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'Business as usual' in government; private sector confusion

The start of the new White House administration has been interesting to watch, to say the least. Many pundits, including here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, point to the activity with a suggestion that it is unprecedented. The reality is that much of what is happening is not unusual. Every new administration brings with it change. The key questions many might be asking, though, are whether the dust will settle and how long it will take.

This is certainly something those experienced in solving tax disputes are watching for in light of the recent White House memorandum putting a hold on all federal rulemaking. That announcement is not out of line historically. But uncertainty on tax policy during President Trump's campaign isn't any clearer now that he's taken office and that has some tax professionals worried.

Among the concerns expressed is what effect the delay in rulemaking will have on such issues as how the IRS deals with partnership audits. Readers will recall that we touched on this particular subject in a post in October. At the time, we observed how one expert said proposed changes in partnership audits represent "a seismic shift," having the potential to roil the tax waters for years to come.

Those rules are slated to take effect in 2018 and under normal circumstances, tax professionals would expect some early guidance as the administrative framework is taking shape - giving them lead-time to adjust. However, at least one expert says the hold announced by the White House doesn't make clear how long it might last.

Another area of taxation concern centers on what will happen with repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. One observer predicts swifter decisions in this area, but only time will tell.

For now, what this reinforces is that anyone confronted with action from the IRS would do well to consult skilled legal counsel to be sure of their rights and options.

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