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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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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 & ...

Following the release of Ann and Mitt Romney’s tax returns, the news media and political commentators of all stripes have – to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie – detected, neglected, selected, rejected, and inspected those returns for a variety of commercial and political purposes.  As expected, the return shows substantial income, largely from passive investments.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Romneys’ returns – from a tax practitioner’s perspective – is the geographic location of a significant portion of their investments.  As MSNBC reported:

His 2010 return ...

In this morning’s Tax Notes (subscription required), Jeremiah Coder addresses a topic that we at the Tax Blawg have discussed a couple of times over the past two years: the tax consequences of a potential breakup of the euro.  For our prior coverage, see here and here.  As the currency lurches towards and away from a potential dissolution (in part or in whole), the tax fallout of such an event lurks in the background.

The Tax Notes article generally covers the major tax issue (e.g., currency gain/loss recognition) associated with a potential breakup of the euro.  As the article seemed to ...

Fox Business invited me to appear yesterday on “After The Bell” with Liz Claman and David Asman to discuss (i) the IRS reopening the disclosure initiative for offshore bank accounts and (ii) the ongoing debate about whether Congress should implement a corporate repatriation holiday.  A link to the video is below the fold.

See the video at Fox Business.

The reopening of the 2011 OVDI is good news for taxpayers.  While the initiative presently has no deadline by which taxpayers must come forward, the IRS can change the terms of the initiative at any time.  If the government experiences ...

The IRS announced yesterday a reopening of its 2011 offshore voluntary disclosure initiative (“OVDI”).  This program will have essentially the same terms as the 2011 OVDI, but with a penalty rate of 27.5 percent (rather than 25 percent) of the highest account balance during the period covered by the initiative.  The program requires filing eight years of amended tax returns and unfiled FBARs and the payment of tax, interest and a possible accuracy-related penalty on unreported income as well as the above-mentioned lump-sum penalty.  In certain cases, a reduced penalty for failure ...

On December 9th, the IRS issued final regulations under Code section 881 that treat a disregarded entity as a person to determine whether a “financing arrangement” exists for purposes of applying the conduit financing regulations.  The finalized regulations may deny tax benefits otherwise available from U.S. tax treaties when a multi-party financing transaction is executed with a disregarded entity serving as an intermediary.

Code section 7701(l) permits the IRS to issue regulations that recharacterize a multi-party financing transaction (often referred to as a conduit ...

As noted by Janet Novack at forbes.com, Judge England of the District Court for the Eastern District of California last week issued an order permitting the IRS to serve a "John Doe" summons on the California State Board of Equalization.  The summons seeks the names of residents who transferred property to relatives for little or no considerations.  The IRS hopes that the information it receives will identify individuals who should have, but did not, file Forms 709 - Gift Tax Returns.

According to Ms. Novack's post, the IRS' efforts involving information obtained from other states has ...

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 ...

Peter Pappas at the Tax Lawyer's Blog takes note of a recent report from TIGTA regarding audits of small corporations (those with less than $10 million in assets, according to the IRS).  As Mr. Pappas says, language from the report suggests that Treasury may consider the closely held nature of many small businesses to be an indicator of a propensity to structure transactions to avoid taxes.

Many corporations in the United States are considered closely held because they are owned by one shareholder or a closely knit group of shareholders. As such, these shareholders typically have a ...