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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.

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.

 

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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.

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International (LB&I) Division recently released several directives (LB&I Directives) geared toward transfer pricing. LB&I acknowledges that significant LB&I resources are devoted to transfer pricing issues, and such issues make up a substantial portion of the LB&I inventory. It appears that these directives are aimed at ensuring that LB&I resources are utilized in the most efficient and effective manner on transfer pricing issues. A link to each LB&I Directive and a short summary is provided below.

Interim Instructions on Issuance of Mandatory Transfer Pricing Information Document Request (IDR) in LB&I Examinations

This LB&I Directive advises LB&I examiners that it is no longer necessary to issue the mandatory transfer pricing information document request (IDR) to taxpayers that have filed Form 5471, Information Return of U.S. Person with Respect To Certain Foreign Corporations, or Form 5472, Information Return of a 25% Foreign-Owned U.S. Corporation or a Foreign Corporation Engaged in a U.S. Trade or Business, or engaged in cross-border transactions. An update to Part 4.60.8 of the Internal Revenue Manual will be made in the future to further explain this change. Continue Reading IRS Releases Several Transfer Pricing Directives

A House-Senate conference committee has reached agreement on a compromise version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which includes substantial changes to the corporate and international business taxation rules. The stage now appears to be set for final passage and enactment of the legislation before the end of 2017.

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The IRS has never won a single litigated case arguing for foreign base company sales income (and has never litigated a foreign base company services income case). Courts have consistently rejected the government’s arguments to expansively apply the definition of Subpart F sales income in order to carry out asserted congressional intent. While the courts have acknowledged that the policies informed the rules, they have not permitted the policies to eclipse the plain language of the code, even where the taxpayer engaged in tax planning that took advantage of the rules and arguably frustrated the policies underlying the rules.

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As most taxpayers know, under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 6501(a), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally has three years after a tax return is filed to assess any additional tax. However, Code Section 6501 provides several exceptions to this rule, including but not limited to the following.

  • False or fraudulent returns with the intent to evade tax (unlimited assessment period)
  • Willful attempt to defeat or evade tax (unlimited assessment period)
  • Failure to file a return (unlimited assessment period)
  • Extension by agreement (open-ended or for a specific period)
  • Adjustments for certain income and estate tax credits (separately provided in specific statutes)
  • Termination of private foundation status (unlimited assessment period)
  • Valuation of gifts of property (unlimited assessment period)
  • Listed transactions (assessment period remains open for one year after certain information is furnished)
  • Substantial omission of items (six-year assessment period)
  • Failure to include certain information on a personal holding company return (six-year assessment period)

If the IRS issues a notice of deficiency and the taxpayer files a petition in the Tax Court, the statute of limitations on assessment is extended until after the Tax Court’s decision becomes final. See Code Section 6503(a); see also Roberson and Spencer, “11th Circuit Allows Invalid Notice to Suspend Assessment Period,” 136 Tax Notes 709 (August 6, 2012). Continue Reading Statutes of Limitation in the International Tax Context

“The IRS and Treasury recently issued final regulations under Code Sec. 367(a)and (d) that make a monumental change in how those provisions have applied since they were enacted over 30 years ago. For the first time, the regulations subject to taxation the otherwise tax free transfer of foreign goodwill and going concern value by a domestic corporation to a foreign subsidiary for use in a trade or business outside the United States.”

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Originally published in CCH International Tax Journal (Note from the Editor in Chief)

The Treasury and IRS recently issued final regulations under §385 that reclassify certain indebtedness as equity. While the final regulations have limited application to U.S.-based multinationals, they do apply to obligations of domestic corporations to related controlled foreign corporations (‘‘CFCs’’). It is critical to avoid such debt being reclassified as stock under the regulations because of the significant adverse U.S. tax consequences.

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Originally published in Bloomberg BNA Tax Management International Journal, February 10, 2017.

The transfer of foreign goodwill and going concern value by a domestic corporation to a foreign subsidiary for use in a trade or business outside the United States has never been subject to taxation under Code Sec. 367. Without any legislative change, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury in proposed regulations would seek to tax such transfers.

In his recent article in the International Tax Journal, Lowell Yoder, global head of McDermott’s Tax Practice, discusses the sweeping changes proposed under the new 367 regulations and the problems posed by the IRS’ approach.  He recommends that the IRS withdraw the proposed regulations, which go far beyond (and actually contradict) legislative intent.

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