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Weekly IRS Roundup February 22 – February 26, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of February 22, 2021 – February 26, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

February 25, 2021: The IRS issued an alert warning taxpayers to refrain from submitting meritless amended returns to claim the Domestic Production Activities Deduction (DPAD) for prior tax years—the DPAD was repealed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for taxable years after December 31, 2017. This alert was in response to a large number of filings claiming the DPAD deduction based on studies conducted after the fact, which the IRS claims contained unreasonable assumptions of facts and law. The IRS further noted that examining these claims will continue to be a priority and that penalties may be asserted under section 6676. We have previously written about section 199 refund claims and penalties under section 6676.

February 25, 2021: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin 2021-9, dated March 1, 2021, containing the following highlights: Announcement 2021-4 (Administrative).

February 26, 2021: The IRS issued Notice 21-18 providing the adjusted limitations on housing expenses for 2021 for purposes of section 911, which allows a qualified individual to elect to exclude from gross income certain foreign earned income and to exclude or deduct certain housing expenses.

February 26, 2021: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Samuel DiPietro in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.




Tax Reform Conference Committee Reaches Agreement

A House-Senate conference committee has reached agreement on a compromise version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which includes substantial changes to the corporate and international business taxation rules. The stage now appears to be set for final passage and enactment of the legislation before the end of 2017.

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The IRS’s Assault on Section 199 (Computer Software) Doesn’t Compute

Internal Revenue Code Section 199 permits taxpayers to claim a 9 percent deduction related to the costs to develop software within the U.S. The relevant regulations and their interpretation, however, place substantial restrictions on claiming the benefit.

Moreover, the regulations and the government’s position haven’t kept up with the technological advances in computer software.

Before claiming the deduction on your return, consider that the Internal Revenue Service has this issue within its sights, and perhaps it will be the subject of one of their new “campaigns.”

In 2004, Congress enacted I.R.C. Section 199 to tip the scales of global competitiveness more in favor of American business. The main motivation of the statute was to create jobs by encouraging businesses to manufacture and produce their products in the U.S. The tax benefit, however, isn’t available for services, a theme that pervades many of the provisions in the statute and regulations.

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Originally published in Bloomberg BNA Daily Tax Report – April 24, 2017 – Number 77




IRS Campaign Focuses on Definition of “Qualified Film” Under Section 199

On January 31, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced 13 Large Business & International (LB&I) “campaigns.”  One campaign targets deductions claimed by multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and TV broadcasters under section 199 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).  According to the IRS’s campaign announcement, these taxpayers make several erroneous claims, including that (1) groups of channels or programs constitute “qualified films” eligible for the section 199 domestic production activities deduction, and (2) MVPDs and TV broadcasters are producers of a qualified film when they distribute channels and subscription packages that include third-party content.

IRC section 199(a) provides for a deduction equal to 9 percent of the lesser of a taxpayer’s “qualified production activities income” (QPAI) for a taxable year and its taxable income for that year.  A taxpayer’s QPAI is the excess of its “domestic production gross receipts” (DPGR) over the sum of the cost of goods sold and other expenses, losses or deductions allocable to such receipts.  IRC section 199(c)(1).  DPGR includes gross receipts of the taxpayer which are derived from any lease, rental, license, sale, exchange, or other disposition of “any qualified film produced by the taxpayer.”  IRC section 199(c)(4)(A)(i)(II).  A “qualified film” is “any property described in section 168(f)(3) if not less than 50 percent of the total compensation relating to the production of such property is compensation for services performed in the United States by actors, production personnel, directors and producers.”  IRC section 199(c)(6).  However, “qualified film” does not include property with respect to which records are required to be maintained under 18 U.S.C. § 2257 (i.e., sexually explicit materials).  Id.  Under regulations issued in 2006, “qualified film” also includes “live or delayed television programming.”  Treas. Reg. § 1.199-3(k)(1); see also Notice 2005-14, 2005-1 C.B. 498, §§ 3.04(9)(a), 4.04(9)(a). “Qualified film” includes “any copyrights, trademarks, or other intangibles with respect to such film.”  IRC section 199(c)(6).  The “methods and means of distributing a qualified film” have no effect on the availability of the section 199 deduction.  Id.  IRC section 168(f)(3), entitled “Films and Video Tape,” provides an exclusion from accelerated depreciation for “[a]ny motion picture film or video tape.”

Though the January 31 announcement did not explain the IRS’s position on these issues in detail, the IRS rejected both claims in two Technical Advice Memoranda (TAMs) issued in late 2016.  The IRS determined in TAM 201646004 (Nov.10, 2016) and TAM 201647007 (Nov.18, 2016) (the 2016 TAMs) that a subscription package of multiple channels of video programming transmitted by an MVPD to its customers via signal is not a “qualified film” as defined in IRC section 199(c)(6) and Treas. Reg. § 1.199-3(k)(1).  It also determined that an MVPD’s gross receipts from its subscription package are not from the disposition of a qualified film produced by the MVPD and are therefore not DPRG included in calculating a section 199 deduction.  The MVPD would only have DPRG from the subscription package to the extent its gross receipts are derived from an individual film or episode within the subscription [...]

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