The Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service are seeking recommendations from the public as to what it should include as part of its 2008-2009 guidance priority list.

The agencies made the request in a notice issued late last week and asked for public comments to be submitted to them by May 31.

The IRS notice listed the agencies' criteria for evaluating the recommendations and determining what projects to consider on a priority basis from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

The agencies said that when considering the recommendations, they will take into account whether the guidance would: resolve issues significant to many taxpayers, be appropriate for additional public involvement, promote sound tax administration, be able to be drafted in a way that is easily understood and applied, be able to be applied uniformly, or reduce controversy and lessen the burdens of the IRS or taxpayers.

The IRS said taxpayers should describe their recommended guidance and highlight why it is needed. Taxpayers are also welcome to include any analysis on how the issue should be resolved, it said.

The tax-exempt bond portion of last year's priority guidance plan appears to contain many proposals that have not yet been addressed and could be rolled over into the new plan.

Last year's plan included intentions to update guidance on the tax-exempt bond voluntary closing agreement program, revise a revenue procedure on arbitrage rebate refunds, and propose regulations on public approval requirements for private-activity bonds. Of those three, the IRS has managed to only address the first one so far, and is working on the other two.

Market participants yesterday speculated that an unexpected amount of the Treasury's time has been taken up this year with the issues that have emerged from market conditions, including the notices on reissuance pertaining to the conversion of auction-rate bonds, which may have delayed response on the prioritized items. Treasury officials have said they would like to turn the two reissuance notices into proposed regulations in the future, so that item could turn up on the priority plan.

In addition, Douglas Shulman, who was approved as the new IRS commissioner by Congress in March, could bring his own set of priorities to the table, sources said. Shulman has expertise in the financial markets, having previously served as vice chairman of the Financial Industry and Regulatory Agency.

Other items that could emerge as IRS priorities include new arbitrage regulations involving interest rate swap arrangements, or an update to the private management contract rules for facilities financed with tax-exempt bonds, sources said.

 

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