Compliance Assurance Process 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

On August 27, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that the Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program will continue, with some modifications.  As we previously discussed, the IRS began an assessment of the CAP program in August 2016 to determine if any recalibration was needed.

CAP is an IRS program that seeks to identify and resolve tax issues through open, cooperative, and transparent interaction between the IRS and Large Business and International (LB&I) taxpayers prior to the filing of a return.  The goal of CAP is greater certainty of the treatment of tax positions sooner and with less administrative burden than conventional post-file audits.  The program began in 2005, and became permanent in 2011.  Several notable taxpayers publically disclose their involvement in the CAP program.
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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. 
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