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Tax Blawg

Tax Talk for Tax Pros

Introduction

Welcome to TaxBlawg, a resource 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 by Philip Karter
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    Philip Karter specializes in tax controversy and tax litigation matters.  In his 34-year career, Mr. Karter has litigated Federal tax cases in the United States District Courts, the United States Tax Court and the United States Court ...

As if the waters for small captive insurance arrangements hadn’t been muddied enough after Avrahami v. Commissioner, on June 18, 2018, the U.S. Tax Court issued the second opinion in a small captive case, Reserve Mechanical Corp. v. Commissioner, this time holding that the taxpayer’s participation in a risk pool failed to satisfy the risk distribution requirement (i.e., the sharing of a sufficient number of independent insurance risks so that no one claim can have too great an adverse financial effect on the insurer) to establish a bona fide insurance arrangement. Until this ...

In a high profile summons enforcement case brought by the Internal Revenue Service against Coinbase, Inc. (United States v. Coinbase Inc.No. 3:17-cv-01431 (N.D. Cal. 2017)), a virtual currency exchange for traders of popular digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, the Internal Revenue Service sought the production by Coinbase of all of its customer records involving Bitcoin transactions from 2013 through 2015.  The number of customers potentially susceptible to such a broad summons request was estimated at just under 500,000.

The U.S ...

All taxpayers, whether individuals or not, may deduct as business expenses the costs relating to tax matters that are ordinary and necessary in the conduct of their trade or business under Section 162 of the Internal Revenue Code.  However, certain non-business expenses are also deductible under Section 212, "Expenses for production of income."  Notwithstanding the somewhat limiting title of Section 212, subsection (3) currently permits a deduction for non-business expenses that can have nothing to do with the production of income, namely expenses paid or incurred "in connection ...

Categories: Tax Legislation

The Quality Stores employment tax refund case was argued before the Supreme Court on January 14, 2014.  An explanation about the issue at stake can be found in prior Taxblawg.net postings.  Although the outcome of the case remains in doubt, the possibility of a taxpayer victory means that employers should start thinking about the need to satisfy an important prerequisite to qualify their claims for refund.

Employment (FICA) taxes have both an employer and an employee component. A taxpayer victory in Quality Stores will enable both employers and terminated employees to recover their ...

Is the IRS getting closer to ferreting out “quiet disclosures” by taxpayers who chose that route to address the problem of previously unreported offshore accounts rather than by participating in the Service's offshore voluntary disclosure program (OVDP)?  That’s the conclusion of an increasing number of tax professionals and if taxpayers in this predicament weren't already worried, they should be.

A quiet disclosure involves the filing of new or amended tax returns that report offshore income, and FBARs (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) that provide other ...

Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) may have tried to take a bite out of Apple (AAPL) in congressional hearings last May examining the company’s overseas tax structure, calling it “the holy grail of tax avoidance." However, it appears that more than just Irish eyes are smiling on the company these days, for in the eyes of the SEC, Apple’s efforts to minimize its tax burden are just fine thank you.  See e.g., O'Brian, Chris, "SEC reveals review of Apple's Irish tax disclosures." Los Angeles Times, 3 Oct. 2013, LATimes.com, 9 Oct. 2013.

But is that the happy end of the story for Apple and the ...

For my fellow procrastinators whose federal tax returns are on extension, with the October 15th deadline rapidly approaching, perhaps the burning question has crossed your mind, “If I file electronically while the government is shut down, will my return be accepted?”  Yes, I can happily report that a return electronically submitted to the IRS at 3:43 p.m. this day was “accepted for filing” at 4:04 p.m., efficiency approaching a Michael Phelps-like performance. Perhaps the IRS has designed a system that operates better when it is staffed only by computers rather than by ...

The U.S. Supreme Court today accepted the government's petition for certiorari in  United States v. Quality Stores (Civil No. 10-1563, 6th Cir. 2012), a case in which the Sixth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision that supplemental unemployment compensation benefit (SUB) payments are not taxable as wages and are consequently exempt from FICA taxes.  In accepting the case for consideration, the Supreme Court is expected to resolve a conflict between the Sixth Circuit and the Federal Circuit, which decided a prior case,  CSX Corp. v. United States, 518 F.3d 1328 ...

Categories: Court Cases, Litigation

Any corporate tax executive who has ever been involved in contesting an audit adjustment knows all too well how unfavorable documents relating to the subject of the adjustment – particularly improvident comments reflected in email correspondences – can be an ongoing impediment to resolving a tax dispute from the audit phase right up to and through litigation with the IRS or Department of Justice.  When such documents exist, even where taken out of context, the government will zealously sink its teeth into them like a junkyard dog, making the prospects of reaching a reasonable ...

For companies that have implemented employee layoffs in the past several years and made severance payments to terminated employees, the prospect of eligibility for federal tax refunds for any FICA taxes withheld from such payments took another step forward with the Sixth Circuit’s January 4th denial of the government’s petition for rehearing en banc in United States v. Quality Stores (Civil No. 10-1563, 6th Cir. 2012).

The rehearing petition was filed after a government loss in September of last year in which the appellate court affirmed a lower court’s decision that ...