Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman promised to continue enforcement efforts against tax shelters and provide clearer tax guidance.

"I have been particularly pleased with IRS efforts to shut down abusive tax shelters," said Shulman in remarks before the American Bar Association. "Recently the IRS has prevailed in a number of important cases in this area. As these cases have shown, we are entering a new phase of dealing with tax shelter issues.

"In the first phase, the IRS aggressively rooted out abusive tax shelters and brought some significant cases," he noted. "In the next phase, a number of taxpayers acknowledged that participating in these shelters was a mistake and settled. In this new phase, we have pursued those holdouts who chose not to settle and the cases are working their way through the courts. The government has won the overwhelming majority of these cases. One thing I want to make clear is that during my tenure at the IRS, I will continue to support a strong enforcement program."

However, Shulman also called for clearer tax guidance. "The second philosophical point I want to highlight is my belief that we need to do everything we can to provide clear guidance to taxpayers," he said. "We should not be contributing to potential noncompliance by failing to issue guidance or issuing guidance that is subject to multiple and varied interpretations. Clarity is important to improving the level of compliance, and I will work toward a high level of clarity in the guidance that we issue."

Shulman also highlighted the redesigned Form 990 for nonprofit organizations. "We have been focused on the continued evolution of Form 990 and its broad dissemination," he said. "When this information is available in a standard, easily accessible format, the nonprofit sector can work more effectively, and the level of honest dialogue about the use of tax benefits to support societal goals will increase."

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