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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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.
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.
TaxBlawg’s Guest Commentator, David L. Bernard, is the recently retired Vice President of Taxes for Kimberly-Clark Corporation, a past president of the Tax Executives Institute, and a periodic contributor to TaxBlawg.
As the IRS sifts through dozens of comment letters on the proposed disclosure of uncertain tax positions, in-house tax officers have to wonder what's next. Over the last decade, CTO's have been hit with a barrage of new demands and worries. We have seen the rise of FIN 48 (now ASC 740-10), Sarbanes-Oxley and the resulting increased focus on controls, increasingly burdensome quarterly and annual attest firm reviews, listed transactions disclosures, the electronic filing mandate (Everson's legacy), Schedule M-3, and now the still proposed UTP disclosure.
Notwithstanding the new challenges, the number one performance metric used to judge a tax department's performance is still the effective tax rate ("ETR"). CTO's and their staffs continue to be measured by their delivery on the ETR at a time when most at the IRS seem to believe that all tax planning is bad, outside counsel is becoming more cautious, attest firms are insisting to review opinions (thus jeopardizing privilege), budgets and head count have been cut and, oh by the way, "cash is king".
Last week, at the TEI Midyear Conference in Washington, LMSB Commissioner Heather Maloy told corporate tax executives attending the conference that “trust” was the key to successfully implementing the new reporting requirements for uncertain tax positions first set forth in Announcement 2010-9. As reported in the April 14th edition of Tax Notes, 2010 TNT 71-2, Maloy also told the attendees that enhanced transparency through the use of this reporting mechanism would be “mutually beneficial” in terms of improved issue resolution and efficiency.
Last month, I commented ...
Predictably, there has been a good deal of consternation accompanying the release of IRS Announcement 2010-09, which continues the trend away from the Service's traditional "policy of restraint" in seeking to uncover uncertain tax positions. The first chink in this long-standing policy of restraint was exhibited in Announcement 2002-63, where the Service expanded the circumstances under which it would seek tax accrual workpapers. Prior to the earlier Announcement, workpaper demands were limited to workpapers relating to listed transactions provided such transactions had been disclosed. Thereafter, a taxpayer who engaged in more than one listed transaction, whether previously disclosed or not, was subject to a demand to disclose all workpapers. The IRS's summons enforcement action in Textron relied on Announcement 2002-63 to seek all of the taxpayer's workpapers (arguing that six separate SILO transactions fit within the scope of its new policy).
Announcement 2010-09 goes significantly further in eroding the policy of restraint by placing the onus on the taxpayer to make its own affirmative disclosures of uncertain positions rather than requiring the Service to deduce them from the taxpayer's workpapers. What has received little attention, however, are the implications of the Service's intention to require the new disclosure form not only for taxpayers who record a reserve in their financial statements for uncertain tax positions, but also taxpayers who "expect to litigate the position."