Saturday, April 11, 2015

Taxing Times: Tax Collectors aren’t exactly saints, either

 The Labor anti-corporate tax dodging billboards that will be put up across Sydney. This week's Senate inquiry into corporate tax evasion heard stunning evidence that virtually all sales made by tech multinationals Apple, Google and Microsoft are taxed in Singapore at half or more of Australia's 30 per cent company tax rate. The opposition will put to work billboards booked across Sydney for the recent NSW state election campaign to drive the issue of company tax

Asking a global accounting firm for advice on tax reform is like putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank
The IRS has fixed its errors, such as improper extra scrutiny of Tea Party groups, and they won’t happen again, the tax agency’s commissioner said Tuesday.
“The changes are so significant throughout the agency that you could hang a sign out at the front of the headquarters saying ‘Under New Management,’” Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

Politico, From IRS: 'Death by Delay'

New York Times op-ed:  How the Tax Code Hurts Artists, by Amy Sohn (author and television writer):
With tax day looming, you can practically hear the cries of creative professionals across the country. That’s because the tax code hits many right where it hurts, by penalizing them for the distinctive way they make money

Leandra Lederman (Indiana) presents Does the IRS Need Further Reform? Or Does IRS Oversight?

Wall Street Journal editorial, Checking the IRS Overseas: Senator Rand Paul this month introduced a bill to repeal Fatca, and a coalition of U.S. taxpayers will soon challenge its constitutionality in federal court. .

Investor's Business Daily editorial, Lois Lerner Gets Off - Hillary Clinton Breathes Easier

Robert Wood, Newest Tax Fraud Threat? Your Payroll Tax. A good reminder of the need to use EFTPS to monitor your payroll tax service, to make sure your company payroll taxes are getting deposited with the government.

Forbes, How Obama's IRS And Justice Department Killed The Targeting Scandal, by Robert W. Wood:
The IRS applied extra scrutiny because Mr. Obama’s IRS and Justice Department didn’t like the Supreme Court’s decision, presumably fearing that organizations could exercise free speech rights the Supreme Court said they had. Five years later, and two years after the planted bar association question, we remain partly in the dark. Ms. Lerner won’t testify, and we are still told, including by the President of the United States, that there was not a smidgen of corruption at the IRS.
We are told that the IRS is fixed, the targeting will never happen again, and this was not audit targeting anyhow. Some say these organizations shouldn’t be exempt in any event. Now, though, a comprehensive and disturbing report from Politico enumerates the results the IRS has actually achieved despite platitudes from the Obama administration that the system is fixed.

Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) presents Can Sharing Be Taxed?, 93 Wash. U. L. Rev. ___ (2016) (with Diane M. Ring (Boston College)), at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:
The past few years have seen the rise of a new model of production and consumption of goods and services, often referred to as the “sharing economy.” Fueled by startups such as Uber and Airbnb, sharing enables individuals to obtain rides, accommodations, and other goods and services from peers via the Internet or mobile application in exchange for payment. The rise of sharing has raised questions about how it should be regulated, including whether existing laws and regulations can and should be enforced in this new sector or whether new ones are needed.
Forbes, House Considers Bill To Stop IRS Targeting, Fire IRS Employees Who Do, by Robert W. Wood:
The House Committee on Ways and Means is busy with a bill that could change the IRS. H.R. 709, the Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act, calls for firing IRS employees who take certain official actions for political purposes. The fact that such a bill has been introduced makes you wonder. Isn’t that the law already? Not really.
Everyone wants to feel secure that they will be dealt with fairly by the IRS. The tax system is full of special rules, and no one can master them all. Thus, one taxpayer may be treated very differently from another who is seemingly in the same position. That probably isn’t fair, but don’t confuse this with fundamental procedural fairness and non-discrimination. That is at the heart of the IRS targeting debate, and why the issue is so terribly important to the tax system as a whole. ...
The proposed law would expand the scope of the violation concerning an IRS employee threatening to audit a taxpayer for the purpose of extracting personal gain or benefit. It would also cover an IRS employee who threatens to audit someone for political purposes.
The proposal requires the IRS to terminate an employee who, for political purposes or personal gain, undertakes official action with respect to a taxpayer or, depending on the circumstances, fails to do so, delays action or threatens to perform, delay or omit such official action. An ‘official action’ here would include an audit or examination

Washington Times, Ex-IRS Ethics Office Lawyer Disbarred For … Ethics Violations:
A lawyer who worked in the IRS ethics office was disbarred Thursday by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which concluded she misappropriated a client’s funds from a case she handled in private practice, broke a number of ethics rules and showed “reckless disregard for the truth” in misleading a disbarment panel looking into the matter.

Kristin Hickman (Minnesota) presents Treasury's Retroactivity at Northwestern today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:
In Bowen v. Georgetown University Hospital, the Supreme Court described retroactivity as "not favored in the law" and generally rejected allowing federal administrative agencies to adopt regulations "altering the past legal consequences of past actions."  Unlike most regulatory agencies, Treasury and the IRS are expressly authorized by Congress to adopt regulations with precisely such primary retroactive effect.  Specifically, IRC § 7805(b) grants Treasury and the IRS the power to backdate tax regulations under a variety of circumstances.  Preliminary analysis shows that Treasury and the IRS utilize this authority regularly with little judicial oversight for abuse of discretion.  Using empirical data, this article will explore more fully Treasury and IRS utilization of the authority to adopt retroactively effective regulations interpreting the Internal Revenue Code.