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IRS pilots Appeals web-based videoconferencing

The IRS began a pilot program in August to test a new web-based videoconferencing service for meetings by taxpayers and their representatives with Appeals officers (News Release IR-2017-122). Previously, only a limited number of IRS offices supported videoconferencing as an alternative to meeting with Appeals officers by phone or in person. The pilot program uses a secure, web-based screen-sharing platform to allow Appeals personnel to connect face-to-face with taxpayers. The IRS says it handles appeals of more than 100,000 taxpayers a year.


Country-by-country reporting resources now available

The IRS in June launched pages on its website (www.irs.gov) intended to help U.S. multinational enterprises (MNEs) meet their obligations for reporting under the country-by-country reporting initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation, under its Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project (News Release IR-2017-116). The pages provide background information and a jurisdiction status table listing competent-authority agreements for information exchanges among participating countries. Also featured are links to guidance and resources for U.S. MNEs, including final regulations (T.D. 9773), Rev. Proc. 2017-23 on filing for early reporting periods, and relevant forms and instructions. U.S. parent entities of MNE groups with $850 million or more in revenue in an annual reporting period must file Form 8975, Country-by-Country Report, and Schedule A (Form 8975), Tax Jurisdiction and Constituent Entity Information, each year with their income tax return.


Nonacquiescence on earned income tax credit decision

In Action on Decision (AOD) 2017-05, the IRS gave notice it will not acquiesce to the Tax Court's holding in Tsehay, T.C. Memo. 2016-200, that a married taxpayer filing separately was entitled to an earned income tax credit (EITC). The taxpayer, who testified he was married and living with his wife and five children for more than half of 2013, had separated from his wife in 2014, when he asked a preparer to file his return for 2013 with a status of married filing separately. The preparer erroneously filed the return with a status of head of household and listed differing numbers of children for purposes of claiming dependency exemptions, an EITC, a child tax credit, and an additional child tax credit. The IRS denied all those tax benefits and issued a deficiency. The Tax Court, accepting the taxpayer's testimony regarding his residency in 2013, held that he was entitled to the claimed exemptions and credits and that his correct filing status was married filing separately. As the IRS noted in the AOD, the court did not address Sec. 32(d), which states that married individuals may claim an EITC only on a joint return.


Treasury shutters myRA retirement savings program

Due to "extremely low" demand and high costs, the Treasury Department announced in late July it was ending the myRA retirement savings program. Treasury said it would notify participants about the ending of the program and tell them how to move their myRA savings into Roth IRAs. According to Treasury, the program had cost nearly $70 million since 2014, and retirement savers are able to open accounts offered in the private sector with no account maintenance fees, no minimum balance, and safe investments.

The myRA program was started in 2015, after first being advocated by then-President Barack Obama in his 2014 State of the Union speech as a way for individuals who lack an employer-sponsored retirement plan to save for retirement (see "Tax Matters: MyRAs Now Available Nationwide," JofA, Feb. 2016). MyRAs were government-sponsored Roth IRAs. Accounts held only one type of investment, a Treasury security earning the same variable interest rate paid by the Government Securities Investment Fund in the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees. The accounts had the same contribution limits and withdrawal rules as private-sector Roth IRAs, except myRA accounts were limited to a maximum balance of $15,000.

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States look to unclaimed property for revenue

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