Welcome to TaxBlawg, a blog resource from Chamberlain Hrdlicka for news and analysis of current legal issues facing tax practitioners. Although blawg.com identifies nearly 1,400 active “blawgs,” including 20+ blawgs related to taxation and estate planning, the needs of tax professionals have received surprisingly little attention.
The Wall Street Journal's Tax Blog gives “tips and advice for filers,” and Paul Caron’s legendary TaxProf Blog is an excellent clearinghouse for academic and policy-oriented news. Yet, tax practitioners still lack a dedicated resource to call their own. For those intrepid souls, we offer TaxBlawg, a forum of tax talk for tax pros.
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The Internal Revenue Service on Friday released the final version of the much-anticipated Schedule UTP (and accompanying instructions) as well as additional guidance about changes that had been made the schedule. At the same time, the IRS also announced an expansion of the Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) as well as some other minor matters. In the face of much criticism of the draft Schedule UTP and instructions, the IRS made a numbers of significant adjustments; however, several issues remain unresolved.
For most citizens of the United States, the thought of an IRS audit is probably scarier than a root canal or a colonoscopy without anesthesia. As a result, people will be pleased to learn that the Internal Revenue Service is in fact "audited" itself, and sometimes doesn't like the results of those audits.
The notion of auditing the IRS is probably surprising. Most taxpayers know that from time to time their local media doubtless has someone who will find a horror story about a widow who really didn't owe any taxes but is being harassed because of a mistake made by the IRS computer, and from time to time Congress occasionally exercises its oversight over IRS operations above and beyond asking the Commissioner what he's doing about closing the "tax gap." But these contacts are sporadic, and there's a question about their effectiveness.
Judging by the feedback we receive from our readers, the topic of workpapers and work product continues to be an area of major concern for many tax practitioners. For those who are interested in learning more about the topic, particularly in light of the D.C. Circuit's recent decision in United States v. Deloitte LLP, I will be speaking on a webinar panel, U.S. v. Deloitte: Expansion of Work Product Doctrine in Tax Controversies, next Tuesday at 1pm (EDT). For prior TaxBlawg discussion of the Deloitte opinion, see here.
Together with Edward Froelich of Morrison & Foerster and Kevin ...
As we’ve discussed previously at the TaxBlawg, a minor provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – Section 9006, which dramatically expands the requirements for reporting payments on Form 1099 – has become a hot-button issue in Congress. Prior to the law, Form 1099 reporting was not required for payments for goods or (with some exceptions) payments to corporations. Section 9006 expanded the Form 1099 requirement to cover such payments made to a single payee if the payments exceed an aggregate of $600 or more during a calendar year.
Over the summer, the small business lobby called foul, arguing that the expansion imposed an oppressive paperwork burden on small businesses. Consequently, earlier this week, Senate Democrats and Republicans proposed dueling amendments to the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 to “fix” the expanded Form 1099 reporting requirement of Section 9006. In the eternal spirit of politics, each party’s amendment failed because neither wanted to give the other credit for being the savior of small businesses. Despite the failure of these amendments to Section 9006, the Senate passed the bill this afternoon, foreshadowing its likely enactment in the near future.
Last week, the IRS issued a proposed regulation that would generally require corporations to attach Schedule UTP (Uncertain Tax Position Statement) to their returns. The regulation effectively would give the IRS authority to require that the schedule be filed; but the issuance of the regulation raises an interesting question: is the IRS setting the stage to argue that the requirement to file Schedule UTP should be permitted on the basis of deference to the IRS’s regulatory authority?
We now tackle the third question raised by our original post about Canal Corp. v. Comm’r: when (if at all) should courts defer to the opinion of a reputable tax advisor in deciding whether to uphold an assessment of penalties against a taxpayer?
To be clear, deference in this context does not mean that courts should defer to an advisor’s opinion regarding the substantive merits of a transaction. If penalties are at issue, the substantive merits (or lack thereof) of a transaction have already been decided. Instead, deference in this context refers to whether courts should presume that a taxpayer's receipt of an opinion written by a reputable advisor is sufficient to avoid the imposition of penalties on a transaction, notwithstanding a perceived conflict of interest on the advisor's part.
TaxBlawg’s Guest Commentator, David L. Bernard, is the recently retired Vice President of Taxes for Kimberly-Clark Corporation, a past president of the Tax Executives Institute, and a periodic contributor to TaxBlawg.
The financial press can’t stop talking about the amount of cash on corporate balance sheets. Journalists and arm-chair analysts alike point to the $1.84 trillion in cash on the balance sheets of non-financial U.S. companies as a reason to be bullish on the stock market, figuring that eventually cash-rich companies will splurge on dividends and stock buy-backs, if not on pursuing growth opportunities. There’s probably truth to that, but there is also a good chance that some of the cash will never be spent. Why? Because much of this largesse has been earned outside the United States in low tax jurisdictions, and repatriating this would cost billions in cash taxes and earnings.
The Chief Tax Officer (“CTO”), CFO and Corporate Treasurer have many discussions on the desire to return cash to the U.S. and the amount of the resulting “hit” to income that would result. Some companies may have more of a tolerance for the reduction in earnings per share attendant with repatriation of low taxed earnings than others, but the growth in cash in corporate balance sheets suggests that earnings per share still trumps the desire to return cash to the U.S. when the tax burden is too great.