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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 IRS Audits.

In a high profile summons enforcement case brought by the Internal Revenue Service against Coinbase, Inc. (United States v. Coinbase Inc.No. 3:17-cv-01431 (N.D. Cal. 2017)), a virtual currency exchange for traders of popular digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, the Internal Revenue Service sought the production by Coinbase of all of its customer records involving Bitcoin transactions from 2013 through 2015.  The number of customers potentially susceptible to such a broad summons request was estimated at just under 500,000.

The U.S ...

Any corporate tax executive who has ever been involved in contesting an audit adjustment knows all too well how unfavorable documents relating to the subject of the adjustment – particularly improvident comments reflected in email correspondences – can be an ongoing impediment to resolving a tax dispute from the audit phase right up to and through litigation with the IRS or Department of Justice.  When such documents exist, even where taken out of context, the government will zealously sink its teeth into them like a junkyard dog, making the prospects of reaching a reasonable ...

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 ...

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 ...

In the last two weeks, various news sources have reported on a previously low-profile IRS initiative to use state land-transfer records to identify potential omissions in reporting gifts of real estate.  (Via TaxProf here and the WSJ here.)  According to the reports, the IRS is using information received from at least 16 states to identify transfers of real estate the value of which exceeded the $13,000 threshold for filing a gift tax return.  As a result, the IRS is pursuing taxpayers who made such transfers but failed to file returns.

Although this particular example of the IRS building an enforcement case through the use of non-tax sources targets individuals, corporate tax professionals should not rest too easily.  Most corporate taxpayers might not be engaged in such outright noncompliance as failing to file returns.  Nevertheless, the volume of non-tax information that is available in the public domain - especially for large, public companies - poses  potentially analogous risks to corporate taxpayers  for the positions taken on their tax returns. Beyond the traditional sources of non-tax information, such as SEC filings and court documents, news articles and press releases proliferate over the Internet.  Likewise, companies may face a new potential source of trouble in the proliferation of social networking sites.  From LinkedIn resumes to Facebook profiles, information that reflects upon a company grows by the day.

Categories: Audit, Corporate

The IRS National Employment Tax Research Project has started.  On November 9, 2009 the IRS announced its first employment tax research project in 25 years.  Under the program, which will last from 2010 through 2012, the IRS will audit 6,000 employers randomly selected from all employment tax filers.  It is our understanding that the initial letters for the first 2000 employees selected to be part of the study have gone out and the audits will commence in May, 2010.  The IRS will focus on historic areas of non-compliance including (i) the misclassification of employees as independent ...