Daily Tax Update - February 3, 2015: Commissioner Koskinen Says Budget Cuts May Require Critical Performance Tradeoffs

Commissioner Koskinen Says Budget Cuts May Require Critical Performance Tradeoffs:  Today, Commissioner Koskinen testified before the Senate Finance Committee about the ramifications of “continued substantial” cuts to IRS funding.  He stated that IRS current funding is now comparable to that of 1998, adjusted for inflation, but the number of business and individual tax filers has increased 23%.  In addition there are significant legislative mandates that the IRS must implement.  He testified that, while the IRS is attempting to protect its core operations, “it is at the point of having to make very critical performance tradeoffs.”  The IRS is also planning for the possibility of a two-day shutdown of operations later this fiscal year.

In discussing the effects of the budget cuts on the IRS, he pointed specifically at the agency’s IT systems, stating that it is “operating with antiquated systems that are increasingly at risk.”  He added that the IRS still has “applications that were running when John F. Kennedy was President” and that it continues to use COBOL, a programming language that was outdated 15 years ago.  Though the IRS has some up-to-date systems, its “situation is analogous to driving a Model T automobile that has satellite radio and the latest GPS system.”

Commissioner Koskinen also discussed items from the president’s budget proposal, including a request to provide the IRS with explicit authority to regulate all paid return preparers.

FATCA Self-Certifications Needed for Opening Accounts:  The IRS updated guidance to provide that foreign financial institutions must obtain self-certifications at account opening.  In Question 10 of the General Compliance section of its FATCA FAQ, the IRS stated that a Reporting Model 1 or 2 foreign financial institution must obtain a self-certification from each customer at the opening of a new individual account.  If it cannot obtain a self-certification at account opening, it cannot open the account without losing its status as a Reporting Model 1 or 2 foreign financial institution.

Miscellaneous Guidance:
Notice 2015-12 solicits applications for allocations of the remaining available amount of the national limitation (volume cap) for new clean renewable energy bonds under Section 54C(a).  The Notice also provides related guidance on (1) application requirements and forms for requests for volume cap allocations; and (2) the method that Treasury and the IRS will use to allocate the remaining volume cap.