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Does Latest IRS Guidance Signal New Firm Stance on Research Credit Refund Claims?

On October 15, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a press release related to required information for valid research credit refund claims. The press release contains a link to a memorandum by two IRS employees, which will be used to evaluate such claims, and states that there will be a grace period (until January 10, 2022) before such information will be required to be included with timely filed research credit refund claims.

The guidance referred to in the press release is from the IRS’s Office of the Chief Counsel, Memorandum 20214101F (the IRS Research Memo) dated September 17, 2021, which focuses on administrative claims for refunds respect to the Internal Revenue Code (IRS) section 41 research credit.

First, we recommend reviewing the IRS Research Memo because it does a good job explaining the necessary elements to claim the credit. Second, the IRS Research Memo is a good reminder that the first requirement is to file a refund claim that is sufficiently detailed in order to give the IRS notice on both the technical and factual basis of the refund claim. In the context of the IRC Section 41 credit, the IRS Research Memo provides the following as minimum requirements for a refund claim:

  • Identify all the business components to which the IRC Section 41 research credit claim relates for the year for which a refund is sought.
  • For each business component:
    • Identify all research activities performed
    • Identify all individuals who performed each research activity
    • Identify all the information each individual sought to discover
  • Provide the total qualified employee wage expenses, total qualified supply expenses and total qualified contract research expenses for the claim year (this may be done using Form 6765, Credit for Increasing Research Activities).
  • The refund claim must be signed under penalties of perjury attesting to the veracity of the facts and information stated therein.
  • Supporting facts should be in the form of a written statement and merely incorporated by reference to documents attached to the claim.
  • The refund claim must be filed within the period of limitations stated in IRC Section 6511. Typically, taxpayers must file a valid claim within three years of the date Form 1040 or Form 1120 was filed or two years from the time the tax was paid—whichever period expires later.

Importantly, the IRS Research Memo does not advise taxpayers on how much information the IRS believes is sufficient to make a valid claim for refund. The IRS Research Memo does, however, highlight some recent court decisions where taxpayers were denied a refund because they did not include sufficient facts in their IRC Section 41 refund claim. In those cases, the courts ruled that the refund claims were defective and untimely.

Practice Point: The IRS Research Memo is a good reminder that when it comes to refund claims, generally, more description and detail is better. Interestingly, if the taxpayer had claimed a research credit on the original return, there would be [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup October 4 – October 8, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of October 4, 2021 – October 8, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

October 4, 2021: The IRS released a practice unit, providing tax law and audit steps for reviewing a reseller’s uniform capitalization cost computations under section 263A. The practice unit focuses on the simplified production method and does not cover the final section 263A Treasury Regulations that were effective November 20, 2018.

October 4, 2021: The IRS published a news release, announcing 18 self-study seminars available online through the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums. The seminars cover topics such as the gig economy and virtual currency.

October 4, 2021: The IRS published instructions for Form W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Individuals)) concerning:

  • Guidance under section 1446(f) (withholding on partnership interest dispositions)
  • New lines 6a and 6b (addressing foreign tax ID number (FTIN) matters)
  • Tax treaty benefits claims (requiring representations)
  • Section 6050Y reporting (covering life insurance contracts and reportable death benefits)
  • Electronic signatures (updated to reflect new guidance)

October 5, 2021: The IRS published a news release, announcing that Free File remains available through October 15 for taxpayers who still need to file their 2020 tax returns. Free File is the IRS’s public-private partnership with tax preparation software industry leaders to provide their brand name products for free.

October 5, 2021: The IRS released a memorandum, expanding the criteria for collection due process cases that qualify for a rapid response appeals process under IRM 8.22.6.2 and related subsections.

October 5, 2021: The IRS released a memorandum concerning interim guidance regarding the IRS Independent Office of Appeals’ steps and procedures for its nationwide pilot program: The Appeals Electronic Case Files Initiative for Large Business & International (LB&I) report generation software (RGS) examination cases. This guidance is applicable to LB&I RGS International Individual Compliance cases only and excludes other large cases such as Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 cases, Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 cases and Syndicated Conservation Easement cases.

October 5, 2021: The IRS released a memorandum updating procedures where an organization requests a change in a section 501 subsection during the application process by submitting one application form to replace a different application form. The procedures are effective 30 days after issuance of the memorandum and supersedes those in TEGE-07-0421-0010 (April 29, 2021).

October 7, 2021: The IRS published a program letter indicating that, in Fiscal Year 2022, Tax Exempt (TE)/Government Entities (GE) commissioners expect to invest in new resources to expand outreach to the exempt sector as well as increase their enforcement staff.

October 8, 2021: The IRS released its weekly list of written [...]

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District Court Broadly Interprets Informal Claim Doctrine

Internal Revenue Code (Code) section 7803(a)(3)(C) provides that taxpayers have “the right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax.” However, there are two relevant considerations to this “right.” First, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must take the appropriate steps before it can assess and collect any amount of tax beyond that reported by the taxpayer. Second, taxpayers who believe they overpaid their tax must take affirmative steps to protect their rights to claim a refund before the period of limitations on seeking a refund expires. We recently provided an overview of these steps.

Taxpayers traditionally claim the right to an income tax refund (or credit) by filing a formal amended tax return using the appropriate form prescribed by the IRS (e.g., Form 1040X, Form 1120X, etc.) under IRS procedures and guidelines (e.g., Code section 6402 and the underlying regulations). However, in some situations, taxpayers can assert a valid refund claim through other means such as correspondence or other written communications with the IRS that is not made by filing a formal amended tax return. Courts have consistently recognized the validity of so-called “informal” refund claims and explained that such claims must have a written component that gives the IRS sufficient notice of the fact that the taxpayer believes they have overpaid their income tax and that a refund is due.

Likewise, the IRS acknowledges the propriety of the informal claim doctrine. However, the IRS’s position appears to be inconsistent as Internal Revenue Manual 25.6.1.10.2.6(3) (09-29-2015) references the judicially-created informal claim doctrine noted above, but Publication 5125, which discusses the IRS’s Large Business & International examination process, states that the claim must also be made under penalties of perjury. (See: Internal Revenue Manual 25.6.1.10.2.6.3 (09-29-2015).)

The recent district court decision in Johnson v. United States (No. 2:10-cv-01561-TLN-JDP (E.D. Cal., Sept. 30, 2021) addressed whether correspondence between taxpayers and the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) can give rise to an informal claim. The taxpayers in that case reviewed copies of their tax account transcripts for several years and determined that funds offset by the IRS from tax years 2013 and 2014 and applied to earlier tax years were incorrect because there was no liability remaining in those earlier years. Specifically, the taxpayers argued that they were entitled to refunds for tax years 2009 and 2010 and relied on discussions and correspondence with TAS, including a faxed letter summarizing the timeline of the issues, to support their position that their refund claim was timely under the informal claim doctrine. The IRS argued that the informal claim doctrine did not apply because the letter did not include facts sufficient to apprise the IRS of the factual basis for the claims; the letter only referenced 2009 (and therefore was insufficient for 2010) and was not signed under penalties of perjury.

The district court sided with the taxpayers regarding the year 2009, finding that the letter constituted an informal claim under the judicially-created informal claim [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup September 20 – 24, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 20 – 24, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

September 22, 2021: The US Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the IRS published final regulations under IRC § 301. The regulations update existing regulations under IRC § 301 to reflect statutory changes made by the Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of 1988, which changes provide that the amount of a distribution of property made by a corporation to its shareholder is the fair market value of the distributed property. The regulations affect shareholders that receive a distribution of property from a corporation.

September 22, 2021: The IRS introduced a new webpage that provides information to taxpayers whose large refunds are subject to further review by the Joint Committee on Taxation.

September 22, 2021: The IRS released instructions for Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income, to reflect the addition of Schedules K-2 and K-3. The new schedules assist partnerships in providing partners with the information necessary for the partners to complete their returns with respect to the international tax provisions of the IRC. The IRS also released related instructions for Form 1120-S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation, to reflect Schedules K-2 and K-3, which assist with reporting items of international tax relevance from the operation of an S corporation.

September 24, 2021: The Treasury Department and the IRS published final regulations under IRC under sections 250 and 951A addressing the calculation of qualified business asset investment for qualified improvement property under the alternative depreciation system. The regulations also deal with the transition rules relating to the impact on loss accounts of net operating loss carrybacks allowed by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The final regulations affect United States shareholders of controlled foreign corporations, domestic corporations eligible for the section 250 deduction and taxpayers that claim credits or deductions for foreign income taxes.

September 24, 2021: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Robbie Alipour in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.




Show Me the Money: IRS Introduces Webpage for Large Refunds Subject to JCT Review

When we previously wrote about the Joint Committee on Taxation’s (JCT) process for reviewing refund claims granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), we explained that the IRS generally must submit proposed refunds in excess of $5 million for corporate taxpayers and $2 million for all other taxpayers to the JCT before any such refunds can be paid. However, getting through the JCT review process can be difficult and time-consuming in some situations—and sometimes taxpayers are left in the dark.

On September 22, 2021, the IRS announced the launch of its new webpage that provides information to taxpayers whose large refunds are subject to JCT review. Topics covered include general information about how a JCT review matter arises and how the IRS handles a JCT review case.

Practice Point: The IRS’s new webpage provides a helpful general overview of the JCT review process but does not provide any new information on it. A more detailed discussion of the JCT review process can be found in our prior post and in the JCT’s 2019 process overview.




Weekly IRS Roundup September 13 – 17, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 13, 2021 – September 17, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

September 13, 2021: The IRS issued a news release concerning resources available to help small businesses learn their employer tax responsibilities and to help their employees.

September 13, 2021: The IRS postponed various tax filing and payment deadlines for victims of Hurricane Ida in parts of Pennsylvania. Victims now have until January 3, 2022, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments.

September 14, 2021: The US Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the IRS published a notice and request for comments concerning the interest rates and appropriate foreign loss payment patterns for determining the qualified insurance income of certain controlled corporations under IRC § 954(f). Written comments should be received on or before November 15, 2021.

September 14, 2021: The IRS issued a news release reminding employers about a valuable tax credit available to them for hiring long-term unemployment recipients and other groups of workers facing significant employment barriers.

September 15, 2021: The Treasury and the IRS published a notice and request for comments concerning forms related to foreign account tax compliance act registration (FATCA), including Forms 8966, 8957, 8966-C, 8809-I and 8508-I. Written comments should be received on or before November 15, 2021.

September 16, 2021: The IRS issued a news release reminding taxpayers who asked for an extension to file their 2020 return that they should file on or before October 15, 2021, to avoid the penalty for filing late.

September 16, 2021: The IRS published a practice unit concerning the limitation of exchange gain or loss on payment or disposition of debt instrument.

September 16, 2021: The Treasury and the IRS published a notice and request for comments on Revenue Procedure 99-17 that prescribes the time and manner for dealers in commodities and traders in securities or commodities to elect to use the mark-to-market method of accounting under IRC § 475(e) or IRC § 475(f). Written comments should be received on or before November 15, 2021.

September 16, 2021: The Treasury and the IRS published a notice and request for comments on Revenue Procedure 2003-33, which provides qualifying taxpayers with an extension of time—pursuant to Treasury Regulations Section 301.9100-3—to file an election described in IRC § 338(a) or IRC § 338(h)(10) to treat the purchase of a corporation’s stock as an asset acquisition. Written comments should be received on or before November 15, 2021.

September 17, 2021: The Treasury and the IRS published a notice and request for comments on forms used by business entity taxpayers, including Forms 1065, 1066, 1120, 1120-C, 1120-F, 1120-H, 1120-ND, 1120-S, [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup August 30 – September 3, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 30, 2021 – September 3, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

August 30, 2021: With September being National Preparedness Month, the IRS reminded everyone to develop an emergency preparedness plan—especially with the height of hurricane season approaching and the ongoing wildfires. To prepare, taxpayers should secure and duplicate essential tax and financial documents.

August 31, 2021: The IRS postponed various tax filing and payment deadlines for victims of Hurricane Ida. Affected individuals and businesses will have until January 3, 2022, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This means individuals who had a valid extension to file their 2020 return due to run out on October 15, 2021, will now have until January 3, 2022, to file. However, tax payments related to 2020 tax returns that were due on May 17, 2021, are not eligible for this relief. This extension also applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments due on September 15, 2021.

September 1, 2021: The IRS issued a practice unit on general principles for foreign tax credits, specifically addressing foreign tax credits as changed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

September 2, 2021: The IRS issued final regulations, modifying previous regulations relating to IRS administrative proceedings, to reflect limitations that are required by the enactment of the Taxpayer First Act of 2019. The regulations implement new rules regarding the persons who may be provided books, papers, records or other data obtained pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 7602 for the sole purpose of providing expert evaluation and assistance to the IRS. The regulations adopt further limitations on the type of non-governmental attorneys to whom any books, papers, records or other data may be provided. Under the final regulations, IRS contractors are prohibited from asking substantive questions of a summoned witness under oath or asking a summoned person’s representative to clarify an objection or assertion of privilege.

September 3, 2021: The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2021-40, announcing that it will not issue private letter rulings or determination letters on whether certain transactions are considered an act of self-dealing under Internal Revenue Code Section 4941.

September 3, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 2021-52, providing travel per diem rates for 2021 – 2022.

September 3, 2021: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Emily Mussio in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.




What are the Time Limits for Assessing Additional Federal Tax and Filing a Refund Claim?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must follow the “statute of limitations” as stated in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 6501 to “assess” additional federal tax. Likewise, taxpayers must seek a tax overpayment or refund within the statutory period stated in IRC Section 6511. In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions regarding when the IRS can assess additional federal tax and when taxpayers must file a refund claim.

WHEN DOES THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR ASSESSING ADDITIONAL TAXES START?

Typically, the period during which the IRS can seek additional tax starts when the taxpayer files their tax return. A taxpayer “self-assesses” when the amount of tax is stated on the return, but tax assessment can also occur when the IRS creates a “substitute for return” under IRC Section 6020. (For example, when the taxpayer fails to timely file a return.) Assessment merely means that the IRS records the tax liability on its official ledger for each taxpayer. An assessment is significant because it is legally considered a debt of the taxpayer for which the IRS can commence collection activities, like placing a lien and levy on property.

Self-Assessment Example: The taxpayer reports on a timely filed return a tax liability of $10,000 and submits payment of $5,000. The $10,000 tax is automatically assessed and constitutes a tax debt of the taxpayer, despite only a partial payment. In this case, the IRS would seek to collect the balance due ($5,000) from the taxpayer under the collection rules.

WHAT IS A TAX ASSESSMENT?

The IRS assesses tax by recording the amount owed in its official records. The assessment establishes the fact and amount of the tax liability that’s due to the IRS and starts the period during which the IRS can collect the amounts due and owing. Generally, the IRS may not lien or levy a taxpayer’s property until after an assessment is made.

There are three primary types of assessments:

  1. A “summary assessment” occurs automatically when the taxpayer reports an amount of tax on a return.
  2. A “jeopardy assessment” occurs when the IRS determines that the taxpayer may abscond with property that the IRS may need to lien and/or levy to satisfy a tax deficiency.
  3. A “tax deficiency assessment” occurs after the IRS determines the amount owed by the taxpayer and follows its procedures to permit the taxpayer to challenge its determination (usually after an audit).

STATUTORY NOTICE OF DEFICIENCY (THE 90-DAY LETTER)

If the IRS audits a return and determines that the taxpayer owes additional tax, it generally cannot assess the tax before sending the taxpayer a statutory notice of deficiency, or the so-called “90 day letter.” The letter must be sent by certified or registered mail to the last known address of the taxpayer (which is usually the address listed on the last return filed with the IRS). If the taxpayer does not file a timely petition with the US Tax Court in response to the 90-day letter, the IRS may then assess [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup July 26 – July 30, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of July 26, 2021 – July 30, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

July 26, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 2021-46 as a supplement to Notice 2021-31 issued in May, providing additional guidance on the temporary premium assistance for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) health insurance benefits and the associated COBRA premium assistance credit—enacted by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).

July 27, 2021: The IRS issued a news release urging tax professionals to raise awareness amongst clients about the availability of Identity Protection PINs, a tax return security feature designed to protect against tax-related identity theft.

July 28, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing the imminent issuance of another round of tax refunds to those who paid taxes on unemployment compensation in 2020, pursuant to the retroactive exclusion of such compensation from 2020 taxable income under ARPA. The refunds will be issued to approximately 1.5 million taxpayers, averaging more than $1,600.

July 29, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing an update to previously-released FAQs regarding paid sick and family leave tax credits under ARPA.

July 30, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 2021-45, providing a list of counties and parishes that constitute as qualified disaster zones for purposes of determining low-income housing tax credits under section 42 of the Code, as expanded by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020.

July 30, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 2021-48, providing guidance on changes made under ARPA to the funding rules for single-employer defined benefit pension plans.

July 30, 2021: The IRS issued Announcement 2021-12, revealing recent disciplinary sanctions imposed on certain tax practitioners pursuant to the Circular 230 rules for practice before the IRS.

July 30, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing the awarding of a $100,000 Low Income Taxpayer Clinic grant to West Virginia University College of Law to assist the university in providing tax controversy litigation services to low-income and English as a second language (ESL) taxpayers.

July 30, 2021: The IRS issued a news release reminding taxpayers who hold Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) of their responsibility to file Form 8822-B, updating their information with the IRS upon a change of responsible party or contact information.

July 30, 2021: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Le Chen in our Washington, DC, office for this week’s roundup.




Weekly IRS Roundup July 12 – July 16, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of July 12, 2021 – July 16, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

July 12, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing the launch of a Spanish-language version of the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant, an online tool designed to assist families in determining their eligibility for advance payments of the Child Tax Credit.

July 13, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing the imminent issuance of another round of tax refunds to taxpayers who paid taxes on unemployment compensation in 2020, pursuant to the retroactive exclusion of such compensation from 2020 taxable income under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

July 14, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing the start of a summer campaign by the Security Summit, a partnership between the IRS, state tax agencies and private organizations to raise awareness within the tax community about identity theft and data security.

July 15, 2021: The IRS issued Revenue Ruling 2021-14, providing various prescribed interest rates for federal income tax purposes for August 2021.

July 15, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 2021-44, providing the monthly update to certain interest rates used for pension plan funding and distribution purposes.

July 15, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing the disbursement of the July round of advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, consisting of approximately 35 million payments worth approximately $15 billion.

July 16, 2021: The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2021-30, updating the procedures for the correction programs under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), a program for retirement plans to come into compliance with certain requirements under sections 401, 403 and 408 of the Code.

July 16, 2021: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Le Chen in our Washington, DC, office for this week’s roundup.




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