Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
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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: More IRS “Campaigns?! IRS Announces Six More Examination Campaigns IRS Announces More LB&I Campaigns! The LB&I Campaigns Keep Coming! LB&I Announces Five New Campaigns LB&I Announces Six New Campaigns Are LB&I’s Campaigns Stuck in the Trenches? IRS Continues to Barrage Taxpayers with New Campaigns LB&I’s Final Campaigns Webinar: Section 48C Energy Credits and Completed Contract Method for Land Developers The View from Here: LB&I’s Cross-Border Activities Campaigns Webinar Understanding LB&I “Campaigns” Run...

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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. TIGTA concluded that accuracy-related penalties are infrequently proposed by LB&I, and that LB&I examiners propose penalties at proportionally lower rates than their colleagues in SB/SE. Further, TIGTA found that LB&I...

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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.

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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...

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TIGTA Report: FOIA Procedures Need Improvement

On September 7, 2017, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a report about the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) procedures. After reviewing a statistically valid sample of FOIA requests, TIGTA concluded that the IRS improperly withheld information 14.3 percent of the time—or approximately 1 in 7 FOIA requests. TIGTA also found that at the end of Fiscal Year 2016, there were 334 backlogged information requests. Below is a chart from the report showing the IRS’s recent history of backlogged FOIA requests. TIGTA’s findings are consistent with our experiences with FOIA requests. It is not unusual for the IRS to make repeated requests for extensions to respond. We note further that, during an examination, the IRS is statutorily authorized to provide taxpayers access to their administrative file. Indeed, the Internal Revenue Manual confirms this at section 4.2.5.7 (June 15, 2017). Yet the IRS...

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A 360-Degree View: August and September 2017

Upcoming Tax Controversy Activities in September: September 13, 2017: Tom Jones is presenting an update on Captive Tax in Charleston, South Carolina, at the South Carolina Captive Insurance Association Annual Conference. September 14, 2017: Robin Greenhouse and Kristen Hazel will be speaking at McDermott Will & Emery’s Tax in the City®: A Women’s Tax Roundtable meeting in New York City about tax ethics. September 18, 2017: Justin Jesse is speaking at the PLI Basics of International Taxation session in San Francisco about “Tax Concerns for US Persons Investing or Operating Outside of the US (Outbound Investments) – Active Business Operations.” Wrapping up August:. Our August 2017 blog posts are available on taxcontroversy360.com, or read each article by clicking on the titles below. To receive the latest on tax controversy news and commentary directly in your inbox as they are posted, click here to subscribe to our email list. August 3, 2017: Tax Court...

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TIGTA Pounces on IRS Federal Records Retention Policies; Recommends Changes

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently summarized several critical deficiencies in how the IRS handles electronically stored federal records in a recent report, available here. The lapses identified by TIGTA may affect the availability of those electronic records for future Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, litigation and Congressional review. The report does not address the IRS’s retention policy for physical documents. Federal law mandates the retention of the government’s federal records. Unfortunately, prior to May 22, 2013, IRS electronic asset disposal policies included instructions to “wipe” and “reimage” computer hard drives that were no longer needed by IRS users. If those computers were the only repository for electronically stored federal records, that information would be lost. TIGTA noted that, even though the IRS revisited those policies several times, computers were still being wiped and reimaged as...

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More Changes to IRS Appeals Procedures

In a letter dated November 4, 2016, IRS Chief of Appeals Kirsten Wielobob provided some clarification regarding the authority of the Appeals Team Case Leaders (ATCLs) to settle cases, revisions to IRM section 8.6.1.4.4 permitting other IRS employees to attend conferences, clarifications to conference practices, and revisions to how Appeals handles section 9100 relief determinations. After a month of speculation, of interest to most taxpayers and practitioners is the news that, although settlement authority will remain with the ATCLs, Appeals will revise its procedures to make it clear that an Appeals Manager must review a case prior to an ATCL finalizing a settlement. In an apparent attempt to thread the proverbial needle, the letter indicates that the Appeals Manager “will not be accepting or rejecting settlements,” but if the ATCL and Appeals manager “disagree about a settlement,” the next higher level manager supervising ATCL Operations will resolve any...

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