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March 29, 2007

The IRS won a "summary judgment" ruling on a version of the "BLIPS" tax shelter in a Chicago Federal courtroom yesterday. A district court judge ruled that the shelter, which involved inflating the basis of a partnership through a purchase of offsetting foreign currency contracts, didn't work. The judge discussed the procedural defense of the shelter ("Cemco") with a statement that could apply to many of the big-firm tax shelters of the late '90s:

As detailed below, Cemco’s theory consists of several nuanced procedural steps. Ultimately, however, the argument amounts to little more than a house of cards, for if any of the steps fail (and several do), Cemco’s entire position collapses.

The case has additional resonance because a version of this shelter is involved in the KPMG criminal litigation. This complete defeat for the shelter (including valuation penalties) may help support the prosecution's view of the shelters. This particular shelter, though, was the progeny of Paul Daugerdas, a Jenkens and Gilchrist tax attorney pictured here in happier times with Howie Mandel:

Jenkins and Gilchrist attorney with Howie Mandel at a charity ball. No deal, says the judge.

Cite: Cemco Investors, LLC v. United States, DC-Ill Case No. C 8211 (link courtesy of the TaxProf).

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