"Madoff" or "Ponzi-Type" Tax Losses

Ron Cohen, CPA, MST By Ron Cohen, CPA, MST
Partner
Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP

Update: 12/9/09

Wall Street Journal Article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124623441944466541.html

In addition to other good information about the type and amount of refunds people are obtaining it says in the last paragraph:

“On Monday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) proposed a bill that seeks to further expand the carry-back period up to six years for direct and indirect investors. The bill would, among other things, also allow investors in tax-sheltered retirement
accounts
to get tax relief and penalty-free hardship withdrawals.”


The I.R.S. issued the following guidance on how to make tax claims for Ponzi-Type losses.

I hear from other CPAs that some investors have lost all their money in the Madoff funds and are rushing to CPAs to file refund claims in a desperate attempt to raise cash (from the tax refunds) to make their next mortgage payment.

We hope this information is helpful.

Please give us a call if you need immediate help with this type of refund claim.

A Wall Street Journal Article on 6/29/09, Page C2, provides insight into the limits on tax and Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC) relief for indirect investors with Madoff through "feeder funds."

Here's the link to a preview of a copyrighted article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124623441944466541.html

I can always be reached for questions or comments at (510) 797-8661 x237.

Rev. Proc. 2009-20, 2009-14 IRB 749, 03/17/2009, IRC Sec(s). 165


Loss—theft loss; fraudulent investment scheme.

Headnote:

IRS provided certain investors who have losses resulting from Ponzi-type investment schemes with uniform manner for determining theft losses. Qualifications to use this safe-harbor are provided, along with formula for calculating amount of recovery.

Reference(s): ¶ 1655.042(40); Code Sec. 165;

Full Text:

1. Purpose

This revenue procedure provides an optional safe harbor treatment for taxpayers that experienced losses in certain investment arrangements discovered to be criminally fraudulent. This revenue procedure also describes how the Internal Revenue Service will treat a return that claims a deduction for such a loss and does not use the safe harbor treatment described in this revenue procedure.

2. Background

.01. The Service and Treasury Department are aware of investment arrangements that have been discovered to be fraudulent, resulting in significant losses to taxpayers. These arrangements often take the form of so-called “Ponzi” schemes, in which the party perpetrating the fraud receives cash or property from investors, purports to earn income for the investors, and reports to the investors income amounts that are wholly or partially fictitious. Payments, if any, of purported income or principal to investors are made from cash or property that other investors invested in the fraudulent arrangement. The party perpetrating the fraud criminally appropriates some or all of the investors' cash or property.

.02. Rev. Rul. 2009-9, 2009 I.R.B (April 6, 2009), describes the proper income tax treatment for losses resulting from these Ponzi schemes.

.03. The Service and Treasury Department recognize that whether and when investors meet the requirements for claiming a theft loss for an investment in a Ponzi scheme are highly factual determinations that often cannot be made by taxpayers with certainty in the year the loss is discovered.

.04. In view of the number of investment arrangements recently discovered to be fraudulent and the extent of the potential losses, this revenue procedure provides an optional safe harbor under which qualified investors (as defined in § 4.03 of this revenue procedure) may treat a loss as a theft loss deduction when certain conditions are met. This treatment provides qualified investors with a uniform manner for determining their theft losses. In addition, this treatment avoids potentially difficult problems of proof in determining how much income reported in prior years was fictitious or a return of capital, and alleviates compliance and administrative burdens on both taxpayers and the Service.

3. Scope

The safe harbor procedures of this revenue procedure apply to taxpayers that are qualified investors within the meaning of section 4.03 of this revenue procedure.

4. Definitions

The following definitions apply solely for purposes of this revenue procedure.

.01. Specified fraudulent arrangement. A specified fraudulent arrangement is an arrangement in which a party (the lead figure) receives cash or property from investors; purports to earn income for the investors; reports income amounts to the investors that are partially or wholly fictitious; makes payments, if any, of purported income or principal to some investors from amounts that other investors invested in the fraudulent arrangement; and appropriates some or all of the investors' cash or property. For example, the fraudulent investment arrangement described in Rev. Rul. 2009-9 is a specified fraudulent arrangement.

.02. Qualified loss. A qualified loss is a loss resulting from a specified fraudulent arrangement in which, as a result of the conduct that caused the loss

(1) The lead figure (or one of the lead figures, if more than one) was charged by indictment or information (not withdrawn or dismissed) under state or federal law with the commission of fraud, embezzlement or a similar crime that, if proven, would meet the definition of theft for purposes of § 165 of the Internal Revenue Code and § 1.165-8(d) of the Income Tax Regulations, under the law of the jurisdiction in which the theft occurred; or

(2) The lead figure was the subject of a state or federal criminal complaint (not withdrawn or dismissed) alleging the commission of a crime described in section 4.02(1) of this revenue procedure, and either—

(a) The complaint alleged an admission by the lead figure, or the execution of an affidavit by that person admitting the crime; or

(b) A receiver or trustee was appointed with respect to the arrangement or assets of the arrangement were frozen.

.03. Qualified investor. A qualified investor means a United States person, as defined in § 7701(a)(30) —

(1) That generally qualifies to deduct theft losses under § 165 and § 1.165-8;

(2) That did not have actual knowledge of the fraudulent nature of the investment arrangement prior to it becoming known to the general public;

(3) With respect to which the specified fraudulent arrangement is not a tax shelter, as defined in § 6662(d)(2)(C)(ii); and

(4) That transferred cash or property to a specified fraudulent arrangement. A qualified investor does not include a person that invested solely in a fund or other entity (separate from the investor for federal income tax purposes) that invested in the specified fraudulent arrangement. However, the fund or entity itself may be a qualified investor within the scope of this revenue procedure.

.04. Discovery year. A qualified investor's discovery year is the taxable year of the investor in which the indictment, information, or complaint described in section 4.02 of this revenue procedure is filed.

.05. Responsible group. Responsible group means, for any specified fraudulent arrangement, one or more of the following:

(1) The individual or individuals (including the lead figure) who conducted the specified fraudulent arrangement;

(2) Any investment vehicle or other entity that conducted the specified fraudulent arrangement, and employees, officers, or directors of that entity or entities;

(3) A liquidation, receivership, bankruptcy or similar estate established with respect to individuals or entities who conducted the specified fraudulent arrangement, in order to recover assets for the benefit of investors and creditors; or

(4) Parties that are subject to claims brought by a trustee, receiver, or other fiduciary on behalf of the liquidation, receivership, bankruptcy or similar estate described in section 4.05(3) of this revenue procedure.

.06. Qualified investment.

(1) Qualified investment means the excess, if any, of —

(a) The sum of —

(i) The total amount of cash, or the basis of property, that the qualified investor invested in the arrangement in all years; plus

(ii) The total amount of net income with respect to the specified fraudulent arrangement that, consistent with information received from the specified fraudulent arrangement, the qualified investor included in income for federal tax purposes for all taxable years prior to the discovery year, including taxable years for which a refund is barred by the statute of limitations; over

(b) The total amount of cash or property that the qualified investor withdrew in all years from the specified fraudulent arrangement (whether designated as income or principal).

(2) Qualified investment does not include any of the following—

(a) Amounts borrowed from the responsible group and invested in the specified fraudulent arrangement, to the extent the borrowed amounts were not repaid at the time the theft was discovered;

(b) Amounts such as fees that were paid to the responsible group and deducted for federal income tax purposes;

(c) Amounts reported to the qualified investor as taxable income that were not included in gross income on the investor's federal income tax returns; or

(d) Cash or property that the qualified investor invested in a fund or other entity (separate from the qualified investor for federal income tax purposes) that invested in a specified fraudulent arrangement.

.07. Actual recovery. Actual recovery means any amount a qualified investor actually receives in the discovery year from any source as reimbursement or recovery for the qualified loss.

.08. Potential insurance/SIPC recovery. Potential insurance/SIPC recovery means the sum of the amounts of all actual or potential claims for reimbursement for a qualified loss that, as of the last day of the discovery year, are attributable to—

(1) Insurance policies in the name of the qualified investor;

(2) Contractual arrangements other than insurance that guaranteed or otherwise protected against loss of the qualified investment; or

(3) Amounts payable from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), as advances for customer claims under 15 U.S.C. § 78fff-3(a) (the Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970), or by a similar entity under a similar provision.

.09. Potential direct recovery. Potential direct recovery means the amount of all actual or potential claims for recovery for a qualified loss, as of the last day of the discovery year, against the responsible group.

.10. Potential third-party recovery. Potential third-party recovery means the amount of all actual or potential claims for recovery for a qualified loss, as of the last day of the discovery year, that are not described in section 4.08 or 4.09 of this revenue procedure.

5. Application

.01. In general. If a qualified investor follows the procedures described in section 6 of this revenue procedure, the Service will not challenge the following treatment by the qualified investor of a qualified loss—

(1) The loss is deducted as a theft loss;

(2) The taxable year in which the theft was discovered within the meaning of § 165(e) is the discovery year described in section 4.04 of this revenue procedure; and

(3) The amount of the deduction is the amount specified in section 5.02 of this revenue procedure.

.02. Amount to be deducted. The amount specified in this section 5.02 is calculated as follows

(1) Multiply the amount of the qualified investment by—

(a) 95 percent, for a qualified investor that does not pursue any potential third-party recovery; or

(b) 75 percent, for a qualified investor that is pursuing or intends to pursue any potential third-party recovery; and

(2) Subtract from this product the sum of any actual recovery and any potential insurance/SIPC recovery.

The amount of the deduction calculated under this section 5.02 is not further reduced by potential direct recovery or potential third-party recovery.

.03. Future recoveries. The qualified investor may have income or an additional deduction in a year subsequent to the discovery year depending on the actual amount of the loss that is eventually recovered. See § 1.165-1(d); Rev. Rul. 2009-9.

6. Procedure

.01. A qualified investor that uses the safe harbor treatment described in section 5 of this revenue procedure must—

(1) Mark “ Revenue Procedure 2009-20” at the top of the Form 4684, Casualties and Thefts, for the federal income tax return for the discovery year. The taxpayer must enter the “deductible theft loss” amount from line 10 in Part II of Appendix A of this revenue procedure on line 34, section B, Part I, of the Form 4684 and should not complete the remainder of section B, Part I, of the Form 4684;

(2) Complete and sign the statement provided in Appendix A of this revenue procedure; and

(3) Attach the executed statement provided in Appendix A of this revenue procedure to the qualified investor's timely filed (including extensions) federal income tax return for the discovery year. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, if, before April 17, 2009, the taxpayer has filed a return for the discovery year or an amended return for a prior year that is inconsistent with the safe harbor treatment provided by this revenue procedure, the taxpayer must indicate this fact on the executed statement and must attach the statement to the return (or amended return) for the discovery year that is consistent with the safe harbor treatment provided by this revenue procedure and that is filed on or before May 15, 2009.

.02. By executing the statement provided in Appendix A of this revenue procedure, the taxpayer agrees—

(1) Not to deduct in the discovery year any amount of the theft loss in excess of the deduction permitted by section 5 of this revenue procedure;

(2) Not to file returns or amended returns to exclude or recharacterize income reported with respect to the investment arrangement in taxable years preceding the discovery year;

(3) Not to apply the alternative computation in § 1341 with respect to the theft loss deduction allowed by this revenue procedure; and

(4) Not to apply the doctrine of equitable recoupment or the mitigation provisions in §§ 1311-1314 with respect to income from the investment arrangement that was reported in taxable years that are otherwise barred by the period of limitations on filing a claim for refund under § 6511.

7. Effective Date

This revenue procedure applies to losses for which the discovery year is a taxable year beginning after December 31, 2007.

8. Taxpayers That Do Not Use The Safe Harbor Treatment Provided By This Revenue Procedure

.01. A taxpayer that chooses not to apply the safe harbor treatment provided by this revenue procedure to a claimed theft loss is subject to all of the generally applicable provisions governing the deductibility of losses under § 165. For example, a taxpayer seeking a theft loss deduction must establish that the loss was from theft and that the theft was discovered in the year the taxpayer claims the deduction. The taxpayer must also establish, through sufficient documentation, the amount of the claimed loss and must establish that no claim for reimbursement of any portion of the loss exists with respect to which there is a reasonable prospect of recovery in the taxable year in which the taxpayer claims the loss.

.02. A taxpayer that chooses not to apply the safe harbor treatment of this revenue procedure to a claimed theft loss and that files or amends federal income tax returns for years prior to the discovery year to exclude amounts reported as income to the taxpayer from the investment arrangement must establish that the amounts sought to be excluded in fact were not income that was actually or constructively received by the taxpayer (or accrued by the taxpayer, in the case of a taxpayer using an accrual method of accounting). However, provided a taxpayer can establish the amount of net income from the investment arrangement that was reported and included in the taxpayer's gross income consistent with information received from the specified fraudulent arrangement in taxable years for which the period of limitation on filing a claim for refund under § 6511 has expired, the Service will not challenge the taxpayer's inclusion of that amount in basis for determining the amount of any allowable theft loss, whether or not the income was genuine.

.03. Returns claiming theft loss deductions from fraudulent investment arrangements are subject to examination by the Service.

9. Paperwork Reduction Act

The collection of information contained in this revenue procedure has been reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3507) under control number 1545-0074. Please refer to the Paperwork Reduction Act statement accompanying Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, for further information.

Drafting Information

The principal author of this revenue procedure is Norma Rotunno of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Income Tax & Accounting). For further information regarding this revenue procedure, contact Ms. Rotunno at (202) 622-7900.

Appendix A

Statement by Taxpayer Using the Procedures in Rev. Proc. 2009-20 to Determine a Theft Loss Deduction Related to a Fraudulent Investment Arrangement

Part 1. Identification

1. Name of Taxpayer _____________________________________________

2. Taxpayer Identification Number ___________________________________

Part II. Computation of deduction

(See Rev. Proc. 2009-20 for the definitions of the terms used in this worksheet.)

Line

Computation of Deductible Theft Loss Pursuant to Rev. Proc. 2009-20

  1

  Initial investment

 

 

  2

  Plus: Subsequent investments

 

 

  3

  Plus: Income reported in prior years

 

 

  4

  Less: Withdrawals

 

 

  5

  Total qualified investment (combine lines 1 through 4)

 

 

  6

  Percentage of qualified investment
(95% of line 5 for investors with no potential third-party recovery; 75% of line 5 for investors with potential third-party recovery)

 

  7

  Actual recovery

 

 

  8

  Potential insurance/SIPC recovery

 

 

  9

  Total recoveries (add lines 7 and 8)

 

(  

10

  Deductible theft loss (line 6 minus line 9)

 

 

Part III. Required statements and declarations

1. I am claiming a theft loss deduction pursuant to Rev. Proc. 2009-20 from a specified fraudulent arrangement conducted by the following individual or entity (provide the name, address, and taxpayer identification number (if known)).

______________________

2. I have written documentation to support the amounts reported in Part II of this document.

3. I am a qualified investor as defined in § 4.03 of Rev. Proc. 2009-20.

4. If I have determined the amount of my theft loss deduction under § 5.02(1)(a) of Rev. Proc. 2009-20, I declare that I have not pursued and do not intend to pursue any potential third-party recovery, as that term is defined in § 4.10 of Rev. Proc. 2009-20.

5. If I have already filed a return or amended return that does not satisfy the conditions in § 6.02 of Rev. Proc 2009-20, I agree to all adjustments or actions that are necessary to comply with those conditions. The tax year or years for which I filed the return(s) or amended return(s) and the date(s) on which they were filed are as follows:

______________________

______________________

______________________

______________________

Part IV. Signature

I make the following agreements and declarations:

1. I agree to comply with the conditions and agreements set forth in Rev. Proc. 2009-20 and this document.

2. Under penalties of perjury, I declare that the information provided in Parts I-III of this document is, to the best of my knowledge and belief, true, correct and complete.

Your signature here _________ Date signed: ______

Your spouse's signature here _________ Date signed: _____

Corporate Name ___________

Corporate Officer's signature __________

Title __________

Date signed ______

Entity Name ____________

S-corporation, Partnership, Limited Liability Company, Trust Entity Officer's signature __________

Date signed ______

Signature of executor __________

Date signed ______

Internal Revenue Bulletin:  2009-14

April 6, 2009

Rev. Rul. 2009-9


Table of Contents

  • ISSUES
  • FACTS
  • LAW AND ANALYSIS
    • Issue 1. Theft loss.
    • Issue 2. Deduction limitations.
    • Issue 3. Year of deduction.
    • Issue 4. Amount of deduction.
    • Issue 5. Net operating loss.
    • Issue 6. Restoration of amount held under claim of right.
    • Issue 7. Mitigation provisions.
  • HOLDINGS
  • DISCLOSURE OBLIGATION UNDER § 1.6011-4
  • EFFECT ON OTHER DOCUMENTS
  • DRAFTING INFORMATION

Tax treatment of losses. This ruling addresses the tax treatment of losses from criminally fraudulent investment arrangements that take the form of “Ponzi” schemes. Rev. Rul. 71-381 obsoleted in part.

ISSUES

(1) Is a loss from criminal fraud or embezzlement in a transaction entered into for profit a theft loss or a capital loss under § 165 of the Internal Revenue Code?

(2) Is such a loss subject to either the personal loss limits in § 165(h) or the limits on itemized deductions in §§ 67 and 68?

(3) In what year is such a loss deductible?

(4) How is the amount of such a loss determined?

(5) Can such a loss create or increase a net operating loss under § 172?

(6) Does such a loss qualify for the computation of tax provided by § 1341 for the restoration of an amount held under a claim of right?

(7) Does such a loss qualify for the application of §§ 1311-1314 to adjust tax liability in years that are otherwise barred by the period of limitations on filing a claim for refund under § 6511?

FACTS

A is an individual who uses the cash receipts and disbursements method of accounting and files federal income tax returns on a calendar year basis. B holds himself out to the public as an investment advisor and securities broker.

In Year 1, A, in a transaction entered into for profit, opened an investment account with B, contributed $100x to the account, and provided B with power of attorney to use the $100x to purchase and sell securities on A’s behalf. A instructed B to reinvest any income and gains earned on the investments. In Year 3, A contributed an additional $20x to the account.

B periodically issued account statements to A that reported the securities purchases and sales that B purportedly made in A’s investment account and the balance of the account. B also issued tax reporting statements to A and to the Internal Revenue Service that reflected purported gains and losses on A’s investment account. B also reported to A that no income was earned in Year 1 and that for each of the Years 2 through 7 the investments earned $10x of income (interest, dividends, and capital gains), which A included in gross income on A’s federal income tax returns.

At all times prior to Year 8 and part way through Year 8, B was able to make distributions to investors who requested them. A took a single distribution of $30x from the account in Year 7.

In Year 8, it was discovered that B’s purported investment advisory and brokerage activity was in fact a fraudulent investment arrangement known as a “Ponzi” scheme. Under this scheme, B purported to invest cash or property on behalf of each investor, including A, in an account in the investor’s name. For each investor’s account, B reported investment activities and resulting income amounts that were partially or wholly fictitious. In some cases, in response to requests for withdrawal, B made payments of purported income or principal to investors. These payments were made, at least in part, from amounts that other investors had invested in the fraudulent arrangement.

When B’s fraud was discovered in Year 8, B had only a small fraction of the funds that B reported on the account statements that B issued to A and other investors. A did not receive any reimbursement or other recovery for the loss in Year 8. The period of limitation on filing a claim for refund under § 6511 has not yet expired for Years 5 through 7, but has expired for Years 1 through 4.

B’s actions constituted criminal fraud or embezzlement under the law of the jurisdiction in which the transactions occurred. At no time prior to the discovery did A know that B’s activities were a fraudulent scheme. The fraudulent investment arrangement was not a tax shelter as defined in § 6662(d)(2)(C)(ii) with respect to A.

LAW AND ANALYSIS

Issue 1. Theft loss.

Section 165(a) allows a deduction for losses sustained during the taxable year and not compensated by insurance or otherwise. For individuals, § 165(c)(2) allows a deduction for losses incurred in a transaction entered into for profit, and § 165(c)(3) allows a deduction for certain losses not connected to a transaction entered into for profit, including theft losses. Under § 165(e), a theft loss is sustained in the taxable year the taxpayer discovers the loss. Section 165(f) permits a deduction for capital losses only to the extent allowed in §§ 1211 and 1212. In certain circumstances, a theft loss may be taken into account in determining gains or losses for a taxable year under § 1231.

For federal income tax purposes, “theft” is a word of general and broad connotation, covering any criminal appropriation of another’s property to the use of the taker, including theft by swindling, false pretenses and any other form of guile. Edwards v. Bromberg, 232 F.2d 107 (5th Cir. 1956); see also § 1.165-8(d) of the Income Tax Regulations (“theft” includes larceny and embezzlement). A taxpayer claiming a theft loss must prove that the loss resulted from a taking of property that was illegal under the law of the jurisdiction in which it occurred and was done with criminal intent. Rev. Rul. 72-112, 1972-1 C.B. 60. However, a taxpayer need not show a conviction for theft. Vietzke v. Commissioner, 37 T.C. 504, 510 (1961), acq., 1962-2 C.B. 6.

The character of an investor’s loss related to fraudulent activity depends, in part, on the nature of the investment. For example, a loss that is sustained on the worthlessness or disposition of stock acquired on the open market for investment is a capital loss, even if the decline in the value of the stock is attributable to fraudulent activities of the corporation’s officers or directors, because the officers or directors did not have the specific intent to deprive the shareholder of money or property. See Rev. Rul. 77-17, 1977-1 C.B. 44.

In the present situation, unlike the situation in Rev. Rul. 77-17, B specifically intended to, and did, deprive A of money by criminal acts. B’s actions constituted a theft from A, as theft is defined for § 165 purposes. Accordingly, A’s loss is a theft loss, not a capital loss.

Issue 2. Deduction limitations.

Section 165(h) imposes two limitations on casualty loss deductions, including theft loss deductions, for property not connected either with a trade or business or with a transaction entered into for profit.

Section 165(h)(1) provides that a deduction for a loss described in § 165(c)(3) (including a theft) is allowable only to the extent that the amount exceeds $100 ($500 for taxable years beginning in 2009 only).

Section 165(h)(2) provides that if personal casualty losses for any taxable year (including theft losses) exceed personal casualty gains for the taxable year, the losses are allowed only to the extent of the sum of the gains, plus so much of the excess as exceeds ten percent of the individual’s adjusted gross income.

Rev. Rul. 71-381, 1971-2 C.B. 126, concludes that a taxpayer who loans money to a corporation in exchange for a note, relying on financial reports that are later discovered to be fraudulent, is entitled to a theft loss deduction under § 165(c)(3). However, § 165(c)(3) subsequently was amended to clarify that the limitations applicable to personal casualty and theft losses under § 165(c)(3) apply only to those losses that are not connected with a trade or business or a transaction entered into for profit. Tax Reform Act of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-369, § 711 (1984). As a result, Rev. Rul. 71-381 is obsolete to the extent that it holds that theft losses incurred in a transaction entered into for profit are deductible under § 165(c)(3), rather than under § 165(c)(2).

In opening an investment account with B, A entered into a transaction for profit. A’s theft loss therefore is deductible under § 165(c)(2) and is not subject to the § 165(h) limitations.

Section 63(d) provides that itemized deductions for an individual are the allowable deductions other than those allowed in arriving at adjusted gross income (under § 62) and the deduction for personal exemptions. A theft loss is not allowable under § 62 and is therefore an itemized deduction.

Section 67(a) provides that miscellaneous itemized deductions may be deducted only to the extent the aggregate amount exceeds two percent of adjusted gross income. Under § 67(b)(3), losses deductible under § 165(c)(2) or (3) are excepted from the definition of miscellaneous itemized deductions.

Section 68 provides an overall limit on itemized deductions based on a percentage of adjusted gross income or total itemized deductions. Under § 68(c)(3), losses deductible under § 165(c)(2) or (3) are excepted from this limit.

Accordingly, A’s theft loss is an itemized deduction that is not subject to the limits on itemized deductions in §§ 67 and 68.

Issue 3. Year of deduction.

Section 165(e) provides that any loss arising from theft is treated as sustained during the taxable year in which the taxpayer discovers the loss. Under §§ 1.165-8(a)(2) and 1.165-1(d), however, if, in the year of discovery, there exists a claim for reimbursement with respect to which there is a reasonable prospect of recovery, no portion of the loss for which reimbursement may be received is sustained until the taxable year in which it can be ascertained with reasonable certainty whether or not the reimbursement will be received, for example, by a settlement, adjudication, or abandonment of the claim. Whether a reasonable prospect of recovery exists is a question of fact to be determined upon examination of all facts and circumstances.

A may deduct the theft loss in Year 8, the year the theft loss is discovered, provided that the loss is not covered by a claim for reimbursement or other recovery as to which A has a reasonable prospect of recovery. To the extent that A’s deduction is reduced by such a claim, recoveries on the claim in a later taxable year are not includible in A’s gross income. If A recovers a greater amount in a later year, or an amount that initially was not covered by a claim as to which there was a reasonable prospect of recovery, the recovery is includible in A’s gross income in the later year under the tax benefit rule, to the extent the earlier deduction reduced A’s income tax. See § 111; § 1.165-1(d)(2)(iii). Finally, if A recovers less than the amount that was covered by a claim as to which there was a reasonable prospect of recovery that reduced the deduction for theft in Year 8, an additional deduction is allowed in the year the amount of recovery is ascertained with reasonable certainty.

Issue 4. Amount of deduction.

Section 1.165-8(c) provides that the amount deductible in the case of a theft loss is determined consistently with the manner described in § 1.165-7 for determining the amount of a casualty loss, considering the fair market value of the property immediately after the theft to be zero. Under these provisions, the amount of an investment theft loss is the basis of the property (or the amount of money) that was lost, less any reimbursement or other compensation.

The amount of a theft loss resulting from a fraudulent investment arrangement is generally the initial amount invested in the arrangement, plus any additional investments, less amounts withdrawn, if any, reduced by reimbursements or other recoveries and reduced by claims as to which there is a reasonable prospect of recovery. If an amount is reported to the investor as income in years prior to the year of discovery of the theft, the investor includes the amount in gross income, and the investor reinvests the amount in the arrangement, this amount increases the deductible theft loss.

Accordingly, the amount of A’s theft loss for purposes of § 165 includes A’s original Year 1 investment ($100x) and additional Year 3 investment ($20x). A’s loss also includes the amounts that A reported as gross income on A’s federal income tax returns for Years 2 through 7 ($60x). A’s loss is reduced by the amount of money distributed to A in Year 7 ($30x). If A has a claim for reimbursement with respect to which there is a reasonable prospect of recovery, A may not deduct in Year 8 the portion of the loss that is covered by the claim.

Issue 5. Net operating loss.

Section 172(a) allows as a deduction for the taxable year the aggregate of the net operating loss carryovers and carrybacks to that year. In computing a net operating loss under § 172(c) and (d)(4), nonbusiness deductions of noncorporate taxpayers are generally allowed only to the extent of nonbusiness income. For this purpose, however, any deduction for casualty or theft losses allowable under § 165(c)(2) or (3) is treated as a business deduction. Section 172(d)(4)(C).

Under § 172(b)(1)(A), a net operating loss generally may be carried back 2 years and forward 20 years. However, under § 172(b)(1)(F), the portion of an individual’s net operating loss arising from casualty or theft may be carried back 3 years and forward 20 years.

Section 1211 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (February 17, 2009), amends § 172(b)(1)(H) of the Internal Revenue Code to allow any taxpayer that is an eligible small business to elect either a 3, 4, or 5-year net operating loss carryback for an “applicable 2008 net operating loss.”

Section 172(b)(1)(H)(iv) provides that the term “eligible small business” has the same meaning given that term by § 172(b)(1)(F)(iii), except that § 448(c) is applied by substituting “$15 million” for “$5 million” in each place it appears. Section 172(b)(1)(F)(iii) provides that a small business is a corporation or partnership that meets the gross receipts test of § 448(c) for the taxable year in which the loss arose (or in the case of a sole proprietorship, that would meet such test if the proprietorship were a corporation).

Because § 172(d)(4)(C) treats any deduction for casualty or theft losses allowable under § 165(c)(2) or (3) as a business deduction, a casualty or theft loss an individual sustains after December 31, 2007, is considered a loss from a “sole proprietorship” within the meaning of § 172(b)(1)(F)(iii). Accordingly, an individual may elect either a 3, 4, or 5-year net operating loss carryback for an applicable 2008 net operating loss, provided the gross receipts test provided in § 172(b)(1)(H)(iv) is satisfied. See Rev. Proc. 2009-19, 2009-14 I.R.B. 747 (April 6, 2009).

To the extent A’s theft loss deduction creates or increases a net operating loss in the year the loss is deducted, A may carry back up to 3 years and forward up to 20 years the portion of the net operating loss attributable to the theft loss. If A’s loss is an applicable 2008 net operating loss and the gross receipts test in § 172(b)(1)(H)(iv) is met, A may elect either a 3, 4, or 5-year net operating loss carryback for the applicable 2008 net operating loss.

Issue 6. Restoration of amount held under claim of right.

Section 1341 provides an alternative tax computation formula intended to mitigate against unfavorable tax consequences that may arise as a result of including an item in gross income in a taxable year and taking a deduction for the item in a subsequent year when it is established that the taxpayer did not have a right to the item. Section 1341 requires that: (1) an item was included in gross income for a prior taxable year or years because it appeared that the taxpayer had an unrestricted right to the item, (2) a deduction is allowable for the taxable year because it was established after the close of the prior taxable year or years that the taxpayer did not have a right to the item or to a portion of the item, and (3) the amount of the deduction exceeds $3,000. Section 1341(a)(1) and (3).

If § 1341 applies, the tax for the taxable year is the lesser of: (1) the tax for the taxable year computed with the current deduction, or (2) the tax for the taxable year computed without the deduction, less the decrease in tax for the prior taxable year or years that would have occurred if the item or portion of the item had been excluded from gross income in the prior taxable year or years. Section 1341(a)(4) and (5).

To satisfy the requirements of § 1341(a)(2), a deduction must arise because the taxpayer is under an obligation to restore the income. Section 1.1341-1(a)(1)-(2); Alcoa, Inc. v. United States, 509 F.3d 173, 179 (3d Cir. 2007); Kappel v. United States, 437 F.2d 1222, 1226 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 830 (1971).

When A incurs a loss from criminal fraud or embezzlement by B in a transaction entered into for profit, any theft loss deduction to which A may be entitled does not arise from an obligation on A’s part to restore income. Therefore, A is not entitled to the tax benefits of § 1341 with regard to A’s theft loss deduction.

Issue 7. Mitigation provisions.

The mitigation provisions of §§ 1311-1314 permit the Service or a taxpayer in certain circumstances to correct an error made in a closed year by adjusting the tax liability in years that are otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. O’Brien v. United States, 766 F.2d 1038, 1041 (7th Cir. 1995). The party invoking these mitigation provisions has the burden of proof to show that the specific requirements are satisfied. Id. at 1042.

Section 1311(a) provides that if a determination (as defined in § 1313) is described in one or more of the paragraphs of § 1312 and, on the date of the determination, correction of the effect of the error referred to in § 1312 is prevented by the operation of any law or rule of law (other than §§ 1311-1314 or § 7122), then the effect of the error is corrected by an adjustment made in the amount and in the manner specified in § 1314.

Section 1311(b)(1) provides in relevant part that an adjustment may be made under §§ 1311-1314 only if, in cases when the amount of the adjustment would be credited or refunded under § 1314, the determination adopts a position maintained by the Secretary that is inconsistent with the erroneous prior tax treatment referred to in § 1312.

A cannot use the mitigation provisions of §§ 1311-1314 to adjust tax liability in Years 2 through 4 because there is no inconsistency in the Service’s position with respect to A’s prior inclusion of income in Years 2 through 4. See § 1311(b)(1). The Service’s position that A is entitled to an investment theft loss under § 165 in Year 8 (as computed in Issue 4, above), when the fraud loss is discovered, is consistent with the Service’s position that A properly included in income the amounts credited to A’s account in Years 2 through 4. See § 1311(b)(1)(A).

HOLDINGS

(1) A loss from criminal fraud or embezzlement in a transaction entered into for profit is a theft loss, not a capital loss, under § 165.

(2) A theft loss in a transaction entered into for profit is deductible under § 165(c)(2), not § 165(c)(3), as an itemized deduction that is not subject to the personal loss limits in § 165(h), or the limits on itemized deductions in §§ 67 and 68.

(3) A theft loss in a transaction entered into for profit is deductible in the year the loss is discovered, provided that the loss is not covered by a claim for reimbursement or recovery with respect to which there is a reasonable prospect of recovery.

(4) The amount of a theft loss in a transaction entered into for profit is generally the amount invested in the arrangement, less amounts withdrawn, if any, reduced by reimbursements or recoveries, and reduced by claims as to which there is a reasonable prospect of recovery. Where an amount is reported to the investor as income prior to discovery of the arrangement and the investor includes that amount in gross income and reinvests this amount in the arrangement, the amount of the theft loss is increased by the purportedly reinvested amount.

(5) A theft loss in a transaction entered into for profit may create or increase a net operating loss under § 172 that can be carried back up to 3 years and forward up to 20 years. An eligible small business may elect either a 3, 4, or 5-year net operating loss carryback for an applicable 2008 net operating loss.

(6) A theft loss in a transaction entered into for profit does not qualify for the computation of tax provided by § 1341.

(7) A theft loss in a transaction entered into for profit does not qualify for the application of §§ 1311-1314 to adjust tax liability in years that are otherwise barred by the period of limitations on filing a claim for refund under § 6511.

DISCLOSURE OBLIGATION UNDER § 1.6011-4

A theft loss in a transaction entered into for profit that is deductible under § 165(c)(2) is not taken into account in determining whether a transaction is a loss transaction under § 1.6011-4(b)(5). See § 4.03(1) of Rev. Proc. 2004-66, 2004-2 C.B. 966.

EFFECT ON OTHER DOCUMENTS

Rev. Rul. 71-381 is obsoleted to the extent that it holds that a theft loss incurred in a transaction entered into for profit is deductible under § 165(c)(3) rather than § 165(c)(2).

DRAFTING INFORMATION

The principal author of this revenue ruling is Andrew M. Irving of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Income Tax & Accounting). For further information regarding this revenue ruling, contact Mr. Irving at (202) 622-5020 (not a toll-free call.)

Qualities of a Leader

How often have you heard the comment, He or she is a born leader? There are certain characteristics found in some people that seem to naturally put them in a position where theyre looked up to as a leader.

Read More

Secure Client Portal






Forgot password?

Sign up For Our Newsletter

Get Weekly Tax & Wealth Building Tips!