National Taxpayers Union
By Pete Sepp
July 26, 2018
It may not have made headlines in the mainstream media, but many in the tax-administration world took notice on Friday when a few findings leaked from an Internal Revenue Service claim that certain taxpayers who had deductions for “syndicated conservation easements” were receiving massive, unwarranted windfalls. Over the weekend NTU had the opportunity to review what was made available at the request of Members of the Senate Finance Committee, and added to what we’ve long known, we believe taxpayers should take greater note of this seemingly obscure issue. The IRS’s claim appears to be emblematic of the way the tax agency too often uses blunt tools for jobs that need refined instruments.
Here at NTU, we have a history of looking deeply into the administrative machinery of the tax system and figuring out how its gears can function more smoothly without grinding up taxpayers’ rights in the process. We have submitted comments on IRS rules ranging from family estate valuations for tax purposes to the use of outside counsel in audit situations. We’ve also made detailed recommendations on how to prevent the IRS from using extraordinary powers such as the designated summons or designating cases for litigation, which if misapplied can stamp out legitimate taxpayer rights to appeal audit results. It was during research on the latter problem several months ago that we first encountered a curious decision by the tax agency.