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CRS — Questions Raised About NFL’s Tax-Exempt Status, Legal Sidebar (September 17, 2014)

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Questions Raised About NFL’s Tax-Exempt Status, Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

With all the attention the National Football League (NFL) has received regarding its handling of several high-profile controversies, questions have arisen about the League’s tax status. The NFL is exempt from federal income taxes as an organization described in § 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. (Note this applies only to the League—the teams are not tax-exempt).

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TIGTA – Fiscal Year 2014 Statutory Review of Restrictions on Directly Contacting Taxpayers

September 24, 2014 Comments off

Fiscal Year 2014 Statutory Review of Restrictions on Directly Contacting Taxpayers
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS
The direct contact provisions of Internal Revenue Code Section 7521 generally require IRS personnel to stop a taxpayer interview whenever a taxpayer requests to consult with a representative, and prohibits IRS personnel from bypassing a qualified representative without supervisory approval once a taxpayer authorizes one to act on his or her behalf and informs the IRS of that authorization. A taxpayer can file a civil suit seeking monetary damages against the IRS if an IRS employee intentionally disregards these provisions by denying the taxpayer the right to appropriate representation.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT
This audit was initiated because TIGTA is required to annually report on the IRS’s compliance with the direct contact provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. The overall objective of this review was to determine whether the IRS complied with legal guidelines addressing the direct contact of taxpayers and their representatives as set forth in Internal Revenue Code Sections 7521(b)(2) and (c).

WHAT TIGTA FOUND
The IRS has a number of policies and procedures in place to help ensure that taxpayers are afforded the right to designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf in dealing with IRS personnel in a variety of tax matters.

Each year, TIGTA focuses on one IRS office or function that interacts with taxpayers and their representatives on a routine basis. For this review, TIGTA analyzed how well the Small Business/Self-Employed Division’s Examination function has ensured that its personnel are appropriately including taxpayers’ representatives in its office audit activities. A review of a statistical sample of 96 tax return audits out of 77,817 office audits closed in Fiscal Year 2013 showed that tax compliance officers are generally involving the authorized representatives in case activities.

TIGTA did find one issue that warrants clarification in the IRS’s procedures. Two Internal Revenue Manual procedures provide slightly different requirements concerning what actions must be delayed while the taxpayer is obtaining representation.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED
TIGTA recommended that the IRS ensure that consistent guidance is provided in the Examination sections of the Internal Revenue Manual, detailing the procedures for allowing taxpayers adequate time to obtain representation and for documenting case actions.

The IRS agreed with TIGTA’s recommendation and plans to provide consistent guidance in the Small Business/Self-Employed Division’s Examination sections of the Internal Revenue Manual detailing the procedures for allowing taxpayers adequate time to secure representation before taking any follow-up action to schedule an appointment. The guidance will clarify actions the examiner can take during the 10-business-day period and clarify adequate case file documentation.

Updated: State Impact of Expired State and Local Sales Tax Deduction

September 22, 2014 Comments off

Updated: State Impact of Expired State and Local Sales Tax Deduction
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

Many temporary federal tax provisions expired at the end of 2013. Policymakers have routinely extended many of these provisions over the past decade, but action on a package of “extenders” in 2014 remains uncertain. Among the expired provisions is the deduction for state and local sales taxes. If it is not retroactively extended, states with the highest claim rates would be likely to feel the biggest effects.

Fiscal year 2014 statutory audit of compliance with notifying taxpayers Of their rights when requested to extend the assessment statute

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Fiscal year 2014 statutory audit of compliance with notifying taxpayers Of their rights when requested to extend the assessment statute
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS
The IRS is required by law to notify taxpayers of their rights when requesting an extension of the statute of limitations for assessing additional taxes and penalties. Taxpayers might be adversely affected if the IRS does not follow the requirements to notify both the taxpayers and their representatives of the taxpayers’ rights related to assessment statute extensions.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT
TIGTA is required by law to annually determine whether the IRS complied with Internal Revenue Code Section 6501(c)(4)(B), which requires that the IRS provide notice to taxpayers of their rights to decline to extend the assessment statute of limitations or to request that any extension be limited to a specific period of time or specific issues.

WHAT TIGTA FOUND
TIGTA’s review of a statistical sample of 59 closed taxpayer audit files with assessment statute extensions found that the IRS is generally compliant with Internal Revenue Code Section 6501(c)(4)(B). However, TIGTA identified a few instances in which the taxpayer audit files did not contain documentation to support that the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s representative were properly notified of the taxpayer’s rights.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED
TIGTA did not make any recommendations in this report because the number of errors was relatively small and the recommendations made in previous TIGTA audit reports are still valid for the issues reported. IRS officials were provided an opportunity to review the draft report and did not provide any comments.

2012 Individual Income Tax Returns Complete Report (Publication 1304) Now Available

September 16, 2014 Comments off

2012 Individual Income Tax Returns Complete Report (Publication 1304) Now Available
Source: Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service today announced the availability of Statistics of Income—2012, Individual Income Tax Returns Complete Report (Publication 1304). U.S. taxpayers filed 144.9 million individual income tax returns for tax year 2012, down 0.3 percent from 2011. The adjusted gross income less deficit reported on these returns totaled $9.1 trillion, which is an 8.7-percent increase from the prior year.

The report is based on a sample drawn from the 144.9 million individual income tax returns filed for tax year 2012 and provides estimates on sources of income, adjusted gross income, exemptions, deductions, taxable income, income tax, modified income tax, tax credits, self-employment tax, and tax payments.

Classifications include tax status, size of adjusted gross income, marital status, age, and type of tax computation. A brief text reviews the requirements for filing tax returns, explains the changes in tax law, and describes the sample used to produce the report.

CRS — Corporate Expatriation, Inversions, and Mergers: Tax Issues (September 3, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Corporate Expatriation, Inversions, and Mergers: Tax Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

News reports in the late 1990s and early 2000s drew attention to a phenomenon sometimes called corporate “inversions” or “expatriations”: instances where U.S. firms reorganize their structure so that the “parent” element of the group is a foreign corporation rather than a corporation chartered in the United States. The main objective of these transactions was tax savings and they involved little to no shift in actual economic activity. Bermuda and the Cayman Islands (countries with no corporate income tax) were the location of many of the newly created parent corporations.

These types of inversions largely ended with the enactment of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (JOBS Act, P.L. 108-357), which denied the tax benefits of an inversion if the original U.S. stockholders owned 80% or more of the new firm. The Act effectively ended shifts to tax havens where no real business activity took place.

However, two avenues for inverting remained. The Act allowed a firm to invert if it has substantial business operations in the country where the new parent was to be located; the regulations at one point set a 10% level of these business operations. Several inversions using the business activity test resulted in Treasury regulations in 2012 that increased the activity requirement to 25%, effectively closing off this method. Firms could also invert by merging with a foreign company if the original U.S. stockholders owned less than 80% of the new firm.

Effects of Income Tax Changes on Economic Growth

September 11, 2014 Comments off

Effects of Income Tax Changes on Economic Growth
Source: Brookings Institution

This paper examines how changes to the individual income tax affect long-term economic growth. The structure and financing of a tax change are critical to achieving economic growth. Tax rate cuts may encourage individuals to work, save, and invest, but if the tax cuts are not financed by immediate spending cuts they will likely also result in an increased federal budget deficit, which in the long-term will reduce national saving and raise interest rates. The net impact on growth is uncertain, but many estimates suggest it is either small or negative. Base-broadening measures can eliminate the effect of tax rate cuts on budget deficits, but at the same time they also reduce the impact on labor supply, saving, and investment and thus reduce the direct impact on growth. However, they also reallocate resources across sectors toward their highest-value economic use, resulting in increased efficiency and potentially raising the overall size of the economy. The results suggest that not all tax changes will have the same impact on growth. Reforms that improve incentives, reduce existing subsidies, avoid windfall gains, and avoid deficit financing will have more auspicious effects on the long-term size of the economy, but may also create trade-offs between equity and efficiency.

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