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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 in Tax Procedure.

On August 24, the IRS issued an internal memorandum that impacts when taxpayers may obtain IRS Appeals Conferences if their issues are designated for litigation.  As background, the IRS has a long-standing policy of permitting taxpayers an administrative-level review of audit adjustments by referring matters to its Office of Appeals.  For decades, this review process was discretionary for the IRS to offer.  It was a matter of administrative grace.  No longer.

Enter The Taxpayer First Act

In July 2019, Congress enacted The Taxpayer First Act which codified the Appeals Office (with a new ...

People are always asking how long the IRS can wait from the time you file your return to conduct an audit of your income and expenses.  The simple, most definitive answer is "it all depends," so let's take a look at the rules.

The time in which the IRS must conduct its audit is governed by what's known as a "statute of limitations."  That statute doesn't begin to run until you actually file a return.  Once you file a return, the IRS has three years from the time the return was filed (or, April 15th of the year in which you file, if it is filed early) to conduct and complete an audit.  That means that the IRS has to select your return for examination, conduct whatever level of audit it is going to perform, and either get an agreement from you to an additional amount of tax or a refund, secure an extension of limitations period from you, or issue you a document known as a "Notice of Deficiency" (indicating what it has determined your correct tax liability to be and giving you ninety days to go the United States Tax Court). 

If it fails to complete one of these actions within three years, in most situations the proverbial “ballgame” is over and it will be too late for the IRS to assert an additional tax liability for that year.  The filing of an amended return does not extend the period in which an audit must take place.  As you might expect, however, there are exceptions. 

Categories: Tax Procedure

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 ...

The Quality Stores employment tax refund case was argued before the Supreme Court on January 14, 2014.  An explanation about the issue at stake can be found in prior Taxblawg.net postings.  Although the outcome of the case remains in doubt, the possibility of a taxpayer victory means that employers should start thinking about the need to satisfy an important prerequisite to qualify their claims for refund.

Employment (FICA) taxes have both an employer and an employee component. A taxpayer victory in Quality Stores will enable both employers and terminated employees to recover their ...

Is the IRS getting closer to ferreting out “quiet disclosures” by taxpayers who chose that route to address the problem of previously unreported offshore accounts rather than by participating in the Service's offshore voluntary disclosure program (OVDP)?  That’s the conclusion of an increasing number of tax professionals and if taxpayers in this predicament weren't already worried, they should be.

A quiet disclosure involves the filing of new or amended tax returns that report offshore income, and FBARs (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) that provide other ...

In a blog posting earlier this year, we talked about the Sixth Circuit's decision in United States v. Quality Stores (Civil No. 10-1563, 6th Cir. 2012) affirming a lower court’s decision that supplemental unemployment compensation benefit (SUB) payments are not taxable as wages and are consequently exempt from FICA taxes. The Sixth Circuit’s decision in Quality Stores directly conflicts with the Federal Circuit’s prior decision in CSX Corp. v. United States, 518 F.3d 1328 (Fed. Cir. 2008), which held that such payments were subject to FICA.  For many employers who have filed ...

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 ...

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 ...

It is not uncommon for sought-after job seekers to receive what appears to be an offer that is too good to be true:  in addition to a good compensation and benefits package, the employer proposes to make a loan to the applicant, and to forgive the entire amount if the person stays employed for a particular term—such as five years.  Sometimes the game plan is not in writing, and is left to “wink wink, nudge nudge” in terms of the likelihood that the loan will be forgiven if the person stays employed that length of time.

These arrangements are not in any way “illegal,” but as Robert and ...

Categories: Tax Procedure

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 ...