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Tax Blawg

Tax Talk for Tax Pros

Introduction

Welcome to TaxBlawg, a 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 by Hale E. Sheppard
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    Hale Sheppard is a partner in the Tax Controversy & Litigation Section and Chair of the International Tax Section.  He defends clients in tax audits, tax appeals, and Tax Court litigation, covering both domestic and ...

Back in the era of beepers, being "on call" evoked imagery of importance.  Indeed, those people required by their job to carry a beeper, along with those who did so voluntary, displayed the devices with a noticeable degree of smugness.  The positive aspects of this status symbol aside, anyone who has been obligated to carry a beeper or its modern equivalent (e.g., BlackBerry, iPhone, PalmPilot, etc.) understands that being constantly reachable is often more of a curse than a blessing.

Many jobs mandate that a person respond to messages within a certain period of time, minimize travel so ...

The tax code is best known for its strict rules, but it also features hundreds of taxpayer-favorable elections.  The first step to evaluating and possibly taking advantage of these elections is being aware of their existence.  Unfortunately, taxpayers and/or their advisors sometimes overlook an election or fail to follow the related procedures.  A classic example is the so-called "aggregation election," under which taxpayers who qualify as real estate professionals can choose to combine all their interests in real estate endeavors for purposes of the passive activity rules in ...

Nearly all taxpayers will face penalties by the IRS at some point, regardless of their sophistication level and size.  Accordingly, tax practitioners, even those who claim not to get involved in traditional "collection" activities, must understand key aspects of abatement and collection procedures in order to effectively advise their clients.  This is particularly true given that the IRS persists in taking extreme positions in the Tax Court, such as the always-say-never approach, that are contrary to the majority of existing legal authorities.  A recent example is Custom Stairs & ...

For better or worse, many a tax dispute has been won or lost on procedure, often on the question of whether a document - be it a tax return, refund claim, or petition - was timely filed.  The centrality of this issue helps explain the renown of the otherwise unremarkable "mailbox rule" (a.k.a. the "timely-mailing-is-timely-filing rule").

The attached article, published in the International Tax Review, examines a recent case, Dietsche v. Commissioner, in which the Tax Court ruled that a petition mailed from New Zealand and postmarked the day after its due date was not timely filed ...

Nowadays, newspapers and tax journals often contain articles about international tax issues, particularly the duty of U.S. persons to file an annual Form TD F 90-22.1 ("FBAR") to report their interests in foreign financial accounts.  As general knowledge of the FBAR increases, the chances of taxpayers avoiding penalties on grounds that they did not act "willfully" decrease. Nevertheless, one recent case fought before both the Tax Court and a federal district court, in United States v. Williams, 09-cv-437 (E.D. Va. 2010), offers support for the notion that where there's no will ...

Much confusion has existed over the past few years about filing Form TD F 90-22.1 ("FBAR") to report foreign accounts to the IRS.  To remedy this, the IRS issued pronouncements in 2009 and 2010 granting certain FBAR filing exemptions and penalty waivers.  Many of these benefits had retroactive effect.  A recent criminal case, United States v. Simon, calls into question the validity of the IRS pronouncements.  By holding that the U.S. Department of Justice may pursue criminal prosecutions in situations where the IRS publicly indicated that it would not even assert civil penalties, this ...