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Weekly IRS Roundup July 13 – July 17, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of July 13, 2020 – July 17, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

July 14, 2020: The IRS issued a news release on a proposed redesigned partnership form for tax year 2021 (filing season 2022). The proposed form is designed to provide greater clarity for partners on how to compute their US income tax liability with respect to items of international tax relevance, including claiming deductions and credits. Comments are due by September 14, 2020.

July 16, 2020: The IRS issued a notice requesting comments concerning consent to extend the time to assess tax with respect to gain recognition agreements covered by section 367 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). Form 8838 is used to extend the statute of limitations for US persons who transfer stock or securities to a foreign corporation. The form is filed when the transferor makes a gain recognition agreement. This agreement allows the transferor to defer the payment of tax on the transfer. The IRS uses Form 8838 so that it may assess tax against the transferor after the expiration of the original statute of limitations. Comments are due on or before September 14, 2020.

July 16, 2020: The IRS released various prescribed rates for federal income tax purposes for August 2020, including the applicable federal rates under section 1274(d); the adjusted applicable federal rates under section 1288(b); the adjusted federal long-term rate and the long-term tax-exempt rate under section 382(f); the appropriate percentages for determining the low-income housing credit under section 42(b)(1); and the federal rate for determining the present value of an annuity, an interest for life or for a term of years, or a remainder or a reversionary interest under section 7520.

July 17, 2020: The IRS provided a notice of public hearing on proposed regulations clarifying that certain deductions allowed to an estate or non-grantor trust are not miscellaneous itemized deductions and thus are not affected by the suspension of the deductibility of miscellaneous itemized deductions for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. The proposed regulations also provide guidance on determining the character, amount and allocation of deductions in excess of gross income succeeded to by a beneficiary on the termination of an estate or non-grantor trust. The public hearing is being held on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, at 10:00 am. The IRS must receive speakers’ outlines of the topics to be discussed at the public hearing by Wednesday, July 29, 2020.

July 17, 2020: The IRS released a Competent Authority Arrangement between the authorities of Switzerland and the United States regarding the interpretation of the term “North American Free Trade Agreement” (NAFTA). NAFTA is being superseded by the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement [...]

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Tax Blog: New Questions and Answers for Section 965

The IRS has released new informal guidance (“Questions and Answers”) regarding section 965, containing information on making successive installment payments, filing transfer agreements as a result of certain acceleration or triggering events, and other matters related to S corporation shareholders making the section 965(i) election.

Consistent with prior advice issued by the IRS (see coverage here and here), the Questions and Answers provide that the IRS cannot make a refund or apply as a credit any amount of an installment payment until the entire income tax liability is satisfied (i.e., any overpayments of an installment obligation will be used to satisfy future section 965 installment payments).

The Questions and Answers also provides details on payment obligations with respect to successive installment payments under section 965(h). In particular, the IRS will “make every effort to issue an installment notice and payment voucher” for each successive installment payment, but taxpayers who do not receive a notice may contact the IRS to obtain the amount to be paid.

The Questions and Answers reiterates that transfer agreements will be considered timely filed “only if filed within 30 days of the date that the acceleration event occurs” (i.e., relief is not available under §§ 301.9100-2 or -3 to file a late election).

In addition, S corporation shareholders that previously filed a section 965(i) election may enter into a consent agreement with the IRS within 30 days of the occurrence of the triggering event in order to pay the section 965 net tax liability in eight annual installments. The Questions and Answers clarify that a consent agreement does not take the place of a section 965(h) election, and that S corporation shareholder must also make a section 965(h) election to pay the section 965 net tax liability in eight annual installments. Finally, the Questions and Answers clarifies that the S corporation and the transferor of the S corporation shares remain jointly and severally liable for the section 965 tax liability after making a section 965(h) election to pay in eight annual installments.




IRS Holding 2017 Overpayments to Satisfy Future Section 965 Liabilities

In a surprising development, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that if a taxpayer’s 2017 payments, including estimated tax payments, exceed its 2017 net income tax liability described under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 965(h)(6)(A)(ii) (its net income tax determined without regard to Code Section 965) and the first annual installment (due in 2018) pursuant to an election under Code Section 965(h), the taxpayer may not receive a refund or credit of any portion of properly applied 2017 tax payments unless—and until—the amount of payments exceeds the entire unpaid 2017 income tax liability, including all amounts to be paid in installments under Code Section 965(h) in subsequent years. Thus, for taxpayers making an election under Code Section 965(h) to pay the transition tax over 8 years through installment payments, any overpayments of 2017 tax liabilities cannot be used as credits for 2018 estimated tax payments or refunded, unless and until the overpayment amount exceeds the full 8 years of installment payments.

The IRS’s position, announced on April 13, 2018 (the last business day before the normal due date for the filing of 2018 individual income tax returns), effectively allows the IRS to deprive taxpayers of the use of funds and credits for overpayments for a potentially multi-year period. This position is at odds with the normal practice of allowing refunds or credits of overpayments and arguably violates Code Section 7803(a), which provides for certain taxpayer rights. This position also would seem to be in conflict with Code Section 965(h) itself, allowing the Code Section 965 transition tax liability to be paid in eight backloaded installments rather than immediately. The AICPA sent a letter to the IRS on April 19, 2018, urging the IRS to change its position to avoid the “detrimental impact on all affected taxpayers, including individuals, small businesses and large corporations.” We are hopeful that the IRS will reconsider this misguided policy, but in the meantime, taxpayers need to be aware of it. Please contact one of McDermott’s lawyers if you think you might be affected by the IRS’s position on this subject.




Ready or Not, Here They Come! The New Partnership Audit Rules

On November 2, 2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, (the Act), H.R. 1314, 114 Congress/Public Law No. 114-74, made significant changes to the rules governing US federal income tax audits of partnerships (New Audit Rules). The New Audit Rules are codified at Internal Revenue Code Sections 6221 through 6241. On August 4, 2016, the IRS released temporary and proposed regulations relating to certain aspects of the New Audit Rules. And, on December 6, 2016, technical corrections to the New Audit Rules (Technical Corrections) were introduced in both the House of Representatives, H.R. 6439, and in the Senate, S. 3506.

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