Help! You have obtained a Special Letter Rule (PLR) from the IRS. I’m in trouble?

Help!  You have obtained a Special Letter Rule (PLR) from the IRS.  I'm in trouble?
Understanding the Private Message Rule (PLR)

Understanding the Private Message Rule (PLR)

The provisions of private messages, known as “directives,” are anathema Tax attorney Everywhere. They are very specific, broad in number, and essential to understanding how tax law works. In short, it is a written answer issued by the IRS to a taxpayer’s specific question. It gives the agency’s position on this specific filing but is also considered an official statement by the IRS about how tax law works in this and related areas. Although it is not considered a binding precedent for future decisions, it is a strong indicator of how the IRS will judge similar situations. Here’s what you need to know.

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How does the IRS issue guidelines?

Taxes are one of the most complex areas of American law. There are two main reasons for this.

First, there are simply too many of them. When people talk about “tax law” they are referring to a group of acts that include, among others:

  • Same tax code, Title 26 of the United States Code

  • IRS regulations

  • Interpreted tax authority data for its systems and tax system

  • Judicial opinions and case law in tax cases

Politician Sizes The tax system alone is in over 6,500 pages. Then there are the regulations that determine how the IRS will enforce USC 26, the guidance that addresses that legislation, judicial opinions on whether the IRS has interpreted it all correctly, and so on.

The second reason is that tax law is one of the more specific areas of American law. All of this sheer volume of tax law comes, in part, from the fact that tax law leaves little room for interpretation. When it comes to taxes, people need specific answers to a very specific question: How much do I owe? The IRS does not operate on the basis of ambiguity and does not allow people to reasonably decide how much they should owe. By Tax Day each year, taxpayers need to know exactly how much they have to pay without having to go to court.

This creates problems.

When the vast and complex body of tax law interacts with the complexity of an individual’s or company’s finances, the results are often unpredictable. However, in a system that seeks privacy, there is little room for accommodation with unpredictability. Whether the taxpayer submits his data is right or wrong… It is not always possible to know this answer in advance.

So the agency issues what are known as “directives”. An IRS directive is a statement from the agency about how tax laws should apply to a specific set of facts. Through its guidance, the tax agency addresses specific questions as they arise.

What are the provisions of private messages?

Understanding the Private Message Rule (PLR)

Understanding the Private Message Rule (PLR)

a Private Message Rule It is a form of individual guidance published by the IRS at the request of taxpayers. The tax code applies to a specific set of facts and advises taxpayers of their rights and responsibilities in that situation. The agency says it was “issued to ascertain the federal tax consequences of a particular transaction prior to completion of the transaction or prior to filing of taxpayer returns.”

These directives are issued in response to a written request by the taxpayer. It is binding if the taxpayer “completely and accurately described the proposed transaction in the application and carried out the transaction as described”. However, as previously mentioned, the Special Letter ruling should not be relied upon as a precedent by other taxpayers or IRS employees. Finally, these provisions are usually published after all information that could identify an individual taxpayer has been revised or removed.

The purpose of the private letter provision is to help someone know their tax liabilities up front before filing their taxes. This lets the individual know what they owe and helps the IRS avoid the time-consuming process of refunding someone’s tax return.

How private message provisions affect tax law

In one sense, the private message provisions do not affect tax law at all. The IRS is clear that any given PLR is only applicable to the situation facing it. This is a specific answer to a specific question: “How much do I personally owe now?”

But in law, all precedents are useful even when they are not binding. The Special Letter ruling does not commit the IRS to any future action, but it does tell the tax attorney how the agency views any given situation. If the agency allows someone to do so drop Toyota Camry, they’ll probably let the next taxpayer do the same with the Ford F-150.

When trying to advise clients, tax attorneys always start out by looking for specific answers to their questions. They look first at regulations and binding guidelines such as revenue provisions, hoping to find a direct match with the client’s needs. When this is not available, the next step is to look for a close comparison.

The Special Letter ruling does not require the IRS to treat future cases in the same way, but it does indicate how the agency will rule in a similar situation. Tax attorneys or even individuals can use it as a resource to help answer questions when current law is ambiguous.

How to get the rule of a private letter

Understanding the Private Message Rule (PLR)

Understanding the Private Message Rule (PLR)

There is a problem, though. The private letter provision is usually not a viable option for most taxpayers who have questions for the IRS. Getting a private e-rule is very time consuming idiomatic And often expensive process. You must submit your request to the IRS, in writing, regarding an unresolved issue related to a specific upcoming tax filing. The IRS will not make a special ruling for taxes already filed, nor for ambiguous issues regarding uncertain future tax liabilities. Nor will it respond to issues it deems resolved through the current tax code suite.

You must include full details of your tax situation, and the IRS has a list of about 50 questions you must answer to obtain a ruling. If the agency determines that you have not answered any of these questions to their satisfaction, or that the answer does not accurately reflect your financial situation, it may either not issue a judgment or decide that its judgment is non-binding.

You must also pay a processing fee. Fees range from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands. While individuals may pay up to $275, this is unusual. the common User fees for PLR range from $5,000 to $38,000.

If you meet these requirements, the IRS will usually get back to you within 21 days to discuss next steps. Together, the complexity and high costs of private letter rule tend to make this a good choice for wealthy taxpayers or companies looking to clear large tax bills before they are filed. For individuals, it is always better to look for a tax professional.

Other types of IRS guidance

Special message provisions are one form of directive that the IRS can issue. In general, there are other types of guidance published by the tax agency:

Each of these serves a different function. For example, a revenue judgment occurs when the IRS independently decides to clarify some issue regarding how the tax law applies to a particular set of facts.

For example, the agency may decide to clarify whether taxpayers can deduct specific business expenses. A revenue measure, on the other hand, is a declaration by the IRS about how taxes will be calculated, filed, or otherwise handled. For example, the agency may decide to issue a revenue procedure to clarify the form taxpayers must use to include a particular business deduction or how it is calculated.


A special letter ruling is a statement by the IRS about how tax law applies to a specific set of facts for a specific taxpayer. It is issued when someone requests judgment. Although they do not set binding precedents for future taxpayers, they are valuable guidance in determining how the IRS views the law. However, obtaining a judgment via private message is an expensive, time-consuming and highly technical process. As a result, it is not viable for ordinary taxpayers.

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