Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Tax Court Finds That 3 Yr Statute of Limitations For Assessing Gift Had Lapsed & Dismisses Banker's $8.7M IRS Bill

According to Law360, a Swiss-born banker who challenged an $8.7 million tax bill stemming from a $6 million gift he made to his mother before he became a U.S. citizen properly disclosed the gift on an amended return, the U.S. Tax Court determined Monday.


In siding with Ronald Schlapfer, who claimed he didn't owe gift tax because he wasn't planning to live in the U.S. at the time he gave the gift, the court barred the Internal Revenue Service from trying to collect, saying the agency had run out of time.

The government has three years to collect gift tax from the time a return is filed, as long as the return adequately discloses the gift, the court said. Schlapfer filed his amended gift tax return, along with a protective claim and explanation why he believed he didn't owe gift tax, in 2013 as part of his disclosure package for participation in the IRS' Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. Even with a year's worth of extensions, the IRS had run out of time to assess the gift tax by the time it issued the notice of deficiency — which included $4.4 million in gift tax liabilities and $4.3 million in additions to tax — in 2019, the court said.

While the IRS said Schlapfer did not adequately disclose the gift on his amended return, the court said other documents in Schlapfer's disclosure package, namely the offshore entity statement that explained the source of the gift, could be relied on to prove adequate disclosure under Treasury regulations.

Schlapfer, who became a U.S. citizen in 2008 and lived in Florida when he challenged the tax bill, worked for Citibank before starting European Marketing Group Inc. in of Panama in 2002, according to the decision. The gift to his mother was a life insurance policy that included his aunt and uncle and was funded partly with EMG stock.

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