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The Results are in: IRS Appeals Retains Discretion to Continue to Allow Exam Teams and Chief Counsel to Attend Conferences

The IRS Independent Office of Appeals (IRS Appeals, Appeals) has seen many changes over the past several years. One of the more controversial and publicized change related to the 2017 pilot program to test whether inviting Large Business & International (LB&I) exam teams and Chief Counsel attorneys to engage with taxpayers and their representatives at the IRS Appeals conference would improve Appeals’ ability to work large, complex cases. The pilot program technically applied only to IRS Appeals’ largest and most complex cases, however, the IRS also revised the Internal Revenue Manual to provide IRS Appeals with discretion to invite exam teams and Chief Counsel attorneys to any conference. The pilot program ended on May 1, 2020, and the IRS has been gathering feedback and data from multiple sources (both within and outside the IRS) to determine the effectiveness of the program.

The results are in, as reflected in the recently released Appeals Team Case Leader Conferencing Initiative: Summary of Findings and Next Steps (IRS Appeals Summary). Generally, IRS Appeals Officers found that the exam team’s participation improved their understanding of the dispute and helped them identify, narrow and resolve factual and legal differences between the parties before engaging in settlement negotiations with taxpayers. On the other hand, some taxpayers expressed concerns over the presence of exam teams and Chief Counsel attorneys because they found it hindered the ability to resolve cases without litigation and required more concrete ground rules before the start of the conference.

The IRS Appeals Summary concluded that the process was generally helpful and that IRS Appeals would be given discretion to invite exam teams and Chief Counsel attorneys to attend the IRS Appeals conference in the future. In exercising such discretion, the Appeals Officer must consider several factors and solicit and consider both the taxpayers’ and the exam team’s views as to whether joint participation would be helpful.

Practice Point: Our experiences with the exam team and Chief Counsel attorneys attending the IRS Appeals conference has been mixed. Similar to concerns raised by other taxpayers, we have seen certain IRS personnel repeatedly interrupt the taxpayer during the presentation of their case and offer the exam team’s views of an acceptable settlement. However, we have also seen situations where the IRS Appeals Officer has been able to hold IRS personnel accountable by questioning factual and legal positions. In any event, exam team participation is here to stay and LB&I taxpayers and their representatives need to be aware of the new ground rules in this area.

Prior coverage of changes within the IRS Appeals can be accessed below.




Weekly IRS Roundup December 28, 2020 – January 8, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the weeks of December 28, 2020 – January 8, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

December 29, 2020: The IRS released Revenue Procedure 21-09 providing a procedure for a trade or business that manages or operates a qualified residential living facility to elect to be treated as a real property trade or business for purposes of section 163(j).

December 31, 2020: The IRS issued Notice 21-05 clarifying and modifying the beginning of construction requirement for qualified facility and energy property projects under sections 45 and 48.

December 31, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

December 31, 2020: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin 2021-1, dated January 4, 2021, containing the following highlights: Rev. Proc. 2021-1 (Administrative); Rev. Proc. 2021-2 (Administrative); Rev. Proc. 2021-3 (Administrative); Rev. Proc. 2021-4 (Employee Plans); Rev. Proc. 2021-5 (Exempt Organizations); and Rev. Proc. 2021-7 (Income Tax).

January 4, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 21-07 providing temporary relief for employers and employees using the automobile lease valuation rule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

January 5, 2021: The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 21-08 modifying Revenue Procedure 2021-5 to provide that the exclusive means of submitting Form 1024-A, after the 90-day transition relief period, is through the electronic submission process.

January 5, 2021: The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 21-10 providing procedures for issuers of tax-advantaged bonds who received adverse determinations by the Office of Tax Exempt Bonds to request an administrative appeal from the Independent Office of Appeals.

January 5, 2021: The IRS released TD 9943 containing the final regulations under section 163(j) related to the limitation on the deduction for business interest expense.

January 6, 2021: The IRS issued Revenue Ruling 21-02 declaring Notice 2020-32 and Rev. Rul. 2020-27, both of which provided that certain taxpayers could not deduct expenses related to loans forgiven under the Paycheck Protection Program, as obsolete.

January 6, 2021: The IRS released TD 9944 containing the final regulations under section 45Q related to the credit for carbon oxide sequestration.

January 7, 2021: The IRS released TD 9945 containing the final regulations under section 1061 related to the characterization of gains for taxpayers directly or indirectly holding applicable partnership interests in connection with the performance of substantial services.

January 8, 2021: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

January 8, 2021: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin 2021-2, dated January 11, 2021, containing the following highlights: TD 9940 (Administrative); Notice 2021-03 (Employee Plans); Notice 2021-04 (Excise [...]

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