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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 Litigation.

Two weeks ago, the Fifth Circuit summarily rejected a taxpayer request for an en banc rehearing in Southgate Master Fund LLC v. United States.  The appellate court had previously concluded that the taxpayer was not entitled to a claimed capital loss from a transaction involving the acquisition of distressed debt via a partnership because the partnership was a “sham” that should be disregarded for federal tax purposes.  The taxpayer's petition for rehearing, along with two amicus briefs, raised the specter that the Fifth Circuit's opinion would require taxpayers to have a non-tax ...

The Third Circuit yesterday issued a harshly worded rebuke to the taxpayer in Merck v. United States, No. 10-2775 (Jun. 20, 2011), affirming the District Court’s decision that the taxpayer’s swap-and-assign transaction was really a disguised loan that gave rise to Subpart F income.  (See TaxProfBlog for a link to the opinion.)

Described briefly, the transactions at issue involved a U.S. company that entered into interest rate swap contracts with a foreign bank.  The company then assigned its right to receive payments under the swaps to foreign subsidiaries in exchange for ...

For better or worse, many a tax dispute has been won or lost on procedure, often on the question of whether a document - be it a tax return, refund claim, or petition - was timely filed.  The centrality of this issue helps explain the renown of the otherwise unremarkable "mailbox rule" (a.k.a. the "timely-mailing-is-timely-filing rule").

The attached article, published in the International Tax Review, examines a recent case, Dietsche v. Commissioner, in which the Tax Court ruled that a petition mailed from New Zealand and postmarked the day after its due date was not timely filed ...

On February 9, 2011, the third appellate court in as many weeks issued an opinion addressing whether an overstatement of basis extends the statute of limitations for assessment to six years under section 6501(e)(1)(A).  In Burks v. United States, No. 09-11061 (Feb. 9, 2011) (opinion here), the Fifth Circuit joined the majority of circuit courts that have addressed the issue (including the Fourth, Ninth, and Federal Circuits, as well as the Tax Court) by holding that an overstatement of basis does not trigger the extended statute.  At this point, only the Seventh Circuit has held to the contrary, and the Seventh Circuit’s recent precedent lies on a broad and now-questionable reading of Fifth Circuit precedent, Phinney v. Chambers 392 F.2d 680 (5th Cir. 1968), which the Fifth Circuit confined to its narrow facts.

Categories: Audit, Litigation

Yet another appellate court has weighed in on whether an overstatement of basis constitutes an omission of gross income subject to the six-year statute of limitations under Code section 6501(e)(1)(A).  Home Concrete v. United States, No. 09-2353 (4th Cir. Feb. 7, 2011). This time, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Ninth (Bakersfield Energy Partners LP v. Comm’r, 568 F.3d 767 (9th Cir. 2009)) and Federal Circuits (Salman Ranch Ltd. v. United States, 573 F.3d 1362 (Fed. Cir. 2009)), as well as the Tax Court (Intermountain Insurance Services v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo ...

Categories: Audit, Litigation

The Seventh Circuit handed the government a victory yesterday, deciding in Beard v. Comm’r that a taxpayer’s overstatement of basis can result in an omission of income under Code section 6501(e), thereby extending to six years the statute of limitations for the IRS to make an assessment, rather than the usual three.

Background

Beard involved an individual taxpayer who had engaged in a variant of the so-called “Son-of-BOSS” transaction in which the taxpayer sold short a position in a financial asset and contributed to a partnership both the proceeds of and the debt created by ...

Categories: Audit, Litigation

The Supreme Court’s decision this week in Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research v. United States clarifies the approach courts should take in determining the validity of IRS regulations.  The decision is a victory for the IRS, but it leaves many issues unresolved.  One thing is very clear, however: the IRS can be expected to push the decision aggressively in future challenges to its regulations.

Categories: Litigation

At Chamberlain, we are very proud of our colleagues’ efforts on behalf of pro bono clients.  Two of our attorneys, Juan Vasquez, Jr. and Jaime Vasquez of the firm's Houston office, along with Peter Lowy of Shell Oil Company, recently argued a pro bono case in front of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Terrell v. Comm’r.

The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded a U.S. Tax Court ruling which dismissed the taxpayer’s petition for lack of jurisdiction because she filed her petition more than 90 days after the IRS sent her a Notice of Final Determination.  Noting that the IRS was on ...

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.

A little over a month ago, our guest commentator, Dave Bernard, pointed out that a significant number of multinational companies have built up large stockpiles of cash in low-tax jurisdictions around the world.  While these stockpiles had been noticed by various journalists, Dave explained that the persistence of these stockpiles could largely be explained by U.S. tax policy, which discourages companies from repatriating cash earned abroad due to the earnings impact of bringing the money back to the U.S.