Monday, February 12, 2018
One common error my students make is to confuse asserting an argument with supporting the argument. For example, a student on my Civil Procedure exam might write “We will argue that the Plaintiff’s domicile is in Texas and not Oklahoma.” That sentence tells me only that an argument exists. It does not support the argument with an explanation about why Plaintiff’s domicile might be thought to be in Texas. I try to teach my students they must connect assertions with the evidence necessary to show why the assertions are true. So I feel like a failure when I read exam answers like that. I think most profs have similar feelings when grading.
Lawyers sometimes make a similar error when representing clients in court: they make assertions and even spin a plausible story, but neglect to support those assertions or the story with credible evidence. To be fair, sometimes an attorney has no choice: the client may simply not have provided the needed information, and the attorney must nonetheless argue something! But arguments are not evidence.
Last week’s decision in Brandon Brown and Christi Cloaninger Brown v. Commissioner, T.C. Sum. Op. 2018-6 (Feb. 5, 2018), teaches this lesson. Sure, it’s “just” an S case, but even if those cases are not formal precedent, they can still teach valuable lessons. Here, the case is also a nice illustration of when it makes sense to use the §7463 Small Case procedures and how the burden shift in §7491(a) can sometimes actually be important.
I’ll consider each lesson below the fold.
February 12, 2018 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Monday, February 5, 2018
Law is often a mixture of form and function. Formalist rules help create order and certainty but sometimes do so at the expense of justice and meaning. Discerning and following the function or purpose of the law may create juster outcomes but sometimes does so at the expense of certainty. All can agree that there is a time and a place for each mode of analysis, but the devil is in the details.
The speed limit sign to the right illustrates the difference. It's a sign you might have encountered driving through Montana up until 1999 when the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the "reasonable & prudent" rule was unconstitutionally vague. It gives two rules for drivers: a bright-line night rule that you may not drive faster than 65 mph and a fuzzy day rule that gives no set speed limit but just says you may not drive unreasonably or imprudently.
In applying the speed limit sign, formalists and functionalist might disagree on when the night rule applies. A formalist might look to the dictionary definition of night as the period between sunset and sunrise and so apply the night rule at the minute after sunset. But a functionalist might say that the purpose of the night rule is to set a limit when night-time conditions make it presumptively unsafe to drive faster. So a functionalist might not apply the night rule until later after sunset, and might also apply it during the “day” when a weather event, such as a haboob or an eclipse, creates sufficiently night-like conditions. Of course, formalist thinkers might disagree among themselves if they use different dictionary definitions of “night." Likewise, functionalist thinkers might disagree among themselves if they have different ideas about the purpose of the night rule.
Last week’s reviewed opinion Melissa Coffey Hulett a.k.a. Melissa Coffey, et al v. Commissioner, 150 T.C. No. 4 (January 20th, 2018) is a case where the Tax Court takes a largely functional approach to IRC §6501(a) statute of limitations on assessment and yet the functionalists on the Court disagree with each other about the proper outcome. Section 6501(a) says that the IRS has a period of three years “after the return was filed” to assess “any tax imposed by this title.” The opinion for the Court, authored by Judge Holmes, is a mix of formalism and functionalism, using the passive voice in the statutory language as an opening to implement one important purpose of §6501: closure. A concurring opinion by Judge Thornton gives a more robustly functionalist view, resting entirely on the closure purpose of the statute. And a spirited dissent, authored by Chief Judge Marvel, also presents a functionalist analysis but one that focuses on a different purpose of the statute to come to a different outcome in the case.
What I find particularly interesting about this case is how all three approaches seem to be inconsistent with the Tax Court’s approach to interpreting the §6501(c) exception to §6501(a)’s general three year rule. That statute presents a similar question of statutory interpretation but all of the opinions in last week’s case are contrary to the Tax Court’s rationale in Allen v. Commissioner, 128 T.C. 37 (2007).
Details below the fold.
February 5, 2018 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Monday, January 22, 2018
No doubt there is a lot of dirty bathwater in the Treasury Regulations, codified in title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The upside of the current administration’s anti-regulation focus is that it is allows Treasury to prioritize scrubbing unneeded regulations. Treasury reported on its progress in October noting that “the IRS Office of Chief Counsel has already identified over 200 regulations for potential revocation, most of which have been outstanding for many years.”
To be sure, it’s a small upside. Some regulations become outdated because they are simply overtaken by statutory changes. For example, Treas. Reg. 1.217-2(b)(1) allows taxpayers to deduct the cost of meals when moving to start a new job. That was fine under the statute Congress originally enacted in 1969, but it became obsolete when Congress modified the statute in 1986 to specifically disallow meal expenses as a deductible item. And now, of course, Congress has repealed the moving expense deduction entirely, but the regulations will still be there.
Other regulations become outdated because of societal change. My favorite example is former Treas. Reg. 1.162-6 which started off this way: “A professional man may claim as deductions the cost of supplies used by him....” To modern eyes, that regulation obviously denied deductions to taxpayers not in the trade or business of being a “professional man” ...such as anyone who was only a man as a hobby and not as profession. Think Victor, Victoria. Treasury nuked that reg in 2011.
The scrubbing effort carries a small upside because outdated regulations generally do little harm. I tell my students that is why you have to read the actual statutory language first. In real life, of course, tax practitioners rely on the commercial services like BNA, CCH or RIA to summarize the rules and those services keep current. Taxpayers reporting their 2017 taxes are unlikely be blindsided by the moving regulations into trying to deduct meal expenses in a move. Likewise, taxpayers reporting their 2018 taxes are unlikely to try and deduct moving expenses at all, much less in reliance on the regulations.
But the focus on throwing out the bathwater presents an obvious danger to the baby. The ham-fisted 2-for-1 requirement of Executive Order 13711 is not just focused, it’s myopic. Another danger is posed by the myopic thinking that the word “regulation” has the same meaning for all agencies and that the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) applies in lock-step to all agencies. Both myopias ignore the vast difference in purpose of regulations issued by different agencies.
Last week’s Tax Court opinion in SIH Partners LLLP, et al. v. Commissioner, 150 T.C. No. 3, January nicely illustrates the purpose and use of tax regulations. In it, the taxpayer tried to invalidate a 45 year old regulation for failing to meet APA requirements. The Tax Court has a nice opinion applying the APA with sensitivity to the tax regulation process and suggests a clearer view of what makes tax regulations different from those of many other agencies.
More below the fold.
January 22, 2018 in Bryan Camp, IRS News, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Monday, January 15, 2018
I tell my students to be careful with personal pronouns, especially now that the pronoun “they” may properly refer to a singular antecedent. An unclear antecedent can confuse readers.
Today I may have confused you. When you read this post's title, you may have thought “they” refers to “Tax Court.” Maybe you thought this would be a critique of a Tax Court opinion like last week’s post. It’s not. Sorry.
The “they” in the title is deliberately ambiguous, however, because it points to two different antecedents, neither being the Tax Court. First, it points to three taxpayers whose cases were decided last week by the Tax Court. Each case has at least one fact that is so amazing it will leaving you shaking your head (or "SMH" in modern texting parlance) and asking yourself “what were they thinking.”
Second, “they” means Congress. For the past 8 years Congress has adopted a policy of “starving the beast” and forcing the IRS to reduce its workforce. I wrote about that a couple of years ago here. These cases teach us why that Congressional policy is a thoughtless one.
Each of these three cases shows an educated middle-class taxpayer trying to game the tax system in ways that require significant human resources to combat. In two cases it took human IRS employees to spot the games and defeat them. In the third case, the taxpayer is “winning” his game, at least temporarily, thanks to the Collection Due Process provisions. It will likely take significant additional human effort to collect this taxpayer’s unpaid tax liabilities.
More below the fold.
January 15, 2018 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Monday, January 8, 2018
My daughter worked part-time this past year for a woman who paid her about $500 cash. My daughter was not happy to learn from me that she has to report that as gross income. My daughter says “but my employer is not giving me a W-2 or 1099!” I am sure many of us have heard that from clients. Last week, the Tax Court issued an opinion that may give unintended support for my daughter’s assertion that there is no obligation to report income unless there is a concomitant obligation to file a related information return.
In 2010 Congress enacted the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE), 124 Stat. 71. Subtitle A of HIRE (§501 et. seq.) implemented what had been a separate bill called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). FATCA requires many individuals to report their foreign financial assets under certain circumstances. Violation of the reporting requirements carries several consequences, including monetary penalties and an extension of the limitation period for the IRS to audit a return. That’s the issue in last week’s case of Mehrdad Rafizadeh v. Commissioner, 150 T.C. No. 1 (January 2, 2018). In Rafizadeh, the IRS seemed to try and use that latter consequence to crack open otherwise closed years. At least that is what the Tax Court appears to believe. The sticking point was that the years at issue were years before the FATCA reporting requirements took effect. See below the fold for why the IRS thought that the FATCA provisions extending the limitation period applied, and why the Tax Court held otherwise.
January 8, 2018 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Friday, December 22, 2017
Once upon a time in West Texas there lived a farmer. In addition to raising crops, he kept a collection of interesting animals as a hobby. Always keen to make some money, however, he used the output of the animals for compost and sold the excess to surrounding farms. More about that below the fold. But first I need to tell you about the farmer’s pickup truck, “Iris.”
The farmer’s dad had bought a fine Ford F250 in the early 2000’s. His dad was very fond of the truck and called it “Iris.” But the farmer did not like Iris and so he used it exclusively to haul the animal product to market. Of course that meant Iris stank. The stink offended people, who thought Iris was to blame for payload the farmer asked Iris to carry.
When the farmer took over farming operations from his dad in 2008 he began neglecting Iris by not putting in the money to make needed upkeep and repairs. For example, he used a really cheap motor oil because he liked its name “Liberty,” and he liked the pennies he saved. But that oil actually did the exact opposite of what oils are supposed to do: it exacerbated the wear on the engine Then the farmer started using an even cheaper lubricant: chicken grease. When the once proud 5.2L Voodoo V8 engine failed, the farmer replaced it with an 4-cylinder engine taken from a Ford Fiesta, ‘cause that was cheap. More pennies saved! As parts failed, Iris became increasingly unreliable. Still, the farmer kept relying on Iris to carry the load for him.
And now, for the Elephant part, below the fold.
December 22, 2017 in Bryan Camp, IRS News, Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Monday, December 11, 2017
Note: Due to my need to grade exams and turn in grades by January 2nd, this will be my last “Lesson From the Tax Court” post this year. I plan to resume on January 8th.
In law, “SOL” is an all too appropriate acronym for “Statute Of Limitations.” Tax law is full of SOL traps for taxpayers. A couple of weeks ago the Tax Court issued two opinions addressing a common SOL trap for taxpayers: the §6213 rule that taxpayers within the U.S. have 90 days from the date the IRS sends out a Notice of Deficiency (NOD) to petition the Tax Court for a redetermination of the deficiency. Of course, we all know the period is really shorter than 90 days on the front end because the 90 days starts running on the day the IRS sends the NOD not the day the taxpayer opens the NOD after returning from vacation and says “OMG”!
The reason §6213 is a trap is because the general rule for filing is the “physical delivery rule”: a petition is not filed until is had been physically received by the Tax Court’s Clerk’s office before the 90th day is over. Tax Court Rule 22. If that were the only rule, then taxpayers who cannot personally file their petitions by walking into the Tax Court Clerk’s office at 400 2nd St. S.W. in Washington D.C., would live in uncertainty about whether their mailed petitions would reach the Tax Court in time.
That’s where §7502 comes in. It is true that if the Tax Court Clerk’s office receives a petition after the 90 period, that petition is late, but Tax Court Rule 22 provides that the Tax Court will pretend the petition is timely if the reason for the late delivery falls under “the circumstances under which timely mailed papers will be treated as having been timely filed, see Code section 7502.” Section 7502 is one of those rescue rules you hope never to have to use, but if you need it, you really need to know how to make it work for you, to beat the SOL.
The cases of Lincoln C. Pearson And Victoria K. Pearson v. Commissioner, 149 T.C. No. 40 (Nov. 29, 2017) (before Judge Lauber) and Matthew Eric Baham and Jennifer Michelle Baham v. Commissioner, T.C. Summ. Op. 2017-85 (Nov. 29, 2017) (before Judge Wherry) both teach a lesson in how the Tax Court interprets §7502 and how taxpayers can use that statute to turn a late-filed petition into a timely-filed petition. Section 7502 is a pretty confusing statute and the Treasury regulations appear very strict. These cases show the wiggle room in the regulations and give guidance on how taxpayers should approach using §7502. I will explain §7502 and the interesting take-aways from these cases below the fold.
December 11, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Monday, November 27, 2017
Last week’s lesson was about “self-assessment.” The idea was that even though it’s the IRS’s job to assess taxes, our system nonetheless depends upon taxpayers truthfully reporting the substance of their financial affairs.
Undergirding that idea is another idea: that for every taxpayer there exists a correct tax liability. The goal of tax administration is to get to the substance of taxpayer’s transactions to determine that correct amount of taxes due. For those interested, I explore this idea in my article Tax Administration as Inquisitorial Process ..., 56 Fla. L. Rev. 1 (2004).
The process of getting to that truth involves many forms, and not just the famous 1040. In 2016 the IRS processed over 244 million tax returns of various sorts. 2016 IRS Data Book Table 2, And that figure does not include all the other Forms that are important to tax administration.
This week’s lesson is about one of those other Forms. The case of Craig K. Potts and Kristen H. Potts v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2017-228 (Nov. 20, 2017), teaches the importance the Form 870-AD, both to taxpayers and to tax administrators. The Form has a purpose and that purpose can, as it did in this case, trump substance. More below the fold.
November 27, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Monday, November 20, 2017
Myths are not reality, even if they do reflect basic truths. A cherished myth in tax law is that ours is a system of “voluntary self-assessment.” Last week’s opinion in Ramsay v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2017-223 (Nov. 15, 2017), teaches a lesson about that myth.
This myth is not reality. Despite the rhetoric of hobbyists, it is not as though taxpayers have any legal choice in the matter: the law requires them to file returns, report their income and deductions, calculate their taxes, and pay any amounts owed when the return is filed. IRC §§ 6201-6204. Congress weaves together civil and criminal penalties to enforce these duties and leaves the ever unpopular IRS to swing the net. Like Bentham’s Panopticon, the discipline of self-reporting and payment cannot be divorced from the constant coercive threat of discovery and the resulting civil or criminal sanctions.
But there is a basic truth behind the myth. Tax administration rests on taxpayers truthfully disclosing their financial affairs and paying what they owe — through withholding or otherwise — without overt government compulsion. It is “voluntary” in the same sense that stopping one’s car at a red light — at midnight with no traffic and no one looking — is voluntary. It is each citizen’s self-enforcement of the legal duty that keeps both the tax and transportation systems running smoothly. With hundreds of millions of returns filed each year, the system depends on the veracity, not the kindness, of taxpayers.
The myth exists because of IRS decisions just after World War I to start accepting initial returns as presumptively accurate if properly filed. For those interested I explain both the history of tax return processing, and how it started the myth in Theory and Practice in Tax Administration, 29 Va. Tax Rev. 227 (2009).
Mr. Ramsay appears to be the kind of taxpayer who helps the system work. He filed his returns timely. He was careful to be in an overpayment posture at the end of each year. He cautiously directed that part of each year’s overpayment be applied to the following year’s tax liability. He appears to be a model of a taxpayer working within the system.
But when Mr. Ramsay made two mistakes on his 2011 return, he discovered he was unable to fix one of them precisely because ours is not a “self-assessment” system. When a taxpayer attempts to correct a mistake by amending a return, the IRS does not use the same presumption it uses when processing the initial return. Mr. Ramsay learned that lesson the hard way. You can learn it by clicking below the fold.
November 20, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Monday, November 6, 2017
Last week, the Court decided Carlos Alamo v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2017-215 (Oct. 31, 2017). This is a case worth remembering for at least two reasons. First, it teaches a lesson about how sticking to your guns can get very expensive because of the accumulation of penalties and interest. No matter how hard to work to contest a tax, penalties and interest work harder.
In this case Mr. Alamo worked very hard to contest his 2009 taxes. But his refusal to ever file a 2009 return resulted in some astonishing additions to his basic liability of $86,651 in unpaid taxes for that year. The Service's levy CDP notice, issued on November 1, 2012, reflected accumulated penalties and interest of $46,474. That equals 54% of his unpaid taxes. And who knows what the total looks like now, some five years later.
The lesson, then, can borrow from the great American roots musician Ry Cooder’s classic “The Taxes on The Farmer Feed Us All.” It might go like this:
We worked through Spring and Winter, through Summer and through Fall
But those penalties and interest worked the hardest of us all
They worked on nights and Sundays, they worked each holiday
They settled down among us and they never went away
The second lesson is about how the Service proves compliance with § 6212 notice requirements. It appears that Mr. Alamo is a hobbyist, albeit more clever than most. He tried to play the proof game. He lost. Still, his stubborn refusal to concede that the Service had properly sent him a Notice of Deficiency (NOD) is a great lesson in how to attack the adequacy of notice but also a warning that an obdurate refusal to cooperate during the CDP hearing can destroy the last chance to get the correct tax liability. By insisting on his perceived “right” to make the Service prove compliance with procedure, Mr. Alamo lost this chance to get his tax liability corrected. For more details on this second lesson, see below the fold:
November 6, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Tuesday, October 31, 2017
The IRS does not have an easy job. Remember, it's NOT the "IRS Code" because the IRS is just the agency stuck with the task of carrying out the will of Congress. And the IRS must do this job all while being a political soccer ball — and since the mid-1990's the Republican team has hogged that ball, kicking with more enthusiasm than enlightenment. So it was nice to see a positive story about tax administration picked up by USA Today, especially because USA stories also appear in little town newspapers, like the one I read here in Lubbock, Texas (the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: IRS: Public-private Crackdown Slashes Identity Theft, Tax Refund Fraud, the story comes from a press release by the IRS that explained:
October 31, 2017 in Bryan Camp, IRS News, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate (as if you did not know), had a great blog last week describing a really cool study her office conducted on how to improve taxpayer compliance with the Earned Income Tax Credit (ETIC ... again, as if you did not know).
The basic idea was to see if a simple letter mailed to taxpayers who had demonstrated some identifiable error in their 2014 EITC claims would result in them making fewer errors in their 2015 EITC claims. Not only that, but the study compared that group to a control group of similar taxpayers who made similar errors but who were not sent a letter explaining where they went wrong.
Certainly, my intuition as a teacher is that when you give feedback on what students do wrong, they tend to do better. The study supports that intuition’s application to taxpayers: tell them what they were doing wrong and they will do better overall and will certainly do better than those who get no such feedback.
What struck me as particularly interesting and worth further comment was the feature of just how the Taxpayer Advocate Service sent the letter to the taxpayers. Nina gives this description:
October 17, 2017 in Bryan Camp, Gov't Reports, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Monday, October 2, 2017
In a fully reviewed 28 page opinion released Thursday, September 28, 2017, the Tax Court gave full attention to an important problem: when a married taxpayer files a return with an impermissible filing status (such as single or head of household) can the spouses later still elect to file jointly or do the restrictions in §6013(b)(2) apply?
The case is Fansu Camara and Aminata Jatta v. Commissioner. The opinion is worth your time not only for the well-reasoned outcome, but also for its neat demonstration of how precedent sometimes operates like a game of telephone. First I will need to sketch out the facts and holding for you. And then I will have one tax policy observation about the outcome. But I promise it won’t be 28 pages. So, if you are brave, you will continue reading below the fold.
October 2, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Friday, September 29, 2017
Last week the Tax Court issued an opinion in Williams v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2017-182. Although it involves small amounts, the opinion teaches a big lesson about the IRS power of offset
Mr. Williams filed his 2013 return reporting $503 of taxable income and withholding of $1,214. So he claimed an overpayment of $711. The IRS accepted his return as filed but did not refund the $711. Instead, it used its offset powers under section 6402(a) to credit that supposed $711 overpayment against Mr. Williams' unpaid tax liabilities from 2011. Later, the IRS audited Mr. Williams' return and proposed a deficiency of $1,403. Mr. Williams' protest to Tax Court was not the usual one. He agreed with the amount of the deficiency, but he thought that since there was not actually an overpayment, per the audit, then the IRS should not have credited that $711 to his 2011 liability but should instead apply it to his 2013 liability. After all, it was part of the wage withholding for 2013. Note that it was to Mr. Williams' benefit to pay off the most recent tax liabilities to increase the chances that the older ones would age out.
September 29, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Thursday, September 28, 2017
Generally, the Tax Code contains statutory consequences for taxpayers who fail to obey statutory commands. Most of those statutory consequences are in the form of: "Additions to Tax" found in sections 6651-6658; "Accuracy-Related and Fraud Penalties" found in sections 6662-6664; "Assessable Penalties" found in sections 6671-6725; and, of course, all the various criminal and forfeiture statutes found in 7201-7345.
But what about statutory commands imposed on the IRS? It turns out not all such commands carry a statutory hammer. Let me give one example. When the IRS assesses a tax and the tax is unpaid, section 6303 requires the IRS to send the taxpayer notice and demand for the unpaid tax within 60 days of the assessment. But the statute is silent as to what consequence, if any, should occur if the IRS sends the notice and demand later than 60 days. Treas. Reg. 301.6303-1 provides "the failure to give notice within 60 days does not invalidate the notice."
September 28, 2017 in Bryan Camp, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017
I previously blogged about a great panel presentation I attended at the Fall ABA Tax Section Meeting in Austin. The presentation was about how to sue someone under § 7434 for filing a false information return.
This past week one of the panelists, Stephen Olson, has blogged more about this subject here and here. The blogs are worth calling to your attention. He dives a bit deeper into this subject to look at whether an Information Return that states the correct payment amount but is otherwise false and misleading, is sufficient to support suit under § 7434.
September 27, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Bryan Camp, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Thursday, September 21, 2017
Last week I went to the ABA Tax Section Meeting in Austin and really enjoyed attending a terrific panel on Section 7434. The moderator was Professor Leslie Book, of Villanova School of Law and the presenters were Stephen Olsen, of Gawthrop Greenwood, PC; and Mandi Matlock, of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Inc., Austin, TX.
September 21, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Bryan Camp, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Friday, September 15, 2017
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The current discussion about tax reform is focused on reforming substantive tax law and not tax administration. Last April, however, a group of tax practitioner organizations put out a paper calling for tax administration reform. You can find the proposal on the AICPA website here.
The nine practitioner organizations include the AICPA, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, and the National Association of Tax Professionals. Notably absent from the list of practitioner groups are the main tax lawyer organization, the ABA Section on Taxation.
September 13, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Bryan Camp, IRS News, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Monday, September 11, 2017
Broadly speaking, tax administration (as currently structured) consists of two main functions: determining tax liability and collecting the tax liabilities so determined. There is, however, some overlap because taxpayers sometimes have the opportunity during the tax collection process to get a re-determination of the underlying tax liability. The main opportunity comes in the Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing. This is an administrative hearing conducted by the IRS Office of Appeals and is subject to judicial review by the Tax Court. Two recent Tax Court cases — Mohamed v. Commissioner (TC Sum. Op. 2017-69) and Bruce v. Commissioner (TC Memo. 2017-172) — illustrate just how narrow this opportunity is for taxpayers. To me, they teach the take-home lesson that the best shot taxpayers have at getting the most favorable result is to respond early and often to tax notices. Taxpayers who wait are the taxpayers who cry. For a lesson that Mohamed teaches about tax return preparer penalties see Les Book's great post here. More below the fold.
September 11, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Thursday, September 7, 2017
Readers will recall that Congress, in §32102 of the 2015 (FAST) Act, amended IRC §6306 to force the Service to outsource some collection inventory to private collection agencies.
Now, I have no doubt that readers of this blog are totally compliant in their taxes. And if any happen to be delinquent in their taxes, I have no doubt they are not in the category of delinquent taxpayers who face collection from private collection agencies. But I also suspect many readers have received questions about the program from clients, friends, family members, workplace colleagues, neighbors, and others.
September 7, 2017 in Bryan Camp, Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Wednesday, September 6, 2017
The National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen has a blog post here that is well worth your time to read. It's about the Service's automated levy program called FPLP (Federal Levy Payment Program).
One way the Service tries to collect unpaid taxes is by looking for people who owe the delinquent taxpayer money and snagging those payments. That's called a levy. FPLP is a computer program designed to snags payments owed by the federal government to delinquent taxpayers. Now, some people consider it an irony that one hand of the federal government actually sends payments to many delinquent taxpayers who owe the federal government money. Notably, however, FPLP hits what are commonly viewed as "safety net" payments from Social Security and Federal Retirement programs. So other people consider it an irony that one hand of the federal government would partially undo the safety net payments made by the other hand.
September 6, 2017 in Bryan Camp, Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Monday, September 4, 2017
Last week, in Borenstein v. Commmissioner, 149 T.C. No. 10 (Aug. 30, 2017), the Tax Court was asked to apply Section 6511 contrary to its very, very intricate terms. The Court declined to do so. That meant that a taxpayer lost out on a $30k+ refund. Ms. B. had paid about $112k in taxes by the due date of her 2012 return (April 15, 2013), but she did not file the return. While she did get the 6 month extension she still failed to file a return by October 15, 2013. The months went by — 22 of them— before the Service was kind enough in June 2015 to send her an NOD but was unkind in slamming her with an asserted $1.2m deficiency. You know that drill. Ms. B. then quick-like-a-bunny filed a return that September, showing a $79k liability. The Service said "oh, ok, that's good" and accepted her return as accurate. So she now only needed to get her refund, right? Wrong. See below the fold for why.
September 4, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink
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