Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of October 8 – 12, 2018:

October 8, 2018: IRS issued a special update in Questions and Answers about Reporting Related to Section 965 on 2017 Tax Returns, providing that transfer agreements under Prop. Reg. § 1.965-7 filed in accordance with the future guidance after the deadline, October 9, 2018, will nevertheless be considered timely filed.

October 9, 2018: IRS advised small business owners and self-employed individuals to use the resources it has provided, including a fact sheet highlighting the changes by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affecting them, to understand their tax responsibilities.

October 12, 2018: IRS released proposed regulations scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on October 17, 2018, which clarify how taxpayers may waive penalties for low-dollar mistakes as a result of incorrect information returns or inaccurate payee statements.

October 12, 2018: IRS filed proposed regulations removing Treas. Reg. § 1.451-5, which currently allow taxpayers to defer the inclusion of income from advance payments for goods and long-term contracts. Comments and public hearing requests are due by January 14, 2019.

October 12, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Alex Cheng-Yi Lee in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of October 1 – 5, 2018:

October 1, 2018: The IRS announced in Notice 2018-78 that the deadline for the basis election under Treas. Reg. § 1.965-2 was extended from prior to the publication of final Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 965 regulations to 90 days after the issuance of the final Code Section 965 regulations.

October 3, 2018: The IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2018-53, which sets out the procedure for taxpayers requesting private letter rulings with respect to divisive reorganizations under Code Sections 355 and 368(a)(1)(D).

October 3, 2018: The IRS issued Notice 2018-76 providing transitional guidance on the deductibility of expenses for certain business meals under Code Section 274 in an entertainment context and stated that it intended to publish proposed regulations on the matter. For more information, see our post here.

October 4, 2018: The IRS released a reminder that calendar-year taxpayers who placed qualifying property in service during 2017 but intend to elect not to claim the new 100 percent depreciation deduction under Code Section 168(k) must file the election before October 15, 2018.

October 5, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Alex Lee in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

Tax reform made many structural changes to our tax system. Changes to Code Section 274, however, sent shudders through corporate America. As amended, Code Section 274 eliminated the 50 percent deduction for “entertainment” expenses that are related to business activities. Sadly, gone are the days of companies deducting the cost of box tickets to games for the local sport’s team. Gulp! But, in its haste, Congress left what constitutes entertainment expenses substantially undefined. Accordingly, a strict reading of the statute meant—along with the box seats—went the hot dogs and beer! Ugh! So, under this strict interpretation, taking your client to the fancy restaurant to encourage her to buy your product or services would no longer be deductible.

Thankfully, the IRS has recently clarified that meals are not entertainment under amended Code section 274. IRS Notice 2018-76 explains that business meals are still eligible for the 50 percent deduction if they are not lavish and extravagant. And an IRS press release, IR-2018-195, explains that the IRS will release proposed regulations explaining what “entertainment” means.

Practice Point: We can all sigh with relief that Uncle Sam will continue to underwrite the “wining and dining” of our clients. Although eating is officially not entertainment (at least for tax purposes), the recent IRS guidance acknowledges that America does a lot of its business while breaking bread.

We have previously discussed ongoing developments with the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program. In brief summary, CAP is a real-time audit program that seeks to resolve the tax treatment of all or most return issues before the tax return is filed. The CAP program began in 2005 on an invitation-only basis with 17 taxpayers, and was subsequently expanded to include pre-CAP, CAP and CAP Maintenance components. Taxpayers and IRS leadership generally praised the CAP program as one of the most successful corporate tax enforcement programs, with surveys showing that more than 90 percent of CAP taxpayers reported overall satisfaction with the program.

The fate of CAP has been uncertain in recent years given the IRS’s shift in the examination process to identifying and focusing on specific areas of risk and the continued dwindling of IRS resources. In 2016, we discussed whether this change might result in the death of the CAP program and the IRS’s announcement that it was formally assessing the program. In August of this year, the IRS announced that the CAP program will continue, with some modifications.

At a September 26 conference, the IRS indicated that it wanted to expand the CAP program, but that changes were needed to keep the program sustainable over the long term given issues with increased examination times for CAP audits based primarily on issues involving transfer pricing, research credits under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 41, and former Code Section 199. The IRS indicated that it needed to resolve two issues for the CAP program: (1) eligibility and (2) suitability. Regarding eligibility, the IRS indicated that only public companies will likely be allowed into the program. Regarding suitability, factors include: (1) responses to IRS information requests; (2) good-faith efforts to resolve issues; (3) disclosure of tax shelters, material items, investigation or litigation; (4) frequency of claims; and (5) complying with the terms of the program’s memorandum of understanding.

The IRS has also released a Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) Recalibration discussion document, dated September 28, 2018. The discussion document provides more detail on the IRS’s current thinking regarding the CAP program and the two issues identified above. The document indicates that no new applications will be accepted for 2019 but that the IRS expects to accept new application for the 2020 tax year. In addition to general application information, taxpayers with international cross-border activity and research and experimentation activities will be required to submit additional information.

Practice Point: Taxpayers that are currently in the CAP program or that are considering applying to the program should review the IRS’s recent discussion document to identify potential changes to the program and whether the program would be a good fit. For many taxpayers, the CAP program has been—or could be­—a great program for resolving tax disputes in a timely fashion and gaining finality on tax position at an early date. The IRS may use their “suitability” criteria to weed out which taxpayers should be in the CAP program. Query whether a taxpayer will be suitable for CAP if they have identified an issue that is listed in one of the IRS’s “campaigns.” Only time will tell. We have heard that some CAP teams are overburdened and may have little training on new tax reform issues, requiring them to seek assistance from their CAP taxpayers. This might be a good opportunity to educate your CAP team on how your specific facts align with tax reform.

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 24 – 28, 2018:

September 25, 2018: The IRS announced a study regarding the active trade or business requirements under section 355(b) and stated that it is considering guidance on whether a business can qualify as an active trade or business if entrepreneurial activities, as opposed to investment or other non-business activities, take place with the purpose of earning income in the future, but no income has yet been collected in order to give more ventures access to tax-free spinoff under section 355(b).

September 25, 2018: The IRS issued a statement on the reorganization of the Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement program, which will merge its economists and non-economists to facilitate the collaboration between team members and optimize economist involvement.

September 27, 2018: The IRS announced in Notice 2018-80 that it will issue proposed regulations providing that accrued market discount is not includable in income under section 451(b), which was added by 2017 tax reform.

September 27, 2018: The IRS issued a release reminding taxpayers ahead of the October 15 tax-filing extension deadline to be aware of criminal who continue to using devious tactics to steal money and personal information from unsuspecting taxpayers.

September 28, 2018: The IRs issued a discussion document regarding recalibration of the Compliance Assurance Process (CAP) program.

September 28, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Alex Cheng-Yi Lee in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 17 – 21, 2018:

September 17, 2018: The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report reviewing whether the IRS complied with legal and internal guidelines governing the seizure of property for unpaid taxes.

September 17, 2018: TIGTA released a second report compiling statistical information reported by the IRS in order to provide information about how the IRS uses its compliance resources and the resulting tax collections.

September 18, 2018: The IRS published Revenue Ruling 2018-17, which provides the applicable federal interest rate for October 2018 and other interest rates.

September 19, 2018: The IRS published Revenue Procedure 2018-49, which allows taxpayers that early adopted a method of revenue recognition to change such method to one described in Section 16.11 of Revenue Procedure 2018-31. This is a very important method change that affects many taxpayers who have to comply with ASC 606.

September 20, 2018: The IRS announced in Notice 2018-72 that it intends to amend the section 871(m) regulations to delay the effective date of certain provisions.

September 21, 2018: Treasury and the IRS published proposed regulations that would remove from the section 385 regulations minimum documentation requirements that must be satisfied for certain related-party debt to be respected as such for tax purposes. We previously commented on this here.

September 21, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Kevin Hall in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

Over the years, the determination of whether an item constitutes debt or equity has generated significant litigation. Courts have developed multifactor tests and engaged in intensive fact finding to make this determination. Arguably, part of the reason for the numerous disputes was the lack of regulations under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 385, which explicitly authorizes the US Department of Treasury (Treasury) to issue regulations to determine whether an interest in a corporation is to be treated for purposes of the Code as stock or indebtedness.

Proposed regulations under Code Section 385 were issued on April 14, 2016, but did not receive a warm welcome from the tax bar. This was particularly so with respect to strict contemporaneous written documentation requirements in the proposed regulations. After receiving substantial comments, Treasury released final regulations effective as of October 21, 2016, which retained the strict documentation requirements. However, President Trump subsequently issued Executive Order 13771 and Executive Order 13789 calling for a reduction in regulatory burdens and costs. In late 2017, Treasury indicated that it might revoke the documentation requirements under the Code Section 385 regulations. That day has now come.

Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have now issued proposed regulations removing the strict documentation requirements. Written or electronic comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by the IRS by late December.

Prior coverage of the Code Section 385 regulations can be found in our previously posted articles.

Practice Point: Although the strict requirements for documenting may be just a memory at this point, the need to document your lending transactions, especially intercompany transactions, is still present. At the very least, the old rules may have instilled more discipline into lending transactions, which may help support positions (e.g., Code Section 165 deductions) on your return.

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 10 – 14, 2018:

September 10, 2018: The IRS announced the following five new Large Business & International compliance campaigns: (1) Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 199 Claims Risk Review; (2) Syndicated Conservation Easement Transactions; (3) Foreign Base Company Sales Income: Manufacturing Branch Rules; (4) Form 1120F Interest Expense/Home Office Expense; and (5) Individuals Employed by Foreign Governments and International Organizations. We discuss these new campaigns in more detail here and have reported about previous LB&I campaigns in the below blog posts.

September 13, 2018: Treasury and the IRS released proposed regulations under Code Section 951A, the new tax on global intangible low-taxed income earned by controlled foreign corporations. The proposed regulations include a number of anti-abuse provisions.

September 13, 2018: The IRS published Revenue Procedure 2018-48, which provides guidance regarding how certain amounts included in income under Code Sections 951(a)(1) and 986(c) are treated for purposes of determining whether a REIT satisfies the Code Section 856(c)(2) gross income test.

September 14, 2018: The IRS issued Notice 2018-73, which provides updated interests rates and guidance regarding the corporate bond monthly yield curve.

September 14, 2018: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandum and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Kevin Hall in our DC office for this week’s roundup.

On September 10, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Large Business and International (LB&I) Division announced five new audit “campaigns.” These new campaigns follow: (1) the initial 13 campaigns announced on January 31, 2017; (2) followed by 11 campaigns announced on November 3, 2017; (3) five campaigns announced on March 13, 2018; six campaigns announced on May 21, 2018; and five campaigns announced on July 2, 2018.

The following five new LB&I campaigns are listed by title and description:

Section 199 – Claims Risk Review

Public Law 115-97 repealed the Domestic Production Activity Deduction (DPAD) for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. This campaign addresses all business entities that may file a claim for additional DPAD under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 199. The campaign objective is to ensure taxpayer compliance with the requirements of IRC Section 199 through a claim risk review assessment and issue-based examinations of claims with the greatest compliance risk.

Syndicated Conservation Easement Transactions

The IRS issued Notice 2017-10, designating specific syndicated conservation easement transactions as listed transactions, requiring disclosure statements by both investors and material advisors.

This campaign is intended to encourage taxpayer compliance and ensure consistent treatment of similarly situated taxpayers by ensuring the easement contributions meet the legal requirements for a deduction, and the fair market values are accurate. The initial treatment stream is issue-based examinations. Other treatment streams will be considered as the campaign progresses.

Foreign Base Company Sales Income: Manufacturing Branch Rules

In general, foreign base company sales income (FBCSI) does not include income of a controlled foreign corporation (CFC) derived in connection with the sale of personal property manufactured by such corporation. However, if a CFC manufactures property through a branch outside its country of incorporation, the manufacturing branch may be treated as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary of the CFC for purposes of computing the CFC’s FBCSI, which may result in a subpart F inclusion to the U.S. shareholder(s) of the CFC.

The goal of this campaign is to identify and select for examination returns of U.S. shareholders of CFCs that may have underreported subpart F income based on certain interpretations of the manufacturing branch rules. The treatment stream for the campaign will be issue-based examinations.

1120F Interest Expense/Home Office Expense

This campaign addresses compliance on two of the largest deductions claimed on Form1120-F, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation. Treasury Regulation Section 1.882-5 provides a formula to determine the interest expense of a foreign corporation that is allocable to their effectively connected income. The amount of interest expense deductions determined under Treasury Regulation Section 1.882-5 can be substantial. Treasury Regulation Section 1.861-8 governs the amount of home office expense deductions allocated to effectively connected income. Home office expense allocations have been observed to be material amounts compared to the total deductions taken by a foreign corporation.

The campaign compliance strategy includes the identification of aggressive positions in these areas, such as the use of apportionment factors that may not attribute the proper amount of expenses to the calculation of effectively connected income. The goal of this campaign is to increase taxpayer compliance with the interest expense rules of Treasury Regulation Section 1.882-5 and the home office expense allocation rules of Treasury Regulation Section 1.861-8. The treatment stream for this campaign is issue-based examinations.

Individuals Employed by Foreign Governments and International Organizations

In some cases, individuals working at foreign embassies, foreign consular offices, and various international organizations may not be reporting compensation or may be reporting it incorrectly. Foreign embassies, foreign consular offices and international organizations operating in the U.S. are not required to withhold federal income and social security taxes from their employees’ compensation nor are they required to file information reports with the IRS.

This lack of withholding and reporting results in unreported income, erroneous deductions and credits, and failure to pay income and Social Security taxes. Because this is a fluid population, there may be a lack of knowledge regarding tax obligations. This campaign will focus on outreach and education by partnering with the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions to inform employees of foreign embassies, consular offices and international organizations. The IRS will also address noncompliance in this area by issuing soft letters and conducting examinations.

Practice Point: As the IRS continues to move toward issued-based examinations, campaigns have become more important in identifying and auditing issues. Taxpayers should be aware of the campaigns and IRS guidance on these areas. As we have previously discussed, Practice Units are helpful tools in understanding the IRS audit process on a particular subject. With limited resources, the IRS must streamline their examination approach. The IRS has determined that there is significant audit risk for taxpayers who have an issue listed in one or more of the campaigns. If you have one of these issues, be proactive, contact your tax professional, and make sure you have an “audit ready” file in place for when the IRS opens an examination.

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.

Continue Reading Tax Reform Insight: US Tax Costs Significantly Reduced on Sale of CFC Stock