For decades, large corporate taxpayers under continuous audit have been able to make disclosures under Revenue Procedure 94-69 at the beginning of an examination to notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of adjustments (both positive and negative) to their tax returns and thereby obtain protection from various penalties and obviate the need to file a formal amended tax return. In 2020, the IRS questioned the continuing utility of this disclosure process and invited comments on said process. With the new Revenue Procedure 2022-39, the IRS has moved the largest corporate taxpayers into a new era of voluntary disclosure. This is a significant development for impacted taxpayers.
For many years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided large corporate taxpayers who are under continuous audit to make affirmative disclosures at the start of an audit so they have an opportunity to disclose tax positions and avoid certain civil tax penalties. The procedure, outlined in Revenue Procedure 94-69, has been very popular with both taxpayers and IRS agents because it provides a mechanism that allows taxpayers to informally “amend” a return without filling out all of the paperwork. IRS agents also like the procedure because it allows them to focus the examination on the disclosed issues and incorporate the adjustments in the final computation from the audit. Indeed, the procedure has grown in practice to include the disclosure of affirmative and negative adjustments at the start of the examination and not just in the audits of taxpayers under the jurisdiction of the IRS’s Large Business & International division. However, as the continuous audit paradigm has ended, in 2020 the IRS questioned the continuing viability of this procedure and sought comments from taxpayers on if, and how, it should continue.
Numerous commentators (including the American Bar Association Section of Taxation and Tax Executives Institute, Inc.) recommended that the IRS keep this post-filing disclosure procedure in place, citing the following points in support:
- The procedure avoids the need to file a formal amended return, a burdensome process on large taxpayers.
- Requiring formal amended returns can be a significant strain on taxpayer resources, including the potential need to deal with state and local tax filings.
- All mistakes can be fixed at one time (i.e., avoiding multiple amended returns).
- The procedure eases reporting issues with Schedules K-1 that are issued after the original tax return is filed.
- The procedure allows incorporating carryover adjustments from prior examinations.
- There’s potential to avoid strict liability for penalties relating to transfer pricing adjustments.
On February 25, 2022, the IRS announced that it will standardize the process for making post-filing disclosures so that eligible taxpayers and IRS agents have consistent guidelines for determining what constitutes an adequate disclosure. To that end, the IRS has published a new draft form, Form 15307, Post-Filing Disclosure for Specified Large Business Taxpayers, to be used by eligible taxpayers seeking to make a post-filing disclosure. Taxpayer comments on the new draft form can be submitted here.
The draft Form 15307, which must be signed under penalties or perjury, requires that the taxpayer identify the number of disclosures and provide specific information about each disclosure, including:
- Adjustment type
- Effect of carryover
- Increase/decrease to taxable income or tax credits
- Explanation of the item being disclosed
Examples of acceptable and unacceptable descriptions and disclosures are provided in the instructions to the draft form. Generally, netting of adjustments is not permitted, however, where the facts and circumstances of an item are identical and represent a high volume of low dollar amounts, the disclosures can be netted. The [...]
Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of November 29, 2021 – December 3, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.
November 29, 2021: The IRS published a news release warning taxpayers and tax professionals to beware of a dangerous combination of events that can increase their exposure to tax scams and identity theft. The IRS stated that the holiday shopping season, the upcoming tax season and the pandemic all create additional opportunities for criminals to steal sensitive personal or finance information.
November 30, 2021: The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2021-53, which provides temporary guidance regarding the treatment of certain stock distributions by publicly offered real estate investment trusts and publicly offered regulated investment companies in recognition of the need for liquidity as a result of COVID-19. The guidance reduces the minimum required aggregate amount of cash that distributee shareholders may receive to no less than 10% of the total distribution in order for Section 301 (by reason of Section 305(b)) to apply to such distribution.
November 30, 2021: The IRS published a news release warning taxpayers to be wary of fake charities used by scammers to trick unsuspecting donors into providing money and sensitive financial and personal information.
November 30, 2021: The IRS posted an issue snapshot concerning issue indicators and audit tips for public and tax-exempt employer contributions to eligible deferred compensation plans (as defined in Section 457(b)).
December 1, 2021: The US Competent Authority posted the arrangement between Competent Authorities of the United States and Turkey, setting forth parameters on the exchange of county-by-country reporting agreements to combat transfer pricing, base erosion and profit shifting-related risks.
December 1, 2021: The IRS published a news release reminding taxpayers they can get extra protection starting in January by joining its Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) program. Anyone who can verify their identity can protect themselves against tax-related identity theft by opting into the program.
December 2, 2021: The IRS published a news release warning tax professionals that they face additional security risks from cybercriminals seeking to use the pandemic and phishing scams to steal sensitive client information.
December 2, 2021: The IRS recommended nonacquiescence in Mayo Clinic v. United States, 997 F.3d 789 (8th Cir. May 13, 2021), rev’g 412 F. Supp. 3d 1038 (D. Minn. 2019), where the appeals court invalidated Treasury Regulations Section 1.170A-9(c)(1)’s requirement that the primary function of an educational organization described in Section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii) be the presentation of formal instruction. For more background, see our recent post.
The traditional audit experience for taxpayers large and small has, like many things, been impacted by COVID-19. Taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have been forced to navigate audits in a remote environment, causing issues related to exchanging documents, engaging in discussions and even filing tax returns and other documents. The IRS has worked hard to adjust to the pandemic and made significant strides in maintaining an efficient audit process.
The key to a well-organized and just audit process is communication between taxpayers and the IRS. In a welcome development, the IRS Large Business & International (LB&I) Division recently announced that effective October 18, 2021 (and expiring October 18, 2023), IRS employees must grant an LB&I taxpayer’s request for a video meeting in lieu of an in-person or telephone discussion. The video meeting must be through IRS-approved solutions, which is currently WebEx and ZoomGov with a future phase-in of Microsoft Teams planned. Screen sharing is permitted but files may not be transferred on these platforms.
Additionally, the IRS has been offering the Taxpayer Digital Communications (TDC) secure messaging system as another communication method. The TDC system avoids the need to send documents to the IRS via facsimile and allows the transfer of files of up to one gigabyte in a secure messaging environment. The IRS is also working with corporate taxpayers on third-party virtual reading rooms that permit IRS employees to review documents without downloading them.
Practice Point: The use of video meetings and the TDC system are two ways that the IRS and taxpayers can continue to communicate effectively and efficiently in a remote working environment. The IRS is continuing to roll out new programs and initiatives in this area and the McDermott tax team will continue to provide updates as they become available.
On March 28, 2018, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published Proposed Regulation § 301.7601-1(b)(3)(i) and (ii) which permits the IRS to hire outside specialists to assist in determining the correctness of a taxpayer’s tax liability. The Proposed Regulation also contains an exception specifically prohibiting the IRS from hiring outside attorneys to review summoned information or question witnesses providing testimony under oath.
The participation of outside attorneys became controversial during the audit of a large technology company when the IRS hired an outside law firm to augment its own resources for the transfer pricing audit of the company. On October 16, 2017, in response to the requirements of Executive Order 13789, requiring the Secretary of the Treasury to review all regulations issued after January 1, 2016, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced that they were considering proposing an amendment to Treas. Reg. § 301.7602-1(b)(3) in order to narrow the scope with respect to non-government attorneys. See our prior coverage here. (more…)
In January 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business & International (LB&I) Division released its announcement related to the identification and selection of its campaigns. The primary purpose of the campaigns was to end the resource intensive continuous audit program (where the LB&I audits a large taxpayer year after year for decades) and a move to an issue focused coordinated approach. LB&I originally identified 13 campaign issues and in November 2017, identified 11 additional campaigns and on March 13, 2018, identified 5 additional campaigns. We have extensively discussed LB&I’s campaign examination process including posts on Understanding LB&I “Campaigns”, Run for Cover – IRS Unveils Initial “Campaigns” for Audit, IRS Continues to Barrage Taxpayers with New Campaigns.
At the March 9 meeting of the Federal Bar Association Section on Taxation, an LB&I executive indicated that the rollout of the campaigns may have hit a snag. John Hinding, Director of Cross Border Activities at LB&I, reported that “the campaign work is still a minority of our work,” and its implementation has been slow going. According to Hinding, “A lot of the issue spotting that we’d like to do is driven by data analysis, and changes to systems to allow that is a lengthy process to get in place.” (more…)
On November 8, 2017, Facebook, Inc. and Subsidiaries (Facebook) filed a complaint in the District Court for the Northern District of California asserting that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had improperly denied Facebook access to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Appeals. Facebook’s complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that the IRS unlawfully issued Revenue Procedure 2016-22, 2016-15 I.R.B. 1, and unlawfully denied Facebook its statutory right to access an independent administrative forum. Facebook also requests injunctive relief from the IRS’s unlawful position, or action in the nature of mandamus to compel the IRS to provide Facebook access to an independent administrative forum. (more…)
Internal Revenue Service Updates Golden Parachute Payments Audit Technique Guide, Signaling Key Items IRS May Review on Audit
In early 2017, the IRS updated its Golden Parachute Payments Audit Technique Guide for the first time since its 2005 issuance. While intended as an internal reference for IRS agents conducting golden parachute examinations, the Audit Technique Guide offers valuable insight for both public and private companies, and recipients of golden parachute payments, into how IRS agents are likely to approach golden parachutes when conducting an audit.
Not only should companies worry about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) auditing their returns, but they also have to be aware of a potential assault from within. Indeed, current and former employees have an incentive to air all of your tax issues with the hope of being rewarded for the information.
Section 7623(b) was added to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) in 2005, and pays potentially large monetary rewards for so-called tax whistleblowers. To qualify for remuneration, a whistleblower must meet several conditions to qualify for the Section 7623(b) award program: (1) submit the confidential information under penalties of perjury to the IRS’s Whistleblower Office; (2) the information must relate to a tax issue for which the taxpayer (if the IRS found out) would be liable for tax, penalties and/or interest of more than $2 million; and (3) involve a taxpayer whose gross income exceeds $200,000 the tax year at issue. If the information substantially contributes to an administrative or judicial action that results in the collection, the IRS will pay an award of at least 15 percent, but not more than 30 percent of the collected proceeds resulting from the administrative or judicial action (including related actions).
Section 7623(b) has spawned a collection of law firms around the country dedicated to signing up scores of whistleblowers who are hoping to cash in big! Our clients routinely ask us how to best protect themselves. We typically tell our clients that the best defense is a good offense. Consider the following:
- Use of non-disclosure agreements with employees who work on sensitive projects like mergers and acquisitions;
- Limit employee access to the companies tax accrual workpapers and other documents that indicate the tax savings involved in a transaction or a position claimed on a return;
- Review your procedures to ensure that privilege and confidentiality is maintained (this would include training employees and managers);
- Review company’s internal procedures for employee complaints to ensure that you have robust procedures in place that offer an independent review and allow for anonymous submissions; and
- Be vigilant, and look for signs that an employee is “disgruntled.”
Practice Point: If you are under examination by the IRS, you may be able to discern a whistleblower issue based on the questions being asked by the IRS and whether those questions could only be formed based on information provided by a whistleblower. If this situation exists, it is important to determine whether you should raise the issue with the IRS, particularly if you believe that any confidential and/or privileged information has been provided to the IRS without your consent. To make sure you are protected and adequately prepared, consult with your tax controversy lawyer.