October 27, 2021

Uncertain tax positions

KPMG Survey: Execs Anxious About Reporting Undecipherable Explanations for Uncertain Tax Positions

So you take a position on a tax issue. You don’t really know why or how you got there but your CFO says it’s legit. How does he/she know? “Johnson in the tax department told me.”

Does Johnson understand it? Of course not! It’s an uncertain tax position. It’s a shot in the dark at best.

Naturally, the IRS has gotten all nosy about this sort of thing so you have to formulate something that vaguely resembles an explanation that doesn’t read like Bittker & Eustice.

You can’t simply make it a copy and paste job since we’re guessing the IRS wouldn’t appreciate the bloggy approach. But you’ve got to come up with something. Oh, and try to keep it brief.

Almost half of senior executives polled are most concerned about the prospect of providing a concise description of their uncertain tax positions (UTPs) in order to comply with a new, much-discussed Internal Revenue Service disclosure requirement, according to a survey conducted by KPMG’s Tax Governance Institute (TGI).

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since we’re talking about interpreting the INTERNAL REVENUE CODE. But the BSDs out there are worried about explaining why they’re taking a stand on something that don’t understand one iota. Plus, if you’re already pret-tay sure that the IRS is going to call bullshit on you, that warrants an explanation as well [teeth being grit into dust].

According to the survey of 1100 business leaders conducted in early October, 44 percent of respondents said their biggest concern was providing the concise description for a disclosed UTP, defined by the IRS as a federal income tax position for which a taxpayer or related party has recorded a reserve in an audited financial statement (or for which no reserve was recorded because of an expectation to litigate). Other major concerns cited centered on the IRS’s ability to effectively administer the UTP program (20 percent) and on the scope of taxpayers required to file UTPs under the new rule (15 percent).

This could all be avoided if the IRS required companies to use Twitter as a guide for brevity. Just a suggestion.

Executives Anxious About IRS Reporting Requirements for Uncertain Tax Positions Schedule, KPMG Survey Reveals [PR Newswire]

Accounting News Roundup: AICPA vs. IRS on Uncertain Tax Positions; Accountants Involved in Haiti Recovery; Taxing Pot Could Yield $400k for D.C. | 06.02.10

AICPA Protests Disclosures of Uncertain Tax Positions [Web CPA]
The AICPA has come out against the IRS’ uncertain tax positions proposal, saying “it should withdraw its proposed rule that would require companies with more than $10 million in total assets to disclose uncertain tax positions on a new schedule.”

The AICPA is not so hot on the idea of the IRS wading into the financial reporting waters, “We understand that the UTP proposal does not change the underlying rules for financial reporting, but believe overlaying a tax disclosure construct on the financial reporting system introduces a dynamic which could work at cross purposes with the original and fundamental purpose of the financial reporting rules.”


Haitian recovery needs accountants [Accountancy Age]
Nearly five months after the Earthquake in Haiti things are recovering slowly. Financial records for the government and private business have had two considerably different experiences:

[T]he finance ministry’s financial controls and systems are now being restored after its headquarters were destroyed. The World Bank has helped this critical process, placing accounting experts with the ministry.

As for the private sector, Laforest said many companies’ financial systems had survived thanks to accounting software packages, whose data had been uploaded to cloud computing remote data sumps on the internet. But bills, receipts and other paper records vital for making tax returns had been lost where offices collapsed.

And creating proper controls around the donations process has been crucial for organizing those funds. According to one volunteer, “[W]ithout proper controls, the money that you and your friends and your government have given might as well be left in a big bucket in the middle of the market with a sign saying ‘biggest at the front, smallest at the back.’”

Pot could bring in $400K for D.C. [Post Now/WaPo]
The District’s Council is expected to vote on June 15th on a provision that would levy a 6% sales tax on ganj sold there. At an approximate price of $350 an ounce, each bag would yield $21 for DC and would be expected to raise $400k in the next 5 years.

Tweedie replacement must juggle dual roles [Accountancy Age]
The candidates for the IASB chair are dwindling but most people seem to agree that having the role split into “Chair” and “CEO” roles might benefit the Board. “Richard Sexton, head of audit at PwC, suggested the role should be split.” And BDO’s sometime blogger and International CEO Jeremy Newman chimes in, “It’s unrealistic to expect one person to cover both.”

Also, whoever fills the big chair can’t be a über double-entry geek or just a crafty political type to heavy one way or the other. Most think that it needs to be a balance of both, although the preference of which is more important is debatable, including one Deloitte partner’s point of view, “If you don’t understand the accounting, you won’t be able to do the diplomacy around the debate,” versus Grant Thornton, “At this stage in the IASB’s life, we would place political awareness ahead of technical [knowledge] for the chair, but of course the chair must be technically astute.”