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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 in Administrative.

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Employment Tax: Yet Another Opportunity to Come Clean -

Whether a worker is performing services as an employee or as an independent contractor depends on the facts and circumstances.  This determination may be difficult for many companies and may lead to significant exposure.  In order to facilitate voluntary resolution of  potential worker classification issues and achieve the benefits of increased tax compliance and certainty for all parties, taxpayers, workers and the government, the IRS established the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (“(VCSP”) on ...

Life grants few chances at true redemption. The Internal Revenue Code, likewise, is not known for facilitating taxpayer salvation. Sure, under certain circumstances, taxpayers have an opportunity to file late tax-related elections to rectify an oversight, and other forms of clemency exist. However, the general rule is that taxpayers are stuck with a position once they take it on a tax return filed the IRS. One obscure exception to this rule is the qualified amended return (“QAR”), which can be a powerful self-help remedy for taxpayers who experience the “oh-shoot” moment ...

During a course that I taught about tax treaties at last week’s TEI Houston Tax School, one audience member asked whether the exchange-of-information provisions of U.S. tax treaties apply not only to the federal government but also to state and local governments.   I had to confess that I did not know the answer of the top of my head.  However, I took a quick look at the question later in the week.

By way of background, in each income tax treaty with foreign jurisdictions, the United States negotiates an “exchange of information and administrative assistance” provision.  This ...

On February 14, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) issued Notice 2012-1, which extends the 2011 and 2012 FBAR filing deadline for certain individuals to June 30, 2013.  The notice extends relief previously granted by FINCEN to employees and officers with signature authority over bank accounts owned by subsidiaries of certain regulated entities (e.g., banks, commodity traders, and investment advisors).  See Notice 2012-1; Notice 2011-1; Notice 2011-2; 31 C.F.R. § 1010.350(f)(2).

For those keeping score, the government has tinkered with the FBAR filing ...

The Supreme Court’s decision in Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research v. United States means that tax practitioners must be more sensitive to administrative law and judicial deference to administrative rules.  This includes gaining some familiarity with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the major cases that deal with judicial deference to administrative action, starting with Chevron USA Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc.  While the Supreme Court spends a lot more time considering issues of administrative law rather than tax law, the many ...

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 ...