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TAX NEWS - January 2010

IRS 'working smarter' to improve compliance, Shulman says

For many in the tax community, the main take-away from IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman's January 26 remarks to the New York State Bar Association was that some businesses will be required report uncertain tax positions on their annual returns; but Shulman also used his speech to discuss some important ways in which the IRS is "working smarter" to improve taxpayer compliance.

In the international arena, for example, Shulman said the Service is working to develop a protocol to conduct joint audits with U.S. treaty partners. Joint audits would ensure that companies provide the same information to tax authorities and reduce opportunities for arbitrage, he noted.

Shulman acknowledged that there have been problems in the transfer pricing area, citing the long time it takes to resolve issues, the uncertainty about who at the IRS is responsible for resolving an issue, and inconsistency in how issues are resolved. He said the IRS is establishing a Transfer Pricing Practice within the Large and Mid-Size Business division to administer transfer pricing cases.

Shulman reiterated his call for more oversight of tax compliance by corporate board members. Taxes are major expenses, Shulman explained, and to properly oversee how they are being managed a board must have "some level of understanding, a set of policy principles, and then a control system of review and reporting that assures the board that their policy is being carried out."
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