Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of January 7 – 11, 2019. Tax news is very limited because of the government shutdown:

January 7, 2019: The IRS issued a news release confirming that, despite the partial federal government shutdown, it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019, and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.

January 7, 2019: The IRS released the final 2018 version of Form 8996, dealing with certification as a qualified opportunity fund under section 1400Z-2 of the Code, enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

January 7, 2019: The IRS issued an announcement cancelling a public hearing—originally scheduled for January 10, 2019—on proposed regulations concerning qualified opportunity funds under section 1400Z-2 of the Code, in light of the partial federal government shutdown.

January 7, 2019: The IRS released final instructions for Form 8992, dealing with the calculation of global intangible low-taxed income under section 951A of the Code, enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

January 8, 2019: The IRS released the final 2018 version of Form 8992, dealing with the calculation of global intangible low-taxed income under section 951A of the Code, enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

January 11, 2019: The IRS issued a news release announcing the start of the IRS Free File program for this filing season and detailing new consumer protections that have been added to the program.

Special thanks to Le Chen in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

As we previously discussed, the United States Tax Court (Tax Court) closed its doors on December 28, 2018, until further notice. However, trial sessions scheduled for the weeks of January 7, and 14, 2019, were to proceed as scheduled. The Tax Court has updated its website to confirm that the trial sessions scheduled for the week of January 14, 2019, will proceed as scheduled, but that trial sessions scheduled for the week of January 28, 2019, in El Paso, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Lubbock are canceled. A decision regarding the trial sessions for the week of February 4, 2019, will be made on or before January 18, 2019.

As a result of the shutdown, the Tax Court did not issue any Orders or Opinions from December 31, 2018, to January 9, 2019. It started issuing Orders again on January 10, 2019, but no Opinions have been issued since December 27, 2018.

Practice Point: In addition to its impact on governmental agencies, the government shutdown continues to disrupt judicial operations. Some federal courts have continued to issue opinions during this time but activity in many cases has been postponed or canceled.

Clients ask us all of the time, “What is the Joint Committee on Taxation’s (JCT) process for reviewing refund claims granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)?” Recently, the JCT has released an overview of its process. Wait, what? After the IRS has agreed to issue you a refund, there is a congressional committee that has to check the IRS’s work? Yep!

Internal Revenue Code (IRC) §6405 prohibits the IRS/US Department of the Treasury from issuing certain refund payments to taxpayers until 30 days after a “report” is given to the JCT. Only refunds “in excess” of $5 million for corporate taxpayers and $2 million for all other taxpayers (partnerships, individuals, trusts, etc.) are required to be reported to the JCT. A refund claim is an amount listed on an amended return (e.g., Forms 1140X and 1120X), tentative carrybacks (e.g., Forms 1139 and 1045), and refunds attributable to certain disaster losses. Numerous types of refund payments are excepted from JCT review, including refunds claimed on originally filed returns, resulting from litigation and employment taxes. It is important to note that this process is not limited to the IRS Examination stage; it can also occur at the IRS Appeals stage or even in tax court litigation. Continue Reading Joint Committee Releases Overview of Its Refund Review Process

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of December 24, 2018 – January 4, 2019. Tax news is very limited because of the government shut down:

December 31, 2018: The IRS released Notice 2019-09, providing interim guidance on section 4960 of the Code, enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, regarding excise taxes on excess remuneration and excess parachute payments paid by certain tax-exempt organizations to covered employees.

December 31, 2018: The IRS released the final 2018 version of Form 8990, dealing with limitations on business interest expense deductions under section 163(j) of the Code.

December 31, 2018: The IRS released final instructions for the 2018 version of Form 1116, dealing with the foreign tax credit, reflecting changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

January 4, 2018: The IRS released final instructions for the 2018 version of Form 8990, dealing with limitations on business interest expense deductions under section 163(j) of the Code, reflecting changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Special thanks to Le Chen in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

On January 2, 2019, the outgoing Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady (R-TX), released the Tax Technical and Clerical Corrections Act (the Bill), addressing several technical issues associated with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97) (TCJA). The Bill includes certain provisions that, if enacted, would affirm Congress’ intent that taxpayers with an overpayment with respect to an installment payment of the transition tax under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 965 should be able to claim a credit or refund with respect to such amount. The provisions in the Bill with respect to Code Section 965 overpayments are largely consistent with similar draft legislation introduced on November 26, 2018 (the Retirement, Savings and Other Tax Relief Act of 2018 and the Taxpayer First Act of 2018, or H.R. 88; see prior discussion here). In particular, the Bill provides that where a taxpayer that made an election under Code Section 965(h)(1) to pay the net tax liability under Section 965 in installments has filed a request for a credit or refund with respect to an overpayment, the Internal Revenue Service cannot take any installment into account as a liability for purposes of determining whether an overpayment exists. If enacted, the Bill would permit taxpayers to claim a refund or credit with respect to an installment payment of the taxpayer’s transition tax under Code Section 965. Continue Reading Section 965 Transition Tax Overpayment Addressed in Technical Corrections

The United States Tax Court (Tax Court) has announced that it will be shutting down starting today, December 28, 2018 at 11:59 p.m., and will remain closed until further notice. However, trial sessions scheduled for the weeks of January 7 and 14, 2019, will proceed as scheduled. Electronic filing and electronic access to the Tax Court’s docket system will remain available and taxpayers may comply with statutory deadlines for documents required to be paper filed by timely mailing such documents using approved delivery services. Further updates will be provided on the Tax Court’s website.

Practice Point: The government shutdown continues to impact government agencies and the judicial system. For a detailed discussion of the impact of the shutdown on the Internal Revenue Service, see here.

Taxes and tax litigation can be complex and confusing. Taxpayers have the option of filing a petition in the United States Tax Court (Tax Court) prior to payment of any asserted deficiency. Alternatively, taxpayers can pay the deficiency, file a claim for refund with the Internal Revenue Service and, if that claim is denied or more than six months have elapsed, file a complaint in local District Court or the Court of Federal Claims requesting a refund. These forum rules sometimes trip up taxpayers and can lead to the filing of a suit in the wrong court.

In the Protecting Access to the Courts for Taxpayers Act (H.R. 3996), Congress has provided relief for taxpayers in this type of situation through an amendment to 28 USC section 1631:

Whenever a civil action is filed in a court as defined in section 610 of this title or an appeal, including a petition for review of administrative action, is noticed for or filed with such a court and that court finds that there is a want of jurisdiction, the court shall, if it is in the interest of justice, transfer such action or appeal to any other such court (or, for cases within the jurisdiction of the United States Tax Court) in which the action or appeal could have been brought at the time it was filed or noticed, and the action or appeal shall proceed as if it had been filed in or noticed for the court to which it is transferred on the date upon which it was actually filed in or noticed for the court from which it is transferred.

Practice Point: Allowing improperly filed cases to be transferred to the Tax Court is a welcome development for taxpayers. The amendment to 28 USC section 1631 protects taxpayers in situations where a complaint is filed within 90 days of receipt of a Notice of Deficiency in a refund jurisdiction when it should have been filed in the Tax Court.

On December 13, 2018, US Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released proposed regulations for the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (the BEAT), which was added to the Code as part of the 2017 Tax Act. The proposed regulations provide helpful guidance on a range of important topics and generally go a long way toward a reasonable implementation of a very challenging statute. There is one aspect of the proposed regulations, however, that may be an unwelcome surprise for many taxpayers; the proposed regulations treat stock consideration in non-cash transactions as BEAT “payments,” thereby creating the potential for BEAT liability in situations involving certain liquidations, tax-free reorganizations and other non-cash transactions.

Located in section 59A, the BEAT imposes a minimum tax on US corporations (and certain foreign corporations, which are not the focus of this Insight) that consistently have annual gross receipts of $500 million or more and claim more than a de minimis amount of “base erosion tax benefits” for a taxable year. In general, as base erosion tax benefits increase, a corporate taxpayer’s BEAT liability increases.

The proposed regulations, which are generally proposed to be effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, include guidance for determining the base erosion payments that will give rise to annual base erosion tax benefits. Prop. Reg. § 1.59A-3(b) applies the same four categories of base erosion payments found in section 59A(d) for amounts paid or accrued to a related foreign party. The two categories that should affect the most taxpayers are the general category for currently deductible items and the special category for the acquisition of depreciable or amortizable property. With respect to this latter category, the acquisition price of the property will constitute the base erosion payment, but only the amount of any depreciation or amortization deductions claimed in a tax year will produce a base erosion tax benefit for purposes of computing the BEAT.

Continue Reading Proposed BEAT Regulations | Tax-Free Transactions May Give Rise to a Liability

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of December 3 – 7, 2018:

December 4, 2018: The IRS issued a news release granting taxpayers an extra day, until Thursday, December 6, 2018, to file any return or pay any tax originally due on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, in light of the Executive Order closing all federal agencies on December 5, 2018, as a mark of respect for President George H.W. Bush.

December 4, 2018: The IRS issued Notice 2018-95, providing transition relief from the “once-in-always-in” condition for excluding part-time employees under Treas. Reg. § 1.403(b)-5(b)(4)(iii)(B).

December 6, 2018: The IRS in Revenue Ruling 2018-32 released the interest rates for underpayments and overpayments applicable for the calendar quarter beginning January 1, 2019.

December 7, 2018: The IRS issued Notice 2018-97, providing initial guidance on the application of section 83(i) of the Code, enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which allows qualified employees of privately held corporations to defer paying income tax—for up to five years—on the value of qualified stock options and restricted stock units granted to them by their employers.

December 7, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Le Chen in our DC office for this week’s roundup.