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IRS Formalizes Process for Evaluating Advance Pricing Agreement Requests: Practical Effects Remain to Be Seen

Tax Executive Magazine

In this article, James Gadwood and Rocco Femia review Internal Revenue Service (IRS) interim guidance on the process the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement Program (APMA) will follow when determining whether to accept taxpayer requests for an advance pricing agreement (APA). Existing guidance already states that APMA has discretion to reject an APA request and identifies some circumstances under which APMA may do so. The interim guidance formalizes the process APMA follows when exercising this discretion and, for the first time, explicitly provides a role for non-APMA IRS transfer-pricing personnel in that process. The stated goal is not to limit or reduce the number of APA requests that APMA accepts, but rather to provide an "early mechanism for identifying potential roadblocks to successfully concluding a proposed APA and opportunities for other paths to certainty." Despite this seeming reassurance, taxpayers and tax practitioners have been wary about the extent to which this interim guidance will cause APMA to channel requests away from the collaborative APA process and toward the more adversarial IRS examination process.