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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 in Administrative.

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 ...

Over the weekend, a variety of Canadian news sources (see, e.g., the Financial Post and the Edmonton Journal) reported on anticipated guidance from the IRS, which would result in the waiver of penalties on certain U.S. citizens living in Canada for past failures to file Form TD F 90-22.1, commonly known as the "FBAR."  According to the news reports, the IRS will waive failure-to-file penalties for such individuals who file delinquent tax returns and FBARS so long as the individual owes no taxes.  In addition, taxpayers who were unaware of the FBAR filing requirement will be able to file ...

As discussed in a story in this morning's Tax Notes, the IRS intends to begin requesting electronic files as part of  taxpayer examinations so that it can analyze the "metadata" contained in those files.  Metadata, sometimes referred to as "data about data," generally shows information about a computer file, such as its editing history.  The IRS claims that such information "may be relevant" to taxpayer examinations because the information "may support or undermine the credibility of the records offered to substantiate the accuracy of the [taxpayer's] return."  See Chief Counsel ...

For taxpayers who entered the IRS’s second Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (“OVDI”) prior to August 31, 2011, November 29th marked the end of the extended deadline that some taxpayers requested for submitting all of the materials included in the disclosure (e.g., amended returns, FBARs).  Coincidentally with the timing of this deadline, many individuals who only recently learned of their reporting obligations (or, in some cases, of the existence of their accounts in the first place) are asking themselves what they can do now, having missed the opportunity to ...

Apparently, there are a large number of U.S. citizens living outside the United States as well as a large number of individuals who are dual citizens of the United States and their country of residence (estimated to be in the millions).  Judging from the phone calls that I have been receiving from my contacts at foreign law and accounting firms, a large number of them have recently become aware of the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (“OVDI”) providing reduced penalties for U.S. citizens who come forward to report previously undisclosed foreign financial accounts ...

TaxBlawg’s Guest Commentator, David L. Bernard, is the former Vice President of Taxes for Kimberly-Clark Corporation, a past president of the Tax Executives Institute, and a periodic contributor to TaxBlawg.

My last blog post suggested that the best defense against transfer pricing assessments is the adoption of a globally consistent transfer pricing policy supported by appropriate documentation. Near the conclusion of that post, I noted that the Competent Authority (CA) process and Advance Pricing Agreements (“APAs”) were tools that could be employed if your company faced transfer pricing adjustments.

Although the goal of your transfer pricing policy and related documentation is to manage risk and avoid tax assessments, the nature of the beast is such that there is no precise price one can pinpoint in transfer pricing matters that can completely eliminate the risk of a tax authority’s challenge. Rather, there is usually a range of potential prices that may be appropriate. A tax authority may be inclined to pick a price at the end of the range most favorable to its country from a revenue perspective, leaving the Chief Tax Officer (CTO) to consider a menu of potential remedies, including administrative appeals, litigation, APAs, or perhaps a request for CA assistance.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Mayo Foundation v. United States, in which the Court ruled that tax regulations receive deference from courts under the Chevron doctrine that applies to non-tax regulations, many commentators acknowledged the decision’s anticipated impact on disputes about the validity of tax regulations.  The new standard gives the IRS much wider latitude in issuing regulations that fill gaps caused by statutory ambiguities. In our prior discussions of the decision, we speculated:

The IRS may be wise to keep in mind that neither it, nor the courts ...

As many of our readers probably saw, the IRS recently published Notice 2011-39, inviting public comment on issues to be included on the Treasury Department's 2011-2012 Guidance Priority List. You can find a copy of the notice here. The Guidance Priority List helps Treasury and the Service identify tax issues to address in the coming year through published guidance - e.g., regulations, revenue rulings, and revenue procedures - with an emphasis on promoting the clarification of ambiguous areas of the law.

In response to the Notice, Chamberlain Hrdlicka intends to submit a comment ...

Categories: Administrative

Last week, the United States Department of Justice asked a federal court in San Francisco to force HSBC India to disclose the names of U.S. customers whom the Justice Department suspects are evading U.S. tax laws.  According to the Justice Department’s brief, HSBC India solicited U.S. residents of Indian origin to open bank accounts.  HSBC apparently advised those individuals that the bank would not disclose the existence of the accounts, or any interest earned on those accounts, to the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, two individuals recently pled guilty to tax evasion in connection ...

During a webinar the other week regarding the impact of the Mayo Foundation decision on taxpayers, I discussed the effect of Mayo on taxpayers’ decisions to take positions that are contrary to IRS rules or regulations.  Part of that discussion examined the 20-percent accuracy-related penalty that can be imposed on such positions under Code section 6662.

As our readers may know, if a taxpayer takes a position on a return that is contrary to an IRS rule or regulation, the taxpayer may avoid the imposition of the accuracy-related penalty by following the requirements of Treas. Reg. § 1.6662-3.  In general, that regulation provides that, when a taxpayer takes a position contrary to a regulation, the penalty for disregarding rules or regulations does not apply if (i) the position is disclosed on “a properly completed and filed Form 8275-R,” (ii) the position represents a “good faith challenge” to the validity of the regulation, and (iii) the taxpayer has a reasonable basis for the position.  Treas. Reg. § 1.6662-3(a), (c)(1), (c)(2).

At the end of the webinar, an audience member asked whether the requirement to disclose a position on Form 8275-R included a position that was contrary to a revenue ruling.  As so often happens in tax law, the answer creates as many questions as it resolves.  Because one person’s question is likely shared by others, it seems appropriate to discuss the issue in a blawg post.

Categories: Administrative