George Hani Comments in Tax Analysts on the IRS' Decision to End Issue Tiering

"LB&I Officially Ends Issue Tiering"
Tax Analysts
08.20.12George Hani comments on the decision by the IRS’ Large Business and International (LB&I) Division to end the tiered issue program that has been in effect since 2006 and turn over the review of previously listed issues to the newly organized issue practice groups (IPGs) and international practice networks (IPNs). While there is still much that hasn't been revealed about how the IPGs and IPNs will work in practice, "they certainly appear more flexible and avoid the vise-grip control that the issue management teams used to exert in the exam process," Hani said, adding that although the hope is that taxpayers will have some ability to interact and influence the IPG/IPN process, even if not, taxpayers can still have meaningful dialogue with the exam team.

"It will be interesting to see how the new era of coordination works," Hani said, noting that the IPG/IPN framework is somewhat reminiscent of past coordination efforts in which the IRS National Office took exam positions and issued field guidance but had no interaction with the exam team unless asked. Hani and other tax practitioners believe that level of coordination worked well in combating corporate tax shelters, but it doesn’t truly fit the next generation of issues. The tiered issue program "dropped an anchor" in resolving contentious exam issues,” Hani said, and although the directive disavows previous guidance involving tiered issues, those positions may still be considered by exam teams, even if now less meaningful.
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