Private letter ruling
Private letter rulings (PLRs), in the United States, are written decisions by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in response to taxpayer requests for guidance. A letter ruling, or private letter ruling, is "a written statement issued to a taxpayer by an Associate Chief Counsel Office of the Office of Chief Counsel or by the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division that interprets and applies the tax laws to a specific set of facts."
A private letter ruling binds both the IRS and the requesting taxpayer (in the event the matter is further disputed or litigated), but only those parties. Thus, a private ruling may not be cited or relied upon as precedent by other taxpayers. However, the IRS has the option of redacting the personal content of a private ruling and issuing it as a revenue ruling, which then becomes binding on all taxpayers and the IRS.
Similarity to technical advice memorandum
A technical advice memorandum (TAM) is similar to a private letter ruling, but is typically obtained during the course of an IRS examination. A TAM is generally issued by an IRS Associate Chief Counsel Office to an IRS Division Commissioner, or to an IRS Appeals Area Director. A TAM is issued after a request for assistance arising during "any proceeding" before the IRS.
The request for advice must concern the interpretation and application of the internal revenue laws, tax treaties, regulations, revenue rulings, or other precedents to a specific set of facts to determine the correct tax treatment for an item in a year under audit or on appeal.
- A description of procedures and current guidance is found at the IRS web page How would I obtain a private letter ruling?.
- Mitchell Rogovin & Donald L. Korb, "The Four R’s Revisited: Regulations, Rulings, Reliance, and Retroactivity in the 21st Century: A View From Within", 46 Duquesne Law Review 323, 342 (2008).
- Mitchell Rogovin & Donald L. Korb, "The Four R’s Revisited: Regulations, Rulings, Reliance, and Retroactivity in the 21st Century: A View From Within", 46 Duquesne Law Review 323, 354 (2008).