Internal Revenue Service

On July 2, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International (LB&I) Division announced the identification and selection of five new campaigns. These new campaigns follow the initial 13 campaigns announced on January 31, 2017, followed by 11 campaigns announced on November 3, 2017, 5 campaigns announced on March 13, 2018, and six campaigns announced on May 21, 2018.

The following are the five new LB&I campaigns by title and description:

  • Restoration of Sequestered AMT Credit Carryforward

LB&I is initiating a campaign for taxpayers improperly restoring the sequestered Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) credit to the subsequent tax year. Refunds issued or applied to a subsequent year’s tax, pursuant to IRC Section 168(k)(4), are subject to sequestration and are a permanent loss of refundable credits. Taxpayers may not restore the sequestered amounts to their AMT credit carryforward. Soft letters will be mailed to taxpayers who are identified as making improper restorations of sequestered amounts. Taxpayers will be monitored for subsequent compliance. The goal of this campaign is to educate taxpayers on the proper treatment of sequestered AMT credits and request that taxpayers self-correct.

  • S Corporation Distributions

S Corporations and their shareholders are required to properly report the tax consequences of distributions. We have identified three issues that are part of this campaign. The first issue occurs when an S Corporation fails to report gain upon the distribution of appreciated property to a shareholder. The second issue occurs when an S Corporation fails to determine that a distribution, whether in cash or property, is properly taxable as a dividend. The third issue occurs when a shareholder fails to report non-dividend distributions in excess of their stock basis that are subject to taxation. The treatment streams for this campaign include issue-based examinations, tax form change suggestions, and stakeholder outreach.

  • Virtual Currency

US persons are subject to tax on worldwide income from all sources including transactions involving virtual currency. IRS Notice 2014-21 states that virtual currency is property for federal tax purposes and provides information on the US federal tax implications of convertible virtual currency transactions. The Virtual Currency Compliance campaign will address noncompliance related to the use of virtual currency through multiple treatment streams including outreach and examinations. The compliance activities will follow the general tax principles applicable to all transactions in property, as outlined in Notice 2014-21. The IRS will continue to consider and solicit taxpayer and practitioner feedback in education efforts, future guidance, and development of Practice Units. Taxpayers with unreported virtual currency transactions are urged to correct their returns as soon as practical. The IRS is not contemplating a voluntary disclosure program specifically to address tax non-compliance involving virtual currency.

  • Repatriation via Foreign Triangular Reorganizations

In December 2016, the IRS issued Notice 2016-73 which curtails the claimed “tax-free” repatriation of basis and untaxed CFC earnings following the use of certain foreign triangular reorganization transactions. The goal of the campaign is to identify and challenge these transactions by educating and assisting examination teams in audits of these repatriations.

  • Section 965 Transition Tax

Section 965 requires United States shareholders to pay a transition tax on the untaxed foreign earnings of certain specified foreign corporations as if those earnings had been repatriated to the US. Taxpayers may elect to pay the transition tax in installments over an eight-year period. For some taxpayers, some or all of the tax will be due on their 2017 income tax return. The tax is payable as of the due date of the return (without extensions).

Earlier this year, LB&I engaged in an outreach campaign to leverage the reach of trade groups, advisors and other outside stakeholders to raise awareness of filing and payment obligations under this provision. The external communication was circulated through stakeholder channels in April 2018.

Practice Point: As the IRS continues to move toward issued-based examinations, campaigns may become more and more important in identifying and auditing certain issues. Taxpayers should be aware of the campaigns and IRS guidance on these areas. As we have previously discussed, Practice Units are helpful tools in understanding the IRS audit process on a particular subject. With limited resources, the IRS must streamline their examination approach. The IRS has determined that there is significant audit risk for taxpayers who have an issue listed in one or the campaigns. If you have one of these issues, be proactive and make sure you have an “audit ready” file in place for when the IRS opens an examination.

In the wake of tax reform, taxpayers and practitioners alike are anxious for guidance and clarification on how the new laws impact transactions and reporting positions. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has previously stated that implementing tax reform is its highest priority, but that issuing guidance on the entire bill would likely take a substantial amount of time. Since December 2017, the IRS has published a host of notices, revenue procedures and administrative guidance. In some instances, the guidance was mechanical (e.g., Notice 2018-38), and in others it was more substantive (e.g., Notice 2018-28, Notice 2018-18, Rev. Proc. 2018-26).

On May 31, 2018, the IRS announced an “all hands on deck” effort to implement tax reform through 11 groups working closely with the Treasury Department. The IRS originally stated that it did not plan to release any more proposed regulations before the end of the year. Instead, it would issue tax Forms (with instructions) that would need to be filed by taxpayers before the end of the year. On June 7, 2018, the IRS explained that it does plan to issue proposed regulations “covering all major portions” of the bill starting in September and ending in December 2018 (the IRS specifically plans to finalize the temporary aggregation regulations by September to stop them from sunsetting). The IRS reported it is in “very good shape” to meet these deadlines. Additionally, at a recent American Bar Association Section of Taxation meeting, IRS international counsel acknowledged year-end financial reporting for global companies and stated that international tax regulations are intended to be released in the fall instead of the end of the year. Regulations under Internal Code Section 965 are planned for issuance this summer, and other areas of guidance include global intangible low-tax income, also known as the GILTI tax.

Continue Reading IRS Is “All Hands on Deck” to Provide Guidance Related to Tax Reform

We previously discussed the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) surprising position that for taxpayers making an election under Internal Revenue Code (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 has affected many taxpayers, and practitioners have expressed their concerns to the IRS.

On June 4, 2018, the IRS responded to these concerns. Rather than changing its position, the IRS has doubled down; however, the IRS has taken the small but welcome step of allowing some penalty relief for taxpayers affected by the earlier guidance as set forth in new Questions and Answers 15, 16 and 17.

Based on discussions with the IRS, it appears that the IRS’s position is based on the view that it has broad authority under Code Section 6402 to apply overpayments against other taxes owed, and that Code Section 6403 requires an overpayment of an installment payment to be applied against unpaid installments. Thus, the IRS maintains that the Code Section 965 tax liability is simply a part of the tax year 2017 liability, and it is, except for Code Section 965(h) and a timely election thereunder, payable and due by the due date of the 2017 tax return. Any future installments for the Code Section 965 liability are, in the IRS’s view, not part of a tax for a future tax year that has yet to have been determined, as the tax has already been self-assessed by the taxpayer for 2017. Accordingly, the IRS views any overpayments as being applied within the same tax period to the outstanding Code Section 965 tax owed by the taxpayer even though taxpayers making a timely Code Section 965(h) election are not legally required to make additional payments until subsequent years. Continue Reading Tax Reform Insight: IRS Doubles Down on Retention of 2017 Overpayments to Satisfy Future Section 965 Installment Payments

In order to continue to keep our readers informed on tax matters, we will be rolling out weekly posts on significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax cases. This post marks our first round-up of IRS guidance for the week June 4 – 8, 2018.

June 4, 2018: The IRS issued 3 new FAQs (supplementing the original 14 tax reform FAQs) which announce that it will waive certain late-payment penalties relating to the section 965 transition tax.

June 4, 2018: The IRS issued Internal Revenue Bulletin No. 2018-23 including: Rev. Proc. 2018-32 (combining guidance for grantors and contributors to tax-exempt organizations); Rev. Proc. 2018-34 (providing indexing adjustments for certain provisions under section 36B); Rev. Rul. 2018-14 (obsoleting Rev. Rul. 68-59, 1968-1 C.B. 273); Rev. Rul 2018-15 (obsoleting Rev. Rul. 74-487, 1974-2 C.B. 82; Rev. Rul. 75-211, 1975-1 C.B. 86; Rev. Rul. 77-115, 1977-1 C.B. 154; Rev. Rul. 77-407, 1977-2 C.B. 77; and, Rev. Rul. 80-11, 1980-1 C.B. 58); and Rev. Rul. 2018-16 (providing the prescribed federal interest rates for June 2018).

June 7, 2018: The IRS issued an early release draft of Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate seeking comments from industry.

June 7, 2018: With hurricane season underway, the IRS warns taxpayers that scammers often try to take advantage of the generosity of taxpayers who want to help victims of major disasters.

June 8, 2018: The IRS issued final regulations under sections 337 and 732 that: (1) prevent a corporate partner from avoiding corporate-level gain through transactions with a partnership involving equity interests of the partner or certain related entities, (2) allow consolidated group members that are partners in the same partnership to aggregate their bases in stock for certain purposes and (3) that may require certain corporations that engage in gain elimination transactions to reduce the basis of corporate assets or to recognize gain.

June 8, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Christy Vouri-Misso in our DC office for this week’s round-up.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been busy in recent months working on implementing the recent tax reform legislation. The latest announcement by the IRS focuses on the $10,000 cap on the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted for federal income tax purposes. In a press release and release of guidance in the form of Notice 2018-54, the IRS announced that proposed regulations will be issued addressing this issue to help taxpayers understand the relationship between federal charitable contribution deductions in exchange for a tax credit against state and local taxes owed. The press release, Notice and forthcoming proposed regulations are in response to workarounds by various high property tax states allowing local governments to set up charitable organizations that can accept property tax statements. Based on these materials, it is anticipated that the IRS will disagree with the workarounds:

The Treasury Department and the IRS intend to propose regulations addressing the federal income tax treatment of transfers to funds controlled by state and local governments (or other state-specified transferees) that the transferor can treat in whole or in part as satisfying state and local tax obligations. The proposed regulations will make clear that the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code, informed by substance-over-form principles, govern the federal income tax treatment of such transfers. The proposed regulations will assist taxpayers in understanding the relationship between the federal charitable contribution deduction and the new statutory limitation on the deduction for state and local tax payments.

The IRS’s website provides information on the latest IRS news releases, fact sheets and statements. Additionally, we have a dedicated webpage with insights on significant developments related to tax reform.

On May 21, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International Division (LB&I) announced the identification and selection of six new campaigns. These new campaigns follow the initial 13 campaigns announced on January 31, 2017, followed by 11 campaigns announced on November 3, 2017, and 5 campaigns announced on March 13, 2018. Continue Reading LB&I Announces Six New Campaigns

On April 17, 2018, the Taxpayer Advocate, Nina E. Olson, testified before a Congressional Oversight Committee regarding on-going challenges to the administration of an efficient and effective tax system. Ms. Olson runs the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent office within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Taxpayer Advocate is appointed by and reports directly to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The office was created under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which became law on July 30, 1996. The office replaced the IRS Office of the Ombudsman. Continue Reading National Taxpayer Advocate Reminds Congress of IRS Deficiencies

The expiration of the time for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to assess tax can bring closure on prior tax and financial reporting positions for taxpayers. We have previously reported and written for the International Tax Journal about tax statutes of limitation both generally and in the international tax context. As a follow-up to those materials, we wanted to alert you that the IRS recently released a Practice Unit providing an overview of statutes of limitation on the assessment of tax. These materials are all good resources and starting points for taxpayers and practitioners with questions on statutes of limitation.

Tax controversy practitioners are undoubtedly aware of the gradual movement over the years to conform certain Tax Court procedure rules (Tax Court Rules) to those of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In many ways, this makes sense to ensure uniformity of tax cases regardless of whether a taxpayer litigates his tax dispute in a refund forum in the US District Court or the US Court of Federal Claims, or prior to payment of tax in the Tax Court. Below we note a few important areas of divergence between the different rules, and point out situations where the Tax Court Rules do not address a particular matter. These matters were discussed at the recent Tax Court Judicial Conference held in Chicago last week.

Amicus Briefs

As we have discussed before, amicus briefs are not uncommon in other courts. However, the Tax Court does not have specific rules on the topic and, instead, permits each judge to decide a case-by-case basis whether to permit the filing of an amicus brief. Although the Tax Court has discussed standards for filing amicus briefs in unpublished orders, given the nationwide importance of many issues that arise in Tax Court litigation, it may be time for the court to issue specific rules addressing the issue. Continue Reading Are Changes Looming over the Tax Court’s Procedure Rules?