Presented below is our weekly roundup for July 9 – 13, 2018 on significant IRS matters.

July 9, 2018: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin No. 2018-28 including: Notice 2018-48 (lists the population census tracts designated as qualified opportunity zones); Notice 2018-59 (provides two methods for taxpayers to begin construction for the investment tax credit

On February 7, 2018, the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released its second quarter update to the 2017-2018 Priority Guidance Plan to identify tax issues it believes should be addressed through regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notices and other published administrative guidance. The Priority Guidance Plan contains projects the Treasury hopes to complete during the 12-month period from July 2, 2017 through June 30, 2018. We previously posted on the first quarter 2017-2018 Priority Guidance plan here.

Most of the projects do not involve the issuance of new regulations, instead focus on guidance to taxpayers on a variety of tax issues important to individuals and businesses in the form of: (1) revocations of final, temporary, or proposed regulations (for our prior coverage, see here); (2) notices, revenue rulings and revenue procedures; (3) simplifying and burden reducing amendments to existing regulations; (4) proposed regulations; or (5) final regulations adopting proposed regulations. The initial 2017-2108 Priority Guidance Plan consisted of 198 guidance projects, 30 of which have already been completed. The second quarter update reflects 29 additional projects, including priority items as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) legislation enacted on December 22, 2017, and guidance published or released from October 13, 2017 through December 31, 2017.


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On June 30, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Chief Counsel Notice 2016-009, which can be found here. In the notice, the IRS updated the list of issues that require IRS National Office review (the List). The List indicates those issues or matters raised by IRS field examiners that must be coordinated with the appropriate IRS Associate office.

There are several new items on the List. Notably, corporate formations with repatriation transactions, certain spin-off transactions and transactions that may implicate Treasury Regulation § 1.701-2 partnership anti-abuse rules are now also included. Debt-equity issues pursuant to Section 385 continue to be on the List.

In addition, now included are issues designated for litigation and issues that for technical tax reasons will not be referred to the IRS Office of Appeals under Revenue Procedure 2016-22, Section 3.03 (also relating to issues designated for litigation). We discussed Revenue Procedure 2016-22 in a recent posting.
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In Altera Corp. v. Commissioner, 145 T.C. No. 3 (July 27, 2015), the Tax Court, in a unanimous reviewed opinion, held that regulations under Section 482 requiring parties to a qualified cost-sharing agreement (QCSA) to include stock-based compensation costs in the cost pool to comply with the arm’s-length standard were procedurally invalid because the US Deparment of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not engage in the “reasoned decisionmaking” required by the Administrative Procedures Act and the cases interpreting it. For a discussion of the Tax Court’s Altera opinion, see our prior On the Subject. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue (Commissioner) appealed this holding to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; he filed his opening brief on June 27, 2016.

According to the Commissioner, the Tax Court’s holding was based on several related errors: (1) the Tax Court mistakenly concluded that promulgation of the QCSA regs required the IRS to engage in an “essentially empirical” analysis; (2) this led the court to apply the wrong standard; (3) in its analysis, the court relied heavily on its holding in Xilinx, Inc. v. Commissioner, 125 T.C. 37 (2005), that analysis of QCSAs must comport with the arm’s-length standard, meaning that a taxpayer can defend a QCSA by reference to comparable behavior between unrelated parties; and (4) the Tax Court failed to take into account that the finalization of the new QCSA regulations worked a “change in the legal landscape,” which should have altered the court’s analysis of the new regulations’ validity. Moreover, “the coordinating amendments [to the existing QCSA regulations] supersede [the Ninth Circuit’s] understanding of the arm’s-length standard as reflected in its own Xilinx opinion.”
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