Significant Changes to Partnership Tax Audits Coming in 2018

David J. Moise and Jill E. Misener

In less than six months, on January 1, 2018, the new centralized partnership audit rules enacted by Congress as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (“BBA”) will go into effect. The new rules were drafted in response to the proliferation of business entities that are taxed as partnerships (such as LLCs), and the perceived difficulty in being able to both effectively audit these entities and to assess and collect tax from the individual parties as appropriate.

The BBA creates a new partnership audit regime that significantly changes the procedures for partnership audits under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (“TEFRA”) and the special rules for Electing Large Partnerships (“ELP”). Under the new rules, tax adjustments resulting from partnership examinations will generally be assessed at the partnership level rather than the individual partner level. This enables the IRS to collect tax due on partnership adjustments at the entity level, effectively imposing an entity level tax on partnerships. Previously, under TEFRA, adjustments to partnership items were determined in a single proceeding at the partnership level, but then flowed through to partners pursuant to a complex set of rules requiring significant IRS time and effort. The new rules are intended to simplify the complexity of the current partnership audit rules, and increase the ability of the IRS to examine partnerships, particularly large and tiered partnerships. Continue reading