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Weekly IRS Roundup May 31 – June 3, 2022

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of May 31, 2022 – June 3, 2022. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

May 31, 2022: The IRS issued a press release, reminding taxpayers living and working outside the United States that their 2021 federal income tax return is due on June 15, 2022. The deadline applies to both US citizens and resident aliens abroad, including those with dual citizenship. The press release also contains other information to assist said taxpayers with their filings.

June 1, 2022: The IRS issued the first part of its “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2022, focusing on the following items:

  • Use of Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT) to Eliminate Taxable Gain. In this transaction, appreciated property is transferred to a CRAT. Taxpayers improperly claim the transfer of the appreciated assets to the CRAT, which in and of itself gives those assets a step-up in basis to fair market value as if they had been sold to the trust. The CRAT then sells the property but does not recognize gain because of the claimed step-up in basis. Next, the CRAT uses the proceeds to purchase a single premium immediate annuity (SPIA). The beneficiary reports, as income, only a small portion of the annuity received from the SPIA. Through a misapplication of the law relating to CRATs, the beneficiary treats the remaining payment as an excluded portion representing a return of investment for which no tax is due. Taxpayers seek to achieve this inaccurate result by misapplying the rules under sections 72 and 664.
  • Maltese (or Other Foreign) Pension Arrangements Misusing Treaty. In these transactions, US citizens or US residents attempt to avoid US tax by making contributions to certain foreign individual retirement arrangements in Malta (or possibly other foreign countries). In these transactions, the individual typically lacks a local connection, and local law allows contributions in a form other than cash or does not limit the amount of contributions by reference to income earned from employment or self-employment activities. By improperly asserting that the foreign arrangement is a “pension fund” for US tax treaty purposes, the US taxpayer misconstrues the relevant treaty to improperly claim an exemption from US income tax on earnings in, and distributions from, the foreign arrangement.
  • Puerto Rican and Other Foreign Captive Insurance. In these transactions, US owners of closely held entities participate in a purported insurance arrangement with a Puerto Rican or other foreign corporation with cell arrangements or segregated asset plans in which the US owner has a financial interest. The US-based individual or entity claims deductions for the cost of “insurance coverage” provided by a fronting carrier, which reinsures the “coverage” with the foreign corporation. The characteristics of the purported insurance arrangements typically include one or more of the following: implausible risks covered, non-arm’s length pricing and lack of [...]

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IRS Issues Annual “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax-Related Scams

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publishes a list of tax-related scams, which it calls the “Dirty Dozen.” This year, it provided a “Dirty Dozen” scam series warning taxpayers of such scams.

In IR-2021-135 (June 28, 2021), the IRS rolled out its “Dirty Dozen” list for 2021, warning taxpayers to look out for 12 nefarious schemes and scams. The 2021 list is separated into the following four categories:

  • Pandemic-related scams, such as Economic Impact Payment theft
  • Personal information cons including phishing, ransomware and phone “vishing”
  • Ruses focusing on unsuspecting victims, such as fake charities and senior/immigrant fraud
  • Schemes that persuade taxpayers into unscrupulous actions, such as Offer In Compromise mills and syndicated conservation easements

In IR-2021-137 (June 29, 2021), the IRS advised taxpayers to look out for unexpected schemes in the form of emails, texts, social media messages and phone calls. These phishing scams target taxpayers and tax professionals and can seem legitimate at first glance. For example, emails or phone calls purporting to be from the IRS may request financial information or request that the recipient link to an attachment. Some scams utilize social media and seek to use events like COVID-19 to trick people. Recipients of such unsolicited emails or phone calls can report the actions to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

In IR-2021-141 (June 30, 2021), the IRS shared five scams relating to requests for donations to fake charities, tax scams targeting immigrants and senior citizens, offer in compromise mills, unscrupulous tax return preparers and unemployment insurance fraud.

In IR- 2021-144 (July 1, 2021), the IRS concluded its series by warning taxpayers to watch out for certain transactions and arrangements marketed by promoters.

Prior year information on the “Dirty Dozen” lists can be found here.

Practice Point: Taxpayers and tax professionals need to be vigilant in protecting against tax-related scams and schemes. If you doubt the legitimacy of a contact purporting to be from the IRS, make sure to confirm the identity of the contact with IRS personnel. For example, we recently received an unsolicited email from an irs.gov address and, to ensure the email was legitimate, we reached out to IRS personnel and were able to confirm that the email was legitimate. However, we have had other situations where emails and phone calls purporting to be from the IRS were from third parties with no connection to the government.

Weekly IRS Roundup March 4 – 8, 2019

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of March 4 – 8, 2019.

March 4, 2019: The IRS issued proposed regulations under Section 250 of the Code for determining domestic corporations’ deductions for foreign-derived intangible income (FDII) and global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI).

March 4, 2019: The IRS issued a news release kicking off the annual list of what the agency terms the most prevalent or “Dirty Dozen” tax scams.

March 5, 2019: The IRS released Notice 2019-18 informing taxpayers that the Treasury Department and the IRS no longer intend to amend the required minimum distribution regulations under § 401(a)(9) of the Internal Revenue Code.

March 6, 2019: The IRS scheduled a public hearing for March 25, 2019, on proposed regulations relating to the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax.

March 6, 2019: The IRS released Notice 2019-20 providing a waiver of penalties under Sections 6722 and 6698 to certain partnerships for the 2018 tax year.

March 8, 2019: The IRS issued a news release postponing tax return filing and payment deadlines for victims of tornadoes and severe storms in parts of Alabama.

March 9, 2019: The IRS issued a news release advising business owners and self-employed individuals that Publication 5318 contains information of recent tax law changes that might affect their bottom line.

March 9, 2019: The IRS scheduled a March 20 public hearing on proposed regulations on hybrid entities and transactions under section 267A, and scheduled an April 10 public hearing on proposed regulations regarding withholding requirements.

Special thanks to Terence McAllister in our New York office for this week’s roundup.