Internal Revenue Bulletin:  2011-6 

February 7, 2011 

T.D. 9511

Definition of Omission from Gross Income


DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Internal Revenue Service
26 CFR Part 301

AGENCY:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury.

ACTION:

Final regulations.

SUMMARY:

This document contains final regulations defining an omission from gross income for purposes of the six-year minimum period for assessment of tax attributable to partnership items and the six-year period for assessing tax. The regulations resolve a continuing issue as to whether an overstatement of basis in a sold asset results in an omission from gross income. The regulations will affect any taxpayer who overstates basis in a sold asset creating an omission from gross income exceeding twenty-five percent of the income stated in the return. Additionally, provisions related to estate, gift and excise tax are reinstated from the prior final regulation.

DATES:

Effective Date: These regulations are effective on December 14, 2010.

Applicability Date: The regulations relating to income taxes apply to taxable years with respect to which the period for assessing tax was open on or after September 24, 2009, which is the date that the proposed and temporary regulations to which these regulations relate were filed with the Federal Register. For dates of applicability regarding the regulations relating to estate, gift and excise taxes, see §301.6501(e)-1(e)(2).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

William A. Heard, III at (202) 622-4570 (not a toll-free number).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

This document contains amendments to the Procedure and Administration Regulations (26 CFR Part 301) under section 6229(c)(2) and section 6501(e) of the Internal Revenue Code. On September 28, 2009, temporary regulations (T.D. 9466, 2009-43 I.R.B. 551) regarding the definition of an omission from gross income for purposes of the six-year period for assessment were published in the Federal Register (74 FR 49321). A notice of proposed rulemaking (REG-108045-08, 2009-43 I.R.B. 557) cross-referencing the temporary regulations was published in the Federal Register for the same day (74 FR 49354). One written comment was received from the public in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking. No public hearing was requested or held. After consideration of the comment, the proposed regulations are adopted as amended by this Treasury decision, and the corresponding temporary regulations are removed.

Summary of Comments and Explanation of Revisions

These final regulations amend the Procedure and Administration Regulations (26 CFR part 301) relating to sections 6229(c)(2) and 6501(e). In addition to the revisions set forth in the proposed regulations cross-referencing the temporary regulations, the final regulations reflect structural amendments to sections 6229(c)(2) and 6501(e) in the Hiring Incentives To Restore Employment Act (Public Law 111-147, 124 Stat. 112) to accommodate an additional threshold triggering the six-year period of limitations for omissions from gross income attributable to assets subject to certain reporting requirements, which is not otherwise addressed in these final regulations. The final regulations also clarify the effective/applicability date provisions in the section 6229(c)(2) and section 6501(e) regulations to eliminate a perceived ambiguity in the temporary regulations, that was brought to light by the Tax Court in Intermountain Insurance Service of Vail v. Commissioner, 134 T.C. No. 11 (2010), appeal docketed, No. 10-1204 (D.C. Cir.).

As explained in the preamble to the temporary regulations, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Federal Circuit construed section 6501(e)(1) in cases outside the trade-or-business context contrary to the interpretation provided in these final regulations, holding that an overstatement of basis does not constitute an “omission.” Bakersfield Energy Partners v. Commissioner, 568 F.3d 767 (9th Cir. 2009); Salman Ranch Ltd v. United States, 573 F.3d 1362 (Fed. Cir. 2009). Those courts relied on the Supreme Court’s opinion in Colony v. Commissioner, 357 U.S. 28 (1958), which dealt with an omission from gross income in the context of a trade or business under the predecessor of section 6501(e). The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service disagree with those courts that the Supreme Court’s reading of the predecessor to section 6501(e) in Colony applies to sections 6501(e)(1) and 6229(c)(2), for the reasons set forth in the preamble to the temporary regulations.

After publication of the temporary regulations, the Tax Court declared the temporary regulations invalid, adhering to its prior opinion in Bakersfield Energy Partners v. Commissioner, 128 T.C. 207 (2007). Intermountain Insurance Service of Vail v. Commissioner, 134 T.C. No. 11 (2010), appeal docketed, No. 10-1204 (D.C. Cir.). In part, the Tax Court in Intermountain concluded that the Supreme Court’s opinion in Colony was the only permissible interpretation of the statutory language in question (“omits from gross income”). The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service disagree with Intermountain. The Supreme Court stated in Colony that the statutory phrase “omits from gross income” is ambiguous, meaning that it is susceptible to more than one reasonable interpretation. The interpretation adopted by the Supreme Court in Colony represented that court’s interpretation of the phrase but not the only permissible interpretation of it. Under the authority of Nat’l Cable & Telecomms. Ass’n v. Brand X Internet Servs., 545 U.S. 967, 982-83 (2005), the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are permitted to adopt another reasonable interpretation of “omits from gross income,” particularly as it is used in a new statutory setting. See Hernandez-Carrera v. Carlson, 547 F.3d 1237 (10th Cir. 2008) (agencies are free to promulgate a reasonable construction of an ambiguous statute that contradicts any court’s interpretation, even the Supreme Court’s). The interpretation of the phrase “omits from gross income” as used in section 6501(e)(1) is currently pending before several United States Courts of Appeals.

Because these regulations are a clarification of the period of limitations provided in sections 6501(e)(1) and 6229(c)(2) and are consistent with the Secretary’s application of those provisions both with respect to a trade or business (that is, gross income means gross receipts), as well as outside of the trade-or-business context (that is, the section 61 definition of gross income applies), they are applicable to all cases with respect to which the period for assessing tax was open on or after September 24, 2009, the date the temporary regulations were filed with the Federal Register.

1. Retroactivity

The sole written comment received in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking by cross-reference to the temporary regulations questioned the application of the regulations, characterizing them as retroactive, and recommended that they be applied only prospectively. The commentator stated that the temporary regulations apply with retroactive effect “in that taxable years which had closed are now reopened.” The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service disagree with the characterization of the regulations as retroactive. The final regulations have been clarified to emphasize that they only apply to open tax years, and do not reopen closed tax years as suggested by the commentator.

The commentator also relied on the 1996 amendments to section 7805(b) to argue that retroactively effective Treasury regulations are impermissible, with limited exceptions. The 1996 amendments to section 7805(b), however, do not apply to the regulations under sections 6229(c)(2) and 6501(e)(1). That is because those amendments are only effective for regulations that relate to statutory provisions enacted on or after July 30, 1996. Taxpayer Bill of Rights 2 (Public Law 104-168, section 1101(a), 110 Stat. 1469). Since section 6229(c)(2) was enacted in 1982 and section 6501(e)(1)(A) was enacted in 1954 (and redesignated as subparagraph (B) as part of the HIRE Act in 2010), the 1996 amendments to section 7805(b) are inapplicable to the regulations. Prior to the 1996 amendments, section 7805(b) provided, “The Secretary may prescribe the extent, if any, to which any ruling or regulation, relating to the internal revenue laws, shall be applied without retroactive effect.” Although these regulations are not retroactive, a retroactive regulation interpreting sections 6229(c)(2) and 6501(e)(1) is expressly permitted by the applicable version of section 7805(b), which presumes regulations to apply retroactively unless otherwise provided.

2. Intermountain

The Tax Court’s majority in Intermountain erroneously interpreted the applicability provisions of the temporary and proposed regulations, which provided that the regulations applied to taxable years with respect to which “the applicable period for assessing tax did not expire before September 24, 2009.” The Internal Revenue Service will continue to adhere to the position that “the applicable period” of limitations is not the “general” three-year limitations period. The three-year limitations period is one of several limitations periods in the Internal Revenue Code, including the six-year limitations period under sections 6229(c)(2) and 6501(e)(1). The expiration of the three-year period does not “close” a taxable year if a longer period applies. Consistent with that position, the final regulations apply to taxable years with respect to which the six-year period for assessing tax under section 6229(c)(2) or 6501(e)(1) was open on or after September 24, 2009. This includes, but is not limited to, all taxable years (1) for which six years had not elapsed from the later of the date that a tax return was due or actually filed, (2) that are the subject of any case pending before any court of competent jurisdiction (including the United States Tax Court and Court of Federal Claims) in which a decision had not become final (within the meaning of section 7481) or (3) with respect to which the liability at issue had not become fixed pursuant to a closing agreement entered into under section 7121. The Internal Revenue Service’s position is consistent with the effective/applicability date provisions of these final regulations.

3. Other Revisions

The final regulations are amended to reinstate estate, gift and excise tax provisions that were inadvertently removed by the temporary regulations.

Special Analyses

It has been determined that these regulations are not a significant regulatory action as defined in Executive Order 12866. Therefore, a regulatory assessment is not required. It also has been determined that section 553(b) of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 5) does not apply to these regulations, and because these regulations do not impose a collection of information on small entities, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 6) does not apply. Pursuant to section 7805(f) of the Internal Revenue Code, the NPRM cross-referencing the temporary regulations preceding these regulations was submitted to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration for comment on their impact on small business.

Adoption of Amendments to the Regulations

Accordingly, 26 CFR Part 301 is amended as follows:

PART 301—PROCEDURE AND ADMINISTRATION

Paragraph 1. The authority citation for part 301 is amended by adding the entry in numerical order to read in part as follows:

Authority: 26 U.S.C. 7805 * * *

Section 301.6229(c)(2)-1 is also issued under 26 U.S.C. 6230(k). * * *

Par. 2. Section 301.6229(c)(2)-1 is added to read as follows:

§301.6229(c)(2)-1 Substantial omission of income.

(a) Partnership return—(1) General rule. (i) If any partnership omits from the gross income stated in its return an amount properly includible therein and that amount is described in clause (i) of section 6501(e)(1)(A), subsection (a) of section 6229 shall be applied by substituting “6 years” for “3 years.”

(ii) For purposes of paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, the term gross income, as it relates to a trade or business, means the total of the amounts received or accrued from the sale of goods or services, to the extent required to be shown on the return, without reduction for the cost of those goods or services.

(iii) For purposes of paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, the term gross income, as it relates to any income other than from the sale of goods or services in a trade or business, has the same meaning as provided under section 61(a), and includes the total of the amounts received or accrued, to the extent required to be shown on the return. In the case of amounts received or accrued that relate to the disposition of property, and except as provided in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, gross income means the excess of the amount realized from the disposition of the property over the unrecovered cost or other basis of the property. Consequently, except as provided in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, an understated amount of gross income resulting from an overstatement of unrecovered cost or other basis constitutes an omission from gross income for purposes of section 6229(c)(2).

(iv) An amount shall not be considered as omitted from gross income if information sufficient to apprise the Commissioner of the nature and amount of the item is disclosed in the return, including any schedule or statement attached to the return.

(b) Effective/applicability date. The rules of this section apply to taxable years with respect to which the period for assessing tax was open on or after September 24, 2009.

§301.6229(c)(2)-1T [Removed]

Par. 3. Section 6229(c)(2)-1T is removed.

Par. 4. Section 301.6501(e)-1 is added to read as follows:

§301.6501(e)-1 Omission from return.

(a) Income taxes—(1) General rule. (i) If a taxpayer omits from the gross income stated in the return of a tax imposed by subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code an amount properly includible therein that is in excess of 25 percent of the gross income so stated, the tax may be assessed, or a proceeding in court for the collection of that tax may be begun without assessment, at any time within 6 years after the return was filed.

(ii) For purposes of paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, the term gross income, as it relates to a trade or business, means the total of the amounts received or accrued from the sale of goods or services, to the extent required to be shown on the return, without reduction for the cost of those goods or services.

(iii) For purposes of paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, the term gross income, as it relates to any income other than from the sale of goods or services in a trade or business, has the same meaning as provided under section 61(a), and includes the total of the amounts received or accrued, to the extent required to be shown on the return. In the case of amounts received or accrued that relate to the disposition of property, and except as provided in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, gross income means the excess of the amount realized from the disposition of the property over the unrecovered cost or other basis of the property. Consequently, except as provided in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, an understated amount of gross income resulting from an overstatement of unrecovered cost or other basis constitutes an omission from gross income for purposes of section 6501(e)(1)(A)(i).

(iv) An amount shall not be considered as omitted from gross income if information sufficient to apprise the Commissioner of the nature and amount of the item is disclosed in the return, including any schedule or statement attached to the return.

(b) Estate and gift taxes—(1) If the taxpayer omits from the gross estate as stated in the estate tax return, or from the total amount of the gifts made during the period for which the gift tax return was filed (see §25.6019-1 of this chapter) as stated in the gift tax return, an item or items properly includible therein the amount of which is in excess of 25 percent of the gross estate as stated in the estate tax return, or 25 percent of the total amount of the gifts as stated in the gift tax return, the tax may be assessed, or a proceeding in court for the collection thereof may be begun without assessment, at any time within 6 years after the estate tax or gift tax return, as applicable, was filed.

(2) For purposes of this paragraph (b), an item disclosed in the return or in any schedule or statement attached to the return in a manner sufficient to apprise the Commissioner of the nature and amount thereof shall not be taken into account in determining items omitted from the gross estate or total gifts, as the case may be. Further, there shall not be taken into account in computing the 25 percent omission from the gross estate stated in the estate tax return or from the total gifts stated in the gift tax return, any increases in the valuation of assets disclosed on the return.

(c) Excise taxes—(1) In general. If the taxpayer omits from a return of a tax imposed under a provision of subtitle D an amount properly includible thereon, which amount is in excess of 25 percent of the amount of tax reported thereon, the tax may be assessed or a proceeding in court for the collection thereof may be begun without assessment, at any time within 6 years after the return was filed. For special rules relating to chapter 41, 42, 43 and 44 taxes, see subparagraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5) of this paragraph (c).

(2) Chapter 41 excise taxes. If an organization discloses an expenditure in its return (or in a schedule or statement attached thereto) in a manner sufficient to apprise the Commissioner of the existence and nature of the expenditure, the three-year limitation on assessment and collection described in section 6501(a) shall apply with respect to any tax under chapter 41 arising from the expenditure. If a taxpayer fails to so disclose an expenditure in its return (or in a schedule or statement attached thereto), the tax arising from the expenditure not so disclosed may be assessed, or a proceeding in court for the collection of the tax may be begun without assessment, at any time within 6 years after the return was filed.

(3) Chapter 42 excise taxes. (i) If a private foundation omits from its annual return with respect to the tax imposed by section 4940 an amount of tax properly includible therein that is in excess of 25 percent of the amount of tax imposed by section 4940 that is reported on the return, the tax may be assessed, or a proceeding in court for the collection of the tax may be begun without assessment, at any time within 6 years after the return was filed. If a private foundation discloses in its return (or in a schedule or statement attached thereto) the nature, source, and amount of any income giving rise to any omitted tax, the tax arising from the income shall be counted as reported on the return in computing whether the foundation has omitted more than 25 percent of the tax reported on its return.

(ii) If a private foundation, trust, or other organization (as the case may be) discloses an item in its return (or in a schedule or statement attached thereto) in a manner sufficient to apprise the Commissioner of the existence and nature of the item, the three-year limitation on assessment and collection described in section 6501(a) shall apply with respect to any tax imposed under sections 4941(a), 4942(a), 4943(a), 4944(a), 4945(a), 4951(a), 4952(a), 4953 and 4958, arising from any transaction disclosed by the item. If a private foundation, trust, or other organization (as the case may be) fails to so disclose an item in its return (or in a schedule or statement attached thereto), the tax arising from any transaction not so disclosed may be assessed or a proceeding in court for the collection of the tax may be begun without assessment, at any time within 6 years after the return was filed.

(4) Chapter 43 excise taxes. If a taxpayer discloses an item in its return (or in a schedule or statement attached thereto) in a manner sufficient to apprise the Commissioner of the existence and nature of the item, the three-year limitation on assessment and collection described in section 6501(a) shall apply with respect to any tax imposed under sections 4971(a), 4972, 4973, 4974 and 4975(a), arising from any transaction disclosed by the item. If a taxpayer fails to so disclose an item in its return (or in a schedule or statement attached thereto), the tax arising from any transaction not so disclosed may be assessed, or a proceeding in court for the collection of the tax may be begun without assessment, at any time within 6 years after the return was filed. The applicable return for the tax under sections 4971, 4972, 4973 and 4974, is the return designated by the Commissioner for reporting the respective tax. The applicable return for the tax under section 4975 is the return filed by the plan used to report the act giving rise to the tax.

(5) Chapter 44 excise taxes. If a real estate investment trust omits from its annual return with respect to the tax imposed by section 4981 an amount of tax properly includible therein that is in excess of 25 percent of the amount of tax imposed by section 4981 that is reported on the return, the tax may be assessed, or a proceeding in court for the collection of the tax may be begun without assessment, at any time within 6 years after the return was filed. If a real estate investment trust discloses in its return (or in a schedule or statement attached thereto) the nature, source, and amount of any income giving rise to any omitted tax, the tax arising from the income shall be counted as reported on the return in computing whether the trust has omitted more than 25 percent of the tax reported on its return.

(d) Exception. The provisions of this section do not limit the application of section 6501(c).

(e) Effective/applicability date—(1) Income taxes. The rules set forth in paragraph (a) of this section apply to taxable years with respect to which the period for assessing tax was open on or after September 24, 2009.

(2) Estate, gift and excise taxes. Paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section continue to apply as they did prior to being removed inadvertently on September 28, 2009. Specifically, paragraph (b) of this section applies to returns filed on or after May 2, 1956, except for the amendment to paragraph (b)(1) of this section that applies to returns filed on or after December 29, 1972. Paragraph (c) of this section applies to returns filed on or after October 7, 1982, except for the amendment to paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section that applies to returns filed on or after January 10, 2001. Paragraph (d) of this section applies to returns filed on or after May 2, 1956.

§301.6501(e)-1T [Removed].

Par. 5. Section 301.6501(e)-1T is removed.

Steven T. Miller,
Deputy Commissioner for
Services and Enforcement.

Approved December 13, 2010.

Michael Mundaca,
Assistant Secretary of the
Treasury (Tax Policy).

Note

(Filed by the Office of the Federal Register on December 14, 2010, 4:15 p.m., and published in the issue of the Federal Register for December 17, 2010, 75 F.R. 78897)

Drafting Information

The principal author of these regulations is William A. Heard III of the Office of the Associate Chief Counsel (Procedure and Administration).

* * * * *


More Internal Revenue Bulletins