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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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Greek philosopher Plutarch is famous for posing the Ship of Theseus Paradox.  The mythical hero Theseus, upon sailing back to Athens after an epic battle, replaces, one-by-one, the old, decayed planks of his mighty ship with new and stronger timbers.  The thought experiment is whether the ship which has been restored by replacing each and every one of its wooden planks is still the same ship.  If not, when did it become a new ship?  When half of the planks were replaced?  When the last plank was replaced? 

In a recently issued appellate court decision, Schneider National Leasing, Inc. v. United ...

The road to obtaining a large tax refund can sometimes feel like the journey of a 1000 miles. In prior postings we have discussed the single step with which the journey typically begins – the refund claim. Today we’ll touch on a final step in the journey – review by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).

Introduction to JCT’s Role in Tax Refunds

The JCT is a bicameral committee of the U.S. Congress charged with several responsibilities including the review of large tax refunds. Specifically, in the case of tax refunds in excess of $2,000,000 ($5,000,000 in the case of a C ...

On August 11, 2011, TIGTA published a report entitled ‘”Efforts to Address the Compliance Risk of Underreporting of S Corporation Officers' Compensation are Increasing, but More Action Can Be Taken.”  At the outset, TIGTA properly identified part of the problem:  there are S corporations – some owned by one individual and others owned by groups – where the officers perform work and do not pay themselves compensation. 

The S corporation is a “pass through,” so that its income would be passed through and be reported by the Officer.  However, this technique has the effect of ...

The undersigned has been practicing in the United States Tax Court since May 1971, and has seen many changes, such as the evolution of the very simple Tax Court Rules of Practice during 1973 into the Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure when the Court added provisions with regard to summary judgment as well as discovery.  The Tax Court, and its predecessor – the Bureau of Tax Appeals, were originally created to give taxpayers the opportunity to challenge determinations of deficiencies in taxes, and occasionally secure overpayments when in fact they were appropriate.  Over time ...

When the IRS reaches (in the words of Tax Court Judge Mark Holmes) the “we're taking your stuff” stage to collect back-taxes, taxpayers generally have the right to a collection due process (CDP) hearing at which a CDP hearings officer is duty-bound to independently and genuinely evaluate whether it’s proper for the IRS to move forward with seizing a taxpayer’s property.  On May 20, 2021, the Tax Court, in Mason v. Commissioner, concluded the IRS had abused its discretion in the CDP process when it gave the green-light to the IRS collection division to take the taxpayer’s stuff ...

London’s Underground (which is a subway to us Yanks) is known for its iconic warnings to “mind the gap.”  That’s the spatial crevice between the train and the station platform.  In D.C., a different gap is garnering attention: the tax gap.  This is the delta between taxes owed to the government and actually paid.

On May 20, 2021, as part of the Administration’s pitch for an $80 billion increase in IRS funding, Treasury released a report that outlines the magnitude and categorical causes of the tax gap, and in broad strokes how it would deploy the $80 billion over a 10-year period to ...

Section 1031 “like-kind” exchanges have long been a useful tool for family and closely held business planning. For example, business enterprises have been able to exchange commercial or industrial buildings for larger facilities without incurring current tax liability. Similarly, individuals who have owned and operated rental property but no longer are able or wish to manage such property have utilized Section 1031 to exchange their property for “net leased” replacement property, thereby obtaining a dependable stream of rental income and deferring taxation of ...

I suspect that the answer of most readers will be "why would I want the IRS to find me in any event?" In fact, I can recall one client who actually asked me to have him removed from what he described as "the IRS mailing list."

Believe it or not, while it's always nice to be left alone, there are situations where it is important that the IRS have your correct address. For instance, what if there's a refund you're due, and the IRS is about to send you a check? Similarly, if you are in an audit or owe the IRS money, there are a variety of notices that the Internal Revenue Code requires the IRS to send to your "last known address," and if it sends them to that address, but you do not receive them, you will miss the opportunity to respond, as the law does not require that you actually receive the documents for them to be effective.

In any given year, a person is likely to send one or more of a fairly standard variety of items to the IRS. Tax returns, payments, responses to inquiries, and claims for refund are the most frequent but certainly not an exhaustive list. I've even known of some people who have sent "thank you notes" to IRS employees who seem to have gone above and beyond the call of duty to assist them. That said, how do you know the IRS actually received what you sent? This is not an idle question, as the IRS' failure to timely receive some of those items can result in serious problems for a taxpayer, ranging from ...

Wish you had planned your transaction differently for tax purposes?  In limited circumstances, the courts may allow a taxpayer to claim tax consequences consistent with a transaction’s economic substance even if inconsistent with its form.

In tax litigation involving structured transactions, when the form of a transaction produces favorable tax results for the taxpayer, the IRS often trots out various economic substance / form over substance-type theories to ignore or recast the form a transaction.  Conversely, when an alternative form of a transaction would produce more ...