A Moot Point (and a Half) for Exxon


When it comes to overpayment interest due them, most taxpayers probably wouldn’t quibble too much over a difference of 1.5 percentage points, especially if that margin applied only to compounding of previously earned interest. But Exxon Mobil isn’t most taxpayers. For it, that fraction was worth $140 million, for which it litigated but lost. At issue was whether a 1995 reduction in interest rates on corporate overpayments exceeding $10,000 should apply to previously accrued interest as well as outstanding overpayments.

Before 1995, overpayment interest for corporations was the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points. That year, section 6621 was amended to reduce the corporate rate to 0.5 percentage points above the federal short-term rate for any portion of an overpayment exceeding $10,000.

Exxon Mobil timely filed all its corporate returns for 1979 through 1985, on which it overpaid $567 million. The IRS refunded the sum in July 2005, plus interest calculated at the reduced rate from Jan. 1, 1995, on both the overpaid amounts and the $491 million in interest accrued before 1995. Exxon Mobil petitioned the Tax Court for an additional $140 million in interest, saying under the language of the amended statute, the rate reduction applied only to overpayments. The interest on the interest, Exxon Mobil said, should continue to accrue at the original rate. The motion was denied, and Exxon Mobil appealed. In affirming the Tax Court, the Fifth Circuit refused to bifurcate interest in the manner suggested by Exxon Mobil. Accordingly, the 0.5 percentage point increase over the federal short-term rate called for in section 6621 is used to compound pre-1995 interest.

Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Commissioner , 99 AFTR2d 2007-2145


Year-end tax planning and what’s new for 2016

Practitioners need to consider several tax planning opportunities to review with their clients before the end of the year. This report offers strategies for individuals and businesses, as well as recent federal tax law changes affecting this year’s tax returns.


News quiz: Retirement planning, tax practice, and fraud risk

Recent reports focused on a survey that gauges the worries about retirement among CPA financial planners’ clients, a suit that affects tax practitioners, and a guide that offers advice on fraud risk. See how much you know with this short quiz.


Bolster your data defenses

As you weather the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to make sure your cybersecurity structure can stand up to the heat of external and internal threats. Here are six steps to help shore up your systems.