The tax law should be two pages long

Boston Scientific Corp. Will Gladly Spend ‘Several Years’ Taking Issue with the IRS’s Notion That They Owe $525 Million

It’s not that they don’t have the money; it’s the principle of the matter:

The Natick, Mass., medical-device company, which purchased Guidant in 2006, said it received a “notice of deficiency” from the IRS on Dec. 17 relating to the 2001 through 2003 tax years for Guidant and subsidiary businesses. “The incremental tax liability asserted by the IRS with regard to the Guidant claim is $525.1 million plus interest,” Boston Scientific said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Besides, the issue is related to transfer pricing which isn’t exactly cut and dry, so the company figured they’ll explore the differences they have. Besides there’s no rush to pay up:

The company said the main issue under dispute is transfer pricing linked to technology license agreements between certain domestic and foreign Guidant subsidiaries.

“We do not agree with the transfer pricing methodologies applied by the IRS or its resulting assessment,” the company said.

It noted that no payments on this assessment are required until the dispute is definitively resolved, which could take “several years” based on experiences of other companies.

Boston Scientific Says IRS Seeks $525.1 Million in Taxes [WSJ]

IRS Checks Sole Proprietorships Off Its “To Audit” List

This morning we shared some best practices on how to keep your ass out of hot water should an IRS audit befall you. The concern is that the government spending is out of control, huge deficits yada yada yada, the IRS will be knocking on more doors.


For the most part, everyone has been covered – large corporations, millionaires, possibly temptresses, the list is thorough.

Well, now it appears that the last entity type standing, the sole proprietorship will join the rest as an IRS target. IRS-criticizer-in-chief J. Russell George’s TIGTA issued another report but this time it cites sole proprietorships for “$68 billion of the $345 billion tax gap in 2001,” in underreported income. Web CPA reports George’s thoughts:

“Sole proprietors who underreport their income can create an unfair burden on honest taxpayers and diminish the public’s respect for the tax system,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement. “It is imperative that the IRS institutes policies to address this problem.”

How’s this for addressing a problem? The Internal Revenue Code, you my have heard, is mind-numbingly complex. Sole proprietorships, out of all the entity structures, are the least equipped to ensure compliance with the tax law. Auditing more of them will not result in increased compliance but rather enormous costs to their businesses. As for “diminish the public’s respect for the tax system,” didn’t that ship sail ages ago?

IRS to Step up Audits of Sole Proprietors [Web CPA]

The IRS Is Making “Thousands” of Visits to CPAs During Tax Season

Apparently the IRS is not one for timing. Earlier this month the Service announced that if you get paid to crank out 1040s, your life as you know it is more or less over. Well, at least a little more inconvenient. Okay, it’s hella-inconvenient.

Back when the new regulations were announced the Service let it be known that since it can’t get these new regulations implemented for 2010, it was still stepping up its efforts for getting all up in tax preparers’ shit.


The first step being to be to send 10,000 letters to paid preparers nationwide letting them know that they need to be on their A-game. The letters were intended for, “preparers…with large volumes of specific tax returns where the IRS typically sees frequent errors,” and that they should be “vigilant” for errors related to “Schedule C income and expenses, Schedule A deductions, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the First Time Homebuyer Credit.”

Well then. That should cover about EVERY TAX PREPARER IN THE COUNTRY.

Anyway, the IRS is following up the 10,000 “Dear Joe Kristan” letters with phone calls to set up sit-downs with “thousands” of preparers. According to William Stromsem, who wrote a piece over at CPA2Biz, these are “urgent” calls:

In at least one case, the IRS called a practitioner at home and spoke with the spouse by name, asking for a response within three hours and then calling back before that time was up. Another practitioner, who was unable to schedule a meeting during a busy time was threatened with having the refusal passed up the line to a supervisor.

The piece goes to tell us that the visits will be performed in the coming weeks and months and may last up to 3 hours. Does anyone see a problem with this yet?

These chats are designed to be friendly reminders of all the pitfalls out there in tax preparer land; not a compliance visit (but they will remind you of the penalties that can be assessed for any malfeasance). Regardless of the pleasant intentions, the timing has irked CPAs to no end and we can’t say that we blame them. Hope no one is expecting an apology. And one more thing, we’d like to know how the Commish’s CPA feels about this whole thing. Just for fun; he should get a letter.

IRS ‘10,000 Letters’ Program Angers CPAs [CPA2Biz]

IRS Commish Finds the Tax Code Complex, Doesn’t Do His Own Taxes

[caption id="attachment_23858" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Dude. Code is this thick."][/caption]Just because you’re in charge of the IRS doesn’t mean you know anything everything. Doug Shulman was on C-SPAN over the weekend (we’re sure you saw it) and admitted that he uses a tax preparer.

His rationale is, “Look, I’m a busy dude, I don’t have time to do my own taxes. Besides, have you seen the size of the tax code? It’s a flippin’ mind job.”

Or in his own words:

“I’ve used one for years. I find it convenient. I find the tax code complex so I use a preparer,” Shulman said.
Pressed on how he would make the tax code simpler, Shulman responded, “I don’t write the tax laws. Congress writes the tax laws so that’s a whole different discussion.”

Unapologetic as usual, Dougie. We’ll give him credit though – admitting that the tax code that you’re in charge of enforcing is too complex is admirable (although not a news flash).

Plus, he goes so far to say that he’s powerless to do anything about it. Now that’s transparent government!

IRS commissioner doesn’t file his own taxes [The Hill]

The American People Have Spoken on Tax Reform

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Tax Code.jpgAfter asking pretty much everyone for their suggestions on tax reform, the President’s Tax Reform Panel has released 384 submitted suggestions and the American People did not disappoint.

The FairTax.org crowd turned out en masse and plenty of practitioners and academics also provided their $0.02.
We didn’t really read those but we’re sure they’re great. We were more interested in those people that were more or less thinking out loud.

Suggestion #239 Mike Finch:

I support yearly audits of all government big wigs and prison terms for any that are found to have made more than $100 mistake on their taxes.

Suggestion #249 from “Froggy” whose organization is “peace man”:

Tax the rich! tax the rich! tax the rich!. oh please please please tax the rich. I want the economy to sink further!


Suggestion #278 from Alex Clay:

Make it explicit that cheating on your taxes makes you ineligible for presidentially appointed positions or committee chairmanships in the congress

Suggestion #346 from Ed:

0% tax rate. Reduce the tax law to 2 pages.

David Laing’s suggestion (#359) must have gotten lost on its way to the health care debate:

No option is NO OPTION! No bill that does not contain a public option is not worth your signature.

Since most of you have checked out for the week, consider spending some digging through these for more gems (we haven’t been able to find an intern that’s up to the job) or suggest your own ideas in the comments.

Tax Reform Submitted Comments [TWH]