Private letter ruling

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Private letter rulings (PLRs), in the United States, are written decisions by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in response to taxpayer requests for guidance.[1] 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."[2]

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.

PLRs from 1997, forward, are available to the public through the IRS Electronic reading room. (see 26 U.S.C. § 6110).

Similarity to technical advice memorandum[edit]

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.[3]

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.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A description of procedures and current guidance is found at the IRS web page How would I obtain a private letter ruling?.
  2. ^ 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).
  3. ^ 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).