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Weekly IRS Roundup December 6 – December 10, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of December 6, 2021 – December 10, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

December 6, 2021: The IRS published updated guidance on requesting estate tax closing letters and transcript request procedures.

December 6, 2021: The US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a semiannual report to US Congress, summarizing the accomplishments of the TIGTA from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. The TIGTA’s Office of Audit completed 52 audits, and its Office of Investigations completed 1,430 investigations. Its combined audit and investigative efforts resulted in the recovery, protection and identification of monetary benefits totaling more than $9 billion.

December 6, 2021: The IRS issued guidance for employers regarding the retroactive termination of the Employee Retention Credit. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was enacted on November 15, 2021, amended the law so that the Employee Retention Credit applies only to wages paid before October 1, 2021 (unless the employer is a recovery startup business).

December 7, 2021: The IRS published a news release encouraging taxpayers to take important actions this month to help them file their federal tax returns in 2022, including special steps related to Economic Impact Payments and advance Child Tax Credit payments. A special page, updated and available on IRS.gov, outlines the steps taxpayers can take now to make tax filing easier next year.

December 7, 2021: The IRS published frequently asked questions (FAQs), providing guidance on what certain pass-through businesses should do in the absence of updated forms for the 2021 tax year. The tax year 2021 forms, to which Schedules K-2 and K-3 must be attached, have not yet been finalized. The FAQs address questions concerning whether Schedules K-2 and K-3 must be attached to tax year 2020 forms for partnerships or S corporations with 2021 short tax years or, in the case of Form 8865, filers of Form 8865 with 2021 short tax years.

December 7, 2021: The IRS published a memorandum providing interim guidance for in-person conference procedures. The guidance provides that the IRS Independent Office of Appeals (IRS Appeals) will use its best efforts to schedule the in-person conference at a location that is reasonably convenient for both the taxpayer and the IRS Appeals. This guidance does not modify any temporary procedures in place due to COVID-19.

December 8, 2021: The IRS released guidance for IRS Appeals employees working Tax-Exempt/Government Entities (TE/GE)-sourced cases. For TE/GE-sourced cases in which a taxpayer or representative raises a new issue, provides new information or advances a new theory or an alternative legal argument to the IRS Appeals, the IRS Appeals employee is required to follow the instructions provided by the IRS.

December 10, 2021: The [...]

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IRS Issues Annual “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax-Related Scams

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publishes a list of tax-related scams, which it calls the “Dirty Dozen.” This year, it provided a “Dirty Dozen” scam series warning taxpayers of such scams.

In IR-2021-135 (June 28, 2021), the IRS rolled out its “Dirty Dozen” list for 2021, warning taxpayers to look out for 12 nefarious schemes and scams. The 2021 list is separated into the following four categories:

  • Pandemic-related scams, such as Economic Impact Payment theft
  • Personal information cons including phishing, ransomware and phone “vishing”
  • Ruses focusing on unsuspecting victims, such as fake charities and senior/immigrant fraud
  • Schemes that persuade taxpayers into unscrupulous actions, such as Offer In Compromise mills and syndicated conservation easements

In IR-2021-137 (June 29, 2021), the IRS advised taxpayers to look out for unexpected schemes in the form of emails, texts, social media messages and phone calls. These phishing scams target taxpayers and tax professionals and can seem legitimate at first glance. For example, emails or phone calls purporting to be from the IRS may request financial information or request that the recipient link to an attachment. Some scams utilize social media and seek to use events like COVID-19 to trick people. Recipients of such unsolicited emails or phone calls can report the actions to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

In IR-2021-141 (June 30, 2021), the IRS shared five scams relating to requests for donations to fake charities, tax scams targeting immigrants and senior citizens, offer in compromise mills, unscrupulous tax return preparers and unemployment insurance fraud.

In IR- 2021-144 (July 1, 2021), the IRS concluded its series by warning taxpayers to watch out for certain transactions and arrangements marketed by promoters.

Prior year information on the “Dirty Dozen” lists can be found here.

Practice Point: Taxpayers and tax professionals need to be vigilant in protecting against tax-related scams and schemes. If you doubt the legitimacy of a contact purporting to be from the IRS, make sure to confirm the identity of the contact with IRS personnel. For example, we recently received an unsolicited email from an irs.gov address and, to ensure the email was legitimate, we reached out to IRS personnel and were able to confirm that the email was legitimate. However, we have had other situations where emails and phone calls purporting to be from the IRS were from third parties with no connection to the government.




IRC 45Q Credit Under IRS Scrutiny: Government Finds Majority of Carbon Oxide Credits Improperly Claimed

In response to a series of questions posed in a November 2019 letter from Senator Menendez (D-NJ), the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a letter on April 15, 2020, analyzing carbon oxide credits under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 45Q. For tax years between 2010 and 2019, TIGTA found that up to 87% of the value of the credits claimed were not in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitoring, reporting, and verification requirements.

IRC section 45Q provides a credit to taxpayers that capture and sequester carbon oxide. The credit was initially enacted into law in 2008, then substantially revised in 2018. As part of the revisions, the credit was expanded from solely carbon dioxide capture to include a broader set of carbon oxide emissions. This substantially expanded the class of taxpayers eligible to claim the credit. Although Treasury released some guidance in February 2020, there are still many unresolved questions about the expanded carbon oxide credit, and many taxpayers are waiting to move forward with additional projects pending release of that guidance.

The TIGTA analysis covers tax years 2010–2019, so it will primarily include carbon dioxide projects. The letter reports that only 10 out of the 672 taxpayers who claimed the IRC section 45Q credit received over $1 million in credits, and these 10 taxpayers represent 99.86% of the total value of all IRC section 45Q credits, around $1.02 billion. An examination of return data found that 87% of the credits claimed by these 10 taxpayers may have been improper because there was not an approved EPA monitoring, reporting, and verification plan in place when the credits were claimed. TIGTA reported that the IRS had already taken action against 4 of these 10 taxpayers—disallowing approximately 60% of the improperly claimed credits. Additional enforcement activity may target taxpayers who claimed large amounts of carbon sequestration credits.

Practice Point: Taxpayers considering investing in carbon oxide sequestration projects should perform extensive diligence on the project and make sure that they technically meet the requirements. We expect that carbon sequestration projects may come under increased scrutiny and result in more audits going forward. Spending the time and resources to ensure that your project conforms to the rules will save you money if the IRS denies your credits. Additionally, make sure to contemporaneously document your efforts to follow the rules; this may assist in penalty abatement if asserted.




Weekly IRS Roundup November 4 – 8, 2019

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of November 4–8, 2019.

November 4, 2019: The IRS posted a new Large Business and International active compliance campaign on Section 965 transition tax as enacted under the 2017 TCJA. The IRS stated that the goal of the campaign is to promote compliance with Section 965. The treatment stream will include conducting examinations as well as providing technical assistance to teams on Section 965, with a focus on identifying and addressing taxpayer populations with potential material compliance risk. The IRS anticipates that returns selected as part of the Section 965 campaign will also be risked and, if appropriate, examined for other material issues, especially issues related to TCJA planning.  For our coverage of this campaign, see here.

November 6, 2019: The IRS issued a Revenue Procedure and a News Release announcing the tax year 2020 annual inflation adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules and other tax changes. The tax year 2020 adjustments are generally used on tax returns filed in 2021.

November 8, 2019: The IRS published Proposed Regulations providing guidance relating to the life expectancy and distribution period tables that are used to calculate required minimum distributions from qualified retirement plans, individual retirement accounts and annuities, and certain other tax-favored employer-provided retirement arrangements. The life expectancy tables and applicable distribution period tables were developed based on mortality rates for 2021 and would provide longer life expectancies than the tables in the existing regulations. Public comments regarding the contemplated rules must be received by January 7, 2020.

November 8, 2019: The IRS released a Revenue Procedure providing the list of automatic changes to which the automatic change procedures in Revenue Procedure 2015-13, as clarified and modified by other listed guidance. The revenue procedure is effective for a Form 3115 filed on or after November 8, 2019, for a year of change ending on or after March 31, 2019. It supersedes the previous list in Rev. Proc. 2018-31.

November 8, 2019: 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 and Jenni Saperstein in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.




IRS Issues Transition Tax Compliance Campaign

On November 4, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced a new Large Business and International (LB&I) compliance campaign regarding Section’s 965 transition tax under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This is one of several dozen compliance campaigns that LB&I has announced since the initial 13 campaigns were identified in 2017, and is part of LB&I’s larger goals of improving return selection, identifying issues representing a risk of noncompliance and making the greatest use of limited resources. We have written at length regarding the IRS’s campaigns. Click here for prior coverage of the IRS’s campaigns. This announcement comes just over a month after the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a report questioning the effectiveness and efficiency of campaign issue selection. We wrote about the TIGTA report here. The IRS is presumably heeding TIGTA’s recommendation and is focused on Section 965 because of the substantial dollars associated with compliance. A list of all campaigns can be found here (the newest campaign is found under the tab “IRC 965”).

Section 965 was part of tax reform in the TCJA. It generally imposes a transition tax on a US shareholder’s pro rata share of accumulated earnings and profits of certain foreign corporations, as if those earnings had been repatriated to the US. The new campaign will focus examinations on US-based multinational companies’ 2017 and 2018 returns to ensure compliance with the transition tax in Section 965. The campaign will also provide technical assistance to IRS teams working on Section 965 issues, with a focus on identifying and addressing taxpayer populations with potential material compliance risk.

Practice Point: Multinational taxpayers should be mindful of this new campaign and aware of any compliance issues they may face. Taxpayers should be aware that returns selected for the transition tax campaign will also be examined for other material issues, especially those related to TCJA planning.




Government Questions the Benefits of IRS Audit Campaigns

On September 28, 2019, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a report titled Initial Compliance Results Warrant a More Data-Driven Approach to Campaign Issue Selection.

As the name of the report describes, the TIGTA analyzed whether the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit campaigns were effective and efficiently administered. We have written at length regarding the IRS’s “campaign” methodology:

The report questions how the IRS selected the campaigns it has unleashed on taxpayers. Upon inspection, it appears that the IRS did not have a systematic approach to choosing which issue would become a campaign. Instead, the approach was seemingly ad hoc, and was open to employee suggestions instead of empirical analysis. The TGITA suggests that going forward the IRS use a more data-driven selection process for its campaigns. The idea would be to analyze where the IRS could get the biggest bang for its resource bucks in terms of dollars as well as compliance goals. Accordingly, the TGITA recommends the IRS adopt a formal process for selecting and prioritizing issues for campaigns, and the IRS use actionable metrics, based in part on compliance results, to select the most productive inventory.

Practice Point:  We have heard in the past that some campaigns were based on issues that revenue agents and other field personnel identified, but it was never clear whether the IRS was applying a systematic approach. We expect now that the IRS will be more mindful with its approach, focusing on issues with substantial dollars associated with them, and also where the IRS wants to ensure taxpayer compliance with the Internal Revenue Code.




Is an Increase in LB&I Assertion of Penalties on the Horizon?

On May 31, 2019, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report indicating that changes may be in the works regarding assertion of accuracy-related penalties in examinations handled by the IRS Large Business & International (LB&I) Division.

The TIGTA report reviewed the results of closed LB&I examinations for the fiscal years 2015 through 2017 and concluded that the IRS assessed accuracy-related penalties upon only 6% of the 4,600 examined returns with additional tax assessments of $10,000 or more. In comparison, the IRS Small Business / Self Employed (SB/SE) Division assessed accuracy-related penalties upon 25% of its examined returns with additional tax assessments of $10,000 or more. (more…)




Taxpayers Should Prepare for the Next Penalty Battleground

The IRS is using a new tool from its arsenal to enforce compliance for tax refund and credit claims: the Internal Revenue Code Section 6676 penalty. Taxpayers and their advisers need to be aware of the mechanics of this penalty and how best to avoid it being sustained.

Andrew R. Roberson, Kevin Spencer and Evan Walters authored a comprehensive article on IRC Section 6676. They discuss:

  • The origins of IRC Section 6676
  • How to contest the penalty and privilege concerns
  • What taxpayers who are considering filing—or have already filed—refund claims should keep in mind now that the penalty is the IRS’s favorite new compliance tool

Read the article here.




Weekly IRS Roundup September 17 – 21, 2018

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 17 – 21, 2018:

September 17, 2018: The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report reviewing whether the IRS complied with legal and internal guidelines governing the seizure of property for unpaid taxes.

September 17, 2018: TIGTA released a second report compiling statistical information reported by the IRS in order to provide information about how the IRS uses its compliance resources and the resulting tax collections.

September 18, 2018: The IRS published Revenue Ruling 2018-17, which provides the applicable federal interest rate for October 2018 and other interest rates.

September 19, 2018: The IRS published Revenue Procedure 2018-49, which allows taxpayers that early adopted a method of revenue recognition to change such method to one described in Section 16.11 of Revenue Procedure 2018-31. This is a very important method change that affects many taxpayers who have to comply with ASC 606.

September 20, 2018: The IRS announced in Notice 2018-72 that it intends to amend the section 871(m) regulations to delay the effective date of certain provisions.

September 21, 2018: Treasury and the IRS published proposed regulations that would remove from the section 385 regulations minimum documentation requirements that must be satisfied for certain related-party debt to be respected as such for tax purposes. We previously commented on this here.

September 21, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Kevin Hall in our DC office for this week’s roundup.




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