Each New Year, many of us look back on the previous year’s activities, and determine what we want to accomplish in the coming year – lose weight, start exercising, read more tax articles, etc. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business & International (LB&I) Division memorialized its New Year’s resolutions for 2019 in Publication 5319. So, for taxpayers with more than $10 million in assets, you may want listen up and see what the IRS has in store for 2019!

LB&I’s goals come during a time of significant reduction in workforce and increase in responsibilities. LB&I experienced a significant reduction in workforce between October 2017 and October 2018, reducing its workforce by a net of 344 employees (down from 4,868 to 4,524) spread across several positions. This included 18 individuals in leadership, 218 revenue agents and 25 tax examiners. With the exception of tax law specialists, which remained at 24, every other position saw a reduction in personnel. This reduction in personnel comes at critical point for LB&I, as it undoubtedly spent much of its time and resources last year working on guidance necessary to implement the substantial changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in late 2017. It will continue to be responsible for training and compliance related to those changes.
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On March 2, 2018, President Trump nominated Michael Desmond to be the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unfortunately, the Senate did not get around to confirming him. On January 16, 2019, President Trump renominated Mr. Desmond, and the US Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled a hearing for February 5th to consider

On January 29 and 30, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service’s Large Business and International (LB&I) division released new Practice Units on Permanent Establishments, which can be found here and here. Permanent Establishments create taxing nexus for foreign businesses doing business in the United States and for those who have “effectively connected income.” The Practice

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.
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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.
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