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Weekly IRS Roundup May 25 – May 29, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of May 25 – May 29, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

May 26, 2020: The IRS and United States Department of the Treasury issued proposed regulations to provide guidance on federal income tax withholding on certain periodic retirement and annuity payments under IRC § 3405(a).

May 26, 2020: The IRS and Treasury issued final regulations clarifying the reporting requirements under IRC § 6033, generally applicable to tax-exempt organizations.

May 26, 2020: The IRS Practice Unit titled Taxation on the Disposition of USRPI by Foreign Persons was updated to clarify that publicly traded stock of a corporation continues to not be US real property interests (USRPI) if held by a 5% or less shareholder. The 5% threshold was increased to 10% only for real estate investment trusts (REITs) under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act).

May 27, 2020: The IRS and Treasury issued Notice 2020-41 to modify prior IRS notices addressing the beginning of construction requirement for both the production tax credit for renewable energy facilities under IRC § 45 and the investment tax credit for energy property under IRC § 48.

May 27, 2020: The IRS announced that some Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) will be sent to taxpayers in the form of a prepaid debit card that will arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.”

May 28, 2020: The IRS announced that taxpayers will be able to file Form 1040-X, Amended US Individual Income Tax Return, electronically this summer. Previously, Form 1040-X was only accepted through the mail.

May 28, 2020: The IRS and Treasury issued proposed regulations regarding the credit for carbon oxide sequestration under IRC § 45Q.

May 29, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Emily Mussio in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.




Analysis of Energy and Tax Proposals in the 2018 Budget Proposal

President Trump released his budget proposal for the 2018 FY on May 23, 2017, expanding on the budget blueprint he released in March. The budget proposal and blueprint reiterate the President’s tax reform proposals to lower the business tax rate and to eliminate special interest tax breaks. They also provide for significant changes in energy policy including: restarting the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, reinstating collection of the Nuclear Waste Fund fee and eliminating DOE research and development programs.

Read the full article.




IRS Revises Recent Begin Construction Guidance

On May 18, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revised Notice 2016-31 (Notice), its recent guidance on meeting the beginning of construction requirements for wind and other qualified facilities (including biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, trash, hydropower, and marine and hydrokinetic facilities). For a discussion of the Notice, click here. The revisions clarify that the Continuity Safe Harbor is satisfied if a taxpayer places a facility into service by the later of (1) the calendar year that is no more than four calendar years after the calendar year during which construction of the facility began, or (2) December 31, 2016. The revisions also include additional language that the Notice applies to any project for which a taxpayer claims the Section 45 production tax credit (PTC) or the Section 48 investment tax credit (ITC) that is placed in service after January 2, 2013.

The revised Notice also corrects mathematical errors in an example illustrating the application of the begin construction guidance in the Notice to retrofitted facilities. The revised example is as follows:

A taxpayer owns a wind farm composed of 13 turbines, pad and towers that no longer qualify for either the PTC or the ITC. Each facility has a fair market value of $1 million. The taxpayer replaces components worth $900,000 on 11 of the 13 facilities at a cost of $1.4 million for each facility. The fair market value of the remaining original components at each upgraded facility is $100,000. Thus, the total fair market value of each upgraded facility is $1.5 million. The total expenditures to retrofit the 11 facilities are $15.4 million. The taxpayer applies the single project rule. Because the fair market value of the remaining original components of each upgraded facility ($100,000) is not more than 20 percent of each facility’s total value of $1.5 million, each upgraded facility will be considered newly placed in service for purposes of the PTC and the ITC. Accordingly, if the taxpayer pays or incurs at least $770,000 (or 5 percent of $15.4 million) of qualified expenditures in 2016, the single project will be considered to have begun construction in 2016. Provided the taxpayer also meets the Continuous Efforts Test, each upgraded facility will be treated as a qualified facility for purposes of the PTC. However, no additional PTC or ITC will be allowed with respect to the two facilities that were not upgraded.

Taxpayers should consider talking with their advisors to discuss the application of these rules to their projects.




IRS Issues Guidance on the Beginning of Construction Rules for Renewable Projects

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued Notice 2016-31, which provides much-needed guidance for wind and other qualified facilities on meeting the beginning of construction requirements in light of the 2015 statutory extension and modification of the production tax credit and the investment tax credit. The Notice also revises and adds to the list of excusable disruptions that will not be taken into account when determining whether the continuity requirement has been met, and provides additional examples demonstrating “physical work of a significant nature” for different types of qualified facilities.

Read the full article.




IRS Determines Refined Coal Transaction Doesn’t Have Economic Substance

On March 17, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a Field Attorney Advice Memorandum, 20161101F (Dec. 3, 2015) (the FAA).  In the FAA, the IRS concluded that an investment in a partnership designed to deliver a tax credit allocation did not have a potential for profit or risk of loss, was not a meaningful interest in the venture and, as such, was not a bona fide partnership interest. In analyzing whether the arrangement was in substance a prohibited sale of tax benefits, the IRS determined that promotional materials and the partnership agreement indicated the investors were only interested in creating tax credits, not in operating a profitable refined coal business. The IRS relied heavily on Commissioner v. Culbertson, 337 U.S. 733 (1949), and Historic Boardwalk Hall LLC v. Commissioner, 694 F.3d 425 (3rd Cir. 2012), to determine that the investor did not have the requisite risk of loss or profit potential irrespective of creating tax credits, and that the partnership agreement indicated that the purported partner was to be indemnified for disallowed tax credits and deductions. An important fact for the IRS’analysis was that the payments to be made by the investor were nonrecourse, meaning the investor could walk away at any time. The IRS ruled that because “purported capital contributions are largely to be made in the future and only in relation to the amount of refined coal, and by extension tax credits generated, we believe that the payments are in exchange for tax benefits and do not constitute capital contributions in substance.”

Although a FAA is merely the opinion of one attorney at the IRS, it may be indicative of how the IRS evaluates these issues.




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