Daily Tax Update - December 1, 2016: Treasury Releases Current International Boycott List

Treasury Releases Current International Boycott List:  Today, the Department of Treasury released the current list of countries that require participation in, or cooperation with, an international boycott within the meaning of section 999(b)(3).  The list of countries, which consists of Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, remains unchanged from the last list, published in August 2016.

European Commission Proposes New Tax Rules in Support of EU E-Commerce and Online Businesses:  The European Commission today announced a series of proposals to improve the Value Added Tax (VAT) environment for e-commerce businesses in the EU.  Key features of the proposal include the following:

  • New rules allowing companies that sell goods online to manage all their EU VAT obligations in one place
  • Simplification of VAT rules for startups and micro-businesses selling online with cross-border sales under € 10,000
  • Actions against VAT fraud from outside the EU
  • Allowing member states to reduce VAT rates for e-publications, such as e-books and online newspapers

The proposals will be submitted to the European Parliament for review and consultation, and then to the European Council for adoption.

Federal Court Authorizes 'John Doe' Summons Seeking Identities of US Taxpayers Who Have Used Virtual Currency:  In a November 30 press release, the Department of Justice announced that a federal court in the Northern District of California authorized the IRS to serve a “John Doe” summons on Coinbase Inc., seeking the identities of US taxpayers who conducted transactions in a convertible virtual currency during the years 2013 through 2015 using Coinbase’s services.  “John Doe” summonses are used by the IRS to obtain information about possible violations of tax laws by individuals whose identities are unknown.  

The IRS has not alleged that Coinbase engaged in any wrongdoing in connection with its virtual currency exchange business.

Rep. Becerra Nominated to be Next California Attorney General:  Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) announced today that he is leaving Congress to serve as California’s Attorney General.  Mr. Becerra has served 12 terms in Congress and was reportedly making a bid to become the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, a position recently made available by Rep. Sander Levin’s (D-MI) decision to step down from the role.

RECENT PUBLICATION

2016 Year-End Estate Planning:  As 2016 comes to a close, Steptoe’s private client practice would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of this year’s important legal developments affecting estate planning, as well as certain year-end planning opportunities that may be of interest.

The end of 2016 brings far greater uncertainty than has been the case in the last few years due to the new administration.  One of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises was the elimination of the estate and gift tax.  If Congress does repeal the federal transfer tax, it is likely that, with certain limited exceptions, the basis step-up at death will also be eliminated.  If these changes occur, personal planning may shift from estate tax considerations to capital gains tax considerations.  Click here to read more.