Presented below is our summary of significant IRS guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 13 – 17, 2018:

August 13, 2018: The IRS and Treasury withdrew and re-proposed certain portions of proposed regulations regarding the new partnership audit regime. These proposed regulations make changes to four different regulation packages under the new rules.

August 15, 2018: Revenue Procedure 2018-42 extends the deadline for submitting on-cycle applications for opinion letters or pre-approved defined contribution plans.

August 17, 2018: The IRS published Revenue Ruling 2018-23, announcing the applicable federal rates for September 2018.

August 17, 2018: The IRS released their weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Kevin Hall in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

Presented below is our summary of significant IRS guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 6 – 10, 2018:

August 6, 2018: The IRS and Treasury issued final regulations, which provide guidance regarding the new partnership audit rules. The regulations describe the procedure for designating a partnership representative and the partnership representative’s authority. They also address the time, form and manner of an election to apply the new audit regime to prior partnership tax years.

August 6, 2018: The IRS published Revenue Procedure 2018-40, which describes procedures for small businesses to obtain automatic consent for changing an accounting method to a new method established under the TCJA (P.L. 115-97).

August 7, 2018: The IRS published an updated subject matter directory, available here.

August 8, 2018: The IRS published proposed regulations under new section 199A, which provides a 20 percent deduction for qualifying income earned by certain non-corporate taxpayers during tax years beginning after December 31, 2018. The proposed regulations address which taxpayers are eligible for the deduction and provide guidance regarding the computation of the deduction.

August 8, 2018: The IRS released Notice 2018-64, which includes a proposed revenue procedure that would provide guidance regarding calculating W-2 wages for purposes of the section 199A deduction.

August 10, 2018: The IRS released their weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Kevin Hall in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

On March 28, 2017, the US Tax Court (Tax Court) issued its opinion in Good Fortune Shipping SA v. Commissioner, 148 T.C. No. 10, upholding the validity of Treas. Reg. § 1.883-4. The taxpayer had challenged the validity of the regulation’s provision that stock in the form of “bearer shares” cannot be counted for purposes of determining the more-than-50-percent ownership test under Internal Revenue Code (Code) section 883(c)(1), but the Tax Court held that the regulation was valid under the two-step analysis of Chevron USA, Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 467 U.S. 837 (1984), and applied it in ruling for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). We previously discussed the Tax Court’s opinion here. The taxpayer appealed the Tax Court’s decision to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (DC Circuit).

Continue Reading DC Circuit Reverses Tax Court and Holds Section 883 Regulations Invalid under Chevron Test

We previously posted on the Order by the US District Court for the Western District of Texas in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et al. v. Internal Revenue Service, Dkt. No. 1:16-CV-944-LY (W.D. Tex. Sept. 29, 2017). To recap, the district court held that Treas. Reg. § 1.7874-8T was unlawfully issued because it violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by not providing affected parties with notice and an opportunity to comment on the temporary regulations. In addition to the APA analysis, the court’s Order was noteworthy for its conclusion that the plaintiff’s claims were not barred by the Anti-Injunction Act because the regulations did not involve assessment or collection of tax.

As we updated our readers, the government appealed the Order to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. However, the case was stayed while the regulation underwent notice and comment. And, on July 11, 2018, Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations addressing inversion standards. On July 26, 2018, the government moved to dismiss its appeal with prejudice as moot. The Fifth Circuit has granted the government’s motion, thus ending the dispute.

Because the case was dismissed by the Fifth Circuit, the district court’s Order remains on the books. But what value does that Order have? As a technical matter, district court opinions are not precedential. However, lack of precedential value does not render the Order meaningless. If another court addressing a similar issue were to find the district court’s analysis to be well-reasoned and thorough, it might consider it persuasive on deciding the issue. One would certainly expect that a subsequent court would, at a minimum, have to address the Order if faced with a similar issue. For more reading on the precedential and persuasive value of opinions and order, see here.

Practice Point: The Order in the Chamber of Commerce case may be helpful to taxpayers desiring to challenge regulations on APA grounds and provides authority for a pre-enforcement challenge. It remains to be seen whether other courts will find the Order persuasive.

On July 18, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a Practice Unit advising IRS agents on the framework to follow in analyzing the tax treatment of transaction costs incurred by taxpayers in executing business practices. The latest Practice Unit provides guidance to IRS examiners in determining whether transaction costs must be capitalized or can be immediately deducted, and focuses on the so-called INDOPCO regulations contained in Treasury Regulation § 1.263-5. (For more information and background, see here.)

According to the Practice Unit, there is a three-step process applied to analyze a transaction costs issue:

  1. Determine whether the taxpayer is the proper legal entity to take the transaction costs into account for tax purposes;
  2. Determine whether the costs facilitate the transaction; and
  3. Determine how the taxpayer should treat facilitative costs it must capitalize.

The key considerations and outcomes for each step are illustrated in the Practice Unit as follows:

Practice Point: Determining whether transaction costs must be capitalized or can be deducted is sometimes a difficult process. The IRS has attempted to create bright-line rules in this area, but invariably there are factual situations not covered by the INDOPCO regulations and disputes that may arise. Understanding the IRS’s approach to examining transaction costs, as set forth in this Practice Unit, may assist taxpayers under examination in resolving these types of issues.

It was a busy week for the IRS and presented below is our weekly roundup for July 16 – 20, 2018 on significant IRS guidance and tax matters.

July 16, 2018: Last week the IRS issued Notice 2018-60 providing guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve, the corresponding spot segment rates used under § 417(e)(3), and the 24-month average rates under § 430(h)(2).

July 16, 2018: The IRS has released Notice 2018-61 clarifying the effect of § 67(g) on trusts and estates with the intent on publishing regulations in the near future.

July 16, 2018: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin No. 2018-29 which includes Rev. Proc. 2018-37 providing specifications for the private printing of red-ink substitutes for the 2018 Forms W-2 and W-3. This procedure will be produced as the next revision of Publication 1141. Rev. Proc. 2017-42 is superseded.

July 17, 2018: Under Rev. Proc. 2018-38, the IRS instructed that organizations exempt from tax under § 501(a), other than those described in § 501(c)(3), are no longer required to report the names and addresses of their contributors on the Schedule B of their Forms 990 or 990-EZ.

July 17, 2018: In Rev. Rul. 2018-21 the IRS announced the Applicable Federal Rates for August 2018.

July 18, 2018: The IRS has released LB&I Process Unit Knowledge Base – Corporate/Business Issues & Credits regarding the rules for capitalizing transaction costs (legal fees, accounting fees, consulting fees, investment advisory service fees and other transaction costs) under Treas. Reg. 1.263(a)-5(a).

July 20, 2018: The IRS published T.D. 9835 amending the definition of qualified matching contributions (QMACs) and qualified nonelective contributions (QNECs) under regulations regarding certain qualified retirement plans.

July 20, 2018: The IRS released it weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum, and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Christy Vouri-Misso and Greg Berson in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

Presented below is our weekly roundup for July 9 – 13, 2018 on significant IRS matters.

July 9, 2018: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin No. 2018-28 including: Notice 2018-48 (lists the population census tracts designated as qualified opportunity zones); Notice 2018-59 (provides two methods for taxpayers to begin construction for the investment tax credit under Section 48); Announcement 2018-11 (Office of Professional Responsibility [OPR] announces recent disciplinary sanctions); Rev. Rul. 2018-20 (rendering obsolete several previous revenue rulings); and Rev. Proc. 2018-35 (modifying Rev. Proc. 2018-31 regarding accounting methods for citrus plant replanting costs).

July 11, 2018: The IRS issued final regulations (T.D. 9834) addressing inversion transactions structured to avoid the purposes of sections 7874 and 367 and other post-inversion tax avoidance transactions.

July 13, 2018: The IRS issued proposed regulations (REG-103474-18) related to the Code section 6695(g) return preparer penalty amending previous guidance to reflect changes made by 2017 federal tax reform.

July 13, 2018: The IRS released it weekly list of written determination (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Christy Vouri-Misso and Greg Berson in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

On July 2, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International (LB&I) Division announced the identification and selection of five new campaigns. These new campaigns follow the initial 13 campaigns announced on January 31, 2017, followed by 11 campaigns announced on November 3, 2017, 5 campaigns announced on March 13, 2018, and six campaigns announced on May 21, 2018.

The following are the five new LB&I campaigns by title and description:

  • Restoration of Sequestered AMT Credit Carryforward

LB&I is initiating a campaign for taxpayers improperly restoring the sequestered Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) credit to the subsequent tax year. Refunds issued or applied to a subsequent year’s tax, pursuant to IRC Section 168(k)(4), are subject to sequestration and are a permanent loss of refundable credits. Taxpayers may not restore the sequestered amounts to their AMT credit carryforward. Soft letters will be mailed to taxpayers who are identified as making improper restorations of sequestered amounts. Taxpayers will be monitored for subsequent compliance. The goal of this campaign is to educate taxpayers on the proper treatment of sequestered AMT credits and request that taxpayers self-correct.

  • S Corporation Distributions

S Corporations and their shareholders are required to properly report the tax consequences of distributions. We have identified three issues that are part of this campaign. The first issue occurs when an S Corporation fails to report gain upon the distribution of appreciated property to a shareholder. The second issue occurs when an S Corporation fails to determine that a distribution, whether in cash or property, is properly taxable as a dividend. The third issue occurs when a shareholder fails to report non-dividend distributions in excess of their stock basis that are subject to taxation. The treatment streams for this campaign include issue-based examinations, tax form change suggestions, and stakeholder outreach.

  • Virtual Currency

US persons are subject to tax on worldwide income from all sources including transactions involving virtual currency. IRS Notice 2014-21 states that virtual currency is property for federal tax purposes and provides information on the US federal tax implications of convertible virtual currency transactions. The Virtual Currency Compliance campaign will address noncompliance related to the use of virtual currency through multiple treatment streams including outreach and examinations. The compliance activities will follow the general tax principles applicable to all transactions in property, as outlined in Notice 2014-21. The IRS will continue to consider and solicit taxpayer and practitioner feedback in education efforts, future guidance, and development of Practice Units. Taxpayers with unreported virtual currency transactions are urged to correct their returns as soon as practical. The IRS is not contemplating a voluntary disclosure program specifically to address tax non-compliance involving virtual currency.

  • Repatriation via Foreign Triangular Reorganizations

In December 2016, the IRS issued Notice 2016-73 which curtails the claimed “tax-free” repatriation of basis and untaxed CFC earnings following the use of certain foreign triangular reorganization transactions. The goal of the campaign is to identify and challenge these transactions by educating and assisting examination teams in audits of these repatriations.

  • Section 965 Transition Tax

Section 965 requires United States shareholders to pay a transition tax on the untaxed foreign earnings of certain specified foreign corporations as if those earnings had been repatriated to the US. Taxpayers may elect to pay the transition tax in installments over an eight-year period. For some taxpayers, some or all of the tax will be due on their 2017 income tax return. The tax is payable as of the due date of the return (without extensions).

Earlier this year, LB&I engaged in an outreach campaign to leverage the reach of trade groups, advisors and other outside stakeholders to raise awareness of filing and payment obligations under this provision. The external communication was circulated through stakeholder channels in April 2018.

Practice Point: As the IRS continues to move toward issued-based examinations, campaigns may become more and more important in identifying and auditing certain issues. Taxpayers should be aware of the campaigns and IRS guidance on these areas. As we have previously discussed, Practice Units are helpful tools in understanding the IRS audit process on a particular subject. With limited resources, the IRS must streamline their examination approach. The IRS has determined that there is significant audit risk for taxpayers who have an issue listed in one or the campaigns. If you have one of these issues, be proactive and make sure you have an “audit ready” file in place for when the IRS opens an examination.