criteria to select the LCC population. Pointing criteria include such items as gross assets and gross...

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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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IRS Announces More LB&I Campaigns!

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International (LB&I) Division continues to churn out new audit “campaigns.” For our prior coverage, please click here. The most recent set of campaigns were announced on April 16, 2019, bringing the grand total to 53 campaigns since the program’s initial release on January 13, 2017. The IRS explains that the goal of the campaigns is to “improve return selection, identify issues representing a risk of non-compliance, and make the greatest use of limited resources.” The three new LB&I campaigns are listed below, verbatim by title and description. Captive Services Provider Campaign The section 482 regulations and the OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines provide rules for determining arm’s length pricing for transactions between controlled entities, including transactions in which a foreign captive subsidiary performs services exclusively for the parent or other members of the multinational group. The...

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