Tax Notes


TAX NOTES
The Treasury Department and the IRS proposed regulations in March that would allow—within certain limitations—employers to streamline their retirement plan distribution options ( www.treas.gov/press ). Under the regulations companies could eliminate early retirement entitlements, retirement-type subsidies and optional benefits that significantly burden plan administrators or participants with complexities if the changes would not have a significant adverse effect on the rights of any participant. Comments are due June 22.

In April the Treasury Department and the IRS issued guidance on two kinds of abusive tax-avoidance transactions. One type improperly shifts taxes from S-corporation shareholders to exempt parties such as charities. IRS notice 2004-30 ( www.treas.gov/press/releases/reports/js1292notice200430.pdf ) states the service’s intent to challenge what it considers “listed transactions” and requires participants to disclose any involvement in them when filing their tax returns. Another class of abusive transactions entails corporations’ use of partnerships to obtain inappropriate deductions for interest payments to related entities. IRS notice 2004-31 ( www.treas.gov/press/releases/reports/notice_200431.pdf ) stipulates that participants must disclose to the IRS their involvement in such transactions and that promoters must register the transactions with the service and use IRS Form 8886, Reportable Transaction Disclosure Statement, to identify all participants in them. The IRS will amend the form to help with this disclosure.

The IRS in February began accepting electronic income tax and information returns from corporations and tax-exempt organizations, significantly reducing the time it takes to file forms 1120 and 990 ( www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=121573,00.html ). Tax professionals—using IRS-approved software ( www.irs.gov/efile/lists/0,,id=119096,00.html )—now can submit such returns to the service through a secure Web site accessible only to registered users. The system employs an industry-standard extensible markup language (XML) process that makes it possible to append portable document format (PDF) attachments to returns, generates easy-to-understand error messages and sends users an electronic acknowledgement that the IRS has received the return and is processing it. To use the system, tax professionals first must register at https://la.www4.irs.gov/e-services/Registration/index.htm . Those who already submit other returns electronically can update their applications to include online submission of forms 1120 and 990.

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