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Weekly IRS Roundup January 11 – January 15, 2021

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of January 11, 2021 – January 15, 2021. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

January 11, 2021: The IRS released TD 9948 containing final regulations relating to the excise taxes imposed on certain amounts paid for transportation of persons and property by air.

January 11, 2021: The IRS released TD 9938 setting forth final regulations related to the excise tax on remuneration in excess of $1 million and any excess parachute payment paid by certain tax-exempt organizations to covered employees.

January 12, 2021: The IRS released TD 9946 containing final regulations related to the deduction and reporting of certain fines, penalties and other amounts.

January 13, 2021: The IRS released TD 9949 providing final regulations concerning the application of the employer shared responsibility provisions and certain nondiscrimination rules to health reimbursement arrangements and certain other health plans.

January 14, 2021: The IRS released Rev. Proc. 21-11 providing methods for calculating W-2 wages for purposes of the wage limitation for the section 199A(g) deduction.

January 14, 2021: The IRS released Rev. Proc. 21-12 extending, in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the expiration date relevant to the application of certain safe harbors protecting the tax status of certain real estate mortgage investment conduits (REMICs) and investment trusts.

January 15, 2021: The IRS released Rev. Rul. 21-03 providing tables of covered compensation related to the contribution and benefit bases under the Social Security Act.

January 15, 2021: The IRS released Notice 21-12 providing temporary relief, due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, from certain requirements for qualified low-income housing projects and qualified residential rental projects.

January 15, 2021: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

January 15, 2021: The IRS released Internal Revenue Bulletin 2021-3, dated January 19, 2021, containing the following highlights: Notice 2021-7 (Administrative, Employment); TD 9932 (Employee Plans, Income Tax); REG-114615-16 (Excise Tax); Notice 2021-2 (Income Tax); Notice 2021-5 (Income Tax); Rev. Proc. 2021-9 (Income Tax); TD 9939 (Income Tax); TD 9941 (Income Tax); and TD 9942 (Income Tax).

Special thanks to Brian Moore in our Washington, DC, office for this week’s roundup.

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IRS Campaign Focuses on Definition of “Qualified Film” Under Section 199

On January 31, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced 13 Large Business & International (LB&I) “campaigns.”  One campaign targets deductions claimed by multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and TV broadcasters under section 199 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).  According to the IRS’s campaign announcement, these taxpayers make several erroneous claims, including that (1) groups of channels or programs constitute “qualified films” eligible for the section 199 domestic production activities deduction, and (2) MVPDs and TV broadcasters are producers of a qualified film when they distribute channels and subscription packages that include third-party content.

IRC section 199(a) provides for a deduction equal to 9 percent of the lesser of a taxpayer’s “qualified production activities income” (QPAI) for a taxable year and its taxable income for that year.  A taxpayer’s QPAI is the excess of its “domestic production gross receipts” (DPGR) over the sum of the cost of goods sold and other expenses, losses or deductions allocable to such receipts.  IRC section 199(c)(1).  DPGR includes gross receipts of the taxpayer which are derived from any lease, rental, license, sale, exchange, or other disposition of “any qualified film produced by the taxpayer.”  IRC section 199(c)(4)(A)(i)(II).  A “qualified film” is “any property described in section 168(f)(3) if not less than 50 percent of the total compensation relating to the production of such property is compensation for services performed in the United States by actors, production personnel, directors and producers.”  IRC section 199(c)(6).  However, “qualified film” does not include property with respect to which records are required to be maintained under 18 U.S.C. § 2257 (i.e., sexually explicit materials).  Id.  Under regulations issued in 2006, “qualified film” also includes “live or delayed television programming.”  Treas. Reg. § 1.199-3(k)(1); see also Notice 2005-14, 2005-1 C.B. 498, §§ 3.04(9)(a), 4.04(9)(a). “Qualified film” includes “any copyrights, trademarks, or other intangibles with respect to such film.”  IRC section 199(c)(6).  The “methods and means of distributing a qualified film” have no effect on the availability of the section 199 deduction.  Id.  IRC section 168(f)(3), entitled “Films and Video Tape,” provides an exclusion from accelerated depreciation for “[a]ny motion picture film or video tape.”

Though the January 31 announcement did not explain the IRS’s position on these issues in detail, the IRS rejected both claims in two Technical Advice Memoranda (TAMs) issued in late 2016.  The IRS determined in TAM 201646004 (Nov.10, 2016) and TAM 201647007 (Nov.18, 2016) (the 2016 TAMs) that a subscription package of multiple channels of video programming transmitted by an MVPD to its customers via signal is not a “qualified film” as defined in IRC section 199(c)(6) and Treas. Reg. § 1.199-3(k)(1).  It also determined that an MVPD’s gross receipts from its subscription package are not from the disposition of a qualified film produced by the MVPD and are therefore not DPRG included in calculating a section 199 deduction.  The MVPD would only have DPRG from the subscription package to the extent its gross receipts are derived from an individual film or episode within the subscription [...]

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