Daily Tax Update - May 9, 2017: IRS to Resume Issuing PLRs for Deals Involving Debt Issued Pre-Spinoff

IRS to Resume Issuing PLRs for Deals Involving Debt Issued Pre-Spinoff:  Today, in Revenue Procedure 2017-38, the IRS stated that while it "continues to study matters concerning [deals involving debt for a distribution]," it will begin to issue new private letter rulings on deals involving debt issued in anticipation of a spinoff.

Treasury Launches Website to Track Federal Spending:  Today, the Treasury Department launched Beta.USAspending.gov, a website designed to allow taxpayers to track federal agency spending and access links to spending data regarding awards distributed by the government.

House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on IRS Oversight:  On May 23 at 1:00 p.m., the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will hold a hearing on IRS oversight. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George and National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson will testify.

Lawsuit Challenges Executive Order ‘Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty’:  The Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against President Trump and the commissioner of the IRS in the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The lawsuit challenges President Trump’s May 4 Executive Order “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” and alleges the executive order “requires the IRS to selectively and preferentially discontinue enforcement of the electioneering restrictions of the tax code against churches and religious organizations, while applying a more vigorous enforcement standard to secular nonprofits.” Although the text of the Executive Order appears not to change current law, the complaint cites statements by President Trump as evidence that the intent of the Executive Order is to allow churches to intervene in political campaigns in spite of the direct prohibition against such activity in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Because of ambiguities in the executive order and this lawsuit, at this point, it would be risky for churches and religious organizations to  assume that they can intervene in political campaigns with impunity.