With this article, we begin a series of articles dedicated to the description of the IRS compliance campaigns initiated between March of 2018 and April of 2019. This article is dedicated to the March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns.
March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Background Information
On March 13, 2018, the IRS Large Business and International division (“LB&I”) has announced the creation of another five additional compliance campaigns. This news came after similar announcements on January 31, 2017 and November 3, 2017 about the selection of a total of twenty-four IRS compliance campaigns.
These campaigns came into existence as a result of a long and broad restructuring of the LB&I, which required a large investment of time and resources. Campaign development in particular required strategic planning and deployment of resources, training and tools, metrics and feedback.
The basic idea behind the IRS campaigns is to focus the limited resources of the IRS on the high-risk compliance issues in the most efficient way. These campaigns also go hand-in-hand with the recent IRS shift to issue-based audits.
Five March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns
On March 13, 2018, the IRS announced the creation of five additional campaigns: Costs that Facilitate an IRC Section 355 Transaction, SECA Tax, Partnership Stop Filer, Sale of Partnership Interest and Partial Disposition Election for Buildings.
Each of these campaigns was identified by the IRS through the LB&I data analysis as well as recommendations from IRS compliance employees.
March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Costs that Facilitate an IRC Section 355 Transaction
In general, costs to facilitate a tax-free corporate distribution under IRC Section 355, such as a spin-off or split-up, must be capitalized (i.e. they cannot be deducted). Nevertheless, some taxpayers may execute a corporate distribution and improperly deduct the costs that facilitated the transaction in the year the distribution was completed. The goal of this campaign is to ensure that taxpayers only capitalize the facilitative costs. The IRS intends to reach this goal through issue-based examinations.
March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: SECA Tax
This campaign focuses on partners’ self-employment tax under the Self-Employment Contributions Act (“SECA”). Unless a partner qualifies as a “limited partner” for self-employment tax purposes, he must report his pass-through income from the partnership and pay the required self-employment tax under SECA.
The IRS, however, has realized that, with respect to service-based partnerships (particularly, law firms), some partners have improperly claimed that they qualified as limited partners. As part of this campaign, the IRS will focus on limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships and limited liability companies.
March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Partnership Stop Filer
This campaign focuses on a very common problem – a partnership ceases to file tax returns even though it continues to do business, fails to supply Schedules K-1 to its partners and the partners never report any of the pass-through income from the partnership.
Since there are various possible reasons that cause this problem to arise, the IRS decided to adopt a flexible approach to enforcement in this campaign. The treatment streams will vary from stakeholder outreach, soft letters (to encourage voluntary self-correction) to issue-based examinations.
March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Sale of Partnership Interest
A sale of a partnership interest usually results in a capital gain or loss. The taxation of such a gain varies from long-term capital gains tax rate of 15% (if the partnership interest was held for more than a year) and higher capital gains rates for appreciated collectibles to short-term capital gains and, in some cases, even ordinary income (for example, in situations where the a partnership has inventory items or unrealized receivables at the time of the sale or exchange).
This campaign intends to deal with two problems that arise with respect to a sale of a partnership interest. First, the IRS will target taxpayers who simply do not report the sale (there is a surprisingly large number of these individuals, especially in a small-business setting, like a restaurant).
Second, the IRS wants to improve compliance with respect to correct taxation of the gain from a disposition of a partnership interest. The incorrect reporting usually occurs where the entire such gain is taxed at long-term capital gain tax rates, rather than 25% or 28% capital gain rates.
The IRS realizes that there are a variety of reasons for errors concerning the proper reporting and taxation of a partnership disposition gain. For this reason, it will apply a variety of treatment streams to noncompliance taxpayers, including soft letters and examinations. Additional treatment streams include practitioner and taxpayer outreach, tax software vendor outreach, and tax form and publication change suggestions.
March 2018 IRS Compliance Campaigns: Partial Disposition Election for Buildings
In August of 2014, the IRS issued regulations concerning IRC Section 168. In particular, Treas. Reg. Section 1.168(i)-8 supply the rules concerning gain/loss recognition with respect to partial disposition of MACRS property. In order to comply with the Section168 disposition regulations and make a partial disposition election, a taxpayer must be able to substantiate that it:
disposed of a portion of a MACRS asset owned by the taxpayer; identified the asset that was partially disposed; determined the placed-in-service date of the partially disposed asset; determined the adjusted basis of the disposed portion; and reduced the adjusted basis of the asset by the disposed portion.
The goal of this campaign is to ensure taxpayers accurately recognize the gain or loss on the partial disposition of a building, including its structural components. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations and potential changes to IRS forms and the supporting instructions and publications.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Tax Help
If you have been contacted by the IRS as part of any of its campaigns, you should 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!