On April 11, 2016, the US Tax Court issued its T.C. opinion in Ax v. Commissioner. The notice of deficiency in the case determined that certain premium payments made to a captive insurance company were not established by the taxpayer to be (1) insurance expenses and (2) paid. But this is not a run of the mill captive insurance case—at least not yet.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) moved for leave to amend its answer in the case to assert additionally that (1) the taxpayers’ captive insurance arrangement lacked economic substance and (2) amounts paid as premiums were neither ordinary nor necessary (and to allege facts in support of both assertions). The taxpayers opposed, citing Mayo Foundation for Med. & Educ. Research v. United States, 562 U.S. 44, 55 (2011), and arguing that the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and SEC v. Chenery, 318 U.S. 80 (1943) barred the IRS from “raising new grounds to support [the IRS’s] final agency action beyond those grounds originally stated in the notice of final agency action.” The taxpayers also argued that the IRS’s new assertions constituted “new matters” that did not meet required heightened pleading standards under the Tax Court’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. Ultimately, the Tax Court sided with the IRS.