Author David Gair*

In Exxon Mobil Corp. v. United States of America, from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, ExxonMobil learned the hard way that filing amended tax returns can be very costly.

Some of the reasons why an amended return is dangerous are below, but first to the case:

ExxonMobil was involved in oil and gas ventures in Qatar and Malaysia, which for tax purposes were treated as partnerships and reported on the company’s consolidated tax returns. ExxonMobil had historically treated those transactions as mineral leases. In 2014 and 2015, ExxonMobil filed amended tax returns treating the transactions as purchases for tax years 2006-2009 and claiming refunds for overpaid income taxes in the amount of  $1.35 Billion. The IRS not only disallowed the refund claims but also imposed a penalty under 26 U.S.C. § 6676 of approximately $200 million.

ExxonMobil ultimately escaped the penalty but it was not easy and it surely cost them a lot of money to fight it.

Section 6676 imposes a 20 percent penalty for filing an erroneous amended return.  A taxpayer can defend against that penalty by proving to the IRS that it has a reasonable basis/reasonable cause for the amendment.  That determination is highly factually based and ripe for litigation.  In short, penalties can be hard to avoid.

The dangers of amended returns claiming refunds:

  • IRS thinks fraud – Illegitimate tax shelter promoters develop schemes to file amended returns and obtain huge refunds. Thus they are viewed skeptically by the IRS. Any guaranty the promoter offers about success is usually worthless. Big refunds make the IRS think something untoward is going on, even if it is not.
  • You will face an audit – Amended returns claiming refunds will almost assure you of an IRS audit. The cost and stress associated with an audit is substantial.
  • There will be delays ­– It is not uncommon to face delays of months, if not years, in resolving your amended return.


Continue Reading ExxonMobil Discovers That Amended Tax Returns Are Dangerous

Author Joshua D. Smeltzer*

The recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act, providing additional COVID pandemic relief, also includes important extensions for renewable energy tax credits. These extensions represent a significant tax benefit for renewable energy companies and their potential investors. However, if not done correctly taxpayers can lose the tax benefit and potentially face tax

Co-author Rusty Tucker

In a suit to foreclose a property tax lien, if the taxing authority does not exercise due diligence to support service of citation by a method other than by personal service can the owners, as a matter of due process, raise that defect for the first time after expiration of the statute of limitations? Heidelberg v. DOH Oil Company says “no”.


Continue Reading Challenge to a Tax Sale Comes Too Late

Co-author Isreal Miller

Local taxing authorities frequently look to out-of-towners to bear what the locals consider the outsiders’ fair share of the burdens of increased oil and gas activity. The counties are often small and rural. (See the Dimmit County road tax).You can’t blame them, but  Reeves County (county seat: Pecos, 2010 pop. 13,783), Loving (county seat: Mentone, 2010 pop. 1,340), and Ward (county seat: Monahans, 2010 pop. 10,658) have been reminded by the big guys and gals in Austin that these efforts are not likely to succeed. It didn’t work for Huey Long and it isn’t working well now.

The Texas Supreme Court issued four opinions addressing the taxation of compressors used to deliver natural gas into pipelines: All four were consolidated for briefing with another case, EXLP Leasing, LLC v. Galveston Central Appraisal District. EXLP v. Galveston addressed most, if not all, of the issues raised in each of the four cases at hand. Specifically, the court upheld Texas Tax Code § 23.1241(b), which values the compressors based on the lease revenue they generated during the previous tax year divided by twelve. EXLP v. Galveston also determined that the taxable situs for the compressors was the county in which EXLP Leasing maintained a business address and storage yard (Washington County) and not in the various counties in which the equipment might otherwise be physically located or leased (e.g., Galveston County).
Continue Reading Local Taxation of Oil and Gas Activities Fails Again

taxesThis is to be expected in these dark days of diminished cash flow. Imagine:  You are the operator and the non-ops have given you their share of ad valorem taxes, expecting you to pay them to the taxing authority at the right time. Things are a little tight, if you know what I mean, so