On April 17, 2018, the Taxpayer Advocate, Nina E. Olson, testified before a Congressional Oversight Committee regarding on-going challenges to the administration of an efficient and effective tax system. Ms. Olson runs the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent office within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Taxpayer Advocate is appointed by and reports directly to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The office was created under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which became law on July 30, 1996. The office replaced the IRS Office of the Ombudsman. Continue Reading National Taxpayer Advocate Reminds Congress of IRS Deficiencies
The expiration of the time for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to assess tax can bring closure on prior tax and financial reporting positions for taxpayers. We have previously reported and written for the International Tax Journal about tax statutes of limitation both generally and in the international tax context. As a follow-up to those materials, we wanted to alert you that the IRS recently released a Practice Unit providing an overview of statutes of limitation on the assessment of tax. These materials are all good resources and starting points for taxpayers and practitioners with questions on statutes of limitation.
Wrapping Up March – and Looking Forward to April
Top March Posts You May Have Missed
Upcoming Tax Controversy Activities in April
Our lawyers will present on key tax topics during the month of April. We hope to see you soon.
April 24, 2018: Todd Welty, Kristen Hazel, Elizabeth Erickson, John Lutz and Andrew Roberson will present “Taking Reasonable Positions and Retroactive Regulations” at McDermott’s Inaugural Tax Symposium in our Chicago office. The panel will address Gottesman, the ability of IRS to issue retroactive regulations, IRS authority issues, and impacts on return positions.
Led by our senior practitioners, our 2018 Symposium is a must-attend event for senior tax and employee benefits leaders seeking to optimize the opportunities and navigate the risks brought about by tax reform legislation.
April 30, 2018: Thomas Jones will present “Captive Insurance Tax Reform Update” at the Captive Insurance Council of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC. Captive Insurance has undergone a number of changes since the tax reform movement and our partner Tom Jones will cover the new regulations that your organization should be aware of.
A shrinking Internal Revenue Budget (IRS) budget has meant that fewer agents are available to make sure that the tax laws are being enforced. We have reported previously about how Congress has decreased the IRS’s budget. In 2017, the audit rate fell to its lowest levels in 15 years because of a shrinking IRS budget and workforce. Indeed, your chance of being audited fell to 0.6% in 2017, the lowest rate since 2002. Similarly, tax collection levies fell 32% from the prior year, and the IRS filed 5% fewer liens year-over-year. Detailed information from the IRS can be found here.
Practice Point. The decreased funding of the IRS in the wake of bipartisan disagreements seems to have quelled in recent weeks. We have seen movement to get the IRS more funding in the wake of tax reform but it remains to be seen whether some of those funds will be used to increase the enforcement functions of the IRS. We anticipate, however, an increase in enforcement activity as a result of some of the positions taken by taxpayers in anticipation of tax reform and the myriad of interpretive questions that are expected to result from the new tax laws.
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. Continue Reading New Proposed Regulations Limit Use of Non-Government Attorneys
On March 13, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it will begin ramping down the current Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) and urged taxpayers with undisclosed foreign assets to apply for the program prior to its close on September 28, 2018. We have previously reported on developments in the OVDP.
Robin Greenhouse and Kevin Spencer recently authored, “US District Court To French Tax Authorities: Pas De Probleme” for Law360. The article discusses a case involving IRS summons and taxpayers’ rights in context of the US-France Treaty.
Read the full coverage on Law360.
In January 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business & International (LB&I) Division released its announcement related to the identification and selection of its campaigns. The primary purpose of the campaigns was to end the resource intensive continuous audit program (where the LB&I audits a large taxpayer year after year for decades) and a move to an issue focused coordinated approach. LB&I originally identified 13 campaign issues and in November 2017, identified 11 additional campaigns and on March 13, 2018, identified 5 additional campaigns. We have extensively discussed LB&I’s campaign examination process including posts on Understanding LB&I “Campaigns”, Run for Cover – IRS Unveils Initial “Campaigns” for Audit, IRS Continues to Barrage Taxpayers with New Campaigns.
At the March 9 meeting of the Federal Bar Association Section on Taxation, an LB&I executive indicated that the rollout of the campaigns may have hit a snag. John Hinding, Director of Cross Border Activities at LB&I, reported that “the campaign work is still a minority of our work,” and its implementation has been slow going. According to Hinding, “A lot of the issue spotting that we’d like to do is driven by data analysis, and changes to systems to allow that is a lengthy process to get in place.” Continue Reading Are LB&I’s Campaigns Stuck in the Trenches?
In 2015, after repeated efforts by Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, Congress enacted the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) in Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 7803(a)(3). We have previously written about TBOR here, here and here.
Since TBOR was enacted, the IRS has issued information on its website regarding the 10 rights contained in Code Section 7803(a)(3). The IRS provides a summary of these rights. Additionally, the IRS has provided specific information on these rights. To summarize, the 10 rights are:
- The right to be informed.
- The right to quality services.
- The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax.
- The right to challenge the position of the Internal Revenue Service and be heard.
- The right to appeal a decision of the Internal Revenue Service in an independent forum.
- The right to finality.
- The right to privacy.
- The right to confidentiality.
- The right to retain representation.
- The right to a fair and just tax system.
We have previously commented on changes at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Appeals Division, including: (1) the allowance of Appeals to invite representatives from the IRS Examination Division (Exam) and IRS Office of Chief Counsel to the Appeals conference, (2) the limitations on in-person conferences, and (3) the use of “virtual” conferences.
- IRS Extends Permanent Invitation to Exam to Attend Appeals Conferences
- Appeals Large Case Pilot Program Draws Criticism
- Virtual IRS Appeals – A New Frontier?
- More Changes to IRS Appeals, in Response to Taxpayer and Practitioner Concerns
IRS Appeals Chief Donna Hansberry discussed these changes at a recent tax law conference held by the Federal Bar Association. According to reports, Ms. Hansberry wants feedback from practitioners on the compliance attendance and virtual conferences. Continue Reading More Changes to IRS Appeals’ Practices?