Guidant LLC f.k.a. Guidant Corporation and Subsidiaries et al. v. Commissioner
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Tax Court Issues Five Discovery Orders Addressing Admissibility of Expert Reports

On July 13, 14, and 15, 2016, Judge Laro of the US Tax Court (Tax Court) ruled on five taxpayer-filed motions in limine to exclude expert reports in Guidant LLC f.k.a. Guidant Corporation, and Subsidiaries, et al. v. Commissioner. At issue in the case are a number of IRS transfer pricing adjustments to the taxpayer-corporation’s income under Section 482.

In support of its adjustments, the IRS offered numerous expert reports to the Tax Court, and the taxpayer sought to exclude these reports. The taxpayer raised the following major arguments:

Argument: The IRS expert reports failed to contain opinions.

The taxpayer argued that three of the reports should be excluded because they did not comply with Tax Court Rule 143(g)(1), which requires that expert witnesses generally prepare written reports, and requires that expert reports include “a complete statement of all opinions the witness expresses and the basis and reasons for them.” In federal district court practice (under somewhat different rules), this requirement generally means that an expert must separately state, and clearly delineate, his or her expert opinions in a written report—usually in a “conclusions” or “opinions” section. In Tax Court, the requirement for a clear and concise written expert report is even more significant than in federal district court practice because, under Rule 143(g)(1), expert reports are treated as direct testimony of the expert (although, in many cases, additional expert testimony and cross-examination may be helpful or necessary).

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Two Current Tax Controversies Utilize ‘Quick Peek’ Agreements to Resolve Privilege Disputes

Due to the enormous amount of electronic data stored by companies in the modern era, discovery requests can involve millions of documents which need to be reviewed prior to being turned over to the opposing party.  In conducting their analysis of this overwhelming quantity of information, litigants must, amongst other things, detect and exclude any privileged material.  Should a party inadvertently fail to do so before such records reach the hands of the opposing counsel, he/she will be deemed to waive privilege in many jurisdictions.  Given the massive quantity of data, however, such mistakes are practically unavoidable.

Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 502 was enacted in 2008 in an attempt to combat the issue of inevitable human error and the costs associated with parties’ efforts to avoid it.  FRE 502(d) allows parties to request the court to grant an order stipulating that a disclosure of privileged material does not waive any claims of privilege with respect to those documents.  If the court agrees to enter the order, it is controlling on third parties and in any other federal or state proceeding.

FRE 502(d) has led to the possibility of “quick peek” agreements where the parties give over all or a portion of their documents to opposing counsel without any privilege review whatsoever so that the recipient can identify which material he would like to retain.  The recipient, in turn, agrees not to assert a waiver claim on any document that the producing party intends to withhold from the requested documents as privileged.  These arrangements can dramatically ease the temporal and financial burdens of conducting a privilege review because they allow the producing party to focus only on those documents desired by the recipient while at the same time preserving their right to claim privilege on such documents. (more…)




Tax Court Rules Whether IRS’s Transfer Pricing Adjustments Are Arbitrary, Capricious Depends on Facts and Circumstances

In Guidant LLC f.k.a. Guidant Corporation, and Subsidiaries, et al. v. Commissioner, 146 T.C. No. 5 (Feb. 29, 2016), the taxpayer filed a motion seeking partial summary judgment on the ground that the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’s) transfer pricing adjustments were “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable” as a matter of law. Judge David Laro denied the motion, ruling that “whether the Commissioner abused his discretion … depends on the facts and circumstances of a given case.” The taxpayer’s motion thus presented “a question of fact that should be resolved on the basis of the trial record.”

The case involves transfer pricing adjustments under Section 482 that increased the income of Guidant Corporation and its U.S. subsidiaries by nearly $3.5 billion. Section 482 grants the IRS broad discretion to “distribute, apportion, or allocate gross income, deductions, credits, or allowances” between or among controlled enterprises if it determines that such a re-allocation is “necessary in order to prevent evasion of taxes or clearly to reflect the income” of any of the enterprises. A taxpayer that challenges a Section 482 adjustment has a “dual burden.” First, it must show that the IRS’s adjustments are “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.” The taxpayer must then show that its intercompany transactions reflect arm’s-length dealing. (more…)




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