Paul L. Caron
Dean


Monday, September 9, 2019

IRS Releases New Online Tax Calculator For Gig Economy Workers

IR-2019-149, Freelancers, Others With Side Jobs in the Gig Economy May Benefit From New Online Tool:

IRS Logo 2The Internal Revenue Service said today that the new Tax Withholding Estimator tool includes a feature designed to make it easier for employees who also receive self-employment income to accurately estimate the right amount of tax to have taken out of their pay.

The estimator is an expanded, mobile-friendly online tool that replaced the Withholding Calculator, which since 2001 had offered workers an online method for checking their withholding. The old calculator lacked features geared to self-employed individuals; the new estimator made changes to address this important group.

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September 9, 2019 in IRS News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Analyst In IRS Criminal Investigation Division Pleads Guilty To Leaking Michael Cohen's Confidential Financial Information To Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' Ex-Lawyer

NBC News, IRS Staffer Pleads Guilty to Giving Michael Cohen Data to Stormy Daniels' Lawyer:

IRS Logo 2An IRS staffer who leaked confidential details about former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's finances to Michael Avenatti, ex-lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels, pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally accessing and distributing that information.

John C. Fry was an investigative analyst with the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, the law enforcement arm of the agency, in May 2018 when he twice logged on to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database and downloaded five Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) — reports filed by banks when they note potentially suspicious transactions — related to Cohen and his company Essential Consultants.

In court Wednesday, Fry admitted giving Avenatti the information via cellphone and emailing him screenshots of the SARs. He pleaded guilty to one county of unauthorized disclosure of SARs. ...

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August 22, 2019 in IRS News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

WSJ: The IRS Is Coming For Your Bitcoin

Wall Street Journal Tax Report, The IRS Is Coming For Your Bitcoin:

Bitcoin IRSThe Internal Revenue Service is on the war path against Americans who haven’t reported income from cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

In late July, the IRS said it had started to send warning letters to more than 10,000 people who may not have complied with tax rules on virtual currencies. Agency officials have said criminal tax indictments involving cryptocurrencies are expected soon, and other enforcement letters are going out.

Tax specialists are urging crypto users who aren’t in compliance to act quickly. While coming clean involves a maze of tricky decisions, ignoring the agency could cost a crypto holder dearly. ...

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August 20, 2019 in IRS News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 5, 2019

Lesson From The Tax Court: Appeals Is Still Part Of The IRS, Really!

Tax Court (2017)I find it useful to think of tax administration as comprising two overarching functions: (1) determining tax liabilities and (2) collecting tax liabilities.  The IRS Office of Appeals (“Appeals”) supports both functions by mediating disputes between taxpayers and either the IRS exam function or collection function.  In Aldo Fonticiella v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2019-74 (June 13, 2019), Judge Gerber teaches us that even though Appeals has a different (and wider) set of powers that often allow it to settle disputes without litigation, it still functions as an integral part of the IRS, no matter how many times Congress puts “Independent” in its title.

Taxpayers unhappy with Appeals look for creative ways to avoid its decisions.  In 2011, one such taxpayer argued that all Appeals work product violated the U.S. Constitution.  His theory was that Appeals Officers were “Officers of The United States” within the meaning of the U.S. Constitution.  That meant they had to be appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate.  Because they were not, they could not wield any power over taxpayers.  That made all their work illegal and without effect.  In Tucker v. Commissioner both the Tax Court (135 T.C. 114, 2010) and the D.C. Circuit (676 F.3d 1129, 2012) rejected the argument.  Not a single judge agreed with the taxpayer.

Creativity begets creativity.  In Fonticiella, Judge Gerber considers and rejects a companion argument, that Appeals is a “de facto independent agency” whose very existence is an affront to the U.S. Constitution.  While that is a loser argument today, it may become a winner eventually as Congress keeps trying to transform Appeals into a mini-me Tax Court.  The recently enacted Taxpayer First Act, P.L. 116-25, moves in that direction, although not far enough, IMHO, to affect the rationale for Judge Gerber’s decision.  You can read more about it below the fold.

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August 5, 2019 in Bryan Camp, IRS News, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Federal Judge Overturns IRS Rule To Shield Political Donor Identities

Bloomberg, Judge Overturns IRS Rule to Shield Political Donor Identities

A federal judge in Montana overturned an Internal Revenue Service rule that would allow many political non-profit groups to keep their donor lists private [Bullock v. Rettig, No. CV-18-103-GF-BMM (D. MT July 30, 2019).

The ruling upends a change the IRS made last year that permitted so-called Section 501(c)4 groups, known as “social-welfare” organizations, to keep their donor lists private. A federal judge said the IRS didn’t follow proper procedure in writing the rule and needs to allow the public to weigh in on the change before altering the tax code.

“Then, and only then, may the IRS act on a fully informed basis when making potentially significant changes to federal tax law,” U.S. federal Judge Brian Morris said in the opinion published Tuesday evening. ...

The ruling is a blow to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who touted the rule, saying it protected donor privacy because the IRS didn’t need the information to enforce tax laws. Democrats had criticized the agency’s move, saying it opened up the possibility for foreign interests to influence elections.

Update:  Bloomberg Tax, IRS Could Face More Court Battles After Nonprofit Donor Ruling:

The IRS may be vulnerable to more court challenges after a federal judge struck down agency guidance that rolled back nonprofit donor disclosure requirements, according to tax professionals.

The ruling upends a position that the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department have taken for a long time that guidance falling short of a regulation doesn’t have to go through a full notice-and-comment period, said Kristin Hickman. ...

“The fact that the judge declared a revenue procedure to be a legislative rule is a big deal,” said Hickman, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School who specializes in tax administration and administrative law.

The decision could subject other revenue procedures—or revenue rulings—to challenges from taxpayers if Morris’s ruling stands, said Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, a professor at University of Notre Dame Law School. This, however, may not work in every case. The fact that the donor disclosure change amended a nearly 50-year-old rule seemed to play a large role in the judge’s decision, Mayer said.

For background of the case, see:

August 1, 2019 in IRS News, New Cases, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Nina Olson Retires Today After 18 Years As National Taxpayer Advocate (Update From Nina)

Bloomberg Tax, ‘Advocate Zealously’ for Taxpayers, IRS's Olson Urges Successor:

Olson (2018)“Not a team player.” “A thorn in the government’s side.” “The voice of the taxpayer.”

Outgoing National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson has been called many things, and she bears those titles—both the good and the bad—proudly.

Olson, who retires as head of the Taxpayer Advocate Service July 31 after 18 years, is no stranger to controversy. Her role—part of an independent arm of the Internal Revenue Service where taxpayers can turn for help if they have a dispute with the agency—has naturally pitted her against senior IRS leadership occasionally.

But looking back at her time in the government, Olson wouldn’t change her approach. And Congress, which created the role to act as an independent voice for the American taxpayer, might have something to say about it if her successor feels otherwise.

“The next person may have a different style,” she told Bloomberg Tax in a sitdown interview. “But they will still need to advocate zealously.”

Olson spoke about the sometimes-contentious relationship in her last public speaking engagement as the national advocate. ...

Olson said her biggest regret as advocate is that she didn’t notice the IRS’s targeting of certain political groups sooner.

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July 31, 2019 in IRS News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 27, 2019

IRS Cracks Down On 10,000 Cryptocurrency Owners

Wall Street Journal, IRS Sending Warning Letters to More Than 10,000 Cryptocurrency Holders:

Bitcoin IRSThe Internal Revenue Service has begun sending letters to more than 10,000 cryptocurrency holders, warning they may have broken federal tax laws.

The agency wasn’t specific about the possible violations it was reviewing, but those who hold digital currencies could be subject to a variety of taxes, especially on capital gains.

“Taxpayers should take these letters very seriously. The IRS is expanding efforts involving virtual currency,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. ...

The IRS letters come as bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, has ridden a new wave of optimism in recent months. In mid-July, bitcoin topped $12,000, more than three times its value at the end of 2018. Investors, speculators and Facebook have extolled the potential of digital currencies.

At the same time, use by drug dealers and other nefarious actors has marred its reputation. The IRS has expressed worries about the ability of digital currencies to promote tax evasion. ...

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July 27, 2019 in IRS News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

WSJ: IRS Greenlights Tax Breaks For Buyers Of 23andMe Genetic Tests — Are Smartwatches Next?

Wall Street Journal, IRS Greenlights Tax Breaks for Buyers of 23andMe Genetic Tests:

23andmeBuyers of 23andMe Inc.’s genetic-testing kits will now have an easier time paying for the service with tax-advantaged health accounts after a favorable IRS ruling.

The decision offers more clarity to consumers and reduces the cost of the company’s service. It also highlights differences between the tax law’s permissive definition of medical care and health regulators’ more restrictive approach to direct-to-consumer testing products.

The Internal Revenue Service made the ruling in May and will release a redacted version next month. The Wall Street Journal reviewed the document before 23andMe disclosed it Monday.

The company sells genetic tests that provide consumers with information about a variety of things, including ancestry, wellness and traits such as food-taste preferences. The health reports provide information on whether individuals have gene variants that increase their risk for developing certain diseases.

That health portion of 23andMe’s test is medical care for tax purposes, the IRS determined. It made no ruling on ancestry testing from the same saliva sample and said taxpayers can use reasonable methods to separate the tax-advantaged piece from the bundled product.

23andMe says the decision means consumers can claim up to $117.74 of the $199 cost of a health-and-ancestry kit as medical care for tax purposes and is offering a calculator to handle taxes, shipping and discounts. Jacquie Haggarty, the company’s deputy general counsel, said any 2019 purchases should be eligible expenses.

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July 23, 2019 in IRS News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 22, 2019

Shobe Presents The Substance Over Form Doctrine And The Up-C At The IRS

Gladriel Shobe (BYU) presented The Substance Over Form Doctrine and the Up-C, 38 Va. Tax Rev. 249 (2018), to the Passthrough and Special Industries Group in the IRS Chief Counsel's Office on Friday in Washington, D.C.:

Shobe (2018)The Up-C is an increasingly popular form of IPO that generates significant tax benefits as compared to a traditional IPO. These tax benefits, which are the driving force behind the Up-C, have generally gone uncontested and are achieved by taking a form over substance approach to the Up-C for tax purposes. Governmental officials had never directly addressed the Up-C until recently when the SEC issued an interpretive letter (the Up-C Letter) condoning a substance over form approach to the Up-C for purposes of SEC Rule 144. As a result of the Up-C Letter, owners in an Up-C get the best of both worlds by inconsistently taking a form over substance approach for tax purposes and a substance over form approach for securities law purposes.

This Article analyzes whether this disparate treatment of the Up-C is justified from either a technical or policy perspective.

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July 22, 2019 in Colloquia, IRS News, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 19, 2019

Ex-Wife, Business Partner Denied Refund Beats IRS At Eleventh Circuit

Daily Business Review, Ex-Wife, Business Partner Denied Refund Beats IRS at Eleventh Circuit:

A woman denied a tax refund on $300,000 in income from a family business she paid back to her ex-husband, rather than paying back the federal government directly, has won a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in her case against the IRS [Mihelick v. United States, No. 17-14975 (11th Cir. June 29, 20190}.

“Inscribed above the main entrance of the Internal Revenue Service office in Washington, D.C., is a quotation from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: ‘Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society,’ ” Circuit Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote. “An admirable outlook, yet even Justice Holmes would likely agree that it is uncivilized to impose taxes on citizens for income they did not ultimately receive. But that is precisely the result the government asks us to uphold today.” ...

Rosenbaum cut through layers of tax law and marital property nuances in the 24-page opinion, neatly simplifying a complex dispute.

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July 19, 2019 in IRS News, New Cases, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Death Of Former IRS Commissioner Mortimer Caplin At Age 103

Bloomberg Law, Mortimer Caplin Leaves Legacy at IRS, Top D.C. Law Firm:

CaplinMortimer Caplin, who helped shape the IRS and a major Washington, D.C. law firm, died July 15 at the age of 103.

Caplin was IRS commissioner under former President John F. Kennedy and later co-founded Caplin & Drysdale. As IRS chief, he worked to make the agency kinder and friendlier, according to an obituary from his alma mater, the University of Virginia.

Scott Michel, a member at Caplin & Drysdale who has been at the firm for nearly four decades, said that Caplin played a key role in the firm’s culture.

“Those of us who are old-timers around here frequently comment that the tone and culture and the level of excellence that we aspire to, you can trace right back to the tone and culture and level of excellence that Mort Caplin conveyed,” Michel said.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in a statement that Caplin had a powerful personal story and career of public service, highlighting his time at the IRS and as a beachmaster at Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion in World War II.

“Indeed, throughout Mort’s incredible life, his service and dedication personally embodied what it takes to preserve America and its way of life. He will be missed,” Rettig said.

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July 17, 2019 in IRS News, Obituaries, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 15, 2019

IRS Releases Draft 2019 Tax Forms

Friday, July 12, 2019

National Taxpayer Advocate Publishes 'Subway Map' Of Taxpayer’s Journey Through The Tax System

Subway

IR-2019-123 (July 10, 2019), National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Releases Comprehensive Report Intended to Improve EITC Administration; Publishes "Subway Map" of Taxpayer’s Journey Through the Tax System:

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson today released a special report on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which makes recommendations designed to increase the participation rate of eligible taxpayers and reduce overclaims by ineligible taxpayers. Also today, the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) published a subway map that depicts a taxpayer’s “journey” through the tax system to help taxpayers and policymakers better understand the tax administration process.

Special report on Earned Income Tax Credit

The EITC report, Earned Income Tax Credit: Making the EITC Work for Taxpayers and the Government, presents a detailed examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the EITC as currently structured and administered, and makes legislative and administrative recommendations to improve it. The report runs more than 100 pages – roughly half text and half appendices consisting of EITC data tables (page 49) (PDF) and a comprehensive literature review (page 82) (PDF).

“But this report is not just a research document,” Olson wrote in her preface. “It is a call to action. As we show throughout this report, the way the EITC is structured and the way the IRS is administering it often harms the very taxpayers it is intended to serve. We have made specific, common sense recommendations to mitigate that harm and reform the administration of the EITC. All our recommendations are actionable and supported by data and research.”

The report makes both general, conceptual recommendations and specific recommendations. Among the general recommendations:

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July 12, 2019 in IRS News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

President Trump Signs The Taxpayer First Act Of 2019

Monday, July 1, 2019

IRS Issues Guidance On New 1.4% Tax On Net Investment Income Of 40 Wealthy Colleges And Universities

IR-2019-120, IRS Issues Guidance on the Tax on the Net Investment Income of Certain Private Colleges and Universities (June 28, 2019):

IRS Logo 2The Internal Revenue Service today issued proposed regulations for the new 1.4 percent excise tax on the net investment income of certain private colleges and universities.

The proposed regulations define several of the terms necessary for educational institutions to determine whether the section 4968 excise tax applies to them.

The tax applies to any private college or university that has at least 500 full-time tuition-paying students (more than half of whom are located in the U.S.) and that has assets other than those used in its charitable activities worth at least $500,000 per student. An estimated 40 or fewer institutions are affected.

For affected institutions, the guidance clarifies how to determine net investment income, including how to include the net investment income of related organizations and how to determine an institution’s basis in property.

These proposed regulations incorporate the interim guidance provided in Notice 2018-55, that for property held by an institution at the end of 2017, generally allows the educational institution to use the property’s fair market value at the end of 2017 as its basis for figuring the tax on any resulting gain.

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July 1, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Outgoing Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Forms Nonprofit Center for Taxpayer Rights

Olson 2Bloomberg Law, Olson, Outgoing Taxpayer Advocate, Forms Advocacy Nonprofit:

The outgoing leader of the National Taxpayer Advocate Service has formed a nonprofit to fight outside of the government for taxpayers’ rights, even as she promotes steps the advocate service is taking to broaden its own reach.

The nonprofit organization is called the Center for Taxpayer Rights, said Nina Olson, who will retire from the Taxpayer Advocate Service at the end of July after 18 years as its chief. 

Accounting Today, Taxpayer Advocate Olson: 'My Role Is Not To Be a Shill For the IRS':

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson delivered what is likely to be her final public speech Friday before retiring at the end of July from nearly 19 years of running the Taxpayer Advocate Service at the IRS, announcing plans to start a nonprofit to continue her work advocating for taxpayer rights, while promising future battles against the entrenched tax bureaucracy, perhaps in front of the Supreme Court.

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June 25, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Congress Enacts Robust Protections For Tax Whistleblowers

IRS Whistleblower (2014)Jason Zuckerman & Matthew Stock, Congress Enacts Robust Protections For Tax Whistleblowers:

Although plagued by delays and other challenges, the IRS Whistleblower Reward Program has achieved some success in encouraging insiders with information about significant tax underpayments to come forward.  Since Congress established the IRS Whistleblower Program in 2006, whistleblower disclosures to the IRS have enabled the IRS to recover $5 billion, and the Whistleblower Office has awarded whistleblowers approximately $811 million.

But many whistleblowers are reluctant to come forward because there is no federal law protecting tax whistleblowers against retaliation.  For several years, the IRS Office of the Whistleblower has called on Congress to enact statutory protections from retaliation.  In its FY 2018 annual report to Congress, the IRS Whistleblower Office notes that  “[p]roviding whistleblowers with a zone of protection from economic or physical harm is imperative to the success of any whistleblower program as Congress has recognized in other whistleblower statutes . . . The need for greater protection of whistleblowers is amplified as sophisticated taxpayers are increasingly attempting to learn the existence or identity of a whistleblower.”

This week, Congress heeded that request by enacting robust whistleblower protections for tax whistleblowers, modeled on the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and False Claims Act

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June 22, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 21, 2019

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Delivers Her Final Report To Congress

NTAIR-2019-119, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Delivers Her Final Report to Congress:

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson today released her 37th and final report to Congress in advance of her previously announced retirement on July 31. In the preface, Olson reflects on her 18 years in the job and provides her assessment of the key challenges facing the IRS and the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) in the coming years. The report also presents a review of the 2019 filling season.

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June 21, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Papers From The 2018 IRS-TPC Research Conference On Tax Administration

Saturday, June 15, 2019

WSJ: IRS Tax Crime Enforcement Unit Relying More On Analytics

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, Tax Crime Enforcement Unit Relying More on Analytics to Spot Crime:

Regulators are also increasingly focused on unreported capital gains related to cryptocurrencies.

The top financial crime enforcement official at the Internal Revenue Service is placing a higher priority on data analytics in the investigation of potential wrongdoers.

Don Fort, the chief of the agency’s criminal investigations division, said his office is relying more on advanced data analytics to spot suspicious behavior. One area where the unit is using data is in investigating noncompliance with payroll tax laws, he said Tuesday during a discussion at The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network Annual Meeting. ...

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June 15, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Treasury's Final Regs Block State & Local Tax Cap Workarounds In High-Tax Blue States

Treasury Department (2019)U.S. Treasury Department, Treasury Issues Final Regulations on Charitable Contributions and State and Local Tax Credits:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today issued final rules and additional guidance on the federal income tax treatment of payments made under state and local tax credit programs. The regulations prevent charitable contributions made in exchange for state tax credits from circumventing the new limitation on state and local tax deductions.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) limits the amount of state and local taxes (SALT) an individual can deduct to $10,000 a year. Without the regulations taxpayers would be able to use state tax credit programs to circumvent the TCJA limit.

The regulation [RIN 1545-BO89, 74 pages] is based on a longstanding principle of tax law: When a taxpayer receives a valuable benefit in return for a donation to charity, the taxpayer can deduct only the net value of the donation as a charitable contribution. The rule applies that principle, known as the quid pro quo principle, to state tax benefits provided to a donor in return for contributions.

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June 12, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The IRS Audits Poor Americans At The Same Rate As The Top 1%

ProPublica, It’s Getting Worse: The IRS Now Audits Poor Americans at About the Same Rate as the Top 1%:

ProPublica 1Every year, the IRS, starved of funds after years of budget cuts, loses hundreds more agents to retirement. And every year, the news gets better for the rich — especially those prone to go bold on their taxes. According to data released by the IRS last week, millionaires in 2018 were about 80% less likely to be audited than they were in 2011.

But poor taxpayers continue to bear the brunt of the IRS’ remaining force. As we reported last year, Americans who receive the earned income tax credit, one of the country’s largest anti-poverty programs, are audited at a higher rate than all but the richest taxpayers. The new data shows that the trend has only grown stronger.

Audits of the rich continue to plunge while those of the poor hold steady, and the two audit rates are converging. Last year, the top 1% of taxpayers by income were audited at a rate of 1.56%. EITC recipients, who typically have annual income under $20,000, were audited at 1.41%. ...

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June 2, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Senior IRS Leaders Launch Review Of Agency’s Partnership With TurboTax, H&R Block

TurboTaxHRBlockProPublica, Senior IRS Leaders Launch Review of Agency’s Partnership With TurboTax and H&R Block:

Amid calls for investigations from members of Congress, the IRS announced late Friday that it has convened a team of senior leaders to review concerns raised about its Free File public-private partnership with the tax software industry, following a series of ProPublica stories.

“The IRS is reviewing the concerns raised about the Free File program. We take these issues seriously, and a senior leadership team was assembled to review the current Free File program,” according to a statement. It added: “The IRS team will take fast action to ensure the integrity of the program.”

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June 1, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

IRS Releases 2018 Data Book

218 Data BookIR-2019-96, IRS Releases Data Book for 2018 (May 20, 2019):

The Internal Revenue Service today released the 2018 IRS Data Book, a snapshot of agency activities for the fiscal year.

The 2018 IRS Data Book describes activities conducted by the IRS from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018, and includes information about tax returns, refunds, examinations and appeals. The annual publication is illustrated with charts showing changes in IRS enforcement activities, taxpayer assistance levels, tax-exempt activities, legal support workload and IRS budget and workforce levels when compared to fiscal year 2017 and prior years. Included this year is a section on taxpayer attitudes from a long-running opinion survey.

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May 23, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

IRS Office Of Chief Counsel Seeks To Hire JDs/Tax LLMs For Summer Honors And Legal Programs

IRS Office of Chief Counsel Logo (2015)Michael J. Desmond (IRS Chief Counsel), IRS Office of Chief Counsel Summer Honors Program and Summer Legal Programs:

After many years of attrition, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel is turning a corner this year and looking to recruit law students and lawyers from a diverse group of well qualified candidates. The Office of Chief Counsel has always offered unparalleled opportunities for professional advancement. With implementation of the most comprehensive tax reform law in a generation under way, working with the Chief Counsel’ Office is a truly unique opportunity to participate in the development of entirely new provisions of tax law, both in technical positions drafting guidance and providing advice and in trial attorney positions handling cases in Tax Court.

We generally accepts applications as early as summer 2019 for Honors Program positions beginning fall 2020 and Summer Legal Program positions for summer 2020. This year, applicants can begin applying to our Honors Program beginning May 20, 2019, and have until September 30, 2019, to submit application materials. Although the final deadline to apply is September 30th, both the Honors Program and Summer Legal Program announcements have two earlier application cutoff dates, July 31st and September 3rd. Applicants who apply by the earlier deadlines will be considered and likely receive offers before the final deadline, so please encourage interested applicants to apply as soon as possible.

Here is some key information about the Honors Program and Summer Legal Program, along with application links that law students and recent graduates can use to apply. The application links provide job descriptions, cities where we’re hiring, and eligibility and hiring criteria information.

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May 22, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

IRS Seeks Grant Applications For Funding Low Income Taxpayer Clinics

LITC

The IRS has announced (IR-2019-83) that it is accepting grant applications through June 17 for Low Income Taxpayer Clinics for the 2020 grant cycle (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2020):

The LITC Program is a federal grant program administered by the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate at the IRS, led by the National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina E. Olson. Under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 7526, the IRS awards matching grants of up to $100,000 per year to qualifying organizations to develop, expand or maintain an LITC.  An LITC must provide services for free or for no more than a nominal fee.

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May 15, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 5, 2019

NY Times: You Can’t Tax The Rich Without The IRS

IRS Logo 2New York Times Sunday Review, You Can’t Tax the Rich Without the I.R.S.:

If no one is around to root out offshore accounts, tax cheats won’t be punished.

The hot policy in Democratic circles these days is raising taxes on the rich. Senator Elizabeth Warren has a plan to tax “ultramillionaires,” as she calls them. Senator Bernie Sanders wants to expand the estate tax. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has floated raising the top income tax rate to 70 percent for those making over $10 million a year.

But before this country raises taxes, it should grapple with something much more prosaic but equally important for tackling inequality: saving the Internal Revenue Service.

Already, wealthy people and corporations easily get around today’s rules. However tough any new laws might seem, they’d soon be undercut.

Slowly and quietly over the past eight years, the I.R.S. has been eviscerated. It’s lost tens of thousands of employees. It has fewer auditors now than at any time since 1953. In real dollars, the agency’s budget has dropped by almost $3 billion since 2010.

Businesses and the wealthy benefit the most from this state of affairs. The largest corporations in America used to be audited every year. That started to change when the cuts began, and today, the audit rate has fallen by half. It’s a similar story for individuals making $10 million or more a year: With twice the chance of escaping I.R.S. scrutiny, the ultrarich are much less likely to lose at the game of audit roulette.

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May 5, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

ProPublica: Here’s How TurboTax Just Tricked You Into Paying To File Your Taxes

TurboTaxProPublica, Here’s How TurboTax Just Tricked You Into Paying to File Your Taxes:

Come along as we try to file our taxes for free on TurboTax!

Did you know that if you make less than $66,000 a year, you can prepare and file your taxes for free?

No? That’s no accident. Companies that make tax preparation software, like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, would rather you didn’t know.

Intuit and other tax software companies have spent millions lobbying to make sure that the IRS doesn’t offer its own tax preparation and filing service. In exchange, the companies have entered into an agreement with the IRS to offer a “Free File” product to most Americans — but good luck finding it.

Here’s what happened when we went looking.

Our first stop was Google. We searched for “irs free file taxes.”

And we thought we found what we were looking for: Ads from TurboTax and others directing us to free products.

ProPublica

... It turns out that if you start the process from TurboTax.com, it’s impossible to find the truly free version. The company itself admits this. ...

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May 1, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monte Jackel Named Special Counsel To The IRS Chief Counsel

JackelIR-2019-82 (Apr. 30, 2019), IRS Announces Selection of New Special Counsel to the Chief Counsel:

The Internal Revenue Service’s Chief Counsel today announced the appointment of Monte A. Jackel (Jackel Tax Law; @jackeltaxlaw) to the position of special counsel to the Chief Counsel, Office of Chief Counsel.

Jackel has extensive experience in both private practice as well as prior government service. Most recently, he was a Senior Tax Counsel with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where he focused on partnerships, international and corporate tax issues. Jackel previously served as a Special Counsel for the Office of Chief Counsel, Passthroughs and Special Industries, and earlier as the Deputy Associate Chief Counsel (Domestic-Technical).

Jackel also served as an Attorney Advisor in the Office of Tax Policy, U.S. Department of the Treasury. He received his J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law, and his LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law. Jackel received his bachelor’s degree from Queens College, City University of New York.

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May 1, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Actor Wesley Snipes’ Offer In Compromise Got Sniped By The IRS

Snipes 2New York Law Journal, Actor Wesley Snipes’ Offer in Compromise Got Sniped by the IRS:

If you watch TV, listen to the radio, read a newspaper or hear conversations, invariably you will notice many organizations offering their services to settle tax liabilities for pennies on the dollar. How real are these offers to help a delinquent taxpayer?

There is no question that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has liberalized its collection policies and procedures. Specifically, the agency has established a “Fresh Start” initiative to permit qualified taxpayers a means to pay less taxes through the Offer in Compromise (O.I.C.) program. The IRS also grants different types of installment arrangements for taxpayers who may not qualify for an O.I.C. ...

Even though the O.I.C. program has become more commercialized, there are many taxpayers who do not qualify. Last year, Actor Wesley Snipes made headlines when his O.I.C. was rejected by the IRS. Upon information and belief, Snipes failed to file Federal Income Tax Returns for the years 2001-2006, allegedly owing the IRS at least $23.5 million. After the IRS issued numerous collection notices and liens, Snipes filed a Request for a Collection Due Process Hearing. He then submitted an O.I.C. for an $842,061.00 offer in full satisfaction of his $23.5 million debt to the IRS.

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April 30, 2019 in Celebrity Tax Lore, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Peter Blessing Named IRS Associate Chief Counsel (International)

BlessingIR-2019-79 (Apr. 25, 2019), IRS Announces New Personnel Selection for Office of Chief Counsel:

The Internal Revenue Service’s Chief Counsel today announced the appointment of Peter Blessing to the position of Associate Chief Counsel, International, Office of Chief Counsel.

Blessing has many years of experience in private practice and has focused primarily on international tax law. “We are very fortunate to attract an individual of his caliber and expertise,” said Michael Desmond, IRS Chief Counsel.

The Associate Chief Counsel, International, is responsible for coordinating and directing all activities of the international organizational component of the Office of Chief Counsel. That organization provides legal advisory services on all international and foreign tax matters, including all matters relating to the activities of non-U.S. persons or entities within the United States and the activities of U.S. or U.S.-related persons or entities outside the United States. These services support uniform interpretation, application and enforcement of all international provisions of the United States revenue laws, all bilateral and multilateral tax treaties and agreements to which the United States is a party, and all foreign revenue laws that pertain to or affect tax matters in the United States.

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April 26, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

ProPublica: Lawmakers Confront The IRS Over Tax Audits That Target The Poor

Pro PublicaProPublica, Lawmakers Just Confronted the IRS Over Tax Audits That Target the Poor:

Over the past six months, ProPublica has detailed the myriad ways the IRS has been gutted and how that has impacted its ability to do its job. In sum: The wealthy escape scrutiny while the working poor, an easier target, are audited at high rates.

This week, Congress, in two separate hearings, confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig with the findings.

“How can the Congress stand by a tax-enforcement system that punishes working people and gives the wealthy a green light to cheat?” asked Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, during his opening statement on Wednesday.

Wyden was referring to a ProPublica investigation last week into the fate of the elite unit the IRS formed to keep up with the complicated tax-avoidance schemes of the wealthy. Faced with staff cuts and blowback from the wealthy and their tax representatives, the effort fumbled and was scaled way back.

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April 25, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

D.C. Circuit Upholds IRS's Voluntary Regulation Of Tax Preparers

Frank G. Colella (Pace), D.C. Circuit Upholds IRS's Voluntary Regulation of Tax Preparers — Majority Holds APA's Statutory Notice and Comment Not Required: AICPA v. IRS, 15 N.Y.U. J. L. & Bus.229 (2019):

In American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (“AICPA”) v. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), the D.C. Circuit for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) reversed the District Court for the District of Columbia’s (“District Court”) dismissal and held, for a second time, that the AICPA had standing to challenge the IRS’s promulgation of the Annual Filing Season Program (“AFSP” or “the Program”). The D.C. Circuit then went a step further and ruled on the merits of the AICPA’s challenge to the IRS’s rulemaking. It held that the IRS had the statutory authority to promulgate the voluntary program to enhance the skills of licensed tax return preparers. However, while the D.C. Circuit was unanimous on standing and the merits, it split two-to-one on whether the IRS had followed proper procedure when it adopted the AFSP without first providing the requisite “notice and comment” period required by the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”).

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April 25, 2019 in IRS News, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

ProPublica: How The IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups

Pro PublicaProPublica, How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups:

Six years after it was excoriated for allegedly targeting conservative organizations, the agency has largely given up on regulating an entire category of nonprofits. The result: More dark money gushes into the political system.

In the past decade, people, companies and unions have dispensed more than $1 billion in dark money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The very definition of that phrase, to many critics, epitomizes the problem of shadowy political influence: Shielded by the cloak of anonymity, typically wealthy interests are permitted to pass limitless pools of cash through nonprofits to benefit candidates or political initiatives without contributing directly to campaigns.

Such spending is legal because of a massive loophole. Section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code allows organizations to make independent expenditures on politics while concealing their donors’ names — as long as politics isn’t the organization’s “primary activity.” The Internal Revenue Service has the daunting task of trying to determine when nonprofits in that category, known colloquially as C4s, violate that vague standard.

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April 24, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Who Profits When You Pay Your Taxes?

Free FileWNYC Studios, Who Profits When You Pay Your Taxes?:

Tax Day is behind us, but the Taxpayer First Act is not. The bipartisan proposal passed the House last week and is now under consideration in the Senate — and one of the provisions is exactly what the for-profit tax preparation industry has been pushing for.

Through an agreement with the IRS, companies like H&R Block and Intuit currently offer free tax filing services to taxpayers making less than $66,000 dollars a year. But only 1.6 percent of taxpayers actually use Free File, and critics say that the companies engage in aggressive up-selling through the portal. A provision in the Taxpayer First Act would bar the IRS from developing their own free system.

Dennis Ventry is a tax scholar at the University of California, Davis. He has written about the shortcomings of the Free File program, and explains to Bob why he thinks the IRS isn't doing enough to protect taxpayers who try to use it. He wrote an opinion piece last year titled Free File Providers Scam Taxpayers; Congress Shouldn't Be Fooled — which made him the target of a public records request from an industry group [New York Times, Industries Turn Freedom of Information Requests on Their Critics].

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April 22, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Taxpayer Advocate: The IRS Should Redesign Its Notices Using Psychological, Cognitive, And Behavioral Science Insights

Taxpayer Advocate (2016)Nina Olson (National Taxpayer Advocate), The IRS Should Redesign Its Notices Using Psychological, Cognitive, and Behavioral Science Insights to Protect Taxpayer Rights, Enhance Taxpayer Understanding, and Reduce Taxpayer Burden:

With the filing season in full operation, many taxpayers are receiving correspondence from the IRS that convey significant taxpayer rights and require taxpayers to take prompt action. As part of my recently released Annual Report to Congress, I included a Literature Review that investigated how notices can be improved using insights from the available psychological, cognitive, and behavioral science research. A major issue with current IRS notices is that many taxpayers have difficulty understanding them. They may be unsure about what the notice requires them to do, the steps they may need to take, or the rights they have to challenge the IRS’s determination in a notice. This, in part, is because the design of IRS notices does not take into account the findings of available literature and research regarding effective notice design. Nor are IRS notices designed from a taxpayer rights perspective, which can prevent taxpayers from learning about or exercising their rights—for example, by relegating the segment on their rights to the last page of the notice, which they are least likely to read. In fact, notices are often designed with the goal of increasing revenue rather than adequately informing taxpayers of their rights. In the three Most Serious Problems on notices included in my 2018 Annual Report to Congress (here, here, and here), I provide both critiques of current IRS notices and suggestions for improvement. One of those suggestions is for the IRS to improve taxpayer understanding and decrease taxpayer burden by redesigning its notices using psychological, cognitive, and behavioral science insights. These suggestions are summarized below. ...

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April 14, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 12, 2019

IRS Commissioner Says College Admission Scandal Parents May Face Hefty Tax Bills

Bloomberg, IRS Head Says College Admission Scandal Parents May Face Hefty Tax Bills:

Some of the parents charged with paying bribes to get their offspring into college could end up owing a lot more to the Internal Revenue Service.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig told the Senate Finance Committee his agency anticipates that “numerous other individuals” will be charged with criminal tax violations as a result of the investigation into alleged bribes paid to test examiners and college sports coaches to guarantee spots for students at elite U.S. universities.

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April 12, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Congress To Ban Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax.

TurboTaxProPublica, Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax.:

Just in time for Tax Day, the for-profit tax preparation industry is about to realize one of its long-sought goals. Congressional Democrats and Republicans are moving to permanently bar the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system.

Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.passed the Taxpayer First Act, a wide-ranging bill making several administrative changes to the IRS that is sponsored by Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Mike Kelly, R-Pa.

In one of its provisions, the bill makes it illegal for the IRS to create its own online system of tax filing. Companies like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, and H&R Block have lobbied for years to block the IRS from creating such a system. If the tax agency created its own program, which would be similar to programs other developed countries have, it would threaten the industry’s profits.

“This could be a disaster. It could be the final nail in the coffin of the idea of the IRS ever being able to create its own program,” said Mandi Matlock, a tax attorney who does work for the National Consumer Law Center.

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April 11, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, April 8, 2019

The IRS Tried To Take On The Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well.

ProPublicaProPublica, The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well.:

Ten years ago, the tax agency formed a special team to unravel the complex tax-lowering strategies of the nation’s wealthiest people. But with big money — and Congress — arrayed against the team, it never had a chance.

In 2009, the IRS ... formed a crack team of specialists to unravel the tax dodges of the ultrawealthy. In an age of widening inequality, with a concentration of wealth not seen since the Gilded Age, the rich were evading taxes through ever more sophisticated maneuvers. The IRS commissioner aimed to stanch the country’s losses with what he proclaimed would be “a game-changing strategy.” In short order, Charles Rettig, then a high-powered tax lawyer and today President Donald Trump’s IRS commissioner, warned that the squad was conducting “the audits from hell.” If Trump were being audited, Rettig wrote during the presidential campaign, this is the elite team that would do it. ...

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April 8, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Crypto Lenders Push No-Tax Perk Of Leveraging Bitcoin For Cash

Bitcoin IRSBloomberg, Crypto Lenders Push No-Tax Perk of Leveraging Bitcoin for Cash:

Former Wall Street trader Edgar Fernandez used some of his Bitcoin as collateral to borrow nearly $100,000, a move that let him keep his cryptocurrency and avert a tax bill on the newly acquired cash.

The tax perk stems from a longstanding principle that assets aren’t taxed until sold, much like borrowing against stock holdings. Yet digital currency carries far greater risks, from price volatility, to hacks and thefts that can make the collateral disappear, to sometimes shadowy players without long track records in the field.

Since last fall, when the value of digital money plummeted, lenders have been pushing people who have paper profits to leverage them into cash by borrowing against their cryptocurrencies. And the fact that there’s no tax bill on the transactions is a big selling point. The Internal Revenue Service treats crypto money as a capital asset like stocks or property, not as a currency. ...

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April 3, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Where In The U.S. Are You Most Likely To Be Audited By The IRS?

ProPublica, Gutting the IRS: Where in The U.S. Are You Most Likely to Be Audited by the IRS?:

Humphreys County, Mississippi, seems like an odd place for the IRS to go hunting for tax cheats. It’s a rural county in the Mississippi Delta known for its catfish farms, and more than a third of its mostly African American residents are below the poverty line. But according to a new study, it is the most heavily audited county in America.

IRS Audits

In a baffling twist of logic, the intense IRS focus on Humphreys County is actually because so many of its taxpayers are poor. More than half of the county’s taxpayers claim the earned income tax credit, a program designed to help boost low-income workers out of poverty. As we reported last year, the IRS audits EITC recipients at higher rates than all but the richest Americans, a response to pressure from congressional Republicans to root out incorrect payments of the credit.

The study estimates that Humphreys, with a median annual household income of just $26,000, is audited at a rate 51 percent higher than Loudoun County, Virginia, which boasts a median income of $130,000, the highest in the country.

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April 3, 2019 in IRS News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

NY Times: The Taxman Is (Not) Coming After You

IRS Logo 2New York Times editorial, The Taxman Is (Not) Coming After You:

The federal government is ignoring the easy part of the solution to its fiscal problems — collecting billions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

According to federal prosecutors, the California lawyer Michael Avenatti has not filed a federal income tax return since 2010, and he has not paid federal income taxes since 2008.

This may seem astonishing to the millions of Americans who dutifully file tax returns each year, under the assumption that the government would notice if they didn’t.

But it should not come as a surprise. Congressional Republicans led the charge to sharply reduce funding for the Internal Revenue Service over the past decade, and the agency has warned repeatedly that it has been deprived of the resources necessary to catch tax cheats.

The government has been operating on the honor system — and hoping that no one noticed. ...

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March 30, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Michael Desmond Confirmed And Sworn In As Trump's First IRS Chief Counsel

DesmondAfter a year-long wait, California tax lawyer Michael Desmond has been confirmed by the Senate (83-15) as IRS Chief Counsel. He was sworn in on March 8. Wall Street Journal, Senate Confirms Trump Pick for Top IRS Lawyer:

The Senate confirmed Michael Desmond as chief counsel of the IRS, filling an administration vacancy that had lasted for more than two years.

Mr. Desmond, a California tax lawyer and former Treasury official, will hold one of two presidentially appointed positions at the Internal Revenue Service. He will oversee the lawyers who write regulations, provide internal legal advice during audits and defend the agency in litigation.

No Republicans voted against the nomination. The no votes included presidential candidates Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.).

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March 18, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

National Taxpayer Advocate: The IRS Should Either Fix Or Eliminate The Free File Program

Free FileNTA Blog, The Free File Program Is Failing to Achieve Its Objectives and Should be Substantially Improved or Eliminated:

I highlight my concerns with the IRS Free File program, which I also discussed in my 2018 Annual Report to Congress and my recent testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight. I also describe my personal experience using Free Fillable Forms and make some recommendations for improving these products. 

Background
The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 directed the IRS to set a goal of increasing the e-file rate to at least 80 percent by 2007. In 2002, the IRS entered into an agreement with a consortium of tax software companies, known as Free File, Inc. (FFI), under which the companies would provide free tax return software to a certain percentage of U.S. taxpayers, and in exchange, the IRS would not compete with these companies by providing its own software to taxpayers. The agreement has been renewed at regular intervals, and for at least the past decade, the agreement has provided that the consortium would make free tax return software available for 70 percent of taxpayers (currently, about 105 million), particularly focusing on increasing access for economically disadvantaged and underserved communities, as measured by adjusted gross income.

The program provides two return preparation options for taxpayers that can be accessed on the IRS.gov homepage:

  • Free File Software: options for online software to guide taxpayers through return preparation available to taxpayers with incomes less than $66,000; and
  • Free File Fillable Forms: an electronic version of IRS paper forms available to all taxpayers, regardless of income.

The Services Provided by Free File, Inc. Fail to Meet the Needs of Taxpayers, and Use of the Program Continues to Decline
While e-filing has increased by over 180 percent since 2002, use of the Free File program has not. In 2018, individual taxpayers filed more than 154 million tax returns. Yet fewer than 2.5 million of those returns, or 1.6 percent, were filed using Free File software (this calculation does not include the number of taxpayers who used Free Fillable Forms to file their tax returns). Thus, about 68 percent of all taxpayers were eligible to use Free File software but did not do so—frequently paying to purchase the same or comparable software instead. In fact, use of the Free File program has decreased since 2014—meaning that taxpayers who used Free File in previous years chose a different option to file their returns in the following year.

NTA 1

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March 16, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Millionaires And Corporate Giants Escaped IRS Audits In FY 2018

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University has released Millionaires and Corporate Giants Escaped IRS Audits in FY 2018:

The latest data reveal that 97 out of every 100 taxpayers reporting over a million dollars of income were not audited last year. And for these millionaires the puny number of IRS audits has been cut in half since 2010.

TRAC 1

More than half of the 633 largest corporations in the country - those with over $20 billion in assets - were not even audited last year. This is the first year that the audit rate has slipped below 50 percent. As recently as 2010, nearly all such returns (96%) were being examined by IRS.

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March 9, 2019 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Nina Olson To Retire After 18 Years As National Taxpayer Advocate

Olson (2018)A Personal Message from the National Taxpayer Advocate:

On this date eighteen years ago — March 1, 2001 — I walked through the doors of the IRS headquarters building in Washington, DC to begin my tenure as National Taxpayer Advocate of the United States.  It was the beginning of an always fascinating, usually complicated, and yes, sometimes frustrating journey.  Along the way, I have been privileged — and I use that word in every sense — to have worked with extraordinary people — in the Taxpayer Advocate Service, in the IRS, in Treasury, in Congress, and most importantly, directly with taxpayers and their representatives.

In addition to celebrating my March 1 anniversary, I crossed another milestone a few weeks ago.  In the eyes of the Internal Revenue Code, I am now “elderly” — that is, I am now of the age to qualify for the additional credit for the elderly under IRC § 22.  This has caused me to reflect on how I want to proceed with the remaining stages of my life, and I have concluded that I am ready to move on to a new stage.

So it is with a mix of excitement and bittersweet emotions that I am announcing today I will be retiring from the position of National Taxpayer Advocate on July 31, 2019.

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March 7, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Leslie Book Named IRS Professor-In-Residence

Book (2019)Leslie Book (Villanova) has been named Professor-in-Residence at the IRS. He joins a long line of distinguished Tax Profs who have held this important position:

  • 2010-11: Charlotte Crane (Northwestern)
  • 2009-10:  Jon Forman (Oklahoma)
  • 2008-09: David Hasen (Florida)
  • 2007-08: Greg Polsky (Georgia)
  • 2007: Calvin Johnson (Texas)
  • 2007: IRS Chief Counsel Revitalizes Professor-In-Residence Program
  • 1991-92: Alan Feld (Boston University) 
  • 1990-91: Laurence Wohl (Dayton) & Larry Zelenak (Duke)
  • 1988-89: Marilyn Brookens (Baylor), Mark Cochran (St. Mary’s) & Stanley Neeleman (BYU)
  • 1987-88: Bill Lyons (Nebraska), Scott Taylor (New Mexico)
  • 1986-87: Marty McMahon (Florida), Dan Simmons (UC-Davis)

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March 7, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Fourth International Conference On Taxpayer Rights

Taxpayer Rights 2The National Taxpayer Advocate is convening the fourth International Conference on Taxpayer Rights (agenda) on May 23-24, 2019 at Minnesota:

The conference brings together government officials, scholars, and practitioners from around the world to explore how global taxpayer rights serve as the foundation for effective tax administration. For two days, speakers, panelists and attendees will explore the role of taxpayer rights in the digital age, and the implications of the expanding digital environment for transparency, certainty, and privacy in tax administration.

Panel discussions will focus on the following and more:

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March 6, 2019 in IRS News, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

IRS Investigator Charged With Leaking Records Of Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen

IRS Logo 2New York Times, I.R.S. Employee Charged With Leaking Confidential Records of Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen:

Federal prosecutors in San Francisco on Thursday charged an employee of the Internal Revenue Service with illegally leaking banking records connected to Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer.

Prosecutors said that in his role working for the investigative unit of the I.R.S., John C. Fry, an employee of the agency since 2008, had access “to various law enforcement databases” and had used them to search for records related to Mr. Cohen multiple times. He then gave the information to Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for the adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, who has claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to the prosecutors. ...

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February 23, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress, Releases 'Purple Book'

NTAIR-2019-11, National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress: Addresses Impact of Shutdown; Urges More Funding for IT Modernization (Feb. 12, 2019):

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson today released her 2018 Annual Report to Congress, describing challenges the IRS is facing as a result of the recent government shutdown and recommending that Congress provide the IRS with additional multi-year funding to replace its core 1960s-era information technology (IT) systems. The release of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s report was delayed by a month because of the government shutdown.

Olson also released the second edition of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s “Purple Book,” which presents 58 legislative recommendations designed to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration. ...

Related Items:

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February 14, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)