A number of provisions included in the Senate’s tax reform bill, H.R. 1 (the Senate Bill) would impact the insurance sector. Many of the provisions would affect only the life insurance industry. Others affect property & casualty (P&C) insurance companies. Still others affect both life and P&C insurance companies.
Kristen E. Hazel has extensive experience representing clients in US and international aspects of federal tax matters, including international acquisitions and divestitures, international joint ventures, and capital plan design and implementation. Her work includes both inbound and outbound transactions. Kristen is the co-chair of the Firm's Captive Insurance Affinity Group. She regularly counsels clients with respect to the tax aspects of organizing, operating and defending captive insurance companies. Read Kristen Hazel's full bio.
The October 2017 issue of Focus on Tax Strategies & Developments has been published. This issue includes five articles that provide insight into US federal and international tax developments and trends across a range of industries, as well as strategies for navigating these complex issues.
Republican Leaders Release Tax Reform Framework
By David G. Noren Alexander Lee
M&A Tax Aspects of Republican Tax Reform Framework
By Alexander Lee, Alejandro Ruiz and Timothy S. Shuman
State and Local Tax Aspects of Republican Tax Reform Framework
By Peter L. Faber
Grecian Magnesite Mining v. Commissioner: Foreign Investor Not Subject to US Tax on Sale of Partnership Interest
Kristen E. Hazel, Sandra P. McGill and Susan O’Banion
The IRS Attacks Taxpayers’ Section 199 (Computer Software) Deductions
Kevin Spencer, Robin L. Greenhouse and Jean A. Pawlow
In a long-awaited decision, the US Tax Court recently held that gain realized by a foreign taxpayer on the sale of a partnership engaged in a US trade or business was a sale of a capital asset not subject to US tax, declining to follow Revenue Ruling 91-32. The government has yet to comment regarding its intentions to appeal.
On November 2, 2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, (the Act), H.R. 1314, 114 Congress/Public Law No. 114-74, made significant changes to the rules governing US federal income tax audits of partnerships (New Audit Rules). The New Audit Rules are codified at Internal Revenue Code Sections 6221 through 6241. On August 4, 2016, the IRS released temporary and proposed regulations relating to certain aspects of the New Audit Rules. And, on December 6, 2016, technical corrections to the New Audit Rules (Technical Corrections) were introduced in both the House of Representatives, H.R. 6439, and in the Senate, S. 3506.
In Notice 2016-66, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identified a particular § 831(b) “micro-captive” transaction as a “transaction of interest” for purposes of § 1.6011-4(b)(6) of the Regulations and §§ 6111 and 6112 of the Internal Revenue Code. The notice also alerts persons involved in such transactions to certain responsibilities and penalties that may arise from their involvement with these transactions.
On November 3, 2016, we presented at the Chicago Tax Club’s symposium regarding tax planning and intellectual property (IP) planning within a multinational corporation. The presentation covered various areas, including the importance of coordination between IP and tax groups when engaging in IP planning, the differences in the IP arena and the tax arena with respect to IP matters that can impact tax planning positions, and tax planning with IP holding companies. From a tax controversy perspective, we discussed being prepared for an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit with respect to IP planning, with a focus on contemporaneous documentation to support the taxpayer’s position, having audit ready files (including adhering to document retention policies), reviewing IRS audit materials (e.g., International Practice Units) to understand what the IRS may ask for during the audit, and being cognizant of the various privileges (e.g., attorney-client, tax practitioner and work product) and recent positions taken by the IRS with respect to whether certain advice provided by accountants is privileged.
In mid-2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed (although on narrower grounds) the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Validus Reinsurance, Ltd. v. United States. In Validus, 786 F.3d 1039, the D.C. Circuit ruled that there was no statutory authority for the imposition of a so-called “cascading” federal excise tax (FET) to foreign retrocession transactions – a transaction involving a policy of reinsurance issued by a foreign reinsurer to another foreign reinsurer.
The D.C. Circuit relied on two principles in rejecting the application of a “cascading” FET to foreign retrocession transactions: (1) the presumption against extraterritoriality and (2) FET should not be imposed more than once on the same transaction (that is, on the same premium amounts). The D.C. Circuit declined, however, to specifically speak on the issue of foreign reinsurance transactions – a transaction involving a policy of reinsurance issued by a foreign reinsurer to another foreign insurer (rather than reinsurer) – despite the fact that both principles might equally apply to these transactions as well.
However, the recently released Revenue Ruling 2016-03 specifically notes that “the IRS will no longer apply the one-percent excise tax imposed by section 4371(3) to premiums paid on a policy of reinsurance issued by one foreign reinsurer to another foreign insurer or reinsurer ….” (emphasis added). Thus, under Revenue Ruling 2016-03, there is no distinction between foreign retrocession and foreign reinsurance transactions. For those taxpayers with foreign reinsurance transactions, who have been stuck in limbo after the Validus decision, Revenue Ruling 2016-03 may provide relief from an IRS examiner’s inappropriate imposition of a “cascading” FET.