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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.




Alta Wind: Federal Circuit Reverses Trial Court and Kicks Case Back to Answer Primary Issue

On July 27, 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Alta Wind v. United States, reversed and remanded what had been a resounding victory for renewable energy. The US Court of Federal Claims had ruled that the plaintiff was entitled to claim a Section 1603 cash grant on the total amount paid for wind energy assets, including the value of certain power purchase agreements (PPAs).

We have reported on the Alta Wind case several times in the past two years:

Government Appeal of Alta Wind Supports Decision to File Suit Now

Court Awards $206 Million to Alta Wind Projects in Section 1603 Grant Litigation; Smaller Award to Biomass Facility

Court Awards $206 Million to Alta Wind Projects in Section 1603 Grant Litigation; Smaller Award to Biomass Facility

Act Now To Preserve Your Section 1603 Grant

SOL and the 1603 Cash Grant – File Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

In reversing the trial court, the appellate court failed to answer the substantive question of whether a PPA that is part of the sale of a renewable energy facility is creditable for purposes of the Section 1603 cash grant.

Trial Court Decision

The Court of Federal Claims awarded the plaintiff damages of more than $206 million with respect to the cash grant under Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Section 1603 Grant). The court held that the government had underpaid the plaintiff its Section 1603 Grants arising from the development and purchase of large wind facilities when it refused to include the value of certain PPAs in the plaintiffs’ eligible basis for the cash grants. The trial court rejected the government’s argument that the plaintiffs’ basis was limited solely to development and construction costs. Instead, the court agreed with the plaintiffs that the arm’s-length purchase price of the projects prior to their placed-in-service date informed the projects’ creditable value. The court also determined that the PPAs specific to the wind facilities should not be treated as ineligible intangible property for purposes of the Section 1603 Grant. This meant that any value associated with the PPAs would be creditable for purposes of the Section 1603 Grant.

Federal Circuit Reverses and Remands 

The government appealed its loss to the Federal Circuit. In its opinion, the Federal Circuit reversed the trial court’s decision, and remanded the case back to the trial court with instructions. The Federal Circuit held that the purchase of the wind facilities should be properly treated as “applicable asset acquisitions” for purposes of Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 1060, and the purchase prices must be allocated using the so-called “residual method.” The residual method requires a taxpayer to allocate the purchase price among seven categories. The purpose of the allocation is to discern what amount of a purchase price should be ascribed to each category of assets, which may have significance for other parts of the IRC. For example, if the purchase price includes depreciable [...]

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