IRC section 482
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UTP Filings Continue to Rise

The IRS has released statistics for the 2010 to 2014 tax years relating to Schedule UTP (Uncertain Tax Position) filings, showing that there were 6,320 uncertain tax positions reported in 2014. The statistics show a steady increase in the reported positions, which totaled 4,740 in 2010, although this may also be attributed to the fact that the number of Schedule UTP filers has increased from 2,143 in 2010 to 2,747 in 2014. It is not surprising that the number of Schedule UTP filers have increased from 2010 to 2014 since reporting requirement has decreased from corporations with at least $100 million in assets (2010) to $10 million in assets (2014). However, the increase in filers has not affected the average number of uncertain tax positions per filer, which remains stable at 2.3. The most common types of UTPs reported continues to be IRC section 41 research credit and IRC section 482 transfer pricing, which collectively account for over half of all reported uncertain tax positions. The chart is available here for your consideration.

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Tax Court Rules in Favor of Medtronic in Transfer Pricing Case Against IRS

At least a partial taxpayer victory in the Medtronic case, T.C. Memo. 2016-112. The Tax Court held that Medtronic met its burden of showing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abused its discretion by  making arbitrary and capricious Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 482 reallocations with respect to taxable income of Medtronic’s Puerto Rico subsidiary. It further concluded that the IRS’s use of the comparable profits method is not required under the IRC Section 482 commensurate with income standard. Although the Tax Court found the taxpayer’s royalty rates established using the comparable uncontrolled transaction method to be unreasonable, the court undertook to determine the proper allocations itself, and made two significant adjustments to the taxpayer’s royalty rates. Finally, the court rejected the IRS’s alternative allocation that intangibles were transferred under IRC Section 367(d).

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IRS and Taxpayers Continue Fight over Regulations Intended to Overrule Judicial Precedent

In March 2013, 3M filed a petition with the US Tax Court challenging the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) determination that additional royalty income should be allocated to 3M’s US headquarters from its Brazilian subsidiary.  See 3M Co. v. Commissioner, T.C. Dkt. No. 5186-13.  Specifically, the IRS determined that Brazilian legal restrictions on the payment of royalties to the US parent should not be taken into account in determining the arm’s-length price between 3M and the subsidiary under Treas. Reg. § 1.482-1(h)(2).  3M’s position will require the Tax Court to revisit its earlier, pre-regulations holdings on the subject and to decide whether the Supreme Court of the United States has already resolved the issue.

The parties recently submitted the case fully stipulated under Tax Court Rule 122, with simultaneous opening briefs due on March 21, 2016.  The parties will then have the opportunity to submit reply briefs responding to each other’s arguments.

More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court in Commissioner v. First Sec. Bank of Utah, 405 U.S. 394 (1972), rejected the IRS’s attempt to apply section 482 where federal law prohibited the taxpayer from receiving the income the IRS was seeking to allocate to it.  Subsequent Tax Court and appellate court decisions applied the Supreme Court’s holding to restrictions under foreign and state law.  In 1994, the IRS promulgated current Treas. Reg. § 1.482-1(h)(2), which provides, in part, that “a foreign legal restriction will be taken into account only to the extent that it is shown that the restriction affected an uncontrolled taxpayer under comparable circumstances for a comparable period of time.”  Although the regulation also contains a deferred income election that permits the deferred recognition of restricted income, subject to a matching deferral of deductions, it may be difficult in most situations to meet these requirements.

Whether 3M succeeds may depend on how the Tax Court applies the recent Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Home Concrete & Supply LLC, 132 S.Ct. 1836 (2012).  There, the Supreme Court held that its prior interpretation of a statute meant that “there is no longer any different construction that is consistent with [the prior opinion] and available for adoption by the agency.”  This is an important case for all taxpayers, not just those dealing with the blocked income issue, and the Tax Court’s determination may have a broad impact on future challenges to tax regulations.

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