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Weekly IRS Roundup April 5 – April 9, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Serve (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of April 5, 2021 – April 9, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

April 5, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing that it is mailing letters to certain taxpayers who claimed the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, explaining why they may be getting a different amount than expected.

April 5, 2021: The IRS issued a news release estimating that more than $1.3 billion of unclaimed income tax refunds are available to the estimated 1.3 million taxpayers who did not file a 2017 Form 1040 and reminding such taxpayers to file their 2017 returns before the May 17, 2021, deadline for claiming refunds.

April 7, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing a fourth round of Economic Impact Payments consisting of over 25 million payments totaling over $36 billion, bringing the total amount of disbursements under the American Rescue Plan of 2021 (ARPA) to more than 156 million payments worth approximately $372 billion.

April 8, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 2021-25 and an accompanying news release, providing guidance on the application of section 274(n)(2)(D) of the Code, a provision added by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 which provides for a temporary 100% deduction for food and beverages provided by a restaurant.

April 8, 2021: The IRS issued a news release reminding taxpayers who make estimated tax payments that the due date for the first estimated tax installment remains April 15, 2021.

April 8, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing various internal executive changes, including the appointment of Douglas O’Donnell as IRS Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement, and Nikole Flax as Commissioner of the Large Business and International Division.

April 8, 2021: The IRS issued a news release reminding residents of US territories that, pursuant to recent legislation, they may be eligible to exclude up to $10,200 per person of unemployment compensation from gross income for the 2020 taxable year.

April 9, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing that, pursuant to ARPA, it was suspending the requirement that taxpayers repay excess advance payments of Premium Tax Credits.

April 9, 2021: The IRS issued a news release urging participants in abusive micro-captive insurance arrangements to exit the arrangements as soon as possible.

April 9, 2021: The IRS issued a news release reminding taxpayers that the deadline for filing the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) remains April 15, 2021.

April 9, 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, [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup March 29 – April 2, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Serve (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of March 29, 2021 – April 2, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

March 29, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 2021-21 and an accompanying news release, extending certain individual income tax deadlines to May 17, 2021, including the deadline for making contributions to individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) and the deadline for claiming refunds.

March 30, 2021: The IRS issued corrections to final regulations published on January 15, 2021, regarding credits for carbon capture equipment under section 45Q of the Code.

March 30, 2021: The IRS released Announcement 2021-6, providing a report on advance pricing agreements for calendar year 2020 under the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement Program.

March 30, 2021: The IRS issued a news release warning students and staff of educational institutions of an IRS-impersonation phishing scam.

March 30, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing that it anticipates Economic Impact Payments will begin to be issued to Social Security recipients and other individuals who do not normally file tax returns starting the weekend of April 3.

March 30, 2021: The IRS issued a news release providing answers to frequently asked questions regarding the reporting of pandemic-related emergency financial aid grants by students and higher education institutions.

March 31, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing that it will take steps to provide automatic refunds to taxpayers who filed tax returns reporting unemployment compensation prior to changes made by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).

April 1, 2021: The IRS issued a news release announcing a third round of Economic Impact Payments consisting of four million payments totaling over $10 billion, bringing the total amount of disbursements under ARPA to more than 130 million payments worth approximately $335 billion.

April 2, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 2021-23 and an accompanying news release, providing guidance on the changes made by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 on the employee retention credit under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

April 2, 2021: The IRS issued a news release soliciting civic-minded volunteers to serve on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, a federal advisory committee for identifying taxpayer concerns and making recommendations for improving IRS service and customer satisfaction.

April 2, 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.




Exxon Prevails in $200 Million Tax Penalty Case

On January 13, 2021, the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in favor of Exxon Mobil Corporation (“Exxon”) in its battle against the government over tax penalties. Exxon filed amended returns for its 2006-2009 tax years seeking a $1.35 billion tax refund based upon a change of character of certain transactions (from mineral leases to purchase transactions). The government disallowed the refund claims and imposed a $200 million penalty pursuant to Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 6676. Exxon paid the penalty and filed suit for a refund.

We have written extensively concerning IRC section 6676, warning taxpayers of this potential landmine. See, e.g., Taxpayers Should Prepare for the Next Penalty Battleground” Roberson, Spencer and Walters, Law360 (May 21, 2019) and “Expect More Civil Tax Penalties—So, Now What?” Roberson and Spencer, Tax Executive (Sept. 27, 2019). To recap, IRC Section 6676 was enacted in 2007 in response to the high number of meritless refund claims being filed at the time. It imposes a 20% penalty to the extent that a claim for refund or credit with respect to income tax is made for an “excessive amount.” An “excessive amount” is defined as the difference between the amount of the claim for credit or refund sought and the amount that is actually allowable. For example, if the taxpayer claims a refund of $2 million and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows only $1 million, the taxpayer can still be penalized $200,000.Significantly, IRC section 6676 does not require the IRS to show any fault or culpability on the part of the taxpayer—e.g., negligence, disregard of rules or regulations, etc. IRC section 6676(a) originally provided a “reasonable basis” defense (which is applicable to the Exxon case), but in 2015 Congress amended the statute and now requires a showing of “reasonable cause.” Neither the Code nor the regulations provide for any other defense to the IRC section 6676 penalty. Moreover, the penalty is immediately assessable, meaning taxpayers cannot fight the IRS in a pre-payment forum like the US Tax Court but must first pay the penalty and seek redress in a refund form.

In Exxon, the government argued that the court should overlay a subjective element on “reasonable basis,” as the US Circuit Court for the Eighth Circuit did in Wells Fargo & Co. v. United States, 957 F.3d 840 (8th Cir. 2020). Our prior coverage of this case can be found here. The Exxon court declined the invitation. Instead, the court explained IRC section 6676 “focuses on whether the claim had a reasonable basis, not on whether the taxpayer had a reasonable basis.” The court agreed with Exxon that its position in the refund claim that its transactions were purchases was reasonable based on the relevant authorities. It further found that the company had “colorable support for its legal contention that a change that affects whether, not when, an item comes into income is not [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup July 20 – July 24, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of July 20, 2020 – July 24, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

July 20, 2020: The IRS published a news release on after-tax-day tips for taxpayers who missed the July 15, 2020, tax deadline and did not request an extension. The tips include advice on obtaining a refund and on reducing penalties and interest.

July 20, 2020: The IRS released public comments on the 2020-21 Priority Guidance Plan in response to Notice 2020-47, which invited the public to submit recommendations for items to be included on the 2020-2021 Priority Guidance Plan. The US Department of the Treasury and the IRS use the Priority Guidance Plan each year to identify and prioritize the tax issues that should be addressed through regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notices and other published administrative guidance.

July 21, 2020: The IRS announced the creation of the new Enterprise Digitalization and Case Management office, which will spearhead IRS efforts to empower taxpayers and IRS employees to rapidly resolve issues in a simplified digital environment. The office’s efforts will support overall IRS modernization and implementation of long-term changes stemming from the Taxpayer First Act. The new stand-alone office will focus on enhancing the taxpayer experience by improving business processes and modernizing systems.

July 22, 2020: The IRS published a notice to solicit comments on Form 3800 (General Business Credit). Section 38 permits taxpayers to reduce their income tax liability by the amount of their general business credit, which is an aggregation of various credits. Form 3800 is used to figure the correct credit. Comments are due on or before September 21, 2020.

July 23, 2020: The IRS published a notice requesting comments on TD 8435 that provides final income, estate and gift, and employment tax regulations relating to elections made under the Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of 1988. This regulation enables taxpayers to take advantage of various benefits provided by the Internal Revenue Code (Code). Comments are due on or before September 21, 2020.

July 23, 2020: The IRS published final regulations under the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) and subpart F income provisions of the Code regarding income subject to a high rate of foreign tax. The final regulations allow taxpayers to exclude certain high-taxed income of a controlled foreign corporation from their GILTI computation on an elective basis. The final regulations are effective on September 21, 2020.

July 23, 2020: The IRS also published proposed regulations that generally conform the rules implementing the subpart F high-tax exception to the rules implementing the GILTI high-tax exclusion set forth in the final regulations, and provided for a single election under section 954(b)(4) for purposes [...]

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IRS Targets Private Foundations That May Be Used by Wealthy Taxpayers in Tax Planning

​In remarks at the NYU Tax Controversy Forum on June 18, 2020, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials indicated that the agency is analyzing the use of private foundations for tax planning. Ms. Tamera Ripperda, who is the commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TEGE) Division and previously served as the industry director for the Global High Wealth in the Large Business and International (LB&I) Division, said the agency is focusing on cross-division collaborations to target high-income, high-wealth taxpayers.

The TEGE Division has trained more than 400 LB&I agents this year on the use of private foundations in tax planning for high-net-worth individuals. Additionally, the divisions are using data analytics to identify linkages between LB&I and TEGE cases. Commissioner Ripparda stated that TEGE has identified more than 1,000 private foundations “that have linkages or that are interwoven into these global high-wealth enterprises,” and the IRS will likely examine many of these entities.

Practice Point: Several years ago, the IRS launched its “Wealth Squad,” a team of agents trained in looking through entities and tax structures to focus on the overall strategy of ultra-wealthy taxpayer to reduce their tax incidence. (See this link for more information on that program.) The IRS’s examination of private foundations as a tool to reduce taxes for wealthy is the next chapter for the IRS to crack down on perceived abuse. It is clear that lawmakers and US Treasury officials are increasingly focused on perceived lax enforcement and low audit rates of high-income, high-wealth taxpayers. Taxpayers who use private foundations in their planning should begin working with their tax advisers now to review potential exposure and make sure they are prepared for an expected IRS audit.




Weekly IRS Roundup April 27 – May 1, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of April 27 – May 1, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

April 28, 2020: The IRS published Large Business and International (LB&I) Process Unit on the substantiation of foreign tax credits for individuals. For an individual to claim a foreign tax credit, individual taxpayers must submit Form 1116 with their US federal income tax return. At the request of the IRS, the taxpayer must provide evidence supporting the foreign taxes claimed on Form 1116.

April 28, 2020: The IRS published LB&I Concept Unit on the installment method under IRC § 453. An installment sale occurs when a seller receives at least one payment in a tax year after the disposition. An installment sale is reported on a Form 6252.

April 30, 2020: The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2020-29, temporarily allowing for the electronic submission of letter ruling requests, closing agreements, determination letters, information letters from the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, and for determination letters issued by the IRS LB&I Division.

April 30, 2020: The IRS published Notice 2020-32, which provides guidance regarding the deductibility of certain otherwise deductible expenses incurred in a taxpayer’s trade or business when the taxpayer receives a loan (covered loan) pursuant to the Paycheck Protection Program under § 7(a)(36) of the Small Business Act. Notice 2020-32 provides that no deduction is allowed for US federal income tax purposes if the payment of the expense results in forgiveness of a covered loan pursuant to § 1106(b) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

May 1, 2020: The IRS released Notice 2020-36, which contains a proposed revenue procedure to update the procedures under which recognition of exemption from federal income tax for organizations described in IRC § 501(c) may be obtained on a group basis for subordinate organizations affiliated with and under the general supervision or control of a central organization. The proposed revenue procedure would modify and supersede Revenue Procedure 80-27, 1980-1 C.B. 677 (as modified by Rev. Proc. 96-40, 1996-2 C.B. 301).

May 1, 2020: The Department of Treasury and IRS released a notification that a public hearing is being held on Wednesday May 20, 2020 via teleconference. The public hearing will be on the proposed regulations that provide guidance relating to the allocation and apportionment of deductions and creditable foreign taxes, the definition of financial services income, foreign tax redeterminations, availability of foreign tax credits under the transition tax, and the application of the foreign tax credit limitation to consolidated groups. The IRS must receive speakers’ outlines of the topics to be discussed at the public hearing by Monday, May 11, 2020. If no outlines are received by May 11, 2020, the public hearing will be cancelled.

May 1, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, [...]

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Despite NOL Carrybacks, IRS Continues to Deny Refunds of Section 965 Transition Tax Overpayments

In a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) addressing the interaction of recently enacted net operating loss (NOL) carryback provisions and section 965, the IRS stated that taxpayers may not receive a refund of any section 965 tax payment unless and until the payment exceeds the “entire income tax liability for section 965.” The IRS further stated that such amount “includes all amounts to be paid in installments under section 965(h) in subsequent years.” This position – that taxpayers are not entitled to a refund of an overpayment of the section 965 tax liability unless and until the overpayment amount exceeds the full eight years of installment payments – is consistent with the IRS’s previously published position in PMTA 2018-016 (and as discussed in our prior analyses, here and here).

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New Revenue Ruling 2020-8 Helps Taxpayers Seek COVID-19 Tax Refund Claims

Recently, in Revenue Ruling 2020-8, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it was suspending Revenue Ruling 71-533, which had addressed the interaction of two Internal Revenue Code (IRC) provisions regarding limitations periods on refund claims, pending reconsideration of the holding of the earlier Revenue Ruling.

Under IRC section 6511(d)(2)(A), a taxpayer generally must make a refund claim relating to an overpayment attributable to a net operating loss (NOL) carryback no later than three years after the taxable year in which the NOL was generated. Under IRC section 6511(d)(3)(A), a taxpayer generally must make a refund claim relating to an overpayment attributable to a foreign tax credit carryback no later than ten years after the taxable year in which the foreign taxes were paid.

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IRS Flexes Its Administrative Summons Power in Recent Tax Case

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s recent opinion in Standing Akimbo, LLC v. United States, No. 19-1049 (10th Cir. April 7, 2020), reminds us of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) ability to obtain the information it needs to examine taxpayers’ returns using its powerful summons tool.

In May 2017, the IRS began auditing Standing Akimbo, LLC (Standing Akimbo), a Colorado limited liability company operating as a medical-marijuana dispensary. The audit focused on whether Standing Akimbo improperly claimed business deductions that were prohibited under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 280E. Generally, IRC section 280E provides that no deduction or credit is allowed for any amount paid or incurred in the carrying of a business if such business trafficks in controlled substances that are prohibited by Federal law. While legal under Colorado law, marijuana is still classified as a controlled substance under Federal law, and specifically the Controlled Substances Act. As a pass-through entity, any adjustments to Standing Akimbo’s returns would affect its owners’ (Taxpayers) individual tax returns.

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More Guidance on CARES Act Refund Claims

On April 8, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a statement telling taxpayers that guidance would be forthcoming on refund claims related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act. Consistent with that promise, on April 13, 2020, the IRS issued guidance describing temporary procedures permitting the submission via fax of Form 1139, Corporation Application for Tentative Refund, and Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund. For our prior discussion of CARES Act refund guidance issued by the IRS, see here.

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