Boston - In a decision that could have major implications for accountant work-product privileges, a federal appeals court has reversed a lower court decision and ordered aerospace and defense contractor Textron to hand over tax accrual workpapers to the IRS as part of an investigation of tax shelters.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston recently reversed the lower district court in a 3-2 ruling. The IRS challenged nine sale-in-lease-out, or SILO, transactions, which it considers "listed transactions," akin to tax shelters. Textron had argued that the workpapers were confidential and asserted the attorney-client work-product doctrine.

"Textron apparently thinks it is 'unfair' for the government to have access to its spreadsheets, but tax collection is not a game," said Circuit Judge Michael Boudin, writing for the majority. "Underpaying taxes threatens the essential public interest in revenue collection."

However, the dissenting opinion took the opposite tack: "In straining to craft a rule favorable to the IRS as a matter of tax law, the majority has thrown the law of work-product protection into disarray."


Washington, D.C. - The Treasury and Energy Departments plan to give $2.3 billion in tax credits from the Recovery Act to manufacturers of clean energy equipment. The act created a new tax credit of 30 percent for facilities that manufacture certain types of energy equipment, including solar, wind and geothermal energy equipment; fuel cells, microturbines and batteries; electric cars; electric grids to support the transmission of renewable energy; energy conservation technologies; and equipment that captures and sequesters carbon dioxide or reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The credits are available for two years or until the cap is reached. Companies can file applications for the first round of credit awards through Oct. 16, 2009, and can learn whether they are successful by Jan. 15, 2010.

(c) 2009 Accounting Today and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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