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On June 19, 2014, San Francisco tax attorney, James P. Kleier, entered into a plea agreement with the government for his failure to file tax returns and pay income taxes. Per the agreement, Mr. Kleier will be imprisoned at the Atwater Federal Corrections Institution for 12 months commencing September 18, 2014. Following release from prison, he will be subject to a 1-year supervised parole. In addition, Mr. Kleier is required to pay the IRS a total $650,993.
Mr. Kleier was a partner in the San Francisco law office of Preston Gates & Ellis LLP (now known as K&L Gates LLP) from 1999 to 2005. Thereafter, he practiced law in the San Francisco office of Reed Smith LLP. Both of these organizations are large prestigious international law firms. According to the complaint filed by the government in the U.S. District for the Northern District of California, tax attorney Kleier failed to report income of more than $1.3 million while practicing law at these firms. Specifically, he earned $624,923 in 2008; $476,088 in 2009; and $200,734 in 2010. Nevertheless, he failed to file tax returns for these years and pay the taxes due and owing.
As of June 12, 2014, with the exception of what are commonly known as “Marketed Opinions,” tax advisors and their firms no longer need separate standards governing Written Advice. Section 10.35 of Circular 230 (“C230”) has been eliminated. Consequently, the crazy, overused C230 disclaimers can go in the trash bin. No more emails to mom, dad, children or other family members, and/or friends with a federal tax disclaimer. I bet that will be somewhat of a relief to these email recipients. No longer will they find themselves looking for tax advice as a result of the prominent disclaimer in a message that has absolutely nothing to do with taxes.
Representatives of the IRS and the Office of Professional Responsibility (“OPR”) have vocalized glee about the elimination of C230 disclaimers. Karen Hawkins, Director of the OPR, told participants at a tax conference in New York last week: “I’m here to tell you that jurat, that disclaimer off your emails. It’s no longer necessary.” IRS Chief Counsel, William Wilkins, echoed the same sentiments last week when he said: “The Circular 230 legend is not merely dead, it’s really most sincerely dead.”
Treasury estimates this amendment to C230 and the removal of the corresponding compliance burden on tax advisors “should save tax practitioners [and/or their clients] a minimum of $5,333,200.”
Montgomery v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2013-151 (June 17, 2013) illustrates what appeared to be the obvious – neither a guaranty of the corporation’s debt by a shareholder nor an unpaid judgment against a shareholder for the S corporation’s debt creates basis.
In Montgomery, the taxpayers, Patrick and Patricia Montgomery, claimed a net operating loss on their 2007 joint return, which they carried back to 2005 and 2006. In the calculation of their net operating loss, they included: losses UDI Underground, LLC (“UDI”), incurred in 2007 that were passed through to Patricia Montgomery as a 40% member; and losses Utility Design, Inc., an S corporation (“Utility Design”), incurred in 2007 that were passed through to Patrick and Patricia Montgomery as shareholders.
The IRS challenged the amount of the net operating loss for 2007 on two grounds:
- First, the IRS asserted Patricia Montgomery did not materially participate in UDI during 2007.
- Second, the IRS asserted portions of the losses from Utility Design were disallowed under Section 1366(d)(1).
- The IRS asserted Patricia Montgomery’s share of the 2007 losses from UDI were losses from a passive activity. Specifically, the IRS argued Patricia Montgomery did not materially participate in UDI.
The Tax Court disagreed, holding Patricia Montgomery did materially participate in UDI. In 2007, Patricia Montgomery handled all of the office functions, managed payroll, prepared documents, met with members of the company and attended business meetings. Additionally, she continuously worked on company matters and daily discussed the company's business with Patrick Montgomery. The court ultimately concluded Patricia Montgomery participated in UDI for more than 500 hours during 2007 and her participation was regular, continuous, and substantial. Thus, Patricia Montgomery’s UDI activity was a non-passive activity.
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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; 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.
Upcoming Speaking Engagements
- New York, NY, 7.21.23
- "Entity Classification – The Check-The-Box Regulations Revisited," 49th Annual University of Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning InstituteSouth Bend, IN, 9.22.23
- New York, NY, 10.26.23
- Beaverton, OR, 11.13.23
- San Francisco, CA, 11.16.23