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IRS Is “All Hands on Deck” to Provide Guidance Related to Tax Reform

In the wake of tax reform, taxpayers and practitioners alike are anxious for guidance and clarification on how the new laws impact transactions and reporting positions. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has previously stated that implementing tax reform is its highest priority, but that issuing guidance on the entire bill would likely take a substantial amount of time. Since December 2017, the IRS has published a host of notices, revenue procedures and administrative guidance. In some instances, the guidance was mechanical (e.g., Notice 2018-38), and in others it was more substantive (e.g., Notice 2018-28, Notice 2018-18, Rev. Proc. 2018-26). On May 31, 2018, the IRS announced an “all hands on deck” effort to implement tax reform through 11 groups working closely with the Treasury Department. The IRS originally stated that it did not plan to release any more proposed regulations before the end of the year. Instead, it would issue tax Forms (with...

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GAO Reports on IRS Guidance Procedures

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report regarding how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) communicates tax guidance to the public.This report was prepared following bipartisan requests from members of both houses of Congress. The GAO report: (1) analyzed documents that defined IRS guidance types; (2) reviewed the IRS’s policies and procedures for issuing guidance; (3) reviewed literature on the IRS’s issuance of guidance; (4) interviewed individuals at relevant government and tax practitioner organizations; and (5) reviewed IRS guidance issued during 2013 through 2015. Below is a chart included in the GAO report that illustrates various forms of guidance, and the weight that the IRS says attaches to each. The GAO found that the IRS uses many different forms of guidance to communicate its interpretation of tax laws to the public, but considers only the Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) guidance to be authoritative. The...

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IRS Commissioner Asks Congress to Overturn Loving

Following a report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) that criticized the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for failing to protect taxpayer financial information from cybersecurity threats, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has requested that US Congress give the IRS the power to license tax preparers.  Prior efforts by the IRS to regulate paid tax preparers by forcing them to pass a competency exam and meet continuing education requirements had been struck down in a 2013 federal district court decision which was later affirmed unanimously by the US District Court for the District of Columbia in Loving v. IRS, 742 F.3d 1013 (DC Cir. 2014). Having failed to achieve its goal in court, in 2014 the IRS turned to Capitol Hill to grant it the authority to enforce nationwide certification requirements on independent tax return preparers.  Imposing competency requirements on tax return preparers is an idea supported not only by the IRS but also by National...

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