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Weekly IRS Roundup September 23 – 27, 2019

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of September 23 – 27, 2019.

September 24, 2019: The IRS issued a notice that provides a safe harbor under which a rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a trade or business for purposes of section 199A and the regulations thereunder. The IRS explained that if the safe harbor requirements are met, the rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a single trade or business as defined in section 199A(d) for purposes of applying the regulations under section 199A. Each rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a single trade or business if the following requirements are satisfied during the taxable year with respect to the rental real estate enterprise: (1) separate books and records are maintained to reflect income and expenses for each enterprise; (2) for enterprises in existence less than four years, 250 or more hours of rental services are performed per year; (3) taxpayer maintains contemporaneous records on hours of services performed, description of services, dates of services, and who performed such services; and (4) taxpayer attaches a statement with information such as a description of the properties, to a timely filed original return for each year in which the enterprise relies on the safe harbor. 

September 26, 2019: The Treasury and the IRS released proposed regulations that: (1) clarify the application of the employer shared responsibility provisions and certain nondiscrimination rules to reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and other account-based group health plans integrated with individual health insurance coverage or Medicare (individual coverage HRAs); (2) provide certain safe harbors with respect to the application of those provisions to individual coverage HRAs; and (3) facilitate the adoption of individual coverage HRAs by employers by permitting taxpayers to rely on the proposed regulations. The proposed regulations would affect employers, employees and their family members, and plan sponsors.

September 27, 2019: The IRS released a Statistics of Income Bulletin focusing on individual income tax returns. The report contains data on sources of income, adjusted gross income, exemptions, deductions, taxable income, income tax, modified income tax, tax credits, self-employment tax, and tax payments. The report makes classifications by tax status, size of adjusted gross income, marital status, type of tax computation and age.

September 27, 2019: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Robbie Alipour in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.

Tax Reform Insights: IRS Proposes Section 163(j) Regulations – New Business Interest Expenses Deduction Limit

On November 26, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued proposed regulations (Proposed Regulations) pursuant to section 163(j). Public Law 115-97, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), amended Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 163 by modifying paragraph (j) to limit the amount of business interest a taxpayer may deduct for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. The amendment generally limits the deduction for business interest to the sum of a taxpayer’s business interest income and thirty percent of a taxpayer’s adjusted taxable income (ATI) for the taxable year.

The Code Section 163(j) limit is also increased by a taxpayer’s “floor plan financing interest,” which is certain interest used to finance the acquisition of motor vehicles held for sale or lease. Code Section 163(j)(8) defines ATI as a taxpayer’s taxable income computed without regard to: any item of income, gain, deduction, or loss which is not properly allocable to a trade or business; any business interest or business interest income; any net operating loss deduction under Code Section 172; the amount of any deduction for qualified business income under Code Section 199A; and in the case of taxable years beginning before January 1, 2022, any deduction allowable for depreciation, amortization, or depletion.

The Proposed Regulations address a variety of issues, including the following:

  • Trade or Business. New Code Section 163(j) defines business interest income and expense as amounts that are “properly allocable to a trade or business,” but it does not define trade or business.” The Proposed Regulations define a “trade or business” by reference to Code Section 162 because Code Section 162(a) provides the “most established and developed definition of trade or business.”
  • Interest. The Proposed Regulations define “interest” broadly to include other ordinary income items similar to interest, such as substitute interest payments in securities lending transactions, loan commitment fees, debt issuance costs, Code Section 707(c) guaranteed payments for the use of capital, and factoring income. Proposed Regulation § 1.163(j)-3 introduces rules, including ordering rules, for the relationship between Code Section 163(j) and other provisions affecting interest.
  • S Corporations. Proposed Regulation § 1.163(j)-6 provides guidance regarding the application of the Code Section 163(j) deduction to partnerships and S corporations.
  • CFCs. The Proposed Regulations provide that Code Section 163(j) may apply to limit the deductibility of a controlled foreign corporation’s (CFC’s) business interest expense, thereby potentially limiting a CFC’s deduction of business interest for purposes of computing subpart F income and tested income under Code Section 951A(c)(2)(A).
  • ECI. The Proposed Regulations also provide that Code Section 163(j) applies to foreign corporations and other foreign persons for purposes of computing income effectively connected with a US trade or business.

The Proposed Regulations provide a variety of other rules. Some of the notable provisions include rules applicable to REITs, RICs, tax-exempt entities and consolidated group members. They also provide rules regarding the disallowed business interest expense carryforwards of C corporations and rules regarding elections for excepted trades or businesses and rules for allocating expenses and [...]

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