On July 2, 2018, the IRS announced the creation of another five compliance campaigns. Let’s discuss these July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns in more detail.
July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information
The IRS compliance campaigns is the end result of a long period of planning by the IRS Large Business and International division (“LB&I”). The idea behind the IRS compliance campaigns is to concentrate the LB&I resources in a way that deals with the potential noncompliance area in the most efficient way. The first campaigns were announced by the IRS on January 31, 2017. Then, the IRS rapidly added new campaigns in November of 2017, March of 2018 and May of 2018. As of July 1, 2018, there were 35 campaigns outstanding.
Five New July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns
Here are the new July 2018 IRS Compliance campaigns that should be added to the already existing thirty-five campaigns: Restoration of Sequestered AMT Credit Carryforward, S Corporation Distributions, Virtual Currency, Repatriation via Foreign Triangular Reorganizations and Section 965 Transition Tax.
Each of these campaigns was identified by the IRS through LB&I data analysis and suggestions from IRS employees.
July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Restoration of Sequestered AMT Credit Carryforward
This campaign deals with the complex issues concerning sequestered Alternative Minimum Tax (“AMT”) credit. Refunds issued or applied to a subsequent year’s tax, pursuant to IRC Section 168(k)(4), are subject to sequestration and are a permanent loss of refundable credits. Taxpayers may not restore the sequestered amounts to their AMT credit carryforward, but some are doing so in any case.
Given the complexity of the issues involved, the IRS decided to make soft letters as the primary treatment stream for this campaign. Soft letters will be mailed to taxpayers who are identified as making improper restorations of sequestered amounts. The IRS will then monitor these taxpayers to make sure that they correct the problem and stay in compliance. The idea is to educate taxpayers on the proper treatment of sequestered AMT credits so that they self-correct all problems.
July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: S Corporation Distributions
This is a very important campaign that will affect a very large number of small business owners. It will focus on three major problem areas. The first issue is failure to report gain upon the distribution of appreciated property to a shareholder. The second issue is the proper classification of a corporate distribution (of cash and property) as a taxable dividend. Finally, the third issue concerns non-dividend distributions to shareholders in excess of their stock basis; such distributions are taxable. The IRS adopted a more severe approach to this campaign. The treatment streams for this campaign include issue-based examinations, tax form change suggestions and stakeholder outreach.
July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Virtual Currency
This campaign is the IRS attempt to catch up with modern technology and properly tax transactions that involve virtual currencies. IRS Notice 2014-21 classifies virtual currency as “property” for federal tax purposes. Hence, any sales or exchanges that involve virtual currencies will be taxable in the United States.
The fact that these transactions take place outside of the United States would not affect the taxability of foreign currencies as long as a US tax resident is involved in these transactions. As Sherayzen Law Office has pointed out numerous times in the past, US tax residents are subject to taxation on their worldwide income. This rule includes virtual currencies.
This campaign involves highly complex issues and requires flexible approach to compliance enforcement. This is why the IRS will address noncompliance related to the use of virtual currency through multiple treatment streams including outreach and examinations.
The IRS has expressly stated that its compliance enforcement activities will follow the general tax principles applicable to all transactions in property as outlined in Notice 2014-21. The IRS will also continue to consider and solicit taxpayer and practitioner feedback in education efforts, future guidance and development of Practice Units.
Interestingly enough, the IRS stated that it will not create a voluntary disclosure program specifically to address tax non-compliance involving virtual currency. Instead, the IRS urges taxpayers with unreported virtual currency transactions to self-correct their returns as soon as practical.
July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Repatriation via Foreign Triangular Reorganizations
This campaign focuses on enforcement of Notice 2016-73 (“the Notice”) which the IRS issued in December of 2016. The Notice curtails the claimed “tax-free” repatriation of basis and untaxed CFC earnings following the use of certain foreign triangular reorganization transactions. The goal of the campaign is to identify and challenge these transactions by educating and assisting examination teams in audits of these repatriations.
July 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Section 965 Transition Tax
This is a highly important campaign that focuses on the issue that will continue to plague US taxpayers for a long time – 965 transition tax. IRC Section 965 requires US shareholders (a term of art) to pay a transition tax on the untaxed foreign earnings of certain specified foreign corporations as if those earnings had been repatriated to the United States. Taxpayers may elect to pay the transition tax as a lump-sum payment or in installments over an eight-year period. This means that some (and probably most) of these US shareholders should have paid some or all of the tax on their 2017 income tax return.
The LB&I already engaged in an outreach campaign in 2018 to reach trade groups, advisors and other outside stakeholders to raise awareness of filing and payment obligations concerning the 965 transition tax. The IRS even circulated an external communication on this subject through stakeholder channels in April of 2018.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Tax Help
If you have been contacted by the IRS as part of any of its campaigns, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world with their US tax compliance issues, and we can help you!