Form 872 Refund Claims | Foreign Accounts International Tax Lawyer

The subject of this article is the discussion of the Form 872 Refund Claims, particularly whether filing Form 872 can extend the time for the taxpayer to claim a refund for the relevant years. Stated broadly, the key question that this article seeks to explore is whether an extension of time for assessment of tax can effect the taxpayer’s ability to file a refund claim for the extended years.

Form 872 Refund Claims – Form 872 and Offshore Voluntary Disclosures

Form 872 is a form used by the IRS to obtain the consent from the taxpayer to extend the time to assess tax. This consent can be obtained for income tax, self-employment tax of FICA tax on tips.

The form is used in a great variety of cases, but, in the US international tax context, it is mostly known for its use in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) now closed. Form 872 is in fact obligatory in the OVDP due to the fact that the OVDP voluntary disclosure period is eight years whereas the standard statute of limitations is only three years (even with 25% gross income, there are still at least two years that cannot be opened by the IRS without claiming fraud). Moreover, Form 872 is also used to prevent the statute of limitations from expiring for the rest of the years while the OVDP case is pending.

Form 872 Refund Claims: Form 872 Extends the Statute of Limitations for Refund Claims

According to IRC §6511(c), if the taxpayer and the IRS agree to extend the time within which the IRS can assess a tax, the taxpayer receives a corresponding extension of the time within which he may file a credit or refund claim. Form 872 itself states in paragraph 4 that:

Without otherwise limiting the applicability of this agreement, this agreement also extends the period of limitations for assessing any tax (including penalties, additions to tax and interest) attributable to any partnership items (see section 6231 (a)(3)), affected items (see section 6231(a)(5)), computational adjustments (see section 6231(a)(6)), and partnership items converted to nonpartnership items (see section 6231(b)). Additionally, this agreement extends the period of limitations for assessing any tax (including penalties, additions to tax, and interest) relating to any amounts carried over from the taxable year specified in paragraph (1) to any other taxable year(s). This agreement extends the period for filing a petition for adjustment under section 6228(b) but only if a timely request for administrative adjustment is filed under section 6227. For partnership items which have converted to nonpartnership items, this agreement extends the period for filing a suit for refund or credit under section 6532, but only if a timely claim for refund is filed for such items.

Limitations on Form 872 Refund Claims

There is an important limitation on Form 872 Refund Claims. Form 872 Refund Claims will only be accepted if the extension agreement is entered into before the expiration of the claim period. See IRC §6511(c)(1). This means that, if Form 872 is entered into by the parties by the time that the statute of limitations had already expired, the taxpayer is unlikely to succeed in his Form 872 Refund Claims.

The Form 872 agreement becomes effective when signed by the taxpayer and the District Director or an Assistant Regional Commissioner (See Treas. Reg. § 301.6511(c)-1).

Let’s look at a basic example to understand this limitation on Form 872 Refund Claims better.  Let’s suppose that a taxpayer X filed his 2003 US tax return on April 15, 2004. In March of 2007, the IRS decided to audit X’s 2003 US tax return and Form 872 was entered into by both parties at that time. In this case, without an agreement (and absent other special circumstances such as foreign tax credit issues, 25% under-reporting of income, et cetera), the presumed expiration of the assessment period would be on April 15, 2007; similarly, X’s refund claim period would have expired on April 15, 2007. Since Form 872 was entered into by both parties in March of 2007 (i.e. prior to the expiration of the normal refund claim period), however, X can file his Form 872 refund claims during the period that covers the duration of the extension plus six months thereafter.

Time to File Form 872 Refund Claims

As it was hinted in the example above, the period within which a taxpayer may file a credit or refund claim arising from the tax liability covered by Form 872 is extended for the period of the extension plus an additional six months. See IRC §6511(c)(1).

What Can Be Claimed on Form 872 Refund Claims

With respect to timely Form 872 Refund Claims, the taxpayer can claim an amount limited to the amount that would have been allowable under the normal limitation rules if the claim had been filed on the date the agreement was executed AND any tax paid after the execution of the agreement but before the filing of the claim. IRC §6511(c)(2).

What is the amount allowable under the normal limitation rules? It varies widely based on for what the refund is claimed (i.e. the type of the claim) and what is the filing period. For example, if Form 872 Refund Claims are filed within the three-year filing period, the amount of the refund or credit is limited to the tax paid on the liability at issue within the three years immediately preceding the filing of the claim plus the period of any extension of time for filing the return. IRC §6511(b)(2)(A). On the other hand, Form 872 Refund Claims based on a foreign tax credit adjustment can be granted many years back because the statute of limitations is ten years.

Form 872 Cannot Reduce the Claim Period for Form 872 Refund Claims

One final point that should be mentioned is that Form 872 and any other agreement to extend the assessment period cannot reduce the refund and credit claim period. The law clearly states that, when an extension agreement is executed, the taxpayer’s claim period shall not expire before the expiration of the additional assessment period plus six months.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With Your Form 872 Refund Claims

If you entered into a Form 872 agreement to extend the time to assess tax (whether as a result of OVDP, opt-out OVDP audit, FBAR Audit or regular audit) or any other type of agreement to extend the assessment period, contact Sherayzen Law Office for help with filing your Form 872 refund claims.