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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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.
Judging by the feedback we receive from our readers, the topic of workpapers and work product continues to be an area of major concern for many tax practitioners. For those who are interested in learning more about the topic, particularly in light of the D.C. Circuit's recent decision in United States v. Deloitte LLP, I will be speaking on a webinar panel, U.S. v. Deloitte: Expansion of Work Product Doctrine in Tax Controversies, next Tuesday at 1pm (EDT). For prior TaxBlawg discussion of the Deloitte opinion, see here.
Together with Edward Froelich of Morrison & Foerster and Kevin ...
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 ...
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.)
President Obama's health-care legislation is becoming more of a tax issue on a daily basis. In addition to the codification of economic substance (discussed here; see also yesterday's TNT story featuring our own Phil Karter) contained in the reconciliation bill, the consequences of the legislation seem to be increasingly a matter of tax, rather than health-care, policy.
Of particular relevance here is the brewing confrontation between Reps. Waxman and Stupak and the companies who have announced substantial hits to their financial statements as a result of provisions in the health-care legislation. In response to these announcements, Reps. Waxman and Stupak have requested that companies provide documentation verifying their assessment of the impact of the legislation and have indicated an intention to hold a hearing to examine the impact of the new law on these companies. (Presumably, the documentation provided by the companies will be a central basis for whatever questions are directed at the executives who appear at these hearings.)
Without taking a position about the politics of the matter, the dynamics of the request (and any responses to it) may implicate sensitive areas of tax policy and procedure. At this point, Reps. Waxman and Stupak have merely requested that the corporate taxpayers provide information about the impact of the health-care legislation. Suppose, though, that one or more companies decline to produce the requested information. The perceived costs and benefits of the health-care legislation are likely to be key issues in the upcoming Congressional races this fall. If the request is declined, and Congressional Democrats fear that their signature achievement is being negatively perceived, would subpoenas to the taxpayers, demanding that they produce the information, come next?
Assuming that scenario, would taxpayers then be obligated to provide the information being sought? Perhaps more importantly, would Congress be authorized to use that information in a public hearing?