On October 31, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and US Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released proposed regulations (REG-114540-18) (the Proposed Regulations) that would prevent, in many cases, income inclusions for corporate US shareholders of controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) under section 956. As a result, among other considerations, the Proposed Regulations could significantly expand the ability of corporate US affiliates to benefit from credit support of CFCs.
Lowell D. Yoder focuses his practice on cross-border mergers and acquisitions, global tax planning and international tax controversies, representing high-tech, pharmaceutical, e-commerce, financial, consumer and industrial companies. He advises on tax-efficient structuring of cross-border acquisitions, dispositions, financings, internal reorganizations and joint ventures, as well as tax-beneficial planning for intangible holding companies, global supply chains and multi-jurisdictional service arrangements. Lowell also represents clients before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), handling audits and obtaining tax rulings. He works with an extensive network of lawyers worldwide, developing tax-favorable transactional and operational cross-border structures. Lowell is the global head of McDermott's Tax Practice. Read Lowell Yoder's full bio.
The Treasury and IRS recently issued proposed regulations under §951A.1 The regulations provide rules for determining the amount of the inclusion in a U.S. shareholder’s gross income of global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI).
The GILTI inclusion amount is the aggregate of a U.S. shareholder’s pro rata shares of tested income less tested losses from each directly and indirectly owned controlled foreign corporation (CFC), less 10% of its aggregate pro rata shares of qualified business asset investments (reduced by certain interest expense). 2 This article discusses the rules in the proposed regulations for determining a CFC’s tested income.
Originally published in Bloomberg Tax: Tax Management International Journal, November 2018.
Following the 2017 Tax Act, the US tax costs to a corporate US shareholder that sells stock in a controlled foreign corporation (CFC) are significantly reduced. Beginning in 2018, the amount of gain will be generally less than in prior years and most or all such gain will frequently not be subject to any US federal income taxation.
The amount of gain recognized in a sale of course is the difference between the amount realized and the selling shareholder’s adjusted tax basis in the stock of the CFC. The initial basis in the stock of a CFC is increased by the amount of earnings of the CFC and its subsidiaries that was included in the gross income of the domestic corporation under Subpart F (i.e., previously taxed earnings). The increase in basis can be significant as a result of the transition tax Subpart F inclusion of post-1986 earnings of CFCs and the expansion of Subpart F inclusions for global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI).
The gain recognized by a domestic corporation upon the sale of stock in a CFC generally is capital gain subject to a 21 percent tax rate. Section 1248, however, recharacterizes as a deemed dividend all or a portion of the gain. The amount of gain recharacterized generally equals the amount of non-previously taxed earnings of the CFC and its foreign subsidiaries. Provided the domestic corporate shareholder held the CFC stock for at least one year, the amount of the gain recharacterized as a dividend generally is eligible for a 100 percent dividends received deduction under section 245A.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued PMTA 2018-016, reaffirming its position that for taxpayers making an election under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 965(h) to pay the transition tax over eight years through installment payments, any overpayments of 2017 tax liabilities cannot be used as credits for 2018 estimated tax payments or refunded, unless and until the overpayment amount exceeds the full eight years of installment payments.
The IRS’s position has affected many taxpayers, and practitioners expressed their concerns to the IRS to no avail.
A domestic corporation’s royalty income derived in connection with business conducted outside the United States generally is eligible for the reduced 13.125 percent effective tax rate on foreign derived intangible income (FDII). To qualify, the licensee must be a foreign person, and the intangible property must be used outside the US for the ultimate benefit of an unrelated foreign person.
For example, the lower rate generally should be available for royalties from licensing intangible property to an unrelated foreign person for use: (1) in the production and sale of products to foreign customers; (2) to provide services to foreign customers; or (3) to sublicense the intangible property to foreign persons.
Royalties from licensing intangible property to an unrelated US corporation that is for use outside the US may not qualify for FDII benefits. Such royalties should qualify, however, if instead the license is with a foreign subsidiary of the US corporation, or if a foreign subsidiary otherwise economically is considered the licensee.
The 13.125 percent tax rate is also available for certain royalties derived from licensing intangible property to related foreign persons. For example, royalties generally should qualify if the related foreign person uses the intangibles outside the United States to (1) produce and sell products to unrelated foreign customers; (2) provide services to unrelated foreign customers, or (3) sublicense the intangibles to unrelated foreign persons. Continue Reading Tax Reform Insight: Eligibility Requirements for Reduced Tax Rate on FDII for Royalties
The 2017 Tax Act added a separate foreign tax credit limitation category, or basket, for income earned in a foreign branch. As a result, certain US groups may be limited in their ability to use foreign income taxes paid or accrued by a foreign branch as a credit against their US federal income tax liability.
This new limitation can present a problem for a taxpayer with losses in some foreign branches and income in other foreign branches. Consider, for example, a US consolidated group that has $1,000 of losses from Foreign Branch X and $1,000 of income in Foreign Branch Y on which it pays $200 of foreign income taxes. The group would have zero income in its foreign branch basket, and therefore the $200 of foreign taxes would not be currently usable as a foreign tax credit. The credits can be carried over to other tax years, but they may never be tax benefited if the above circumstances continue.
We previously discussed the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) surprising position that for taxpayers making an election under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 965(h) to pay the transition tax over 8 years through installment payments, any overpayments of 2017 tax liabilities cannot be used as credits for 2018 estimated tax payments or refunded, unless and until the overpayment amount exceeds the full 8 years of installment payments. The IRS’s position has affected many taxpayers, and practitioners have expressed their concerns to the IRS.
On June 4, 2018, the IRS responded to these concerns. Rather than changing its position, the IRS has doubled down; however, the IRS has taken the small but welcome step of allowing some penalty relief for taxpayers affected by the earlier guidance as set forth in new Questions and Answers 15, 16 and 17.
Based on discussions with the IRS, it appears that the IRS’s position is based on the view that it has broad authority under Code Section 6402 to apply overpayments against other taxes owed, and that Code Section 6403 requires an overpayment of an installment payment to be applied against unpaid installments. Thus, the IRS maintains that the Code Section 965 tax liability is simply a part of the tax year 2017 liability, and it is, except for Code Section 965(h) and a timely election thereunder, payable and due by the due date of the 2017 tax return. Any future installments for the Code Section 965 liability are, in the IRS’s view, not part of a tax for a future tax year that has yet to have been determined, as the tax has already been self-assessed by the taxpayer for 2017. Accordingly, the IRS views any overpayments as being applied within the same tax period to the outstanding Code Section 965 tax owed by the taxpayer even though taxpayers making a timely Code Section 965(h) election are not legally required to make additional payments until subsequent years. Continue Reading Tax Reform Insight: IRS Doubles Down on Retention of 2017 Overpayments to Satisfy Future Section 965 Installment Payments
In a surprising development, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that if a taxpayer’s 2017 payments, including estimated tax payments, exceed its 2017 net income tax liability described under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 965(h)(6)(A)(ii) (its net income tax determined without regard to Code Section 965) and the first annual installment (due in 2018) pursuant to an election under Code Section 965(h), the taxpayer may not receive a refund or credit of any portion of properly applied 2017 tax payments unless—and until—the amount of payments exceeds the entire unpaid 2017 income tax liability, including all amounts to be paid in installments under Code Section 965(h) in subsequent years. Thus, for taxpayers making an election under Code Section 965(h) to pay the transition tax over 8 years through installment payments, any overpayments of 2017 tax liabilities cannot be used as credits for 2018 estimated tax payments or refunded, unless and until the overpayment amount exceeds the full 8 years of installment payments.
The IRS’s position, announced on April 13, 2018 (the last business day before the normal due date for the filing of 2018 individual income tax returns), effectively allows the IRS to deprive taxpayers of the use of funds and credits for overpayments for a potentially multi-year period. This position is at odds with the normal practice of allowing refunds or credits of overpayments and arguably violates Code Section 7803(a), which provides for certain taxpayer rights. This position also would seem to be in conflict with Code Section 965(h) itself, allowing the Code Section 965 transition tax liability to be paid in eight backloaded installments rather than immediately. The AICPA sent a letter to the IRS on April 19, 2018, urging the IRS to change its position to avoid the “detrimental impact on all affected taxpayers, including individuals, small businesses and large corporations.” We are hopeful that the IRS will reconsider this misguided policy, but in the meantime, taxpayers need to be aware of it. Please contact one of McDermott’s lawyers if you think you might be affected by the IRS’s position on this subject.
Under Subpart F, certain types of income and investments of earnings of a foreign corporation controlled by US shareholders (controlled foreign corporation, or CFC) are deemed distributed to the US shareholders and subject to current taxation. The recent tax reform legislation (Public Law No. 115-97) increased the amount of CFC income currently taxable to US shareholders, and expanded the CFC ownership rules, which means more foreign corporations are treated as CFCs.
The recently enacted 2017 tax reform act imposes a new “base erosion and anti-abuse tax” (BEAT) on large corporations. The BEAT operates as a limited-scope alternative minimum tax, applied by adding back to taxable income certain deductible payments made to related foreign persons. Although positioned as an anti-abuse rule, the BEAT presents challenges for a wide range of common business structures employed by both non-US-based and US-based multinationals.