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Tax Blawg

Tax Talk Blog for Tax Pros

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.

Tax practitioners have previously lacked 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 Peter A. Lowy
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    Peter A. Lowy, a shareholder in Chamberlain Hrdlicka’s Houston office, is best known for his tax controversy work and deep experience in the energy sector. He also advises corporations and other taxpayers in a broad spectrum of ...

Greek philosopher Plutarch is famous for posing the Ship of Theseus Paradox.  The mythical hero Theseus, upon sailing back to Athens after an epic battle, replaces, one-by-one, the old, decayed planks of his mighty ship with new and stronger timbers.  The thought experiment is whether the ship which has been restored by replacing each and every one of its wooden planks is still the same ship.  If not, when did it become a new ship?  When half of the planks were replaced?  When the last plank was replaced? 

In a recently issued appellate court decision, Schneider National Leasing, Inc. v. United ...

The road to obtaining a large tax refund can sometimes feel like the journey of a 1000 miles. In prior postings we have discussed the single step with which the journey typically begins – the refund claim. Today we’ll touch on a final step in the journey – review by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).

Introduction to JCT’s Role in Tax Refunds

The JCT is a bicameral committee of the U.S. Congress charged with several responsibilities including the review of large tax refunds. Specifically, in the case of tax refunds in excess of $2,000,000 ($5,000,000 in the case of a C ...

When the IRS reaches (in the words of Tax Court Judge Mark Holmes) the “we're taking your stuff” stage to collect back-taxes, taxpayers generally have the right to a collection due process (CDP) hearing at which a CDP hearings officer is duty-bound to independently and genuinely evaluate whether it’s proper for the IRS to move forward with seizing a taxpayer’s property.  On May 20, 2021, the Tax Court, in Mason v. Commissioner, concluded the IRS had abused its discretion in the CDP process when it gave the green-light to the IRS collection division to take the taxpayer’s stuff ...

London’s Underground (which is a subway to us Yanks) is known for its iconic warnings to “mind the gap.”  That’s the spatial crevice between the train and the station platform.  In D.C., a different gap is garnering attention: the tax gap.  This is the delta between taxes owed to the government and actually paid.

On May 20, 2021, as part of the Administration’s pitch for an $80 billion increase in IRS funding, Treasury released a report that outlines the magnitude and categorical causes of the tax gap, and in broad strokes how it would deploy the $80 billion over a 10-year period to ...

Wish you had planned your transaction differently for tax purposes?  In limited circumstances, the courts may allow a taxpayer to claim tax consequences consistent with a transaction’s economic substance even if inconsistent with its form.

In tax litigation involving structured transactions, when the form of a transaction produces favorable tax results for the taxpayer, the IRS often trots out various economic substance / form over substance-type theories to ignore or recast the form a transaction.  Conversely, when an alternative form of a transaction would produce more ...

There are few limits to human ingenuity.  We are witnessing this inventiveness as multiple vaccines roll out across the globe to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.  Similar worldwide efforts may someday result in technologies to address climate change, and in particular the presence of atmospheric carbon gases which are widely-regarded as the cause. 

For now, it remains unknown what types of technologies will ultimately supply the cure.  Possibilities range from alternative energies that do not release carbon gases (the trick is finding such an energy that is reliable, abundant and ...

The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day they purchase the boat and the day they sell it, or so the old adage goes.  The same saw may apply to the purchase of private jets, as they are massively expensive to maintain and operate, particularly if the owner hires others to deal with the many hassles of ownership.  Nevertheless, due to the pandemic, there has been a spike in private air travel.  Many wealthy individuals opt for chartering jets or joining private jet membership clubs like Net Jets, Blue Sky Jets, and Wheels Up.  But for some, there’s nothing like owning your own ...

Taxpayers should never be taxed on income they don’t receive.  But it happens.  It occurred in a recent decision, Koopmann v. United States, No. 09-CV-333 T (Fed. Cl. Sept. 30, 2020), and there are lessons that may be learned from what went wrong for the litigant in that case. 

In Koopmann, the taxpayer retired from United Airlines in 2000, and was covered by United Airlines' non-qualified deferred compensation plan.  About two years after the taxpayer’s retirement, United Airlines filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, which ultimately resulted in an approved reorganization plan ...

As we enter the final stretch of 2020, certain windows of opportunity are closing for many clients to lawfully reduce their taxes or obtain cash refunds of taxes paid.  Here we focus on a big and soon-expiring opportunity for clients with heavily distressed assets or investments, and in net loss situations for 2020, which is all-too-common in the midst of Covid-19. 

The opportunity, which is unique to 2020 and thus requires immediate attention, involves triggering losses in a manner to achieve ordinary loss treatment.  Triggering losses at year-end is an annual ritual for many ...

The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (TCJA) includes Internal Revenue Code Section 67(g) which on its face suspends all miscellaneous itemized deductions for any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. But not all deductions are “miscellaneous itemized deductions” and thus some deductions are unaffected by new Section 67(g). When Congress enacted the TCJA in December 2017, many practitioners urged Treasury to clarify that the Act’s suspension of miscellaneous itemized deductions did not impact the ability of trusts and estates to deduct ...