On January 4, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a new “International Practice Unit” (IPU) on the value of intangibles in IRC Section 367(d) transactions in conjunction with cost sharing arrangements (CSA). See IPU here. The IPU notes that transferring highly valuable intangibles offshore has become a routine tax strategy for reducing a company’s effective tax rate for financial statement and tax purposes.
Typically, questions concerning the value of intangibles arise where a US taxpayer enters into a CSA with a controlled foreign corporation (CFC) in a low or no tax jurisdiction, and contributes resources, rights and capabilities (which may include IRC Section 936(h)(3)(B) intangibles) to the CSA. An arm’s length payment to the US taxpayer is then required for the contribution. Simultaneously with, or shortly before entering into a CSA, the US taxpayer transfers certain intangible property to the CFC in an IRC Section 351 or 361 transaction, which is taxable under IRC Section 367(d). Again, there is an arm’s length charge for the use of that intangible property.
Oftentimes in these transactions, the US taxpayer values the intangibles transferred in the IRC Section 367(d) transfer separately from the platform contributions, even though, the IRS says, the intangibles conveyed in both transactions will be exploited on a combined basis. Based on the aggregation principles in the IRC Section 482 regulations, the IPU warns that a non-aggregate approach may not provide an arm’s length result. Moreover, despite taxpayer arguments to the contrary, the IPU maintains that the scope of intangible property for purposes of IRC Section 367(d) is just as broad as the scope of platform contributions.
Practice Point: The IPU is a good source of information of what the IRS’s examination division will consider when auditing an outbound transfer of intangible rights for use in a CSA. If you have or intend to engage in such a transaction, you should study the IPU to ensure that you have adequately documented the arm’s length payments for the transfer.