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Tax Blawg

Tax Talk Blog for Tax Pros

Introduction

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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Posts from April 2011.

As many of our readers probably saw, the IRS recently published Notice 2011-39, inviting public comment on issues to be included on the Treasury Department's 2011-2012 Guidance Priority List. You can find a copy of the notice here. The Guidance Priority List helps Treasury and the Service identify tax issues to address in the coming year through published guidance - e.g., regulations, revenue rulings, and revenue procedures - with an emphasis on promoting the clarification of ambiguous areas of the law.

In response to the Notice, Chamberlain Hrdlicka intends to submit a comment ...

Categories: Administrative

Last week, the United States Department of Justice asked a federal court in San Francisco to force HSBC India to disclose the names of U.S. customers whom the Justice Department suspects are evading U.S. tax laws.  According to the Justice Department’s brief, HSBC India solicited U.S. residents of Indian origin to open bank accounts.  HSBC apparently advised those individuals that the bank would not disclose the existence of the accounts, or any interest earned on those accounts, to the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, two individuals recently pled guilty to tax evasion in connection ...

A little more than a year after introducing The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2010, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has returned with a new partner, Dan Coats (R-Ind.), to push for much-needed simplification of the Internal Revenue Code.  As with the earlier proposal, the Wyden-Coats proposal focuses on broadening the tax base and generally lowering statutory tax rates.

For some of the mixed reactions to the proposal, see the Tax Foundation and The Hill.

For businesses, the proposal would:

  • Lower the corporate tax rate to a flat 24 percent;
  • Eliminate the “deferral” ...

During a webinar the other week regarding the impact of the Mayo Foundation decision on taxpayers, I discussed the effect of Mayo on taxpayers’ decisions to take positions that are contrary to IRS rules or regulations.  Part of that discussion examined the 20-percent accuracy-related penalty that can be imposed on such positions under Code section 6662.

As our readers may know, if a taxpayer takes a position on a return that is contrary to an IRS rule or regulation, the taxpayer may avoid the imposition of the accuracy-related penalty by following the requirements of Treas. Reg. § 1.6662-3.  In general, that regulation provides that, when a taxpayer takes a position contrary to a regulation, the penalty for disregarding rules or regulations does not apply if (i) the position is disclosed on “a properly completed and filed Form 8275-R,” (ii) the position represents a “good faith challenge” to the validity of the regulation, and (iii) the taxpayer has a reasonable basis for the position.  Treas. Reg. § 1.6662-3(a), (c)(1), (c)(2).

At the end of the webinar, an audience member asked whether the requirement to disclose a position on Form 8275-R included a position that was contrary to a revenue ruling.  As so often happens in tax law, the answer creates as many questions as it resolves.  Because one person’s question is likely shared by others, it seems appropriate to discuss the issue in a blawg post.

Categories: Administrative

Anxious tax departments can rejoice!  By a 87-12 vote, the Senate passed legislation repealing the Form 1099 provision, which was included in health care reform.

Currently, Forms 1099 are required for payments of more than $600 to unincorporated service providers.  The health care reform bill expands this requirement for 2012 to goods as well as services and applies to all types of vendors.  Senate passage of the bill, which previously cleared the House, sends the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.  Once signed into law, the additional information reporting ...

Categories: Employment Tax

Five days ago, this would have seemed like just another April Fools'  Day joke, but it is apparently quite real.  Via the Washington Times, an excerpt:

There's at least one government function some taxpayers might not miss in a government shutdown: IRS tax audits.

A senior administration official, briefing reporters on potential effects of a shutdown, said "the performance of tax audits will be shut down or suspended for this period."

Overall, the official said he expects about 800,000 government employees to be furloughed if Congress and the president aren't able to agree on spending ...

Categories: Audit

For the last several years, the Internal Revenue Service has been increasing the number of "correspondence" audits that it conducts. There seems to be an assumption that it costs less and requires less manpower than field or in-person audits, and that assumption is doubtless true. However, there is a real question about the quality of such examinations and in particular IRS follow-up.

Since no later than 2007, various groups have been complaining to the IRS that correspondence audits were not being administered professionally. The principal complaint was that the IRS was issuing ...

On March 29, 2011, the IRS published Notice 2011-28 which provides interim guidance on informational reporting to employees of the cost of their employer-sponsored group health plan coverage. This informational reporting is required under § 6051(a)(14) of the Internal Revenue Code. This provision was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act to provide useful and comparable consumer information to employees on the cost of their health care coverage. This reporting to employees is for their information only, to inform them of the cost of their health care coverage, and does not ...

Categories: Employment Tax