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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 Privilege.

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 ...

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 ...

With the IRS’s increasing emphasis on transfer pricing and other tax issues that depend upon economic and scientific concepts and analyses, tax attorneys frequently rely on non-legal professionals to provide expert assistance in areas with which an attorney might not be familiar.  While this non-legal expertise helps facilitate the attorney’s representation of her client, the introduction of these non-legal professionals into the attorney-client relationship poses an obvious concern about breaching the attorney-client privilege.  Ordinarily, if someone other than ...

For almost 50 years, lawyers have relied on the “Kovel Rule” to extend the attorney-client privilege to non-testifying accountants or other business experts.   The philosophy behind the rule, so named after the landmark case, United States v. Kovel, 296 F. 2d 918 (2nd. Cir. 1961), is to recognize “the complexities of modern existence [which] prevent attorneys from effectively handling clients' affairs without the help of others . . . .”  Id. at 921.  Without such a rule, disclosure to a third party would constitute a waiver of the attorney-client privilege.

In practice, the ...

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."