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LB&I Announces Five New Campaigns

On September 10, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International (LB&I) Division announced five new audit “campaigns.” These new campaigns follow: (1) the initial 13 campaigns announced on January 31, 2017; (2) followed by 11 campaigns announced on November 3, 2017; (3) five campaigns announced on March 13, 2018; six campaigns announced on May 21, 2018; and five campaigns announced on July 2, 2018.

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

Section 199 – Claims Risk Review

Public Law 115-97 repealed the Domestic Production Activity Deduction (DPAD) for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. This campaign addresses all business entities that may file a claim for additional DPAD under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 199. The campaign objective is to ensure taxpayer compliance with the requirements of IRC Section 199 through a claim risk review assessment and issue-based examinations of claims with the greatest compliance risk.

Syndicated Conservation Easement Transactions

The IRS issued Notice 2017-10, designating specific syndicated conservation easement transactions as listed transactions, requiring disclosure statements by both investors and material advisors.

This campaign is intended to encourage taxpayer compliance and ensure consistent treatment of similarly situated taxpayers by ensuring the easement contributions meet the legal requirements for a deduction, and the fair market values are accurate. The initial treatment stream is issue-based examinations. Other treatment streams will be considered as the campaign progresses.

Foreign Base Company Sales Income: Manufacturing Branch Rules

In general, foreign base company sales income (FBCSI) does not include income of a controlled foreign corporation (CFC) derived in connection with the sale of personal property manufactured by such corporation. However, if a CFC manufactures property through a branch outside its country of incorporation, the manufacturing branch may be treated as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary of the CFC for purposes of computing the CFC’s FBCSI, which may result in a subpart F inclusion to the U.S. shareholder(s) of the CFC.

The goal of this campaign is to identify and select for examination returns of U.S. shareholders of CFCs that may have underreported subpart F income based on certain interpretations of the manufacturing branch rules. The treatment stream for the campaign will be issue-based examinations.

1120F Interest Expense/Home Office Expense

This campaign addresses compliance on two of the largest deductions claimed on Form1120-F, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation. Treasury Regulation Section 1.882-5 provides a formula to determine the interest expense of a foreign corporation that is allocable to their effectively connected income. The amount of interest expense deductions determined under Treasury Regulation Section 1.882-5 can be substantial. Treasury Regulation Section 1.861-8 governs the amount of home office expense deductions allocated to effectively connected income. Home office expense allocations have been observed to be material amounts compared to the total deductions taken by a foreign corporation.

The campaign compliance strategy includes the identification of aggressive positions in these areas, such as the use of apportionment [...]

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IRS Audits and IRS Appeals — A Year in Review

This year has been marked with substantial changes in the manner in which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) operates. Shrinking resources and retiring IRS professionals have marred the IRS and its efficiency. The pervasive theme for 2016 was trying to do the job with fewer resources.  For example, IRS audits continue to devolve with standardized information document requests (IDRs), international practice unit guides and issue-focused examinations (mostly focused on international tax issues). We say “goodbye” to old friends [au revoir Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) Program] and hello to new rules (e.g., partnership entity audit rules and adjustments). And we have born witness to the slow evisceration of the independence of IRS Office of Appeals.

As we turn the corner to a new year, we expect the IRS’s war on taxpayers to manifest itself in “campaign” after “campaign,” reminiscent of the tiered issue system of days gone by. We expect coordination on a national level to reside with IRS “issue specialists” controlling and dictating audits and appeals, which will increasingly challenge the efficiency of pre-litigation resolution techniques. The end result of these contractions may very likely be an increase in tax litigation as frustration with the administrative process boils over. But the wild card, of course, is what changes will be ushered in by the new administration. Will it be business as usual, or will we see a complete overhaul of the system? Only time will tell, as we wait with bated breath for the ball to drop.  (more…)




The Interplay Between Tax Planning and IP Planning

On November 3, 2016, we presented at the Chicago Tax Club’s symposium regarding tax planning and intellectual property (IP) planning within a multinational corporation. The presentation covered various areas, including the importance of coordination between IP and tax groups when engaging in IP planning, the differences in the IP arena and the tax arena with respect to IP matters that can impact tax planning positions, and tax planning with IP holding companies. From a tax controversy perspective, we discussed being prepared for an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit with respect to IP planning, with a focus on contemporaneous documentation to support the taxpayer’s position, having audit ready files (including adhering to document retention policies), reviewing IRS audit materials (e.g., International Practice Units) to understand what the IRS may ask for during the audit, and being cognizant of the various privileges (e.g., attorney-client, tax practitioner and work product) and recent positions taken by the IRS with respect to whether certain advice provided by accountants is privileged.




IRS Issues IPU on Corporate Inversions

On June 7, 2016 , the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an LB&I International Practice Unit (IPU), providing high-level guidance to IRS field examiners on the application of the anti-inversion rules of Internal Revenue Code section 7874 and certain of the regulations and notices issued thereunder (see here). The IPU notes that it is meant to provide only high-level conceptual guidance, and that many aspects of the highly complex notices and regulations recently issued in this area are beyond the scope of the IPU. Some of these issues will be addressed in future IPUs.

This high-level guidance to field examiners signals the IRS’s continued focus on international tax issues.




IRS Publishes Another IPU on Transfer Pricing

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to publish International Practice Units (IPUs) on transfer pricing.  As explained in our prior post, the IRS has provided guidance on the three requirements to come within the transfer pricing rules in IRC section 482.  The IRS continues to expend its limited resources on international tax issues, arming its field agents with extensive directions on how to audit transfer pricing issues.  It is clear that international tax issues are and will continue to be the focus of IRS agents in auditing multinational entities.




Introducing McDermott’s Blog Series on LB&I’s International Practice Units

As part of an overall strategy and reorganization to utilize resources more efficiently, the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’s) Large Business and International (LB&I) Division has developed a series of International Practice Units.  These Practice Units typically consist of a set of slides explaining how agents in the field should approach a particular issue of interest in international tax or transfer pricing. A complete list of these Practice Units can be found here.

The IRS intends the Practice Units to serve as “job aids and training materials” and as “a means for collaborating and sharing knowledge among IRS employees.” The first group was published at the end of 2014, and the IRS has steadily released new Practice Units ever since.  Presently, the IRS has published over 100 practice units on a wide range of international topics.

Practice Units provide general explanations of international tax concepts, as well as information about specific types of transactions.  Practice Units are not official pronouncements of law, and cannot be used, cited or relied upon for support.  Nonetheless, they provide taxpayers with a window into the IRS’s current thinking about these issues.  Moreover, Practice Units may be helpful to anticipate the IRS’s approach relating to specific international issues.  Over the next few months, Tax Controversy 360 will unveil a series of posts highlighting individual Practice Units of special interest—please stay tuned!




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