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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 Philip Karter
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    Philip Karter specializes in tax controversy and tax litigation matters.  In his 35-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 ...

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 ...

It has been universally reported that under the newly passed American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, net capital gain tax rates have risen to 20% for taxpayers with taxable income greater than $400,000 for single filers and $450,000 for joint filers.  To clarify this broad statement, under section 102 of the new law, the higher capital gains rate applies only to the gain that, when added to other taxable income, exceeds the threshold amounts.  Taxpayers below the 39.6% taxable income threshold before capital gains are taken into account will have their capital gains taxed at 15% up to the ...

With the looming increase in tax rates on investment income and capital gains in particular, a large number of stock market investors have been selling long-term positions to lock in the 2012 rate, which currently tops out at 15%.  Come January 1,2013, gain on the same sale could be taxed at a rate as high as 23.8%, consisting of a long-term capital gains tax rate of 20% plus a Medicare surtax of 3.8% imposed on joint filers with AGI greater than $250,000 and single filers with AGI greater than $200,000.  (See Internal Revenue Code § 1411).

A question attracting attention as the year draws to a ...

In a recent TaxBlawg post, my colleague Jonathan Prokup discussed the IRS’ intention to begin requesting electronic files as part of taxpayer examinations so that it can analyze the “metadata” contained in those files.  One of the concerns raised in the post, as announced in Chief Counsel Advice 201146017, was the possibility that such data in the hands of the IRS may be insecure and therefore potentially susceptible to theft by third-party hackers (which, by the way, could conceivably expose the IRS to damages for disclosure of taxpayer information under IRC § 6103

As reported earlier this week in the tax press, the recently completed initial filing season for Schedule UTP produced at least one major surprise in the eyes of IRS officials, who had anticipated a much greater number of items listed on the average Schedule UTP than actually materialized.  In fact, the IRS’s predictions were off by a wide margin, with the number of disclosed positions of the 1,500 or so Schedule UTPs filed averaging only slightly more than three items per schedule for CIC taxpayers, and less than two items for non-CIC taxpayers.  Pre-filing expectations of item ...

One of our readers recently emailed us with a question about the application of the new Schedule UTP to deferred tax assets.  The question is straightforward enough: must uncertain positions involving deferred tax assets be reported on Schedule UTP and, if so, when must they be reported?  The explanation, thanks to confusion created by several examples in the final Schedule UTP instructions, is anything but straightforward.  Let’s start with a little background.

In Tuesday’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, one topic on which there appeared to be agreement between the nominee and the panel was concern about the dwindling number of cases heard by the High Court. In response to questioning from Senator Arlen Specter, Kagan had no explanation for the precipitous decline in the Court’s docket over the last 20 years, but agreed that it has led to an increase in unresolved conflicts among the circuit courts on “vital national issues.”

Quite naturally, those of us in the tax field like to think of our livelihoods as ...

Categories: Corporate, Litigation

For almost 50 years, lawyers have relied on the “Kovel Rule” to extend the attorney-client privilege to non-testifying accountants or other business experts.   The philosophy behind the rule, so named after the landmark case, United States v. Kovel, 296 F. 2d 918 (2nd. Cir. 1961), is to recognize “the complexities of modern existence [which] prevent attorneys from effectively handling clients' affairs without the help of others . . . .”  Id. at 921.  Without such a rule, disclosure to a third party would constitute a waiver of the attorney-client privilege.

In practice, the ...

Last week, at the TEI Midyear Conference in Washington, LMSB Commissioner Heather Maloy told corporate tax executives attending the conference that “trust” was the key to successfully implementing the new reporting requirements for uncertain tax positions first set forth in Announcement 2010-9.  As reported in the April 14th edition of Tax Notes, 2010 TNT 71-2, Maloy also told the attendees that enhanced transparency through the use of this reporting mechanism would be “mutually beneficial” in terms of improved issue resolution and efficiency.

Last month, I commented ...

The recent decision in Bemont Investments, LLC v. United States, USDC E.D. Tex., No. 4:07-cv-00009 (March 9, 2010) is another burr in the IRS’s saddle when it comes to enforcement of the substantial valuation and gross valuation misstatement penalties.  These two penalties, particularly the 40% gross valuation misstatement penalty, are powerful weapons in the IRS’s arsenal to deter taxpayers from entering into transactions the IRS considers abusive.  Bemont, out of the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, was a Son of BOSS case that the IRS characterized as a sham ...

Categories: Litigation