In Announcement 2010-75, 2010-7 IRB 408, the Service announced that while it intends to retain its existing policy of "restraint" for requesting taxpayers to produce their tax accrual workpapers during an IRS audit examination, it stated it would be developing a schedule requiring certain business taxpayers to report uncertain tax positions ("UTPs") on their tax returns. The schedule would be required to be filed as part of the corporate income tax return, including consolidated income tax return, and would require a short and accurate description of each UTP for which the taxpayer or related entity has recorded a reserve on its financial statements and further requiring the taxpayer calculate the maximum amount of the potential federal tax liability attributable to each UTP (determined without regard to the taxpayer’s underlying risk analysis as to the likelihood of its prevailing on the merits). A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued on September 9, 2010 and sets forth a proposed rule explicitly authorizing the Service to require the filing of a Schedule UTP. See also IRS Announcs. 2010-76, 2010-41 IRB (9/24/2010), 2010-13 IRB 515, 2010-30, 2010-19 IRB 668.

In Annoucement 2010-75, which was issued on September 24, 2010, the Service stated that major changes would be made to the draft schedule for disclosure of UTPs. The Service will require certain corporations with audited financial statements to file Schedule UTP beginning with the 2010 tax year. The Service acknowledged it had received many comments on the overall proposal, including how the Service would use the reported information, the interaction of the new reporting requirement with the existing policy of restraint, the additional burden the reporting requirement would place on affected corporations, and the impact the reporting requirement would have on the relationship between the corporation and the Service or the corporation and its advisors or independent auditors. Some commentators questioned the Service's authority to require reporting of uncertain tax positions with the corporation's tax return. The Announcement states that the final schedule and instructions make a number of significant changes to the April draft in order to address burden and other concerns expressed by commentators. Some of the major changes include: (i) a five-year phase-in of the reporting requirement based on a corporation's asset size; (ii) no reporting of a maximum tax adjustment; (iii) no reporting of the rationale and nature of uncertainty in the concise description of the position; and (iv) no reporting of administrative practice tax positions.

Five-year phase-in period

In Announc. 2010-9, the Service proposed that the reporting requirement apply to business taxpayers with total assets of at least $10 million. The Service requested comments on whether transition rules should be used or criteria modified to either include or exclude certain business taxpayers, and the type of uncertain tax positions that should be reported by pass-through entities and tax-exempt entities.

In Announc. 2010-30, the Service stated the types of corporations initially required to file the UTP schedule and that such would be limited to corporations that issue audited financial statements (or that have tax positions for which a related party records a reserve in an audited financial statement) and file Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return; Form 1120-F, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation; Form 1120-L, U.S. Life Insurance Company Income Tax Return; or Form 1120-PC, U.S. Property and Casualty Insurance Company Income Tax Return.

The final schedule and instructions generally retain the previously announced filing requirements regarding types of corporations required to complete the schedule for 2010 tax years. Accordingly, public or privately held corporations that issue audited financial statements and that file a Form 1120, Form 1120-F, Form 1120-L, or Form 1120-PC must file Schedule UTP if they satisfy the total asset threshold. In response to comments, however, the Service has implemented a five-year phase-in of the Schedule UTP for corporations with total assets under $100 million. Corporations that have total assets equal to or exceeding $100 million must file Schedule UTP starting with 2010 tax years. The total asset threshold will be reduced to $50 million starting with 2012 tax years and to $10 million starting with 2014 tax years. The Service will consider whether to extend all or a portion of Schedule UTP reporting to other taxpayers for 2011 or later tax years, such as pass-through entities and tax-exempt entities.

The final instructions do not exclude CAP or CIC taxpayers from the reporting requirement. With respect to CAP, the Service will address Schedule UTP compliance in upcoming CAP permanence guidance that is expected to be released shortly.

The draft schedule and instructions proposed that the corporation report a maximum tax adjustment for each tax position listed on the schedule, other than transfer pricing and other valuation positions. The maximum tax adjustment was defined in the draft instructions as the maximum United States federal income tax liability for the tax position if the position were not sustained upon examination by the Service. The draft instructions also provided the corporation a choice of ranking transfer pricing and other valuation positions based on the federal income tax reserve or an estimate of the adjustment to federal income tax that would result if the position were not sustained. These guidelines received a fair amount of criticism from tax professionals and professional organizations.

In response to the criticisms received in this area, the Service has removed the proposed requirement to report the maximum tax adjustment. Instead, the final schedule and instructions require a corporation to rank all of the reported tax positions (including transfer pricing and other valuation positions) based on the United States federal income tax reserve (including interest and penalties) recorded for the position taken in the return, and to designate those tax positions for which the reserve exceeds 10% of the aggregate amount of the reserves for all of the tax positions reported on the schedule. The ranking method relies on the reserve computations that corporations perform for audited financial statement purposes, but does not require disclosure of the actual amounts of the tax reserves.

In addition, commentators noted the difficulty of computing the maximum tax adjustment for tax positions for which no reserve was created based on an expectation to litigate the position. The instructions address this concern by providing that no size needs to be determined with respect to these tax positions and that these positions can be assigned any rank by the corporation.

Criticism was also received that the disclosure of the rationale for the disclosure of the UTP and the nature of the uncertainty when beyond the level of disclosure required under FIN 48 and that such disclosure went beyond the Service's policy of restraint and stated objective not to require that taxpayers disclose their assessment of the strength or weakness of their positions. In response, the new Annoucement conceded that the proposed requirement to include the rationale and nature of the uncertainty in the concise description has been eliminated. The instructions now require a concise description of the tax position, including a description of the relevant facts affecting the tax treatment of the position and information that reasonably can be expected to apprise the Service of the identity of the tax position and the nature of the issue. This is based upon and consistent with the information required to be reported on Form 8275. In addition, the final instructions expressly state that a corporation is not required to include an assessment of the hazards of a tax position or an analysis of the support for or against the tax position.

The proposal required that a corporation report on Schedule UTP tax positions for which no reserve was recorded because the corporation determined it was the Service's administrative practice not to raise the issue during an examination. In response to certain comments, the Service has eliminated the proposed requirement to report tax positions for which no reserve was created due to a widely-understood administrative practice, but will continue to explore ways to assess the impact of these tax positions on overall tax compliance.

The final instructions clarify that the schedule seeks the reporting of tax positions consistent with the reserve decisions made by the corporation for audited financial statement purposes. The instructions clarify that corporations are not required to report tax positions that are either immaterial under applicable financial accounting standards or are sufficiently certain so that no reserve is required under those standards. A tax position that a corporation would litigate, if challenged, but that is clear and unambiguous or is immaterial is therefore not required to be reported on Schedule UTP. The instructions require reporting of tax positions taken in a return for which reserves were created under applicable financial accounting standards or for which no reserve was created because of an expectation to litigate.

A number of commentators requested that the instructions regarding unit of account be clarified to more closely align the term with its meaning in FIN 48. The final instructions add an example to emphasize that the definition of unit account should be applied consistently with the guidance in FIN 48. The final instructions continue to provide that a corporation that uses its entire tax year as a unit of account under IFRS or another method of accounting may not do so for Schedule UTP reporting, but must identify a unit of account based on FIN 48 principles or by using any other level of detail that is consistently applied if that identification is reasonably expected to apprise the Service of the identity and nature of the issue underlying a tax position taken in the tax return.

  1. A tax position is reported on Schedule UTP once (1) a reserve for a tax position is recorded and (2) a tax position is taken on a return regardless of the order in which those two events occur.
  2. Corporations report their own tax positions on Schedule UTP and do not report the tax positions of a related party.
  3. Tax positions taken in years before 2010 need not be reported in 2010 or a later year even if a reserve is recorded in audited financial statements issued in 2010 or later.
  4. Reporting of recurring tax positions taken in multiple years.
  5. Short Years. Schedule UTP need not be filed for short tax years ending in 2010.
  6. Asset Filing Requirement. Worldwide assets are used to determine whether a corporation that files a Form 1120-F (including a protective return) must file Schedule UTP.
  7. Definition of Audited Financial Statement. As revised, one on which an independent auditor expresses an opinion and that compiled or reviewed financial statements are excluded from the definition of audited financial statement.
  8. The definition of record a reserve was revised to clarify that it includes the recording of a reserve for United States federal income tax, interest, or penalties and to reinforce that temporary differences must be reported on Schedule UTP.
  9. Corporations included in multiple audited financial statements that the recording of a reserve in any audited financial statement in which the corporation is included triggers reporting of the tax position if the tax position is taken on a return filed by the reporting corporation.

The Service received a fair amount of criticism on the UTP filing requirement in that it unfairly asks taxpayers to volunteer and identify tax positions along with the taxpayer's views and assessments of those positions. Such "fall on one’s own sword" approach the UTP requires is, such persons argue, inconsistent with the attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine, and the tax practitioner privilege, because it may require disclosure of information that is based upon the advice of counsel and tax return preparers and may require the sharing of the mental impressions of these advisers. Concern also is on whether disclosure of tax positions on Schedule UTP could enable adversaries to raise questions about subject-matter waiver with respect to confidential communications related to the disclosed tax positions.

In response, the instructions no longer require the rationale and nature of the uncertainty to be included in the schedule's concise description and further explain that the concise description should not include information related to the corporation's assessment of the hazards of a tax position or an analysis of the support for or against the tax position.

The Service is releasing, contemporaneously with the release of this announcement, Announcement 2010-76, which modifies the policy of restraint in response to these concerns. The Announcement set forth ground rules that the Service had embarked on for the first time.

  1. If a document is otherwise privileged under the attorney-client privilege, the tax advice privilege in section 7525 of the Code, or the work product doctrine and the document was provided to an independent auditor as part of an audit of the taxpayer's financial statements, the Service will not assert during an examination that privilege has been waived by such disclosure. But such ground rules will not apply where: (i) the taxpayer has engaged in any activity or taken any action, other than those described in that paragraph, that would waive the attorney-client privilege, the tax advice privilege in section 7525 of the Code, or the work product doctrine; or (b) a request for tax accrual workpapers is made under IRM 4.10.20.3 because unusual circumstances exist or the taxpayer has claimed the benefits of one or more listed transactions.
  2. Under current procedures, examiners request tax reconciliation workpapers as a matter of course. IRM 4.10.20.3. The taxpayer may redact the following information from any copies of tax reconciliation workpapers relating to the preparation of Schedule UTP it is asked to produce during an examination: (i) working drafts, revisions, or comments concerning the concise description of tax positions reported on Schedule UTP; (ii) the amount of any reserve related to a tax position reported on Schedule UTP; and (iii) computations determining the ranking of tax positions to be reported on Schedule UTP or the designation of a tax position as a Major Tax Position.
  3. Other than requiring the disclosure of the information on the schedule, the requirement to file Schedule UTP does not affect the policy of restraint.

The final schedule and instructions announced in Announc. 2010-75 retain the requirement to report tax positions taken in a return for which no reserve was recorded because of an expectation to litigate the position and incorporate revised instructions to clarify the meaning of expectation to litigate. The final instructions clarify that a corporation may rely on the reserve decisions it made for financial statement purposes to complete Schedule UTP and thus is not expected to reassess at the time the schedule is completed those reserve decisions previously made for financial statement purposes.

The Service announced the issuance of a Directive concerning the use of Schedule UTP by the Service and its examination and research personnel. The Directive outlines the various uses for the information reported on the schedule and indicates that initial processing of Schedule UTP information will be centralized to ensure appropriate review to identify trends and areas requiring further guidance to address uncertainty in the law.

In addition, the Service will create a working group to study and revise the Schedule M-3, Net Income (Loss) Reconciliation for Corporations with Total Assets of $10 Million or More, to reduce duplicate reporting. The Service believes that the implementation of Schedule UTP is likely to reduce the need for some of the information currently reported on the Schedule M-3. The working group will begin its work in 2011 to develop appropriate revisions to the Schedule M-3.

The Service also will be expanding the Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) and making it permanent. The Service intends that the permanent CAP will consist of three phases: pre-CAP, which will allow a taxpayer to become current on the audit cycle while demonstrating the requisite transparency needed to be eligible for CAP; CAP, which will resemble the existing CAP pilot program; and CAP maintenance, which will call for the reduction of resources and taxpayer contact for those taxpayers in this phase as appropriate. Details will be contained in the upcoming CAP permanence guidance that is expected to be released shortly.

Concerns have been raised that the Service will automatically disclose information reported on the Schedule UTP to foreign governments. The Service intends to generally refrain from providing Schedule UTP information to other governments except in those circumstances in which there is a reciprocal arrangement with the foreign government regarding uncertain-tax-position information, such as where the foreign government collects similar information for its own tax administration purposes and agrees to make this information available to the Service in a similar manner. In addition, even if reciprocity did exist, the Service would consider other factors in determining whether to disclose the information, including the relevance of the information to the the identity and nature of those tax positions.

The final Schedule UTP instructions state that a complete and accurate disclosure of a tax position on the appropriate year's Schedule UTP will be treated as if the corporation filed a Form 8275 or Form 8275-R regarding the tax position and that a separate Form 8275 or 8275-R need not be filed to avoid certain accuracy-related penalties with respect to that tax position. Consistent with Notice 2010-62, issued September 13, 2010, in the case of a transaction that is not a reportable transaction, the Service will treat a complete and accurate disclosure of a tax position on Schedule UTP as satisfying the disclosure requirements of section 6662(i). The Service is studying other ways to reduce duplicate reporting and is considering whether complete and accurate disclosure on Schedule UTP would also, in appropriate circumstances, provide the information necessary to satisfy the reportable transaction disclosure requirements.

Relation to disclosure statements

Exchange of information with foreign governments

Internal Directive and related changes

IRS Announcement 2010-76

Privilege, work product doctrine, subject matter waiver, and policy of restraint comments

Additional areas of clarification made by the Service in Announc. 2010-75

  1. Schedule UTP requires the reporting of U.S. federal income tax positions but not foreign or state tax positions. Under the general reporting instructions, however, a corporation is required to report a United States federal income tax position taken in a return that arises out of uncertainty with regard to a foreign tax position (e.g., foreign tax credits) if a reserve for United States federal income tax was recorded to reflect that uncertainty.

Consistency between Schedule UTP reporting and financial statement reserve decisions

No reporting required for which no reserve created due to widely-understood administrative practice

Removal of requirement to include rationale and nature of uncertainty in concise description of the position

No reporting of maximum tax adjustment