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Tax Blawg

Tax Talk for Tax Pros

Introduction

Welcome to TaxBlawg, a resource 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 tagged disclosure.

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 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 ...

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 ...

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

The Internal Revenue Service on Friday released the final version of the much-anticipated Schedule UTP (and accompanying instructions) as well as additional guidance about changes that had been made the schedule.  At the same time, the IRS also announced an expansion of the Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) as well as some other minor matters.  In the face of much criticism of the draft Schedule UTP and instructions, the IRS made a numbers of significant adjustments; however, several issues remain unresolved.

Categories: Administrative

In Tuesday’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, one topic on which there appeared to be agreement between the nominee and the panel was concern about the dwindling number of cases heard by the High Court. In response to questioning from Senator Arlen Specter, Kagan had no explanation for the precipitous decline in the Court’s docket over the last 20 years, but agreed that it has led to an increase in unresolved conflicts among the circuit courts on “vital national issues.”

Quite naturally, those of us in the tax field like to think of our livelihoods as ...

Categories: Corporate, Litigation

Just when the Department of Justice must have thought that it could do no wrong in pursuing the workpapers of taxpayers and their auditors, it ran smack into the formidable blockade that is the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  In United States v. Deloitte LLP et al., No. 09-5171 (D.C. Cir. Jun. 29, 2010), the D.C. Circuit seems to have fired a shot across the bow of both the Department of Justice and the IRS’s brand-new Schedule UTP.  (You can find the opinion here.)

Tax Blawg’s Guest Commentator, David L. Bernard, is the recently retired Vice President of Taxes for Kimberly-Clark Corporation and a past president of the Tax Executives Institute.

It is not too soon for in-house tax professionals to be thinking about how the disclosure of uncertain tax positions (required beginning with 2010 tax returns) will change their lives and perhaps their historical practices.

There are plenty of questions about the new requirement and, not least among them, doubts that it will produce the results the IRS anticipates. The most obvious question is whether the potential over-disclosure of temporary differences and the required disclosure of maximum exposure by issue will bog down the audit process and lead to more unagreed issues going to Appeals or to the courts. Notwithstanding the controversy, tax professionals would be wise to forget arguing about the merits of the new draft requirement and begin thinking about their responses; this is going to happen!