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Huge Win for Refined Coal: DC Appeals Court Permits Tax Credits

On August 5, 2022, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the US Tax Court’s bench opinion in favor of partners and investors in a refined coal business. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has consistently fought taxpayers’ attempts to claim a tax credit for refining coal despite a clear congressional mandate in Internal Revenue Code section 45(c)(7)(A). The IRS has repeatedly taken the position that the partnerships formed to utilize the tax credits generated by the refined coal business are not bona fide because the partnerships could never make an economic profit without the tax credits.

In Cross Refined Coal LLC, the IRS examined the partnership’s 2011 and 2012 tax years and disallowed $25.8 million of refined coal production tax credits and $25.7 million of claimed operating losses. The IRS argued that:

  • The partnership did not exist as a matter of fact.
  • The partnership was not, in substance, a partnership for federal income tax purposes because it was not formed to carry on a business or for the sharing of profits and losses from the production or sale of refined coal by its purported members/partners, but rather was created to facilitate the prohibited transaction of monetizing refined coal tax credits.
  • The transaction was entered into solely to purchase refined coal tax credits and other tax benefits.
  • Claimed expenses were not ordinary and necessary or credible expenses in connection with a trade or business or other activity engaged in for profit.

After a two-week trial involving several witnesses and thousands of exhibits, the Tax Court held that the partnership was legitimate because its partners made substantial contributions to the partnership, participated in its management and shared in its profits and losses. The IRS appealed to the DC Circuit.

In affirming the Tax Court, the DC Circuit held that the partners intended to form a partnership and had legitimate non-tax motives for the business. The Court diffused any concern that the partnership included tax benefits, explaining that “there was nothing untoward about seeking partners who could apply the refined-coal credits immediately, rather than carrying them forward to future tax years.” The Court also recognized that “Congress expressly provided for coal refiners to employ this investment strategy, for the tax code specifies how the credit must be divided when a refining facility has multiple owners.” The Court was not persuaded by the IRS’s concern that the partners did not enter the partnership to obtain a pre-tax profit: “[a]ccording to the Commissioner, Cross’s partners did not have the requisite intent to carry on a business together because Cross was not ‘undertaken for profit or for other legitimate nontax business purposes.’” The Court disagreed, explaining:

As a general matter, a partnership’s pursuit of after-tax profit can be legitimate business activity for partners to carry on together. This is especially true in the context of tax incentives, which exist precisely to encourage activity that would not otherwise be profitable.

The DC Circuit found [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup July 11 – July 15, 2022

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of July 11, 2022 – July 15, 2022. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

July 11, 2022: The IRS announced that the Nationwide Tax Forum will start July 19, 2022. The programing includes a keynote address by IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, updates on tax law, cybersecurity, ethics and more. The virtual event will take place over a five-week period from July 19 to August 18 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week. Those wanting to participate must register at least three business days in advance to guarantee access. Attendance at the webinars qualifies as continuing education (CE) for enrolled agents, certified public accountants, Annual Filing Season Program participants, California Tax Education Council (CTEC) participants and Certified Financial Planners (CFP).

July 12, 2022: The IRS issued renewed warnings for tax professionals to guard themselves against identity theft. This effort begins next week with the Security Summit’s annual summer campaign, “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself,” which is focused on tax professionals taking steps to prevent data theft from their offices. This will mark the seventh year that the IRS, state tax agencies and the national tax community have teamed up to raise awareness on the issue.

July 12, 2022: The IRS announced a special virtual session for those interested in becoming an IRS revenue agent. The agency plans to hire 470 revenue agents for the Small Business Self Employed (SB/SE) division. For further discussion, see our recent post.

July 12, 2022: The IRS issued Tax Tip 2022-105, reminding taxpayers that they can log into their account to check account information, including balance, payments and tax records.

July 13, 2022: The IRS reminded taxpayers to file their tax returns as soon as possible. The agency also encourages people to utilize special tools on IRS.gov to help them file and access assistance.

July 13, 2022: The IRS issued Tax Tip 2022-106, which gives points on how taxpayers should evaluate whether they have a hobby or business.

July 14, 2022: The IRS is requesting comments on Form 8874, Form 1041-QFT and Form 706-GS(T). Form 8874 is for investors seeking a credit for their equity investment; Form 1041-QFT is the return for a qualified funeral trustee to report the trust’s taxes; and Form 706-GS(T) is used to report taxes due from trust terminations subject to generation-skipping transfer tax.

July 14, 2022: The IRS issued Tax Tip 2022-107, which provides information on Individual Retirement Arrangements.

July 14, 2022: The IRS announced a free IRS/Federal Trade Commission webinar focused on scams and identity theft. The webinar will also cover how a taxpayer can add a layer of protection by applying for [...]

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Cryptocurrency Global Tax Enforcement: What Investors and Companies in the Industry Need to Know NOW

On June 28, 2021, McDermott held a webinar presentation titled “Cryptocurrency Global Tax Enforcement: What Investors and Companies in the Industry Need to Know NOW.”

Topics during this webinar included:

  • How to address the tax consequences of past virtual currency transactions, including potential voluntary disclosure considerations.
  • How to protect your business from a US Department of Justice (DOJ) or UK investigation, including compliance updates to address this risk.
  • Law enforcement perspectives and updates from the IRS, DOJ and a former high-level director at HM Revenue & Customs.
  • How to respond to an IRS letter, including potential civil resolutions.
  • How to respond to a DOJ or a UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) inquiry, summons, subpoena, search warrant or a whistleblower complaint.

A link to the webinar is available here. A link to the webinar’s slides is available here.




International News III 2017 | Brexit & the US Administration

McDermott Will & Emery recently published Issue 3, 2017 of International News, which covers a range of legal developments of interest to those operating internationally.

This issue focuses on the upcoming Brexit from the European Union and the changes in the US Administration; both subjects which have dominated headlines over the past year. This issue explores ways in which prepared investors and businesses can continue to function effectively during this period of uncertainty and change.

Read full issue.




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