Daily Tax Update - May 25, 2016: IRS to Get 'Quick Peek' at Some Microsoft Documents

IRS to Get 'Quick Peek' at Some Microsoft Documents:  On May 23, Microsoft and the IRS filed a stipulated motion to resolve some issues of privilege in the pending summons enforcement case captioned United States v. Microsoft (U.S.D.C. W.D. Wash.).  Microsoft agreed to allow a quick-peek inspection, under Federal Rules of Evidence 502(d), of certain documents for which Microsoft Corp. had claimed privilege.  Under FRE 502(d), the party claiming privilege for the documents may show the documents to the other party without waiving privilege.  The summons enforcement action relates to an ongoing audit of two of Microsoft’s cost-sharing agreements.  

Senator Wyden Introduces Bill Directing Presidential Nominees to Release Tax Returns:  Today, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill titled “The Presidential Tax Transparency Act” that would require presidential candidates to publicly disclose their tax returns.  Senator Wyden states that “[f]or nearly 40 years, presidential candidates from major political parties have voluntarily released tax returns during the campaign.”  Senator Wyden notes that the Senate Finance Committee currently requires all nominees for presidential appointments that require Senate confirmation to submit their tax return information.  A summary of the bill can be found here, and the full bill can be found here

House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the Need for Tax Reform:  Today, the House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee held a hearing titled “Perspectives on the Need for Tax Reform.”  In his opening statement, House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) said that tax reform is needed because “American companies are getting acquired by foreign companies, new business startups are lagging, companies can’t expand as rapidly as they should, and capital investment is restrained.”  Chairman Boustany also stated that the need for tax reform is “evident in the mind-numbing complexity of the tax code and the enormous compliance burdens it imposes on families and businesses in this country.”  In his opening statement, Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) expressed concern about the “feedback loop” of the tax reform debate, stating that, “We practically know what [the witnesses] are going to say before they say it.”  He also stated that “[g]oing forward, we must hear from the American public.  We should hear from middle-class families, who can talk to the need for expanding the child tax credit, or from working individuals that should qualify for the EITC, but do not.”

Several witnesses also made statements, which can be found below:

  • Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin
    President, American Action Forum
  • Dr. J.D. Foster
    Vice President, Economic Policy Division; Deputy Chief Economist, US Chamber of Commerce
  • Mr. Scott Hodge
    President, Tax Foundation
  • Dr. Martin Sullivan
    Chief Economist, Tax Analysts

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services Approves IRS Funding Bill:  Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services approved a bill that proposes to cut $236M from the IRS’s budget.  A markup date by the full committee has not yet been set.