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IRS Provides Tax Penalty Relief for Certain Late Filed Returns

In Notice 2022-36, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced relief for taxpayers who failed to file certain tax and information returns with respect to tax years 2019 and 2020. The relief, which will be automatic, is provided if taxpayers file the missing forms by September 30, 2022. Once filed, the penalties will be waived or to the extent previously assessed, abated, refunded or credited to taxpayers.

The reason for this unprecedented relief is based upon the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Notice, the IRS explains that with a blanket abatement of penalties, IRS personnel can focus resources on processing the millions of returns backlogged by the pandemic and facilitate the IRS to get back to business as usual.

The IRS will abate any and all civil tax penalties related to failing to timely file the following returns:

  • The Form 1040 series
  • The Form 1041 series
  • The Form 1120 series
  • Form 1066
  • Form 990-PF
  • Form 1065.

The IRS will also abate the civil tax penalties asserted pursuant to Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Sections 6038, 6038A, 6038C, 6039F and 6677 for failing to timely file the following international information returns:

  • Forms 5471 and 5472
  • The Form 3520 series.

Additionally, the IRS will not impose penalties under IRC Section 6721(a)(2)(A) for failure to timely file any information return (as defined in IRC Section 6724(d)(1), e.g., certain Form 1099s) that meets the following criteria:

  • 2019 returns that were filed on or before August 1, 2020, with an original due date of January 31, 2020; February 28, 2020 (if filed on paper) or March 31, 2020 (if filed electronically); or March 15, 2020
  • 2020 returns that were filed on or before August 1, 2021, with an original due date of January 31, 2021; February 28, 2021 (if filed on paper) or March 31, 2021 (if filed electronically); or March 15, 2021.

Penalty relief, however, does not apply in situations where fraud was involved or if the tax penalty was settled under an Offer in Compromise or Closing Agreement.

Practice Point: Numerous civil tax penalties apply to taxpayers who fail to timely file certain tax and information returns—and those penalties can add up, accruing underpayment interest until paid. Notice 2022-36 is welcome relief to taxpayers who did not timely file as these penalties have been a bane to those who could not timely file their returns because of COVID-19 or did file timely but their returns have been sitting in an IRS center waiting to be processed. We have helped numerous taxpayers obtain abatement for these penalties over the last two years, and the process takes a lot of time and resources to complete. With this announcement, hopefully the IRS can redirect its limited resources to backlogged tax returns it has not been able to process since the pandemic began in early 2020.




IRS Appeals Retains Video Conference Option, Requests Public Input

In 2017, we posted about the IRS Independent Office of Appeals’ (IRS Appeals) implementation of a face-to-face virtual option for taxpayers. Now, IRS Appeals wants suggestions from tax professionals on how to improve and enhance the video conferencing platform.

IRS Appeals offers taxpayers conferences by telephone, video or in person. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered expanded interim guidance that required employees to conduct video conferences when requested by taxpayers. IRS Appeals plans to make updates to the Internal Revenue Manual, including guidelines for conducting video conferences and for using the video conference platform technology, Microsoft Teams.

In April 2022, IRS Appeals acknowledged its large backlog of cases and detailed a multipoint plan to reduce “significant inventory.” As we discussed previously in our post, the plan offered welcome developments, including additional resources, prioritization of docketed casework, faster initial contact with the taxpayer, streamlined case processing, resolution of cases without conferences that were triggered from pandemic miscommunication and reliance on oral statements to resolve cases rather than trials. Improvements to the video conferencing platform can only help to alleviate that backlog further.

Some of the common ideas expressed by taxpayers and tax professionals to date include:

  • The potential for improving the taxpayer experience as taxpayers may be better able to present their cases over video rather than on a phone conference.
  • The critical nature of the IRS Appeals employee’s role in making sure every participant is introduced and participants turn on their cameras.
  • How screensharing allows for a more comprehensive discussion of issues and potentially earlier resolution.
  • Keeping technical requirements to a minimum for taxpayers who find the video conference platform challenging while also ensuring other options (such as teleconferences and in-person conferences) remain available.

Generally, it is up to taxpayers or their representatives to decide how they will meet with IRS Appeals. According to a recent release, the type of conference chosen will not impact IRS Appeals’ substantive decision in a matter. Comments should be sent to AP.taxpayer.experience@irs.gov by November 16, 2022.

Practice Point: IRS Appeals remains one of the most effective ways for taxpayers to resolve disputes with the IRS. With video conferencing here to stay, tax practitioners with ideas for improvements should consider submitting them, as they may not be considered otherwise.

For our prior comments and posts on IRS Appeals, see the links below:




It’s Official: President Biden Signs the Inflation Reduction Act into Law, IRS to Receive Increased Funding

On August 16, 2022, US President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (Act). A press release from the White House touts the Act as one that will “lower the costs for families, combat the climate crisis, reduce the deficit, and finally ask for the largest corporations to pay their fair share.” The press release provides a numerical summary of the Act’s impact on the healthcare, clean energy and tax sectors.

As we previously discussed, the Act provides for a significant increase in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig shared the following written statement regarding the Act:

The signing of the historic reconciliation package marks a transformational moment for our agency—and an opportunity for the future of tax administration. The IRS has struggled for many years with insufficient resources to fulfill our important mission. During the next 10 years, these funds will help us in many areas, including adding critical resources to not just close the tax gap but meaningfully improve taxpayer service and technology. This will allow the IRS to provide services to taxpayers in the manner they expect and deserve. The act also includes a wide range of tax law changes that we will have to implement very quickly.

 

Given the scope of the bill, keep in mind these changes will not be immediate. It’s a 10-year plan, and it will take time to put these provisions into place. More details will be available in coming months.

 

We have a lot of hard work in front of us to deliver on the high expectations this historic funding will provide. But I have great confidence IRS employees are up to the task—and will deliver for Americans as they have countless times before in the history of our agency.

The Act also contains several new provisions relating to the corporate alternative minimum, a tax on stock buybacks, and tax credits for clean energy use and production. These provisions will require immediate guidance given that they are effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2022.

Practice Point: The IRS has its work cut out for it. It is critical that timely guidance be provided to taxpayers impacted by the Act’s new provisions to allow for proper planning and modeling. Additionally, the IRS needs to create and execute a plan to improve its technology and customer service.

Update as of August 18, 2022: US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has issued a memorandum to Commissioner Rettig, directing the IRS to produce, within six months, an operational plan detailing how the additional funding would be deployed over the next decade. Secretary Yellen specifically stated that she would like the IRS to work closely with Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo “to identify specific operational initiatives and associated timelines that will improve taxpayer service, modernize technology, and increase equity in our system of tax administration [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup August 8 – August 12, 2022

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 8, 2022 – August 12, 2022.

August 8, 2022: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin 2022-32, highlighting Notice 2022-32, which provides guidance on the corporate bond monthly yield curve and corresponding spot segment rates and the 24-month average segment rates. The notice also provides guidance as to interest rates on 30-year Treasury securities and the 30-year Treasury weighted average rates.

August 8, 2022: The IRS released IR-2022-146, reminding truckers to file Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return, on or before the August 31, 2022, deadline. Truck owners who drive a highway motor vehicle weighing 55,000 pounds or more must file the return and pay the tax. Vehicles that used 5,000 miles or less (7,500 miles for farm vehicles) must file the return but do not have to pay the tax.

August 8, 2022: The IRS released Tax Tip 2022-120, explaining how some money raised through crowdfunding may be a gift and excluded from gross income. Crowdfunding websites must file Form 1099-K, Payment Card and Third-Party Network Transactions.

August 9, 2022: The Security Summit partners unveiled a new sample security plan designed to help tax professionals protect their data, particularly those with smaller practices. Tax professionals, software and industry partners and representatives from state tax groups, along with the IRS, developed the plan, dubbed the Written Information Security Plan. Federal law requires that all professional tax preparers create and implement a data security plan.

August 9, 2022: The IRS released COVID Tax Tip 2022-121, reminding taxpayers of the resources available on IRS.gov to help them file their tax returns electronically, get tax account information and find the status of their refund.

August 10, 2022: The IRS released IR-2022-148, reminding teachers and educators that they can deduct up to $300 of out-of-pocket classroom expenses when they file their 2022 tax return. This is the first increase since the deduction was enacted in 2002. From 2002 through 2021, the limit was $250 per year.

August 10, 2022: The IRS announced that storm victims in parts of Missouri now have until November 15, 2022, to file individual and business tax returns and make tax payments if they had a valid extension to file their 2021 returns. The relief is available to anyone in an area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as qualifying for individual or public assistance. The current list of eligible localities is available here.

August 10, 2022: The IRS released Tax Tip 2022-122, outlining the steps business owners need to take when closing a business.

August 11, 2022: The IRS announced Tax Tip 2022-123, highlighting two educational tax credits available to taxpayers who paid higher [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup August 1 – August 5, 2022

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 1, 2022 – August 5, 2022. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

August 1, 2022: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin 2022-31, which highlights the following:

  • Administrative: Revenue Procedure 2022-30 provides specifications for the private printing of red ink substitutes for the 2022 Forms W-2 and W-3.
  • Income Tax: Revenue Ruling 2022-14 provides the applicable federal rates for federal income tax purposes for August 2022.

August 1, 2022: The IRS released Tax Tip 2022-116, explaining the basics of excise tax and what businesses should know.

August 1, 2022: The IRS announced Revenue Procedure 2022-29, which modifies and supersedes Revenue Procedure 2006-36, 2006-38 I.R.B 498. The Procedure updates how government agencies and members of the public should request the creation of special statistical studies and compilations involving return information. It also sets forth the criteria for determining reasonable fees for the costs associated with the creation of the special statistical studies and compilations.

August 2, 2022: The IRS released IR-2022-144, urging tax professionals to learn the signs of data theft so that they can react quickly to protect clients. This topic is the third of a five-part series from the Security Summit, including the IRS, state tax agencies and others from the tax community. Tax professionals or firms that are the victim of data theft should immediately report it to the local IRS Stakeholder Liaison.

August 2, 2022: The IRS announced that Kentucky storm and flooding victims now have until November 15, 2022, to file individual and business tax returns and make tax payments if they had a valid extension to file their 2021 returns. The relief is available to anyone in an area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as qualifying for individual or public assistance. The current list of eligible localities is available here.

August 2, 2022: The IRS released Tax Tip 2022-117, providing the legal distinctions between an employee and an independent contractor.

August 3, 2022: The IRS released Notice 2022-33, extending the deadlines for amending a retirement plan or individual retirement arrangement to reflect certain provisions of Division O of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, also known as the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, and section 104 of Division M of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, also known as the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019.

August 3, 2022: The IRS released COVID Tax Tip 2022-118, explaining the educator expense deduction, which allows eligible teachers and administrators to deduct part of their cost for technology, supplies and training from their personal taxes. This applies only to expenses [...]

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Is the IRS Finally Receiving Increased Funding?

After months of back and forth, it appears that additional funding is on its way to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a statement yesterday on his agreement with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) on the FY2022 Budget Reconciliation legislation and plans to hold a vote in the US Senate next week. A summary of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (Act) provides the following topline estimates:

Total Revenue Raised $739 billion 15% Corporate Minimum Tax $313 billion* Prescription Drug Pricing Reform $288 billion** IRS Tax Enforcement $124 billion** Carried Interest Loophole $14 billion* Total Investments $433 billion Energy Security and Climate Change $369 billion** Affordable Care Act Extension $64 billion** Total Deficit Reduction $300+ billion * = Joint Committee on Taxation Estimate ** = Congressional Budget Office Estimate

 

With respect to taxes, the summary states that the Act will “[m]ake the biggest corporations and ultra-wealthy pay their fair share” and “[t]here are no new taxes on families making $400,000 or less and no new taxes on small business – we are closing tax loopholes and enforcing the tax code.”

Section 10301 of the Act, entitled “Enhancement of Internal Revenue Service Resources,” provides the following appropriations:

  • IRS: $78,911,000,000
    • Taxpayer Services: $3,181,500,000
      • Provide taxpayer services, including pre-filing assistance and education; filing and account services; taxpayer advocacy services; and other services authorized by 5 U.S.C. 3109 (relating to employment of excerpts and consultants on a temporary or intermittent basis)
    • Enforcement: $45,637,400,000
      • Conduct tax enforcement activities to determine and collect owed taxes; provide legal and litigation support; conduct criminal investigations; provide digital asset monitoring and compliance activities; enforce criminal statutes related to violations of internal revenue laws and other financial crimes; purchase and hire passenger motor vehicles; and provide other services authorized by 3109
    • Operations Support: $25,326,400,000
      • Support taxpayer services and enforcement programs, including rent payments; facilities services; printing; postage; physical security; headquarters and other IRS-wide administrative activities; research and statistics of income; telecommunications; information technology development, enhancement, operations, maintenance and security; hire of passenger motor vehicles, operations of the IRS Oversight Board; and other services authorized by 3109
    • Business Systems Modernization: $4,750,700,000
      • Improve the business systems modernization program, including development of callback technology and other technology to provide a more personalized customer service experience but do not include the operation and maintenance of legacy systems.
    • Report on IRS-Run Free “Direct Efile” Tax Return System: $15,000,000
      • Deliver to US Congress (within nine months) a report on the cost of developing and running a free direct efile tax return system; taxpayer opinions, expectations and level of trust—based on surveys—for such a system; and opinions of an independent third party on the overall feasibility, approach, schedule, cost, organizational design and the IRS’s capacity to deliver such a system
    • Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA): $403,000,000



IRS Releases Five-Year Strategic Plan with Emphasis on Enforcement

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its five-year strategic plan (Strategic Plan) for 2022 – 2026, laying out four major goals:

  1. Service: Provide quality and accessible services to enhance the taxpayer experience
  2. Enforcement: Enforce the tax law fairly and efficiently to increase voluntary compliance and narrow the tax gap
  3. People: Foster an inclusive, diverse and well-equipped workforce and strengthen relationships with external partners
  4. Transformation: Transform IRS operations to become more resilient, agile and responsive to improve the taxpayer experience and narrow the tax gap.

In the portion of his opening message that addressed enforcement, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig focused on listed transactions, saying, “We also continued to make important progress in our compliance programs, with a particular focus on abusive tax shelters, including syndicated conservation easements and microcaptive insurance arrangements.”

The Strategic Plan vows an increased focus on noncompliant, high-income and high-wealth taxpayers, partnerships and large corporations, which the report asserts “make up a disproportionate share of the unpaid taxes.” The IRS intends to improve efforts to collect unpaid taxes with effective deterrence and enhanced enforcement capabilities. Employees will also have access to Enterprise Case Management, which will provide agents with the full history of a taxpayer, along with other tools to prevent and address noncompliance. The IRS also wants to reduce the burden on taxpayers by decreasing the time between filing returns and compliance issue resolution. Finally, the IRS plans to improve public confidence by promoting compliance through publicizing criminal prosecutions and civil enforcement efforts.

Additionally, the IRS points to increasing efforts to proactively identify fraud schemes. Its Office of Fraud Enforcement is creating a new Virtual Currency Learning Academy for all IRS personnel—from beginners to experts—with training focused on cryptocurrencies, blockchain tracing, anti-money laundering compliance and Altcoins.

While responsibilities and workloads at the IRS have been increasing, resources to combat criminal fraud and tax evasion have been decreasing. The IRS says it must continue updating necessary tax guidance for new investments, invest in analytical approaches to improve case selection and maintain institutional knowledge of how to combat avoidance activities.

The Strategic Plan indicates that the IRS continues to navigate challenges related to insufficient funding, decreasing workforce and hiring difficulties. In response, the IRS intends to expand electronic services with online accounts and digital filing capabilities. The IRS also plans to expand resources for international taxpayers, as well as implement a Multilingual Strategy with new publications in multiple languages. Other goals include increasing outreach with enhanced social media strategies and prioritizing security while safeguarding taxpayer data.

The Strategic Plan also discusses the IRS’s aging workforce and above-average attrition rates. In response, the IRS intends to hire additional employees, enhance retention and implement a Comprehensive Training Strategy.

Finally, the IRS plans to make improvements to infrastructure, which includes reorganizing operations, upgrading and modernizing systems, accelerating cybersecurity modernization efforts from cyber threats and reducing the paper volume by using digital data more effectively.

Commissioner Rettig stated, “[w]orking toward these strategic goals with consistent multi-year funding will [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup July 18 – July 22, 2022

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of July 18, 2022 – July 22, 2022. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

July 18, 2022: The IRS issued Tax Tip 2022-108, reminding people that they can get the latest IRS news through the agency’s verified social media accounts and by subscribing to e-news services.

July 18, 2022: The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released its Fiscal Year 2022 IRS Federal Information Security Modernization Act Evaluation report. In the report, TIGTA determined that the Cybersecurity Program was not effective in 17 out of 20 metrics. (TIGTA does not make recommendations as part of its evaluation.)

July 19, 2022: The IRS announced that the Security Summit partners are encouraging tax professionals to inform clients about the IRS Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program to help protect people against tax-related identity theft. This announcement came during the first of the five-part summer series to highlight the critical steps tax professionals can take to protect client data and their businesses.

July 19, 2022: The IRS reminded 2021 tax extension filers not to wait until October to file their returns. (The IRS estimated that 19 million taxpayers requested an extension to file their 2021 tax return.) The announcement urges taxpayers to file their returns as soon as they have all the necessary information and to avoid the October 17 deadline and last-minute rush.

July 19, 2022: The IRS issued Tax Tip 2022-110, which contains information on reporting independent contractor compensation of $600 or more. This is completed using Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation.

July 20, 2022: The IRS announced a new five-year strategic plan that outlines its goals to improve taxpayer service and tax administration. The IRS Strategic Plan FY 2022-2026 will serve as a roadmap to help guide the agency’s programs and operations and to meet the changing needs of taxpayers and members of the tax community. The plan also focuses on four goals to improve customer service: (1) Service; (2) Enforcement; (3) People and (4) Transformation. We will be posting more information about the plan on the blog in the coming days.

July 20, 2022: The IRS issued Tax Tip 2022-110, reminding taxpayers of the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization within the IRS that helps to protect taxpayer rights. The tax tip also includes information on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR). We previously wrote an article explaining what TAS does and how it can be utilized by all types of taxpayers, as well as a post about how taxpayers can utilize the TBOR.

July 20, 2022: The IRS issued a notice and request for comments for [...]

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