Tuesday, December 9, 2008

IRS commissioner highlights agency enforcement priorities

Excerpts from remarks by IRS Commissioner Douglas Schulman at the George Washington University International Tax Conference, Dec. 8, 2008:

"U.S.-based corporations more than tripled their foreign profits between 1994 and 2004, rising from $89 billion to $298 billion – with 58 percent of that profit earned in low tax or no tax jurisdiction.

And this gives pause to some U.S. taxpayers and policymakers who want to be sure that that these corporations are paying their fair share at home."

"In the corporate arena, we’re starting to make progress in our international efforts by focusing on three specific areas which are most on our minds these days and which I believe will best assist our efforts to reign in those corporations who are pushing the envelope and also to help those corporations who play by the rules. First is Transfer Pricing"

"The second big area is hybrid structures."

"Third and lastly are withholding taxes."

"Let me also point out that this past September, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing looking into how the IRS has been investigating certain investment banks who have been trying to help their clients – mostly hedge funds – avoid dividend withholding tax. During the hearing, there was also extensive discussion about securities lending transactions and Notice 97-66. Let me bring you up to date on the issue.

IRS is reviewing the notice. However, in the interim, we’re examining very carefully those transactions whose primary purpose is to avoid dividend withholding tax and will propose adjustments as needed."