If this case was made into a movie, the name of the movie would tell the entire story – S corporation shareholders are not allowed to just make up the basis adjustment rules! Also, as I have repeatedly stated, poor records lead to disastrous results. The DC Circuit affirmed the US Tax Court in April of 2013 to finally put an end to the case.
The Trugmans were the sole shareholders of Sanstu corporation, an S corporation. Over the years, the S corporation acquired rental real estate all across the country. The Trugmans likely did not utilize professional tax advisors.
In 2009, for some reason, the Trugmans awoke from a deep sleep and started thinking about tax planning. To avoid tax on the income from their stock portfolio, they moved to Nevada which has no state income tax.
That same year, the Trugmans caused Santsu to purchase a single family dwelling they could occupy as their home. Santsu contributed about 98% of the purchase price; and the Trugmans put in the other 2% or about $7500 toward the purchase. The deed to the property listed Santsu as the sole owner.
Since they had not been homeowners in over three years, the Trugmans claimed a first-time homebuyer credit on their 2009 joint individual tax return under now expired IRC Section 36.
Larry J. Brant
Larry J. Brant is a Shareholder and the Chair of the Tax & Benefits practice group at Foster Garvey, a law firm based out of the Pacific Northwest, with offices in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; New York, New York, Spokane, Washington; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Beijing, China. Mr. Brant practices in the Portland office. His practice focuses on tax, tax controversy and transactions. Mr. Brant is a past Chair of the Oregon State Bar Taxation Section. He was the long-term Chair of the Oregon Tax Institute, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Portland Tax Forum. Mr. Brant has served as an adjunct professor, teaching corporate taxation, at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College. He is an Expert Contributor to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst. Mr. Brant is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel. He publishes articles on numerous income tax issues, including Taxation of S Corporations, Reasonable Compensation, Circular 230, Worker Classification, IRC § 1031 Exchanges, Choice of Entity, Entity Tax Classification, and State and Local Taxation. Mr. Brant is a frequent lecturer at local, regional and national tax and business conferences for CPAs and attorneys. He was the 2015 Recipient of the Oregon State Bar Tax Section Award of Merit.