New York — A Senate subcommittee has revealed internal e-mail messages showing that KPMG reportedly discussed selling a new tax shelter similar to one that was banned more than two years earlier by the Internal Revenue Service, according to published reports.
The e-mails, released by a Senate subcommittee investigating abusive tax shelters in late August, don’t show whether KPMG ever sold the new version of the shelter, Offshore Portfolio Investment Strategy, or OPIS, but the messages do show how the firm’s efforts to create and sell dozens of shelters appear “much more rigorous and extensive” than detailed in documents made public last fall by the subcommittee.
A KPMG spokesman said, “KPMG has taken strong measures to reorganize and restructure its tax practice, including changes to leadership, policies, practices and procedures. Simply put, we are not doing today what we did years ago.”
The e-mails, which date from the mid-1990s to 2003, are said to refer to at least a dozen new shelters that appear aggressive in their reading of the tax code. According to reports, the IRS declared the OPIS and similar variations, which used complex financial moves to create paper losses that then offset all or part of legitimate taxable income, invalid in 2001.
A May 2003 e-message by a KPMG tax partner said that the new version of OPIS was designed to do the same thing using U.S. partnerships rather than foreign partnerships for certain parts of the transaction.
The e-mails show that KPMG engaged in exhaustive legal analysis of tax and civil court rulings and IRS rulings to find loopholes in the tax code to justify its shelters, according to reports, which cited a KPMG slide presentation as saying, “The IRS position of what is ‘final’ is not ‘real world view.’”
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