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Citing Regulatory Freeze, IRS Stops Issuing Administrative Guidance

February 15, 2017

One of President Trump’s signature campaign issues involved relief from “burdensome federal regulations,” without a lot of detail about what regulations in particular he had in mind. Soon after the inauguration, he issued an executive order requiring that any new regulation be accompanied by the elimination of two others. The executive order also refers to weighing undefined “costs” of new regulations, and requires an offsetting relief, without details about computation or determining whose cost or offset is relevant to this determination.

Those left uncertain about these issues include the staff of the Internal Revenue Service, by their own admission (see Tax Notes: No Substantive Guidance Coming for a While, Official Says). As a result, the IRS has now stopped submitting administrative guidance to the Federal Register and the Internal Revenue Bulletin except for routine administrative guidance, such as cost of living adjustments.

IRS employees have stated the hope and expectation that now that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been confirmed, some additional pronouncements about future regulatory submissions will be forthcoming. In the meantime, aside from private letter rulings, taxpayers and practitioners should not expect substantial issues to be addressed by the IRS through its normal regulatory process. Stay tuned about when, and to what extent, customary process will be restored. 

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