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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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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 ...

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 ...

Concerned about the extent of international tax non-compliance, Congress enacted the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”).  Among other provisions found in FATCA was Section 6038D, which requires certain individuals to annually report to the IRS data about their interests in foreign financial assets.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, this seemingly straightforward obligation has been causing significant havoc for taxpayers and their advisors in 2012, as they wrestle for the first time with tricky new issues when deciding whether and/or how to complete Form 8938 ...

Categories: Audit, International

Life grants few chances at true redemption. The Internal Revenue Code, likewise, is not known for facilitating taxpayer salvation. Sure, under certain circumstances, taxpayers have an opportunity to file late tax-related elections to rectify an oversight, and other forms of clemency exist. However, the general rule is that taxpayers are stuck with a position once they take it on a tax return filed the IRS. One obscure exception to this rule is the qualified amended return (“QAR”), which can be a powerful self-help remedy for taxpayers who experience the “oh-shoot” moment ...

Nearly all taxpayers will face penalties by the IRS at some point, regardless of their sophistication level and size.  Accordingly, tax practitioners, even those who claim not to get involved in traditional "collection" activities, must understand key aspects of abatement and collection procedures in order to effectively advise their clients.  This is particularly true given that the IRS persists in taking extreme positions in the Tax Court, such as the always-say-never approach, that are contrary to the majority of existing legal authorities.  A recent example is Custom Stairs & ...

Following the release of Ann and Mitt Romney’s tax returns, the news media and political commentators of all stripes have – to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie – detected, neglected, selected, rejected, and inspected those returns for a variety of commercial and political purposes.  As expected, the return shows substantial income, largely from passive investments.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Romneys’ returns – from a tax practitioner’s perspective – is the geographic location of a significant portion of their investments.  As MSNBC reported:

His 2010 return ...

The IRS announced yesterday a reopening of its 2011 offshore voluntary disclosure initiative (“OVDI”).  This program will have essentially the same terms as the 2011 OVDI, but with a penalty rate of 27.5 percent (rather than 25 percent) of the highest account balance during the period covered by the initiative.  The program requires filing eight years of amended tax returns and unfiled FBARs and the payment of tax, interest and a possible accuracy-related penalty on unreported income as well as the above-mentioned lump-sum penalty.  In certain cases, a reduced penalty for failure ...

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 ...

For taxpayers who entered the IRS’s second Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (“OVDI”) prior to August 31, 2011, November 29th marked the end of the extended deadline that some taxpayers requested for submitting all of the materials included in the disclosure (e.g., amended returns, FBARs).  Coincidentally with the timing of this deadline, many individuals who only recently learned of their reporting obligations (or, in some cases, of the existence of their accounts in the first place) are asking themselves what they can do now, having missed the opportunity to ...

As part of its current Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (“OVDI”), the IRS is strongly encouraging taxpayers against making so-called “quiet” disclosures, in which taxpayers file amended tax returns, pay the applicable taxes and interest, and hope that the IRS doesn’t identify them for further investigation.  These disclosures are described as quiet because they involve neither alerting the IRS to the amended returns nor offering to pay any applicable penalties.  Because taxpayers may rightfully perceive the 25-percent penalty required to participate in ...