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Let’s All Stop and Reflect for a Moment

In a recent article for the American Bar Association's ABA Tax Times, McDermott partner Andrew R. Roberson reflected on 2020 and the importance of giving back. “From COVID-19 to the Black Lives Matter movement; from home office and Zoom to remote learning for students; and so on—these events have impacted us all, both on professional and personal levels.” Access the article.

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Tax Court Announces New Case Management System to Go Live Before New Year’s

We previously reported on the US Tax Court's (Tax Court) announcement that it was changing its case management system, DAWSON (Docket Access Within a Secure Online Network). This morning, the Tax Court issued a press release confirming the launch of DAWSON on December 28, 2020. Temporary credentials for taxpayers and practitioners already registered for electronic access will be sent no later than December 28, 2020, and will be valid for seven days. Expanded guidance on using DAWSON, including FAQs, will be available shortly on the Tax Court's website.

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2020’s Key Tax Controversy Developments

In the face of the pandemic and all the challenges that came with 2020, tax controversy marched on. In this article, we explore several important cases, including one of the most closely watched Supreme Court cases, CIC Services LLC v. Internal Revenue Service, which raises important questions regarding the scope of the Anti-Injunction Act and impacts the ability of taxpayers to engage in preenforcement challenges to regulations. We also look into the latest updates in the transfer pricing area, changes to the Compliance Assurance Process, what to expect during the audit of a campaign issue and more. Read the full article.

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The End of an Era—Senior Judge Robert P. Ruwe Retires from US Tax Court

The US Tax Court (Tax Court) recently announced that Senior Judge Robert P. Ruwe has fully retired as of November 25, 2020, after more than 33 years on the bench. Judge Ruwe graduated from Xavier University and was first in his class in law school at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law. He then joined the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), where he held various positions, including Director, Tax Litigation Division. Judge Ruwe was appointed to the Tax Court in 1987 and, after his 15-year term expired, he served as a senior judge. In 2012, Judge Ruwe received the J. Edgar Murdock Award for his distinguished service to the Tax Court. At the time of his retirement, Judge Ruwe had authored hundreds of opinions, including many noteworthy concurrences and dissents. Some memorable ones include: (i) Rauenhorst v. Commissioner, 119 TC 157 (2002) (holding that the IRS was bound by its position in published guidance, and treating that position as a concession); (ii)...

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Tax Court to Update Case Management System

The US Tax Court (Tax Court) recently announced upcoming changes to its case management system. DAWSON (Docket Access Within a Secure Online Network), named after former Tax Court Judge Howard A. Dawson, Jr., who passed away in 2016, is expected to be active by the end of 2020. To facilitate the transition to DAWSON, the Tax Court's current e-filing system will become inaccessible and all electronic files will become read-only beginning at 5:00 pm EST on November 20, 2020. Cases will remain electronically viewable, but no documents may be e-filed during this time. Importantly, no orders or opinions are anticipated to be issued during the transition. Due to the lack of e-filing during the transition, Tax Court judges are trying to avoid setting deadlines that fall within this period. If a filing is required, it must be done the old-fashioned way on paper and by mail, with a proper certificate demonstrating service on the opposing party. Notable improvements in...

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Weekly IRS Roundup August 24 – August 28, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 24, 2020 – August 28, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here. August 24 2020: The IRS published a memorandum concerning guidance to the field on the criteria that should be applied in considering if a request for designation for litigation should be made to the Office of Chief Counsel. The memorandum also provides interim guidance on the requirements of Section 1001 of the Taxpayer First Act (TFA) with respect to the limitation on designation of cases as not eligible for referral to the IRS Independent Office of Appeals. August 25, 2020: The IRS published a Summer 2020 Statistics of Income Bulletin. The Summer 2020 Bulletin focuses individual income tax shares, 2017; foreign recipients of US income, calendar year 2017; effects of post-filing adjustments on...

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Weekly IRS Roundup June 15 – June 20, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of June 15 – June 20, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here. June 19, 2020: The US Tax Court announced that the Court will resume receiving mail effective July 10, 2020. Any items currently being held by the United States Postal Service or any private delivery service will be delivered to the Court on that day. June 19, 2020: The IRS issued proposed regulations that provide guidance for the deduction of qualified transportation fringe (QTF) and commuting expenses. As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), taxpayers are not allowed deductions for QTF expenses or for certain commuting expenses. These proposed regulations address the elimination of the QTF deduction. The proposed regulations also provide guidance to determine the amount of QTF parking expense that is...

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Tax Court Holds That Form 870-AD Is Not a Binding Settlement Agreement

A recent US Tax Court Memorandum Opinion held that a settlement agreement embodied in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 870-AD does not preclude the IRS from reopening an audit and issuing a notice of deficiency. In Howe v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2020-78, the Tax Court held that equitable estoppel did not bind the Commissioner to an agreement in Form 870-AD. Only settlements that comply with Internal Revenue Code (IRC) sections 7121 and 7122 are binding on both the taxpayer and government, and an IRS Form 870-AD does not comply with those provisions. Further, the Court held that equitable estoppel did not bar the IRS from asserting a larger deficiency against the taxpayer because, even if true, the alleged failures to follow internal IRS procedures would not rise to the level of affirmative misconduct. An IRS revenue agent initially began an audit of the 2008 tax return for the taxpayer, who was CEO and majority shareholder of a healthcare company, in...

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Tax Court Zooms into Remote Proceedings

On May 29, 2020, the US Tax Court (Tax Court) announced that to accommodate continuing uncertainties relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, and until further notice, all court proceedings would be conducted remotely. The Tax Court also issued Administrative Order 2020-02 regarding the conduct of remote proceedings and Administrative Order 2020-03 regarding limited entries of appearance. The Orders are effective until terminated by the Tax Court. Administrative Order 2020-02 contains sample forms, which are also available under the “Forms” tab on the Tax Court’s website, providing more information on how Tax Court proceedings will be conducted during the pandemic. The updated forms include: Notice Setting Case for Trial Standing Pretrial Order for Regular Cases Standing Pretrial Order for Small Tax Cases Pretrial Memorandum Petitioner’s (Taxpayer’s) Getting Ready for Trial Checklist The forms make clear certain requirements that are contained in the Tax Court...

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Eighth Circuit Applies Subjective Standard to Reasonable Basis Penalty Defense

On April 24, 2020, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit published its opinion in Wells Fargo & Co. v. United States, No. 17-3578, affirming a district court’s holdings that the taxpayer was not entitled to certain foreign tax credits and was liable for the negligence penalty for claiming the credits. Much has been written about the substantive issue, which we will not discuss here. Instead, we focus on the Eighth Circuit’s divided analysis relating to the reasonable basis defense to the negligence penalty. In Wells Fargo, the taxpayer relied solely on the reasonable basis defense to the government’s assertion of penalties. Under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 6662(b)(1), a taxpayer is liable for penalty of 20% of an underpayment of its taxes attributable to its “negligence.” Various defenses are potentially applicable to the negligence penalty, which we recently discussed in detail here. One such defense is if the taxpayer can show it had a...

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