litigation
Subscribe to litigation's Posts

IRS Chief Counsel Signals Increased Tax Enforcement

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Chief Counsel is the chief legal advisor to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue on all matters pertaining to the interpretation, administration and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Laws. In this regard, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel is responsible for litigating cases in the US Tax Court. Such cases can arise from examinations conducted by different divisions within the IRS, such as the Large Business & International (LB&I), Small Business/Self Employed (SB/SE), Tax Exempt & Government Entities (TE/GE) and Wage & Investment (W&I) Divisions.

On January 21, 2022, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel announced plans to hire up to 200 additional attorneys to assist with litigation efforts. The announcement specifically notes that new hires are necessary “to help the agency combat syndicated conservation easements, abusive micro-captive insurance arrangements and other tax schemes.” They will also help the IRS manage its increasing caseload as part of its multiyear effort to combat what it believes are abusive schemes and to ensure that the appropriate taxes and penalties are paid. The new hires will be located around the country and focus on audits of complex corporate and partnership issues.

Additionally, there are a significant number of cases before the Tax Court that involve conservation easements and micro-captive insurance arrangements. The IRS’s attack on the donation of conservation easements is well known in the tax world. To date, the IRS has largely been successful in these cases based on non-valuation arguments that easement deeds do not comply with the applicable regulations. However, in the recent Hewitt v. Commissioner case, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit dealt a significant blow when it held that the IRS’s interpretation of Treas. Reg. § 1.170A-14(g)(6)(ii) was arbitrary and capricious and violated the Administrative Procedure Act because the US Department of the Treasury failed to respond to significant comments submitted during the notice-and-comment process. Many conservation easements are within the Eleventh Circuit’s jurisdiction and other appellate courts are expected to weigh in soon, which could result in the IRS and taxpayers proceeding to trial on valuation issues. Valuation issues are inherently fact intensive and will require the IRS to utilize substantial resources to litigate.

Practice Point: Much has been written about the trend of decreased enforcement by the IRS over the past several years, owing in part to decreased or stagnant funding from US Congress. Tax litigation, particularly in fact intensive cases involving valuation issues and transactions the IRS (but not necessarily the courts) deemed abusive, requires the expenditure of substantial resources by the IRS. The IRS has signaled that it is ready to reverse the trend. All IRS tax controversies start with the examination of the taxpayer’s positions on the return. We have seen an increase in IRS audit activity in the last year or so, especially with medium-sized businesses and high-net-worth individuals. The Chief Counsel is assembling his “army” to litigate positions developed during the examination. It’s a good time for taxpayers [...]

Continue Reading




Tax Court Judicial Conference This Week in Chicago

The Tax Court’s 2018 Judicial Conference starts tomorrow morning on the campus of Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law. For prior coverage, see here. The many panels taking place tomorrow and Wednesday include:

  • Mediation in the Tax Court
  • Discovery and Stipulations Process
  • Litigating Individual Cases
  • Large Case Litigation
  • Whistleblower Jurisdiction
  • A Trip Through the Tax Court’s Exotic Jurisdictions
  • Ethical Issues in Representing Clients
  • The Future of Tax Court Practice and Litigation

I will be participating on the Discovery and Stipulations Process panel along with Tax Court Judges Kathleen Kerrigan and Joseph Goeke, Peter Reilley (Special Counsel IRS), and Jenny Johnson Ware (Johnson Moore).




Impact of Government Shutdown on IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has posted the following regarding the impact of the government shutdown on IRS employees:

This message applies to all IRS employees.

Due to the lapse in federal appropriations, the Internal Revenue Service began an IRS-wide furlough January 20, 2018. All IRS employees with the exception of those notified and deemed “excepted” employees are furloughed. Those furloughed (or “non-excepted) are being placed in a non-pay and non-duty status until further notice. To achieve an orderly shutdown, all furloughed employees must contact their supervisors for procedures to account for government-issued equipment, personal effects requiring retrieval and to transition to furlough status. Employees are allotted up to four (4) hours for orderly shutdown activities.

For continuing information on the furlough, IRS employees are encouraged to monitor this page, news outlets, OPM.gov and the 24/7 Emergency Hotline — 866-743-5748. For TTY access (Federal Relay Service), call 800-877-8339.

We’ll update this page as new information becomes available.

As a reminder, the Employee Assistance Program is available for all IRS employees and their immediate family members at any time, day or night, by calling 800-977-7631 (TDD: 800-697-0353). This no-cost counseling service could help address stress and other issues you and your family may face.

According to its website, the US Tax Court remains open for business today and will continue normal operations for as long as funding permits. Trial sessions scheduled for this week will proceed as scheduled.

Discussions are underway in Congress to reopen the government, but even if an agreement is reached, additional funding may be required in the coming weeks to avoid another shutdown.

Practice Point: Taxpayers and advisors with active matters before the IRS should be aware that it may be difficult, if not impossible, to interact with IRS employees during the shutdown. The shutdown may push back timelines related to the conduct of examinations and matters in litigation.




STAY CONNECTED

TOPICS

ARCHIVES