Chief Counsel Notice formally reverses litigation position on two-year window for equitable innocent spouse relief

A new Chief Counsel Notice (CCN), cc-2011-017 “Change in Litigating Position on the Two-Year Deadline to Request Section 6015(f) Equitable Relief”, formally reverses IRS’s litigation stance on the issue of whether an individual may request equitable relief under Code Sec. 6015(f) more than two years after IRS first acted to collect the liability from the individual. The CCN explains why IRS reversed course, and how litigators should apply IRS’s new position, namely that it will consider a request for equitable relief if it was filed with IRS during the Code Sec. 6502 period of limitation on collection or, for any credit or refund of tax, within the Code Sec. 6511 period of limitation.

On July 25, 2011, the Service issued Notice 2011-70, 2011-32 I.R.B. _____, which enlarges the period of time for taxpayers to request equitable relief under section 6015(f). Specifically, Notice 2011-70 provides that the Service will no longer require taxpayers to submit requests for equitable relief within two years from the date that the Service takes initial collection activity against the requesting spouse with respect to the joint tax liability at issue. This change in position was adopted by the Service in the interest of tax administration and is not reflective of any doubt concerning the authority of the Service to impose the two-year deadline, which was upheld by three circuit courts as a valid exercise of the Service’s rulemaking authority under sections 7805(a) and 6015(f). See Lantz v. Commissioner, 607 F.3d 479 (7th Cir. 2010); Mannella v. Commissioner, 631 F.3d 115 (3d Cir. 2011); Jones v. Commissioner, 642 F.3d 459 (4th Cir. 2011). In light of Notice 2011-70, this Chief Counsel Notice provides a change in litigating position concerning the two-year deadline to request equitable relief and provides direction for handling cases docketed with the Tax Court that involve the two-year deadline. This Notice supersedes Chief Counsel Notices CC-2009-012 (April 17, 2009), CC-2010-005 (March 12, 2010), and CC-2010-011 (June 18, 2010).

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The attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provides legal services for estate planning (wills and trusts), Medicaid (planning and applications), probate (estate and trust administration), business law (formation and operation), real estate (residential and commercial), taxation (federal and state), and civil litigation (in connection with these practice areas). The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Danvers, Massachusetts; Waltham, Massachusetts; Quincy, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire and Salem, New Hampshire.

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