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Weekly IRS Roundup November 22 – November 26, 2021

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

November 22, 2021: The IRS released a memorandum concerning a temporary deviation from the handwritten signature requirement for certain tax forms. To alleviate COVID-19 concerns while promoting timely filing, the IRS will allow taxpayers and representatives to use electronic or digital signatures when signing listed forms that currently require a handwritten signature. No specific technology is required to create the signature. The IRS has listed the eligible forms, which must be postmarked on August 28, 2020, or later.

November 22, 2021: The IRS released a memorandum extending through October 31, 2023, temporary deviations that allow IRS employees to: (1) accept images of signatures and digital signatures on documents related to the determination or collection of tax liability and (2) send or receive documents to or from taxpayers using emails with encrypted attachments when no other approved electronic alternative is available.

November 22, 2021: The IRS released a memorandum providing guidance concerning employee retention credits and the deferral of paying social security taxes in 2020.

November 23, 2021: The IRS published a news release announcing the launch of a new Spanish-language version of the Child Tax Credit Update Portal (CTC-UP). Families who are already receiving monthly payments use the CTC-UP to update their accounts. Now, all the features that have only been available in English are also available in Spanish.

November 26, 2021: The IRS published a notice and request for comments on Form 944, Employer’s Annual Employment Tax Return, and Form 944-X, Adjusted Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, which are used in part to ensure the smallest non-agricultural and non-household employers are paying the correct amount of social security tax, Medicare tax and withheld federal income tax. Comments are due on or before January 25, 2022.

November 26, 2021: The IRS published a notice and request for comments concerning TD 8857 (addressing the determination of underwriting income by non-life insurance companies), which allows a non-life insurance company to increase unpaid losses on a yearly basis by the amount of estimated salvage recoverable if the company discloses this to the state insurance regulatory authority. Comments are due on or before January 28, 2022.

November 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 Robbie Alipour in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.




Weekly IRS Roundup September 27 – October 1, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 27, 2021 – October 1, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

September 28, 2021: The IRS released a revenue procedure, adding Chile to the list of jurisdictions with which the United States has a relevant information exchange agreement in effect for reporting payments of deposit interest. The IRS also added two countries—the Dominican Republic and Singapore—to the list of jurisdictions with which the US Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the IRS have determined it is appropriate to have an automatic exchange relationship with.

September 29, 2021: The IRS released draft instructions for supplemental income and loss (Schedule E of Form 1040) concerning the reporting of income or loss from rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations, estates, trusts and residual interests in real estate mortgage investment conduits (REMICs).

October 1, 2021: The Treasury and the IRS published corrections to final regulations (Treasury Decision 9922) that were published in the Federal Register on November 12, 2020. Treasury Decision 9922 provided guidance relating to the allocation and apportionment of deductions and creditable foreign taxes, the definition of financial services income, foreign tax redeterminations, availability of foreign tax credits under the transition tax, the application of the foreign tax credit limitation to consolidated groups, adjustments to hybrid deduction accounts to consider regarding certain inclusions in income by a US shareholder, conduit financing arrangements involving hybrid instruments and the treatment of certain payments under the global intangible low-taxed income provisions.

October 1, 2021: The Treasury and the IRS published a notice and request for comments concerning all forms used by tax-exempt organizations to determine that such organizations fulfill the operating conditions within the limitations of their tax exemption. The IRS provided a list of the relevant forms. Written comments are due on or before November 30, 2021.

October 1, 2021: The Treasury and the IRS published a notice and request for comments concerning the burden associated with US income tax return forms for individual taxpayers. The request covers Form 1040 and affiliated return forms that are used by individuals to report their income subject to tax and compute their correct tax liability. Written comments are due on or before December 3, 2021.

October 1, 2021: The IRS published a news release reminding US citizens, resident aliens and any domestic legal entity that the extension deadline to file their annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) is October 15, 2021.

October 1, 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 Robbie Alipour in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.




Finding John Doe: IRS Steps up Enforcement Efforts to Take the Anonymity Out of Virtual Currency

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is stepping up its virtual currency enforcement, and taxpayers who have engaged in a cryptocurrency transaction should immediately assess any potential tax implications as the IRS has recently issued two John Doe summonses to popular exchanges. These are the first it has issued in about three years, sending a very clear signal that the IRS is ready to tackle what it believes to be a continuing noncompliance. A US Federal District Court in Massachusetts upheld the summons issued to Circle Internet Financial Inc., including the popular cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex, while a US Federal Court for the Northern District of California required the government to submit a response explaining its need for the information requested in its summons to Kraken. (See: In re Tax Liability of John Does, No. 21-cv-2201, ECF No. 8 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 31, 2021)).

Filed on April 14, 2021, the government’s response provided numerous examples of how the data received in the Coinbase summons required additional requests in order for the exchange to locate actual taxpayers. The response argued that the need for multiple follow-ups defeated the purpose of the summons. It also described how information in Kraken’s possession, such as accountholder telephone numbers and email addresses, will facilitate the IRS’s ability to utilize relevant cryptocurrency platform data in its possession that was received from other sources relating to foreign-based cryptocurrency exchanges. Noting the potential for abuse by an accountholder, the response provided an example of an individual falsifying their identity as the basis for its need for complete account history in order to catch these issues. In addition, the response stated, “[m]atching the IP addresses for Kraken users to IP addresses and other data points in the IRS’s information will allow the IRS to link substantive account information from multiple sources for a single individual taxpayer and make a more accurate initial determination of whether that individual is in compliance with the internal revenue laws.”

It remains to be seen how the court will react to the government’s response. What is clear, though, from the response and the accompanying affidavit is that the IRS has made significant progress in its analysis of this data and its ability to follow leads. As a result, now is the time for individuals involved in these transactions to consult a tax professional to determine if they have any tax liability or potential exposure, including criminal exposure. After the Coinbase summons, the IRS issued 10,000 letters to taxpayers regarding virtual currency transactions. In the wake of these summonses, and potentially others, it is only a matter of time before the IRS reaches out to thousands of other taxpayers.

It is also clear that the enforcement arm of the IRS is working very closely with its counterparts around the world. The need for email addresses and phone numbers mentioned above to use foreign data certainly drives this point home. Even more so, as a precursor of things to [...]

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Weekly IRS Roundup October 5 – October 9, 2020

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of October 5, 2020 – October 9, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

October 7, 2020: The IRS published final regulations related to the withholding tax and information reporting requirements for the sale, exchange or redemption of a partnership interest held by a foreign person.

October 7, 2020: The IRS published a draft of Publication 509 with draft tax calendars for 2021.

October 9, 2020: The IRS published Revenue Ruling 2020-19 related to changes in basis of computing life insurance reserves.

October 9, 2020: The IRS published Revenue Procedure 2020-44 to facilitate a transition from interbank offered rates to alternate reference rates.

October 9, 2020: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin 2020-42, dated October 13, 2020, containing the following highlights: REG-110059-20 (Income Tax); TD 9908 (Income Tax).

October 9, 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 Brian Moore in our Washington, DC, office for this week’s roundup.




Tax Court Rejects IRS Argument that Corporate Taxpayer Failed to File Valid Return

The issue of whether a valid tax return has been filed usually comes up in the context of individuals. One common situation involves taxpayers who file so-called zero returns or returns with an altered jurat and protest paying any taxes. Another common situation, which has received substantial attention lately, involves whether a tax return filed after an assessment by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a “return” for purposes of the Bankruptcy Code. We previously posted on the latter.

This post focuses on the uncommon situation where the IRS disputes whether a corporate taxpayer filed a valid return. As we have previously discussed, in the widely cited Beard v. Commissioner, 82 TC 766 (1984), the Tax Court defined a four-part test (the Beard Test) for determining whether a document constitutes a “return.” To be a return, a document must: (1) provide sufficient data to calculate tax liability; (2) purport to be a return; (3) be an honest and reasonable attempt to satisfy the requirements of the tax law; and (4) be executed by the taxpayer under penalties of perjury. This test applies to all types of taxpayers, and its application to corporate taxpayers was recently highlighted in New Capital Fire, Inc. v. Commissioner, TC Memo. 2017-177.

In New Capital Fire, Capital Fire Insurance Co. (Old Capital) merged into New Capital Fire, Inc. (New Capital), with New Capital surviving, on December 4, 2002. The merger was designed to be a tax-free reorganization under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 368(a)(1)(F). Old Capital did not file a tax return for any part of 2002 and New Capital filed a tax return for 2002 which included a pro forma Form 1120-PC, US Property and Casualty Insurance Company Income Tax Return, for Old Capital’s 2002 tax year. The IRS issued Old Capital a notice of deficiency in 2012 determining that Old Capital was required to file a return for the short tax year ending December 4, 2002, because the merger failed to meet to reorganization rules. (more…)




Fourth Circuit Clarifies the Role of the Collection Due Process Hearing

In Iames v. Commissioner, No. 16-1154, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the US Tax Court’s ruling that once a taxpayer has unsuccessfully challenged his tax liability in a preassessment hearing before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Office of Appeals, he is precluded from challenging his tax liability in a collection due process (CDP) hearing under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 6330.

IRC Section 6330, enacted by Congress to protect taxpayers from abusive or arbitrary collection practices, provides a set of procedural safeguards for taxpayers facing a potential levy action by the IRS: notice, an administrative hearing and judicial review. More specifically, before collecting a delinquent tax through a levy on a taxpayer’s property, the IRS must notify the taxpayer at least thirty days in advance of his right to an administrative hearing before the IRS Office of Appeals. IRC Section 6330(a) and (b). After the Office of Appeals makes its determination, the taxpayer may then petition the Tax Court for judicial review. IRC Section 6330(d)(1).

In general, the taxpayer may raise “any relevant issue relating to the unpaid tax or the proposed levy” at the CDP hearing. IRC Section 6330(c)(2)(A). There are, however, certain restrictions as to the circumstances under which a taxpayer may bring a CDP challenge. Under IRC Section 6330(c)(2)(B), a taxpayer can dispute the existence or amount of the underlying tax liability but only so long as he “did not otherwise have an opportunity to dispute such tax liability.”

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