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Special IRS Team Working to Identify Emerging “Abusive Transactions”

Earlier this year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the creation of a new Joint Strategic Emerging Issues Team (JSEIT). The new initiative, announced at the New York University School of Professional Studies Tax Controversy Forum in June, brings together different agency divisions and organizations to identify and address emerging tax compliance issues. Various divisions, such as the Small Business/Self Employed (SB/SE), Large Business & International (LB&I), Tax Exempt/Government Entities (TE/GE) and Criminal Investigation divisions, will work together to bring each division’s expertise and specialties into one place to quickly address new issues that are brought to the IRS’s attention.

The goal of JSEIT is to help taxpayers with compliance issues and message them about which transactions work or do not work from a compliance perspective. The purpose of JSEIT is to act as a communication vehicle to identify areas that should be looked at in more detail by the various IRS divisions. In this vein, JSEIT seeks to provide messaging to taxpayers on emerging issues so that they are informed early on as to how the IRS views a particular transaction. JSEIT is not focused on transactions the IRS has already deemed abusive (e.g., certain syndicated conservations easements and micro-captive insurance transactions) but seeks to identify developing issues and alert the public to those issues.

JSEIT has not yet identified any specific emerging issues or transactions that it is investigating. Rather, it receives input from various sources, such as the public and IRS personnel, as to emerging issues to keep an eye on. One example of input from the public is a June 28, 2022, letter from a retired certified public accountant discussing “multinational profit-shifting structures” and Internal Revenue Code Section 482 and the application of effectively connecting income taxation.

JSEIT also looks to social media and ideas that are posted on the internet. This is consistent with the actions of LB&I examination teams, which frequently look to US Securities and Exchange Commission filings and LinkedIn profits and posts to gain background information on corporate taxpayers and their operations.

The IRS Office of Chief Counsel is also involved in JSEIT. Chief Counsel attorneys sometimes hear about a new transaction from a tax practitioner or an examination team and can bring that to JSEIT so that it is aware of the new transaction. This allows Chief Counsel attorneys to be involved early on and to provide guidance to examination teams as to what transactions it believes are compliant and which are not. For example, Chief Counsel attorneys can tell revenue agents what to look for in an emerging issue and what information to request from the taxpayer to gain a better understanding of the transaction.

As we recently discussed, the IRS is set to receive significant funding that will be deployed to improve taxpayer service and enhance tax compliance. JSEIT may benefit from this increased funding and be able to identify more issues on which to focus and the most effective [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup July 11 – July 15, 2022

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of July 11, 2022 – July 15, 2022. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

July 11, 2022: The IRS announced that the Nationwide Tax Forum will start July 19, 2022. The programing includes a keynote address by IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, updates on tax law, cybersecurity, ethics and more. The virtual event will take place over a five-week period from July 19 to August 18 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week. Those wanting to participate must register at least three business days in advance to guarantee access. Attendance at the webinars qualifies as continuing education (CE) for enrolled agents, certified public accountants, Annual Filing Season Program participants, California Tax Education Council (CTEC) participants and Certified Financial Planners (CFP).

July 12, 2022: The IRS issued renewed warnings for tax professionals to guard themselves against identity theft. This effort begins next week with the Security Summit’s annual summer campaign, “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself,” which is focused on tax professionals taking steps to prevent data theft from their offices. This will mark the seventh year that the IRS, state tax agencies and the national tax community have teamed up to raise awareness on the issue.

July 12, 2022: The IRS announced a special virtual session for those interested in becoming an IRS revenue agent. The agency plans to hire 470 revenue agents for the Small Business Self Employed (SB/SE) division. For further discussion, see our recent post.

July 12, 2022: The IRS issued Tax Tip 2022-105, reminding taxpayers that they can log into their account to check account information, including balance, payments and tax records.

July 13, 2022: The IRS reminded taxpayers to file their tax returns as soon as possible. The agency also encourages people to utilize special tools on to help them file and access assistance.

July 13, 2022: The IRS issued Tax Tip 2022-106, which gives points on how taxpayers should evaluate whether they have a hobby or business.

July 14, 2022: The IRS is requesting comments on Form 8874, Form 1041-QFT and Form 706-GS(T). Form 8874 is for investors seeking a credit for their equity investment; Form 1041-QFT is the return for a qualified funeral trustee to report the trust’s taxes; and Form 706-GS(T) is used to report taxes due from trust terminations subject to generation-skipping transfer tax.

July 14, 2022: The IRS issued Tax Tip 2022-107, which provides information on Individual Retirement Arrangements.

July 14, 2022: The IRS announced a free IRS/Federal Trade Commission webinar focused on scams and identity theft. The webinar will also cover how a taxpayer can add a layer of protection by applying for [...]

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IRS Continues Hiring Trend; Looks to Add over 400 Revenue Agents in the SB/SE Division

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced that it will hire 470 new revenue agents into the Small Business Self Employed (SB/SE) division. This effort is part of a larger IRS staffing initiative, following a January 2022 announcement that the IRS plans to hire 200 lawyers to assist with litigation efforts, a March 2022 announcement that the IRS plans to hire more than 200 technology specialists and another March 2022 announcement that it would fill more than 5,000 positions in its processing centers in Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri and Ogden, Utah. This latest announcement continues the trend of reversing a decline in enforcement activities to improve taxpayer compliance.

Practice Point: The IRS has lost a tremendous amount of revenue agents over the last 10 years. This new effort to increase the number of personnel was much needed for an already overworked and overburdened agency. We do expect that the IRS will also continue to increase its efforts to ensure that taxpayers are uniformly compliant with the tax laws.

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