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Archive for Tax Controversy

Testimony: The Effects Of The Current Tax System On Americans Abroad

John Richardson, Tax Advisor

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. My name is Marilyn Ginsburg. I will be 70 years old next month and I renounced my U.S. citizenship, with great regret, in my 69th year.

I was born in St. Louis, grew up in Denver, and moved to Canada when I was 26 years old. My husband and I left the United States in June, 1971, a month after we had both finished graduate school, I with a law degree and my husband with a PhD. in American history.We both obtained jobs teaching in our fields at a Canadian University. We assumed we would stay in Canada for a few interesting years, living in another country, and then return to hearth and home. One thing led to another and this never happened, and we have now lived in Canada for 44 years.

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Should A Large Corporation Agree To An IRS Appeals Conference By Telephone Or Video?

With its budget in crisis and facing cuts each year, the IRS has attempted to reduce costs where possible.  One idea that the IRS is pushing to reduce costs is to hold Appeals conferences remotely through either conference calls or video conferences. Is this a good idea? In short, the answer is no.

The IRS recently changed the Internal Revenue Manual section on IRS Appeals conferences.  The revised manual section states that the Service will no longer automatically offer in-person appeals conferences, and that the IRS prefers teleconferences and video conferences over in-person meetings in order to reduce travel expenses and expedite the settlement of cases.

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U.S. Citizens’ Foreign Tax Credits Against The 3.8% Obamacare Surtax

John Richardson

I wrote a post on August 7, 2016 which discussed the August 5, 2016 decision of the United States Court of Appeals – District of Columbia Circuits in the Esher case. In this case, Justice Millet ruled that:

That extreme reading of the Totalization Agreement rests on nothing more than the Commissioner’s own say-so. It lacks any grounding in the Agreement’s text or in any principle governing the interpretation of international agreements. The tax court’s corresponding disregard of the Totalization Agreement’s textual direction concerning the role of French law in resolving undefined terms and in determining the content of the laws enumerated in Article 2(1)(b) was error and requires reversal.

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Overlooking Tax Expenditures Affecting The Federal Budget

The GAO released a report today called Tax Expenditures: Opportunities Exist to Use Budgeting and Agency Performance Processes to Increase Oversight (GAO-16-622). The report examines the estimated $1.23 trillion annual cost of special tax deductions, exclusions, credits and preferential rates AND how there is basically no oversight of these costs relative to discretionary budget items. Apparently, OMB and federal agencies were to review tax expenditures (there are over 150 of them) to see how they help agency goals. So far, only 11 of 169 expenditures were addressed representing less than one-third of the total cost.

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Drivers And Impacts Of Derisking

William Byrnes

The FCA is interested in the circumstances around banks closing customers’ accounts, or restricting access for new customers, over the last few years. It wishes to know more about what is driving account closure and how many customers—of which type—are affected. The FCA is also concerned as to whether “wholesale” derisking and financial exclusion from the withdrawal of banking services is occurring and if due consideration is being given to the merits of individual cases before a decision is made to terminate an existing account or to not grant a new account.

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Worker Classification Questions—Employee or Contractor?

Annette Nellen

Worker classification—whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor—is a longstanding and sometimes difficult issue. There are a few different classification schemes applicable to different types of laws (labor, tax, etc.). Employers tend to favor contractor status when possible to avoid payroll taxes, application of most labor laws (such as overtime), and state laws governing how someone is paid, sick pay, reporting, and more.

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Paying Too Much CGT? Pravin Gordhan’s Tax Rate Reprieve

Hugo van Zyl

During February 2016 the beleaguered South African Minister of Finance, Minister Pravin Gordhan, made a serious attempt to balance government’s books.

Gordhan was called back after Minister Nene was removed from his position, by President Zuma early December 2015. The true reason for this politically motivated musical chairs, appointing three ministers in less than 4 days, remains a mystery. Point is Nene was removed and Gordhan had to step in and rescue the cash flow and ensure the country did not face junk status.

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New Technology Helps Build Tax Organizations

The focus of my career has been guiding tax professionals and tax organizations in their growth and success. In this post, I will share the roadblocks most tax leaders face in finding the highly technical tax expertise they need for their organizations. There is a connectivity challenge tax leaders face today and one that I spent more than three decades identifying, researching and ultimately solving. Read more

Proposed IRS Regulations Oppose Court Decision

Annette Nellen

Continuing with my list of ten news items and activities from 2015 that I think have particular tax policy relevance.  Today, for my fourth item is an odd and unfortunate way that the IRS is telling us they disagree with a 2013 court decision. In August 2015, the IRS issued proposed regulations under Section 199, Income attributable to domestic production activities – REG–136459–09 (8/27/15). This provision was added in 2004 and provides a “bonus” deduction for taxpayers engaged in domestic manufacturing which is broadly defined to include some construction, film production, and software development. It is a fairly complex provision that involves numerous definitions and allocations to identify the specified income that then generally produces a 9% deduction for the taxpayer.

The issue helps show the complexity that is involved when special rules exist. Special rules require precise definitions to know what qualifies and what does not. The particular issue I’m referring to what constitutes minor assembly (no 199 deduction) versus production (generates a 199 deduction).

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§ 165(e) Loss Claimed On Theft of Money/Investment

I am pleased to announce another successful settlement for a client.

IRS denied a big deduction based on a Ponzi type investment stating the taxpayer had claimed the deduction in the wrong year. It must be the year it came to his attention and only up to the amount lost especially if there is a chance to recover some in the future.

The matter was set to go to trial in Miami, but I reached agreement he would deduct 80% in the year the loss was claimed and 20% in the year in which there was certainty he had lost everything. That year is still open to claim the 20%. Protective filings were made by his accountant.

The turning point was making clear the evidence we would present to back-up the client’s claim. This convinced the Read more

Digital Economy, Tax Issues And Due Diligence

We’ve been in the “digital economy” for some time, yet it continues to evolve with new business activities and ways of living. And, we see “old economy” businesses, like Ford Motor, move more into the new economy.

I define the digital economy from the perspective of how people and businesses engage in it:

• Transacting business with virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin;

• Providing digital goods and services; and

• Transacting business enhanced by the Internet, such as finding customers, including Read more

The Choice: Amnesty Or Quiet Disclosure For Foreign Bank Accounts: Criminal Tax Evasion, Negligence, Or Ignorance?

Preliminary Introduction For TaxConnections Global Internet Tax Summit, September 21-25, 2015

The most recent IRS push to close “the Gap” between collected U.S. tax revenue and the total tax revenue which should be reported by U.S. citizens and alien residents of the United States has focused on offshore income concealed in foreign or offshore accounts.

U.S. citizens are liable for U.S. taxation on all income realized globally, regardless of the foreign jurisdiction in which their funds are deposited in foreign accounts.  U.S. citizens are not only liable for U.S. tax on such foreign sources of income, they are required to report all funds in excess of $10,000.00 on deposit in foreign accounts over which they have “signature authority” even if they only have a nominal “financial interest” in the Read more

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