Update on IRS Enforcement Efforts

We frequently post about the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) tax enforcement trends and announcements. Prior examples from this year include the release of a five-year strategic plan emphasizing enforcement, the plan to hire up to 200 additional attorneys to assist with litigation efforts, the implementation of the Large Partnership Compliance (LPC) Pilot Program, a focus on tax compliance of non-US citizens and residents, and the creation of a new Joint Strategic Emerging Issues Team to identify emerging “abusive transactions.” Over the past several weeks, the IRS has provided additional updates on its enforcement efforts and future plans, including the following:

  • The IRS is considering raising the economic substance doctrine more frequently in transfer pricing examinations—even those where taxpayers have transfer pricing documentation—and asserting penalties more often in transfer pricing cases. This follows the announcement last April that executive approval is no longer needed before asserting the codified economic substance doctrine under Internal Revenue Code Section 7701(o).
  • The IRS plans to grow the LPC program and envisions it functioning similar to corporate examinations conducted by the Large Business & International Division.
  • The IRS’s Criminal Investigation (CI) Division is highly focused on criminal digital asset cases and intends to make many of these cases public. This follows the recent release of the CI Division’s annual report.
  • The IRS intends to expend more resources on examinations of high-income/high-net-worth taxpayers.
  • The IRS has proposed to require the disclosure of more information regarding corporate taxpayers’ uncertain tax positions, including citations to contrary authorities, which, if finalized, will likely lead to more examinations and challenges to tax reporting positions.

Practice Point: Tax enforcement has been down over the past several years, including a slowdown in audit operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. With increased funding from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and proposed restrictions on access to IRS Appeals for certain matters, we expect more examinations and tax disputes in the near future. Taxpayers and their advisors should prepare. Consider working with your tax controversy advisor to discuss your more vulnerable return positions to see how to better defend against the impending tax enforcement wave!




Update on Schedule UTP Comments

We previously discussed the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) announcement regarding draft changes to Schedule UTP, Uncertain Tax Position Return Statement, and Instructions to Schedule UTP (Form 1120). The IRS requested comments by November 18, 2022.

On November 14, 2022, we submitted our comments to the IRS outlining some of our concerns with the draft changes, focusing primarily on the scope of disclosure. We made the following recommendations:

  • Reconsider whether any changes should be made to Schedule UTP given the current rules in place regarding other disclosures (g., Forms 8275 and 8275-R) and the serious privilege concerns raised by the additional disclosure requirements.
  • Remove the requirement to disclose any positions that are “contrary” to any authorities or, at a minimum, to any Private Guidance.
  • If changes are made to Schedule UTP, work with taxpayers to determine the appropriate standard for determining whether there is “contrary” authority and what steps a taxpayer or return preparer must take before being able to satisfy the jurat requirement.
  • Issue published guidance clarifying that proper disclosure on Schedule UTP will satisfy the adequate disclosure requirement for purposes of both the disregard of rules and regulations and substantial understatement of tax grounds for imposing penalties under I.R.C. § 6662.
  • If changes are made to Schedule UTP, delay the effective date to the 2023 tax year (processing year 2024).

We will continue to track potential changes to Schedule UTP and Form 1120 and will provide updates as they are made known.




President Biden to Nominate New IRS Commissioner

On November 10, 2022, US President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Danny Werfel to serve as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has expressed her support for Werfel’s nomination. Charles Rettig, whose term expires on November 12, 2022, is the current IRS Commissioner and Doug O’Donnell has been selected to serve as acting IRS Commissioner until the position is formally filled.

The White House press release provides the following background on Werfel:

Danny Werfel is a public and private sector leader who has served under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Across more than 15 years of government service, Werfel served President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush to lead some of the governments’ most complex management challenges as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Acting Commissioner and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Controller. In the wake of an Inspector General report alleging various forms of mismanagement and bias in the determination of tax-exempt status for non-profit organizations, President Obama appointed Werfel to serve as Acting Commissioner of IRS in 2013. Werfel provided immediate stability to the IRS, effectively responding to numerous Congressional investigations, successfully launching the Affordable Care Act technology that IRS was responsible for, and navigated the IRS through a multi-week government shutdown. At the end of his tenure, both the majority and minority leaders of the Senate Finance Committee publicly recognized his contribution and performance. As OMB Controller, Werfel successfully led a cross-government effort to ensure the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was implemented transparently and with minimal fraud or error. He also led the government-wide efforts to prepare for and implement the budget sequester of FY2013. Werfel played a key role under the Bush Administration in the implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, overseeing the efforts of the Office of Financial Stability to achieve a clean financial statement audit in its first year of existence.

 

Werfel has spent the last nine years at Boston Consulting Group where he helped launch their U.S. public sector practice. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations (with honors) from Cornell University, a Juris Doctor (with honors) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Master of Public Policy from Duke University. Werfel lives in the District of Columbia with his wife and two children.




Weekly IRS Roundup October 31 – November 4, 2022

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of October 31, 2022 – November 4, 2022.

October 31, 2022: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin 2022-44, which highlights the following:

  • Treasury Decision 9966: These final regulations increase the renewal user fee for enrolled retirement plan agents from $67 to $140 and also increase both the enrollment and renewal of enrollment user fees for enrolled agents from $67 to $140.
  • Proposed Regulations 113068-22: These proposed regulations relate to recordkeeping and reporting requirements for the average income test for purposes of the low-income housing credit.
  • Revenue Ruling 2022-19: This revenue ruling provides a rule for valuing noncommercial flights on employer-provided aircraft, including the three Standard Industry Fare Level (SIFL) rates: the Unadjusted SIFL Rate, the SIFL Rate Adjusted for PSP Grants, and the SIFL Rate Adjusted for PSP Grants and Promissory Notes.
  • Treasury Decision 9967: This document contains final and temporary regulations, which set forth guidance on the average income test for purposes of the low-income housing credit.

October 31, 2022: The IRS released COVID Tax Tip 2022-166, announcing that more than nine million people may qualify for tax benefits they did not claim by filing a 2021 federal income tax return. Many of these people may be eligible to claim some or all of the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, among others, which were expanded last year under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and other legislation.

November 1, 2022: The IRS released COVID Tax Tip 2022-167, alerting taxpayers in areas covered by certain Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster declarations that they may have more time to file their returns and may qualify for penalty relief under Notice 2022-36.

November 2, 2022: The IRS released COVID Tax Tip 2022-168, reminding people to review their tax withholdings to avoid tax surprises, such as a balance due or a larger-than-expected refund.

November 3, 2022: The IRS requested comments on three notices related to different aspects of extensions and enhancements of energy tax benefits in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The IRS hopes that comments will aid the agency in drafting the related guidance items. Feedback should be submitted by December 3, 2022. The notices include:

  • Notice 2022-56, which requests comments related to the qualified commercial clean vehicles provisions and the alternative fuel vehicle refueling property
  • Notice 2022-57, which requests comments related to the carbon capture tax credit
  • Notice 2022-58, which requests comments related to the tax credit for the production of clean hydrogen and the clean fuel production tax credit.

November 3, 2022: The IRS
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