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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.




The Internal Revenue Service Is Expanding the 2020 Compliance Assurance Process

The Large Business and International Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) developed the Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program to improve large corporate taxpayer compliance with US federal tax obligations through the use of real-time issue resolution tools and techniques.

On September 12, 2019, the IRS announced that it was accepting applications—for the first time since 2015—from new corporate taxpayers that meet the eligibility requirements for the CAP program. The application period for the 2020 CAP year begins on September 16, 2019, and ends on October 31, 2019. Generally, applicants must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible to apply for CAP: (1) applicants must have assets of $10 million or more; (2) applicants must be a US publicly traded corporation with a legal requirement to prepare and submit SEC Forms 10-K, 10-Q, and 8-K; and (3) the applicant must not be under investigation by, or in litigation with, any government agency that would otherwise limit the IRS’s access to current tax records.

Taxpayers interested in applying for the 2020 CAP year must submit an application with several forms:

  • Form 14234 – CAP Application
  • Form 14234-A – CAP Research Credit Questionnaire
  • Form 14234-B – Material Intercompany Transactions Template
  • Form 14234-C – Taxpayer Initial Issues List
  • Form 14234-D – Tax Control Framework Questionnaire

If the taxpayer also meets the eligibility and suitability criteria, the application will be forwarded for an evaluation of the application. Accepted taxpayers will be notified in writing by the Territory Manager assigned to the taxpayer.

However, acceptance is not automatic; the IRS, in its sole discretion, may reject the application when warrants by the facts and circumstances of the application or in the interest of sound tax administration. If an application is rejected, the taxpayer will be notified in writing and provided with the reasons why it was not accepted.

Further information regarding the IRS’s CAP program may be found here. Earlier coverage of the IRS’s 2018 recalibration of the CAP program can be found here.

Practice Point: The CAP program is a valued tool for many large corporate taxpayers. Eligible taxpayers that are interested in the CAP program for 2020 should prepare and submit an application as soon as possible.




More Developments on IRS’s Real-Time Audit Program

We have previously discussed ongoing developments with the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program. In brief summary, CAP is a real-time audit program that seeks to resolve the tax treatment of all or most return issues before the tax return is filed. The CAP program began in 2005 on an invitation-only basis with 17 taxpayers, and was subsequently expanded to include pre-CAP, CAP and CAP Maintenance components. Taxpayers and IRS leadership generally praised the CAP program as one of the most successful corporate tax enforcement programs, with surveys showing that more than 90 percent of CAP taxpayers reported overall satisfaction with the program.

The fate of CAP has been uncertain in recent years given the IRS’s shift in the examination process to identifying and focusing on specific areas of risk and the continued dwindling of IRS resources. In 2016, we discussed whether this change might result in the death of the CAP program and the IRS’s announcement that it was formally assessing the program. In August of this year, the IRS announced that the CAP program will continue, with some modifications.

At a September 26 conference, the IRS indicated that it wanted to expand the CAP program, but that changes were needed to keep the program sustainable over the long term given issues with increased examination times for CAP audits based primarily on issues involving transfer pricing, research credits under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 41, and former Code Section 199. The IRS indicated that it needed to resolve two issues for the CAP program: (1) eligibility and (2) suitability. Regarding eligibility, the IRS indicated that only public companies will likely be allowed into the program. Regarding suitability, factors include: (1) responses to IRS information requests; (2) good-faith efforts to resolve issues; (3) disclosure of tax shelters, material items, investigation or litigation; (4) frequency of claims; and (5) complying with the terms of the program’s memorandum of understanding.

The IRS has also released a Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) Recalibration discussion document, dated September 28, 2018. The discussion document provides more detail on the IRS’s current thinking regarding the CAP program and the two issues identified above. The document indicates that no new applications will be accepted for 2019 but that the IRS expects to accept new application for the 2020 tax year. In addition to general application information, taxpayers with international cross-border activity and research and experimentation activities will be required to submit additional information.

Practice Point: Taxpayers that are currently in the CAP program or that are considering applying to the program should review the IRS’s recent discussion document to identify potential changes to the program and whether the program would be a good fit. For many taxpayers, the CAP program has been—or could be­—a great program for resolving tax disputes in a timely fashion and gaining finality on tax position at an early date. The [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup September 24 – 28, 2018

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 24 – 28, 2018:

September 25, 2018: The IRS announced a study regarding the active trade or business requirements under section 355(b) and stated that it is considering guidance on whether a business can qualify as an active trade or business if entrepreneurial activities, as opposed to investment or other non-business activities, take place with the purpose of earning income in the future, but no income has yet been collected in order to give more ventures access to tax-free spinoff under section 355(b).

September 25, 2018: The IRS issued a statement on the reorganization of the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement program, which will merge its economists and non-economists to facilitate the collaboration between team members and optimize economist involvement.

September 27, 2018: The IRS announced in Notice 2018-80 that it will issue proposed regulations providing that accrued market discount is not includable in income under section 451(b), which was added by 2017 tax reform.

September 27, 2018: The IRS issued a release reminding taxpayers ahead of the October 15 tax-filing extension deadline to be aware of criminal who continue to using devious tactics to steal money and personal information from unsuspecting taxpayers.

September 28, 2018: The IRs issued a discussion document regarding recalibration of the Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program.

September 28, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Alex Cheng-Yi Lee in our DC office for this week’s roundup.




Weekly IRS Roundup August 27 – 31, 2018

Presented below is our summary of significant IRS guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of August 27 – 31, 2018:

August 27, 2018: The IRS announced changes to its Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program. We posted about the changes to CAP here.

August 28, 2018: In Notice 2018-70, the IRS announced that it will issue proposed regulations clarifying the definition of a “qualifying relative” for various purposes, including the new $500 credit for certain dependents.

August 30, 2018: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed its review of a proposal to remove parts of the Internal Revenue Code Section 385 regulations, which address the treatment of debt among members of an expanded affiliated group.

August 31, 2018: The IRS released Revenue Procedure 2018-58, which includes the current list of jurisdictions subject to reporting requirements for certain deposit interest paid to nonresident alien individuals.

August 31, 2018: The IRS published statistics regarding US source income payments to foreign persons reported on Form 1042-S.

August 31, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Kevin Hall in our DC office for this week’s roundup.




IRS Audits and IRS Appeals — A Year in Review

This year has been marked with substantial changes in the manner in which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) operates. Shrinking resources and retiring IRS professionals have marred the IRS and its efficiency. The pervasive theme for 2016 was trying to do the job with fewer resources.  For example, IRS audits continue to devolve with standardized information document requests (IDRs), international practice unit guides and issue-focused examinations (mostly focused on international tax issues). We say “goodbye” to old friends [au revoir Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) Program] and hello to new rules (e.g., partnership entity audit rules and adjustments). And we have born witness to the slow evisceration of the independence of IRS Office of Appeals.

As we turn the corner to a new year, we expect the IRS’s war on taxpayers to manifest itself in “campaign” after “campaign,” reminiscent of the tiered issue system of days gone by. We expect coordination on a national level to reside with IRS “issue specialists” controlling and dictating audits and appeals, which will increasingly challenge the efficiency of pre-litigation resolution techniques. The end result of these contractions may very likely be an increase in tax litigation as frustration with the administrative process boils over. But the wild card, of course, is what changes will be ushered in by the new administration. Will it be business as usual, or will we see a complete overhaul of the system? Only time will tell, as we wait with bated breath for the ball to drop.  (more…)




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