McDermott Will & Emery
The Chicago office of McDermott Will & Emery opened in 1934 as the Firm's first office. Although we then focused solely on tax law, we now provide the full range of business-oriented legal services through more than 250 local lawyers.Show more
One of the most pressing audit issues for large taxpayers today centres on the Internal Revenue Code Section 965 transition tax. The Internal Revenue Service has designated Section 965 as a campaign issue and is actively auditing taxpayers' transition tax calculations and positions, along with other tax reform items. The stakes are high, particularly given the potential to pay this tax over eight years.
The US District Court for the Northern District of Texas recently ruled in favour of Exxon Mobil Corporation in its battle against the government over tax penalties. Exxon had filed amended returns for its 2006 to 2009 tax years seeking a $1.35 billion tax refund based on a change of character of certain transactions. The government disallowed the refund claims and imposed a $200 million penalty pursuant to Section 6676 of the Internal Revenue Code. Exxon paid the penalty and filed suit for a refund.
A troubling New Jersey financial transaction tax proposal, which appeared to be gaining popularity over the past few months, has reportedly been left out of the 2021 budget deal that Governor Phil Murphy recently struck with legislative leaders. The decision to drop the transaction tax from the deal came days after the Wall Street Journal reported that prominent stock exchanges with data centres in New Jersey were prepared to exit the state if the tax plan was adopted.
The Internal Revenue Service recently issued proposed regulations under Section 1061, a provision enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017 that recharacterises certain net long-term capital gain with respect to applicable partnership interests as short-term capital gain. The proposed regulations provide clarity on some of the statutory provisions. This article discusses some of the noteworthy provisions in the proposed regulations.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued guidance on the period of limitations for Section 965 of the Internal Revenue Code transition tax-related adjustments of partnerships. Typically, pursuant to Section 6501, the IRS has three years to assess a tax liability for a tax year. However, Section 6501(e)(1)(C) states that if the taxpayer omits from gross income an amount properly includible in income under Section 951(a), the tax may be assessed at any time within six years after the return was filed.
A concerning bill is pending in the California Senate which would require the California state controller's office to make taxpayer information publicly available. The bill would require that the controller post on its website a list of all taxpayers subject to the California corporation tax with gross receipts of $5 billion or more and information about each taxpayer, including tax liability and the amount of tax credits claimed in the previous calendar year.
A recent US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit decision underlines the Internal Revenue Service's ability to obtain information that it needs to examine taxpayers' returns using its powerful summons tool. To be successful in defending against a summons, taxpayers must ensure that they have a strong case – for example, non-disclosure based upon a privilege claim.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provides relief to taxpayers in certain situations. Some of these provisions may generate refunds for prior years, such as the relaxation of restrictions on the use of net operating losses and interest deductions, as well as the retroactive availability of additional depreciation relating to qualified improvement property.
The latest developments from the Supreme Court should be noted by taxpayers and practitioners. As with the highly contested opinion in Kisor v Wilkie, it is clear that many justices are uncomfortable with granting a high level of deference to government agencies. Deference issues continue to be at the forefront of several tax cases and will likely continue to be highly relevant in forthcoming challenges to many regulations in the wake of tax reform in 2017.
The New York General Assembly recently introduced Assembly Bill A9112. An identical New York Senate companion bill has been referred to the New York Senate Committee on Budget and Revenues, after being introduced in May 2019. The bills would impose an additional 5% tax on the gross income of every corporation with data-derived income from New York customers, but provide no further details or limitation on the scope of the proposed new imposition language.
The Illinois Department of Revenue has begun a new amnesty programme, which is running from 1 October 2019 to 15 November 2019. All taxes paid to the Illinois Department of Revenue for taxable periods ending after 30 June 2011 and before 1 July 2018 are eligible for amnesty with relief from penalties and interest. In light of the phase-out of the corporate franchise tax by 1 January 2024 (enacted by Public Act 101-9), participants in the amnesty programme should proceed with extreme caution.
The Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) programme was developed to improve large corporate taxpayer compliance with US federal tax obligations. The IRS recently announced that it was accepting applications – for the first time since 2015 – from new corporate taxpayers that meet the CAP programme eligibility requirements. As such, eligible taxpayers interested in the programme for 2020 should prepare and submit an application as soon as possible.
Legislators in Sacramento are mulling over one of the most (if not the most) troubling state and local tax bills of the past decade. AB 1270, which was recently introduced and passed by the California Assembly in May 2019, would amend the California False Claims Act to remove the 'tax bar' – a prohibition that exists in the federal False Claims Act and the vast majority of states with similar laws.
The Internal Revenue Service recently released new informal guidelines regarding Section 965 of the Internal Revenue Code. Among other things, the guidelines contain information on making successive instalment payments, filing transfer agreements as a result of certain acceleration or triggering events and other matters relating to S corporation shareholders making the Section 965(i) election.
The enactment of the Taxpayer First Act brings with it several changes to the procedures and operations of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The act touches on (among other things) establishing the IRS Independent Office of Appeals, improving customer service and introducing changes to enforcement. However, it appears that many of the changes to the IRS appeals process are mere guidelines and do not apply to large taxpayers.
A Wisconsin governor recently signed into law an act that either bars a reduction for, or requires amounts deducted to be added back to, Wisconsin taxable income for moving expenses deducted on federal income tax returns if the expenses are associated with a business moving out of the state or country. However, the act blatantly discriminates against interstate and international commerce and is unconstitutional.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently released a report indicating that changes may be in the works regarding the assertion of accuracy-related penalties in examinations handled by the Internal Revenue Service's large business and international division. The report strongly indicates that large business and international examiners and their supervisors will increase their scrutiny of accuracy-related penalty criteria in examinations.
Many states and municipalities offer substantial economic incentives to corporate taxpayers to move to and invest in their areas. Central to those offers is the belief that these incentives are received tax free. However, owing to changes in the Tax Code under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers must ensure that such incentives are carefully structured.
One of the more controversial and complex provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been the 21% excise tax on certain types of non-profit executive compensation. The Internal Revenue Service recently issued interim guidance that addresses how this tax will apply in various situations that commonly arise for tax-exempt employers. However, establishing internal systems to determine which employees are covered by this tax may prove challenging.
The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of the Treasury recently released proposed regulations that address the calculation of corporate US shareholders' deemed paid foreign tax credits under Section 960 of the Tax Act. The proposed regulations also clarify that certain foreign income taxes paid by controlled foreign corporations will be lost and that corporate US shareholders cannot claim a deemed paid credit with respect to such taxes.
The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service recently released proposed regulations for the Base Erosion and Anti-abuse Tax (BEAT), which was added to the Internal Revenue Code as part of the Tax Act 2017. The proposed regulations provide helpful guidance on a range of important topics and generally go a long way towards a reasonable implementation of a very challenging statute.
US taxpayers are generally taxable on income earned worldwide, regardless of the manner in which that income is paid (eg, currency (foreign or domestic) or property (tangible, intangible or virtual)). Therefore, if cryptocurrency has been bought, sold or exchanged, those transactions could be subject to federal tax. If the cryptocurrency is held offshore, a number of offshore reporting obligations could also apply to these holdings.
The Internal Revenue Service and US Department of the Treasury recently released proposed regulations that would prevent, in many cases, income inclusions for corporate US shareholders of controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) under Section 956. The proposed regulations are highly favourable to corporate taxpayers by significantly expanding the ability of US corporate borrowers to benefit from the credit support of CFCs.
The 2017 Tax Act significantly increased the tax benefits of a Section 338(g) election for domestic corporate purchasers of stock in a controlled foreign corporation (CFC). If an election is made, buyers are treated as organising a 'new' CFC that purchases the assets of the 'old' target CFC for the amount paid for the CFC stock. For buyers, this stepped-up basis in the CFC's assets can facilitate tax-efficient post-acquisition integration and a reduction of future global intangible low-taxed income.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Compliance Assurance Process programme is a real-time audit programme that seeks to resolve the tax treatment of all or most return issues before tax returns are filed. Taxpayers and IRS leadership have generally praised it as one of the most successful corporate tax enforcement programmes. However, its fate has been uncertain in recent years given the IRS's shift in the examination process and the agency's dwindling resources.
A domestic corporation's royalty income derived in connection with business conducted outside the United States is generally eligible for the reduced 13.125% effective tax rate on foreign derived intangible income. To qualify, the licensee must be a foreign person and the intangible property must be used outside the United States for the ultimate benefit of an unrelated foreign person. The reduced tax rate is also available for certain royalties derived from licensing intangible property to related foreign persons.
The 2017 Tax Act added a separate foreign tax credit limitation category for income earned in a foreign branch. As a result, certain US groups may be limited in their ability to use foreign income taxes paid or accrued by a foreign branch as a credit against their US federal income tax liability. This new limitation could present a problem for taxpayers with losses in some foreign branches and income in other foreign branches.
A minimum tax has been imposed on domestic corporations with substantial amounts of deductible payments made to related foreign persons, referred to as the 'base erosion and anti-abuse tax' (BEAT). BEAT is particularly onerous if a controlled foreign corporation's income is subject to foreign taxation because, while foreign income taxes can be used as a credit to reduce regular tax liability, no foreign tax credit is permitted to offset the BEAT.
The latest announcement by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) focuses on the $10,000 cap on the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted for federal income tax purposes. In a press release and release of guidance in the form of Notice 2018-54, the IRS announced that proposed regulations will be issued to help taxpayers understand the relationship between federal charitable contribution deductions in exchange for a tax credit against state and local taxes owed.
The Internal Revenue Service has increased the 2018 maximum deductible health savings account (HSA) contribution for taxpayers with family coverage under a high deductible health plan to $6,900. Employers that previously lowered their plan's contribution limit for HSAs to $6,850 should consider how to address the increased limit and whether any changes or employee communications are necessary.
Declining to address whether certain technology licensing royalties should be subject to taxation as income or capital gains, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that a patentee-taxpayer had waived his claim on appeal and affirmed the Tax Court's decision that the royalties should be treated as income. The Third Circuit acknowledged that a patentable invention may be subject to capital gains treatment even without a patent or patent application.
The New Mexico Administrative Hearings Office recently issued an opinion that addressed the following questions: under what circumstances can a state constitutionally impose tax on a domestic company's income from foreign subsidiaries, including Subpart F income; and when is factor representation required? Since many state income taxes are based on federal taxable income, inclusion of these new categories of income at the federal level could potentially result in their inclusion at the state level.
The Oregon Supreme Court has rejected a business taxpayer's constitutional challenges to a 1993 Oregon statute that eliminated the right to utilise a three-factor apportionment formula in calculating Oregon income tax. The Oregon Supreme Court joined courts in Texas, Minnesota, California and Michigan in rejecting taxpayer arguments that states which have enacted Article IV of the Multi-state Tax Compact have entered into a binding contractual obligation which may not be overridden.
Taxpayer Advocate Nina E Olson recently testified before a congressional oversight committee regarding ongoing challenges to the administration of an efficient and effective tax system. Her testimony echoes many tax professionals' concerns that the tax system is not being implemented in the most effective and efficient manner. With the advent of tax reform and the government's struggle to implement its sweeping changes, it is hoped that many of these issues will be addressed.
A shrinking Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget has meant that fewer agents are available to make sure that the tax laws are being enforced. In 2017 the audit rate fell to its lowest levels in 15 years, with the chance of being audited falling to 0.6%. There has been movement to get the IRS more funding in the wake of tax reform, but it remains to be seen whether some of those funds will be used to increase its enforcement functions.
Tax controversy practitioners are undoubtedly aware of the gradual movement over the years to conform certain Tax Court procedure rules to those of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A few important areas of divergence between the different rules, as well as situations where the Tax Court rules do not address a particular matter, were discussed at the recent Tax Court Judicial Conference.
The recently enacted tax reform legislation significantly expanded the application of Subpart F, adding a new inclusion rule for non-routine controlled foreign corporation (CFC) income, termed global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI). The GILTI rules apply higher tax rates to GILTI attributed to individuals and trusts that own CFC stock than to C corporation shareholders. There are several steps which individuals and trusts may take to defer or reduce the effect of the GILTI rules on individuals and trusts.
Recent broad tax reform legislation which applies to both US and non-US multinationals with cross-border operations has, among other things, reduced the corporate income tax rate and reformed the US international tax system. Several of the provisions could increase a foreign multinational entity's (FMNE's) US tax liability and compliance and administrative burdens. As such, FMNEs should thoroughly review their US operations, paying particular attention to cross-border payments to non-US related parties.
The 2017 tax reform act is now law, leaving private equity and M&A professionals to digest these significant changes and reconcile the new provisions with how they do business. Among other things, the act provides for a permanent reduction of the corporate tax rate to a flat rate of 21% and repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax. The act will be subject to corrections by and guidance from the US Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service in the coming months.
In an effort to offset the revenue loss associated with proposed tax cuts, both the House of Representatives tax reform bill and the corresponding Senate draft take aim at the tax treatment of several popular employer-provided fringe benefits. At this early stage of the legislative process, it is important to note that these proposals are subject to change. Nevertheless, it is important for employers to know which of their programmes may be cut or eliminated as soon as 2018.
Taxpayers that are not afforded the opportunity to seek review by Internal Revenue Service appeals after a case has been docketed in the Tax Court should seek to elevate the matter up the chain to obtain reconsideration and reversal of such a decision. If that course of action is unsuccessful, taxpayers should consider other options. In this regard, the outcome of Facebook's recent case in the District Court for the Northern District of California may be instructive.
The Tax Court recently rejected an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) attempt to expand on the privilege waiver principles set out in a previous case. The court concluded that the IRS was not entitled to any documents from the period after a notice of deficiency was issued, making clear that subpoenas are not for broad-based 'fishing expeditions'. The case is consistent with the IRS's recent pattern of arguing aggressively against the assertion of privilege and work-product protections in tax audits.
IRS and taxpayers continue to battle over Internal Revenue Code Section 199 deduction for computer softwareUSA | 10 November 2017
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently published an Office of Chief Counsel IRS memorandum, which deals with a merchant bank's claim that its revenue from merchant discount fees qualifies as domestic product gross receipts under Internal Revenue Code Section 199. The memorandum is further proof that taxpayers and the IRS do not see eye to eye.
Coca-Cola is seeking a redetermination in the Tax Court of certain Internal Revenue Service (IRS) transfer-pricing adjustments relating to its 2007 to 2009 tax years. The IRS has moved for partial summary judgment seeking a ruling that a 1996 Internal Revenue Code Section 7121 closing agreement executed by the parties is not relevant to the case before the court.
Faced with the prospect of potential tax liability after an unsuccessful audit, taxpayers can file a petition in the US Tax Court before paying the liability or pay the liability, make a claim for refund and sue the government for a refund in a local district court or the Court of Federal Claims. For taxpayers that select the Tax Court route, sometimes a question later arises as to whether they can seek to dismiss their case in order to refile in a different forum.
The US Department of the Treasury recently submitted a report to the president recommending the withdrawal, revocation or revision of eight Treasury regulations in order to eliminate or otherwise mitigate the "burdens imposed on taxpayers". This action springs from Executive Order 13789, which called on the Treasury to identify and reduce tax regulatory burdens that impose undue financial burdens on US taxpayers or otherwise add undue complexity to federal tax laws.