26 CFR 1.6694-1 - Section 6694 penalties applicable to tax return preparers.

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§ 1.6694-1 Section 6694 penalties applicable to tax return preparers.
(a) Overview—
(1) In general. Sections 6694(a) and (b) impose penalties on tax return preparers for conduct giving rise to certain understatements of liability on a return (including an amended or adjusted return) or claim for refund. For positions other than those with respect to tax shelters (as defined in section 6662(d)(2)(C)(ii)) and reportable transactions to which section 6662A applies, the section 6694(a) penalty is imposed in an amount equal to the greater of $1,000 or 50 percent of the income derived (or to be derived) by the tax return preparer for an understatement of tax liability that is due to an undisclosed position for which the tax return preparer did not have substantial authority or due to a disclosed position for which there is no reasonable basis. For positions with respect to tax shelters (as defined in section 6662(d)(2)(C)(ii)) or reportable transactions to which section 6662A applies, the section 6694(a) penalty is imposed in an amount equal to the greater of $1,000 or 50 percent of the income derived (or to be derived) by the tax return preparer for an understatement of tax liability for which it is not reasonable to believe that the position would more likely than not be sustained on its merits. The section 6694(b) penalty is imposed in an amount equal to the greater of $5,000 or 50 percent of the income derived (or to be derived) by the tax return preparer for an understatement of liability with respect to tax that is due to a willful attempt to understate tax liability or that is due to reckless or intentional disregard of rules or regulations. Refer to § 1.6694-2 for rules relating to the penalty under section 6694(a). Refer to § 1.6694-3 for rules relating to the penalty under section 6694(b).
(2) Date return is deemed prepared. For purposes of the penalties under section 6694, a return or claim for refund is deemed prepared on the date it is signed by the tax return preparer. If a signing tax return preparer within the meaning of § 301.7701-15(b)(1) of this chapter fails to sign the return, the return or claim for refund is deemed prepared on the date the return or claim is filed. See § 1.6695-1 of this section. In the case of a nonsigning tax return preparer within the meaning of § 301.7701-15(b)(2) of this chapter, the relevant date is the date the nonsigning tax return preparer provides the tax advice with respect to the position giving rise to the understatement. This date will be determined based on all the facts and circumstances.
(b) Tax return preparer—
(1) In general. For purposes of this section, “tax return preparer” means any person who is a tax return preparer within the meaning of section 7701(a)(36) and § 301.7701-15 of this chapter. An individual is a tax return preparer subject to section 6694 if the individual is primarily responsible for the position(s) on the return or claim for refund giving rise to an understatement. See § 301.7701-15(b)(3). There is only one individual within a firm who is primarily responsible for each position on the return or claim for refund giving rise to an understatement. In the course of identifying the individual who is primarily responsible for the position, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may advise multiple individuals within the firm that it may be concluded that they are the individual within the firm who is primarily responsible. In some circumstances, there may be more than one tax return preparer who is primarily responsible for the position(s) giving rise to an understatement if multiple tax return preparers are employed by, or associated with, different firms.
(2) Responsibility of signing tax return preparer. If there is a signing tax return preparer within the meaning of § 301.7701-15(b)(1) of this chapter within a firm, the signing tax return preparer generally will be considered the person who is primarily responsible for all of the positions on the return or claim for refund giving rise to an understatement unless, based upon credible information from any source, it is concluded that the signing tax return preparer is not primarily responsible for the position(s) on the return or claim for refund giving rise to an understatement. In that case, a nonsigning tax return preparer within the signing tax return preparer's firm (as determined in paragraph (b)(3) of this section) will be considered the tax return preparer who is primarily responsible for the position(s) on the return or claim for refund giving rise to an understatement.
(3) Responsibility of nonsigning tax return preparer. If there is no signing tax return preparer within the meaning of § 301.7701-15(b)(1) of this chapter for the return or claim for refund within the firm or if, after the application of paragraph (b)(2) of this section, it is concluded that the signing tax return preparer is not primarily responsible for the position, the nonsigning tax return preparer within the meaning of § 301.7701-15(b)(2) of this chapter within the firm with overall supervisory responsibility for the position(s) giving rise to the understatement generally will be considered the tax return preparer who is primarily responsible for the position for purposes of section 6694 unless, based upon credible information from any source, it is concluded that another nonsigning tax return preparer within that firm is primarily responsible for the position(s) on the return or claim for refund giving rise to the understatement.
(4) Responsibility of signing and nonsigning tax return preparer. If the information presented would support a finding that, within a firm, either the signing tax return preparer or a nonsigning tax return preparer is primarily responsible for the position(s) giving rise to the understatement, the penalty may be assessed against either one of the individuals, but not both, as the primarily responsible tax return preparer.
(5) Tax return preparer and firm responsibility. To the extent provided in §§ 1.6694-2(a)(2) and 1.6694-3(a)(2), an individual and the firm that employs the individual, or the firm of which the individual is a partner, member, shareholder, or other equity holder, both may be subject to penalty under section 6694 with respect to the position(s) on the return or claim for refund giving rise to an understatement. If an individual (other than the sole proprietor) who is employed by a sole proprietorship is subject to penalty under section 6694, the sole proprietorship is considered a “firm” for purposes of this paragraph (b).
(6) Examples. The provisions of paragraph (b) of this section are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
Attorney A provides advice to Client C concerning the proper treatment of an item with respect to which all events have occurred on C's tax return. In preparation for providing that advice, A seeks advice regarding the proper treatment of the item from Attorney B, who is within the same firm as A, but A is the attorney who signs C's return as a tax return preparer. B provides advice on the treatment of the item upon which A relies. B's advice is reflected on C's tax return but no disclosure was made in accordance with § 1.6694-2(d)(3). The advice constitutes preparation of a substantial portion of the return within the meaning of § 301.7701-15(b)(3). The IRS later challenges the position taken on the tax return, giving rise to an understatement of liability. For purposes of the regulations under section 6694, A is initially considered the tax return preparer with respect to C's return, and the IRS advises A that A may be subject to the penalty under section 6694 with respect to C's return. Based upon information received from A or another source, it may be concluded that B, rather than A, had primary responsibility for the position taken on the return that gave rise to the understatement and may be subject to penalty under section 6694 instead of A.
Example 2.
Same as Example 1, except that neither Attorney A nor any other source produce credible information that Attorney B had primary responsibility for the position on the return giving rise to an understatement. Attorney A is the tax return preparer who may be subject to penalty under section 6694 with respect to C's return.
Example 3.
Same as Example 1, except that neither Attorney A nor any other attorney within A's firm signs Client C's return as a tax return preparer. Attorney B is the nonsigning tax return preparer within the firm with overall supervisory responsibility for the position giving rise to an understatement. Accordingly, B is the tax return preparer who is primarily responsible for the position on C's return giving rise to an understatement and may be subject to penalty under section 6694.
Example 4.
Same as Example 1, except Attorney D, who works for a different firm than A, also provides advice on the same position upon which A relies. It may be concluded that D is also primarily responsible for the position on the return and may be subject to penalty under section 6694.
Example 5.
Same as Example 1, except Attorney B is able to present credible information that A is also responsible for the position on C's return giving rise to an understatement. The IRS may conclude between A and B, the two responsible persons for the position, who is primarily responsible and may assess a section 6694 penalty against A or B, but not both, as the primarily responsible tax return preparer.
(c) Understatement of liability. For purposes of this section, an “understatement of liability” exists if, viewing the return or claim for refund as a whole, there is an understatement of the net amount payable with respect to any tax imposed by the Internal Revenue Code (Code), or an overstatement of the net amount creditable or refundable with respect to any tax imposed by the Code. The net amount payable in a taxable year with respect to the return for which the tax return preparer engaged in conduct proscribed by section 6694 is not reduced by any carryback. Tax imposed by the Code does not include additions to the tax, additional amounts, and assessable penalties imposed by subchapter 68 of the Code. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, the determination of whether an understatement of liability exists may be made in a proceeding involving the tax return preparer that is separate and apart from any proceeding involving the taxpayer.
(d) Abatement of penalty where taxpayer's liability not understated. If a penalty under section 6694(a) or (b) concerning a return or claim for refund has been assessed against one or more tax return preparers, and if it is established at any time in a final administrative determination or a final judicial decision that there was no understatement of liability relating to the position(s) on the return or claim for refund, then—
(1) The assessment shall be abated; and
(2) If any amount of the penalty was paid, that amount shall be refunded to the person or persons who so paid, as if the payment were an overpayment of tax, without consideration of any period of limitations.
(e) Verification of information furnished by taxpayer or other party—
(1) In general. For purposes of sections 6694(a) and (b) (including demonstrating that a position complied with relevant standards under section 6694(a) and demonstrating reasonable cause and good faith under § 1.6694-2(e)), the tax return preparer generally may rely in good faith without verification upon information furnished by the taxpayer. A tax return preparer also may rely in good faith and without verification upon information and advice furnished by another advisor, another tax return preparer or other party (including another advisor or tax return preparer at the tax return preparer's firm). The tax return preparer is not required to audit, examine or review books and records, business operations, documents, or other evidence to verify independently information provided by the taxpayer, advisor, other tax return preparer, or other party. The tax return preparer, however, may not ignore the implications of information furnished to the tax return preparer or actually known by the tax return preparer. The tax return preparer must make reasonable inquiries if the information as furnished appears to be incorrect or incomplete. Additionally, some provisions of the Code or regulations require that specific facts and circumstances exist (for example, that the taxpayer maintain specific documents) before a deduction or credit may be claimed. The tax return preparer must make appropriate inquiries to determine the existence of facts and circumstances required by a Code section or regulation as a condition of the claiming of a deduction or credit.
(2) Verification of information on previously filed returns. For purposes of section 6694(a) and (b) (including meeting the reasonable to believe that the position would more likely than not be sustained on its merits and reasonable basis standards in §§ 1.6694-2(b) and (d)(2), and demonstrating reasonable cause and good faith under § 1.6694-2(e)), a tax return preparer may rely in good faith without verification upon a tax return that has been previously prepared by a taxpayer or another tax return preparer and filed with the IRS. For example, a tax return preparer who prepares an amended return (including a claim for refund) need not verify the positions on the original return. The tax return preparer, however, may not ignore the implications of information furnished to the tax return preparer or actually known by the tax return preparer. The tax return preparer must make reasonable inquiries if the information as furnished appears to be incorrect or incomplete. The tax return preparer must confirm that the position being relied upon has not been adjusted by examination or otherwise.
(3) Examples. The provisions of this paragraph (e) are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
During an interview conducted by Preparer E, a taxpayer stated that he had made a charitable contribution of real estate in the amount of $50,000 during the tax year, when in fact he had not made this charitable contribution. E did not inquire about the existence of a qualified appraisal or complete a Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, in accordance with the reporting and substantiation requirements under section 170(f)(11). E reported a deduction on the tax return for the charitable contribution, which resulted in an understatement of liability for tax, and signed the tax return as the tax return preparer. E is subject to a penalty under section 6694.
Example 2.
While preparing the 2008 tax return for an individual taxpayer, Preparer F realizes that the taxpayer did not provide a Form 1099-INT, “Interest Income”, for a bank account that produced significant taxable income in 2007. When F inquired about any other income, the taxpayer furnished the Form 1099-INT to F for use in preparation of the 2008 tax return. F did not know that the taxpayer owned an additional bank account that generated taxable income for 2008, and the taxpayer did not reveal this information to the tax return preparer notwithstanding F's general inquiry about any other income. F signed the taxpayer's return as the tax return preparer. F is not subject to a penalty under section 6694.
Example 3.
In preparing a tax return, for purposes of determining the deductibility of a contribution by an employer for a qualified pension plan, Accountant G relies on a computation of the section 404 limit on deductible amounts made by the enrolled actuary for the plan. On the basis of this calculation, G completed and signed the tax return. It is later determined that there is an understatement of liability for tax that resulted from the overstatement of the section 404 limit on deductible amounts made by the actuary. G had no reason to believe that the actuary's calculation of the limit on deductible contributions was incorrect or incomplete, and the calculation appeared reasonable on its face. G was also not aware at the time the return was prepared of any reason why the actuary did not know all of the relevant facts or that the calculation of the limit on deductible contributions was no longer reliable due to developments in the law since the time the calculation was given. G is not subject to a penalty under section 6694. The actuary, however, may be subject to penalty under section 6694 if the calculation provided by the actuary constitutes a substantial portion of the tax return within the meaning of § 301.7701-15(b)(3) of this chapter.
(f) Income derived (or to be derived) with respect to the return or claim for refund—
(1) In general. For purposes of sections 6694(a) and (b), income derived (or to be derived) means all compensation the tax return preparer receives or expects to receive with respect to the engagement of preparing the return or claim for refund or providing tax advice (including research and consultation) with respect to the position(s) taken on the return or claim for refund that gave rise to the understatement. In the situation of a tax return preparer who is not compensated directly by the taxpayer, but rather by a firm that employs the tax return preparer or with which the tax return preparer is associated, income derived (or to be derived) means all compensation the tax return preparer receives from the firm that can be reasonably allocated to the engagement of preparing the return or claim for refund or providing tax advice (including research and consultation) with respect to the position(s) taken on the return or claim for refund that gave rise to the understatement. In the situation where a firm that employs the individual tax return preparer (or the firm of which the individual tax return preparer is a partner, member, shareholder, or other equity holder) is subject to a penalty under section 6694(a) or (b) pursuant to the provisions in §§ 1.6694-2(a)(2) or 1.6694-3(a)(2), income derived (or to be derived) means all compensation the firm receives or expects to receive with respect to the engagement of preparing the return or claim for refund or providing tax advice (including research and consultation) with respect to the position(s) taken on the return or claim for refund that gave rise to the understatement.
(2) Compensation—
(i) Multiple engagements. For purposes of applying paragraph (f)(1) of this section, if the tax return preparer or the tax return preparer's firm has multiple engagements related to the same return or claim for refund, only those engagements relating to the position(s) taken on the return or claim for refund that gave rise to the understatement are considered for purposes of calculating the income derived (or to be derived) with respect to the return or claim for refund.
(ii) Reasonable allocation. For purposes of applying paragraph (f)(1) of this section, only compensation for tax advice that is given with respect to events that have occurred at the time the advice is rendered and that relates to the position(s) giving rise to the understatement will be taken into account for purposes of calculating the section 6694(a) and (b) penalties. If a lump sum fee is received that includes amounts not taken into account under the preceding sentence, the amount of income derived will be based on a reasonable allocation of the lump sum fee between the tax advice giving rise to the penalty and the advice that does not give rise to the penalty.
(iii) Fee refunds. For purposes of applying paragraph (f)(1) of this section, a refund to the taxpayer of all or part of the amount paid to the tax return preparer or the tax return preparer's firm will not reduce the amount of the section 6694 penalty assessed. A refund in this context does not include a discounted fee or alternative billing arrangement for the services provided.
(iv) Reduction of compensation. For purposes of applying paragraph (f)(1) of this section, it may be concluded based upon information provided by the tax return preparer or the tax return preparer's firm that an appropriate allocation of compensation attributable to the position(s) giving rise to the understatement on the return or claim for refund is less than the total amount of compensation associated with the engagement. For example, the number of hours of the engagement spent on the position(s) giving rise to the understatement may be less than the total hours associated with the engagement. If this is concluded, the amount of the penalty will be calculated based upon the compensation attributable to the position(s) giving rise to the understatement. Otherwise, the total amount of compensation from the engagement will be the amount of income derived for purposes of calculating the penalty under section 6694.
(3) Individual and firm allocation. If both an individual within a firm and a firm that employs the individual (or the firm of which the individual is a partner, member, shareholder, or other equity holder) are subject to a penalty under section 6694(a) or (b) pursuant to the provisions in §§ 1.6694-2(a)(2) or 1.6694-3(a)(2), the amount of penalties assessed against the individual and the firm shall not exceed 50 percent of the income derived (or to be derived) by the firm from the engagement of preparing the return or claim for refund or providing tax advice (including research and consultation) with respect to the position(s) taken on the return or claim for refund that gave rise to the understatement. The portion of the total amount of the penalty assessed against the individual tax return preparer shall not exceed 50 percent of the individual's compensation as determined under paragraphs (f)(1) and (2) of this section.
(4) Examples. The provisions of this paragraph (f) are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
Signing Tax Return Preparer H is engaged by a taxpayer and paid a total of $21,000. Of this amount, $20,000 relates to research and consultation regarding a transaction that is later reported on a return, and $1,000 is for the activities relating to the preparation of the return. Based on H's hourly rates, a reasonable allocation of the amount of compensation related to the advice rendered prior to the occurrence of events that are the subject of the advice is $5,000. The remaining compensation of $16,000 is considered to be compensation related to the advice rendered after the occurrence of events that are the subject of the advice and return preparation. The income derived by H with respect to the return for purposes of computing the penalty under section 6694(a) is $16,000, and the amount of the penalty imposed under section 6694(a) is $8,000.
Example 2.
Accountants I, J, and K are employed by Firm L. I is a principal manager of Firm L and provides corporate tax advice for the taxpayer after all events have occurred subject to an engagement for corporate tax advice. J provides international tax advice for the taxpayer after all events have occurred subject to a different engagement for international tax advice. K prepares and signs the taxpayer's return under a general tax services engagement. I's advice is the source of an understatement on the return and the advice constitutes preparation of a substantial portion of the return within the meaning of § 301.7701-15(b) of this chapter. I is the nonsigning tax return preparer within the firm with overall supervisory responsibility for the position on the taxpayer's return giving rise to an understatement. Thus, I is the tax return preparer who is primarily responsible for the position on the taxpayer's return giving rise to the understatement. Because K's signature as the signing tax return preparer is on the return, the IRS advises K that K may be subject to the section 6694(a) penalty. K provides credible information that I is the tax return preparer with primary responsibility for the position that gave rise to the understatement. The IRS, therefore, assesses the section 6694 penalty against I. The portion of the total amount of the penalty allocable to I does not exceed 50 percent of that part of I's compensation that is attributable to the corporate tax advice engagement. In the event that Firm L is also liable under the provisions in § 1.6694-2(a)(2), the IRS assesses the section 6694 penalty in an amount not exceeding 50 percent of Firm L's firm compensation based on the engagement relating to the corporate tax advice services provided by I where there is no applicable reduction in compensation pursuant to § 1.6694-1(f)(2)(iii).
Example 3.
Same facts as Example 2, except that I provides the advice on the corporate matter when the events have not yet occurred. I's advice is the cause of an understatement position on the return, but I is not a tax return preparer pursuant to § 301.7701-15(b)(2) or (3) of this chapter. K is not limited to reliance on persons who provide post-transactional advice if such reliance is reasonable and in good faith. Further, K has reasonable cause because K relied on I for the advice on the corporate tax matter. I, K and Firm L are not liable for the section 6694 penalty.
Example 4.
Attorney M is an employee of Firm N with a salary of $75,000 per year. M performs tax preparation work for Client O. Client O's return contains a position that results in an understatement subject to the section 6694 penalty. M spent 100 hours on the position (out of a total 2,000 billed during the year). The total fees earned by Firm N with respect to the position reflected on Client O's return are $50,000. If M is subject to the penalty, the penalty amount computed under the 50 percent of income standard is .5 × (100/2,000) × $75,000 = $1,875. If Firm N is subject to the penalty, the penalty amount computed under the 50% of income standard is .5 × $50,000 = $25,000, less any penalty amount imposed against M. If a penalty of $1,875 was assessed against M and Firm N was subject to the penalty, a penalty of $23,125 would be the amount of penalty assessed against Firm N.
(g) Effective/applicability date. This section is applicable to returns and claims for refund filed, and advice provided, after December 31, 2008.
[T.D. 9436, 73 FR 78439, Dec. 22, 2008, as amended at 74 FR 5104, Jan. 29, 2009]

Title 26 published on 2014-04-01

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    1. 79 FR 51090 - Debt That Is a Position in Personal Property That Is Part of a Straddle
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Title 26 published on 2014-04-01

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  • 2014-08-27; vol. 79 # 166 - Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    1. 79 FR 51090 - Debt That Is a Position in Personal Property That Is Part of a Straddle
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, Internal Revenue Service
      Final regulations and removal of temporary regulations.
      Effective Date: These regulations are effective on August 27, 2014. Applicability Dates: For dates of applicability, see § 1.1092(d)-1(e).
      26 CFR Part 1