refund claims
Subscribe to refund claims's Posts

Taxpayer Loses Claim for Research Credit

In United States v. Grigsby, Docket No. 22-30764, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a refund claim based on claimed Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 41 credits was erroneous. Cajun Industries LLC, a subchapter S corporation, filed a refund claim that identified four highly specialized construction projects (two refineries and two flood control systems) as “business components,” which, in turn, gave rise to qualified research expenses (QRE). Cajun fabricated the systems under four separate contracts. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) granted the claim and issued the refund (ultimately to Cajun’s shareholders who are the taxpayers in this case) but later regretted the decision and filed a suit for recovery of an erroneous refund under IRC Section 7405. The decision turned on two main factors:

  1. A failure to plead
  2. The funded contract exception under IRC Section 41(d)(4)(H)

PLEADING FAILURE

After discovery, the parties prepared for trial and moved for summary judgment. In its motion for summary judgment (and about a month before trial), for the first time in the litigation, the taxpayers identified certain construction processes as additional “business components,” giving rise to the claimed QRE. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to consider these new processes as “components” in support of the claimed QRE. In short, the taxpayer was too late and paid the price for its delay. One taxpayer faced a similar problem in 2000 when it sought to put into evidence additional QRE beyond the amount described in its detailed refund claim. There, the Federal Circuit cited the doctrine of variance (i.e., a taxpayer must provide adequate notice of the grounds of the refund claim and any substantial variance from those grounds is not permitted in litigation) and declined to put the additional QRE into evidence. Variance may not have been applicable in the Grigsby case because the refund claim was reviewed and issued, but the taxpayers could have improved their position in court by including the construction processes at the beginning of the litigation or at the latest during discovery.

FUNDED EXCEPTION

The Fifth Circuit then analyzed the four contracts and focused particularly on terms pertinent to the ownership of research results and whether payment to Cajun was contingent upon success of its research. (Regulations promulgated under IRC Section 41(d)(4)(h) provide that research is funded and thus not eligible for the credit if the researcher does not retain substantial rights in its research.) The Court held that three of the contracts awarded sole rights in the research to the customer and removed any substantial rights from Cajun. The fourth contract (firm fixed price) was simply considered “funded” because payment was not contingent upon the success of any research performed by the taxpayer. The Court also rejected a Fairchild risk argument negating the funded nature of this fourth contract.

In general, regarding the three contracts, it’s not clear that Cajun retained zero substantial rights in its research. For [...]

Continue Reading




read more

Does Latest IRS Guidance Signal New Firm Stance on Research Credit Refund Claims?

On October 15, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a press release related to required information for valid research credit refund claims. The press release contains a link to a memorandum by two IRS employees, which will be used to evaluate such claims, and states that there will be a grace period (until January 10, 2022) before such information will be required to be included with timely filed research credit refund claims.

The guidance referred to in the press release is from the IRS’s Office of the Chief Counsel, Memorandum 20214101F (the IRS Research Memo) dated September 17, 2021, which focuses on administrative claims for refunds respect to the Internal Revenue Code (IRS) section 41 research credit.

First, we recommend reviewing the IRS Research Memo because it does a good job explaining the necessary elements to claim the credit. Second, the IRS Research Memo is a good reminder that the first requirement is to file a refund claim that is sufficiently detailed in order to give the IRS notice on both the technical and factual basis of the refund claim. In the context of the IRC Section 41 credit, the IRS Research Memo provides the following as minimum requirements for a refund claim:

  • Identify all the business components to which the IRC Section 41 research credit claim relates for the year for which a refund is sought.
  • For each business component:
    • Identify all research activities performed
    • Identify all individuals who performed each research activity
    • Identify all the information each individual sought to discover
  • Provide the total qualified employee wage expenses, total qualified supply expenses and total qualified contract research expenses for the claim year (this may be done using Form 6765, Credit for Increasing Research Activities).
  • The refund claim must be signed under penalties of perjury attesting to the veracity of the facts and information stated therein.
  • Supporting facts should be in the form of a written statement and merely incorporated by reference to documents attached to the claim.
  • The refund claim must be filed within the period of limitations stated in IRC Section 6511. Typically, taxpayers must file a valid claim within three years of the date Form 1040 or Form 1120 was filed or two years from the time the tax was paid—whichever period expires later.

Importantly, the IRS Research Memo does not advise taxpayers on how much information the IRS believes is sufficient to make a valid claim for refund. The IRS Research Memo does, however, highlight some recent court decisions where taxpayers were denied a refund because they did not include sufficient facts in their IRC Section 41 refund claim. In those cases, the courts ruled that the refund claims were defective and untimely.

Practice Point: The IRS Research Memo is a good reminder that when it comes to refund claims, generally, more description and detail is better. Interestingly, if the taxpayer had claimed a research credit on the original return, there would be [...]

Continue Reading




read more

Show Me the Money: IRS Introduces Webpage for Large Refunds Subject to JCT Review

When we previously wrote about the Joint Committee on Taxation’s (JCT) process for reviewing refund claims granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), we explained that the IRS generally must submit proposed refunds in excess of $5 million for corporate taxpayers and $2 million for all other taxpayers to the JCT before any such refunds can be paid. However, getting through the JCT review process can be difficult and time-consuming in some situations—and sometimes taxpayers are left in the dark.

On September 22, 2021, the IRS announced the launch of its new webpage that provides information to taxpayers whose large refunds are subject to JCT review. Topics covered include general information about how a JCT review matter arises and how the IRS handles a JCT review case.

Practice Point: The IRS’s new webpage provides a helpful general overview of the JCT review process but does not provide any new information on it. A more detailed discussion of the JCT review process can be found in our prior post and in the JCT’s 2019 process overview.




read more

Joint Committee Releases Overview of Its Refund Review Process

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. (more…)




read more

IRS Updates LB&I Examination Process Guide

Effective May 1, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will begin applying previously announced changes to the Large Business & International (LB&I) Division’s examination process.  Publication 5125 begins by setting forth expectations for the LB&I exam team and the taxpayer or its representatives.  It then addresses IRS expectations regarding refund claims.  Finally, the publication discusses the three stages of the LB&I examination process—planning, execution and resolution—and how the IRS and taxpayers should conduct themselves during each stage.

The IRS had previously released draft publication 5125 in November 2014, which concerned some taxpayers, particularly with respect to the statement that informal refund claims would only be accepted within 30 days of the opening conference.  Final Publication 5125 retains the 30-day period for making informal refund claims, but provides that LB&I will not require a formal claim after the 30-day period if an issue has been identified for examination (unless IRS published guidance specifically requires a formal claim).  Exceptions may also be granted by LB&I senior management.

Publication 5125 also made changes to the examination process based on the recent shift to an issue-based audit approach.  The case manager will have overall responsibility for the case, which may be beneficial to taxpayers involved in recent audits where domestic and international personnel appeared to share responsibility for the conduct of the audit.  Factual and issue development are also heavily stressed, with an emphasis on the information document request (IDR) process and a focused and useful examination plan.  The publication also states that IRS team members are expected to seek the taxpayer’s acknowledgment of the facts and to resolve any disputes prior to the issuance of Form 5701, Notice of Proposed Adjustment.

Taxpayers should review Publication 5125 to familiarize themselves with the current audit process and to ensure that IRS team members are following the guidance.  To the extent an IRS team member is not following the guidance, taxpayers should not hesitate to discuss the matter with the team manager.




read more

STAY CONNECTED

TOPICS

ARCHIVES

jd supra readers choice top firm 2023 badge