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Tax 101: Tax Planning and Compliance for Foreign Businesses with U.S. Activity

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The U.S. tax laws affecting foreign businesses with activity in the U.S. contain some of the more complex provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. Examples include:

  • Effectively connected income,
  • Allocation of expenses to that income,
  • Income tax treaties,
  • Arm’s length transfer pricing rules,
  • Permanent establishments under income tax treaties,
  • Limitation on benefits provisions in income tax treaties that are designed to prevent “treaty shopping,”
  • State tax apportionment,
  • F.I.R.P.T.A. withholding tax for transactions categorized as real property transfers,
  • Fixed and determinable annual and periodical income, and
  • Interest on items of portfolio debt.

One can imagine that it is no easy task to identify income that is subject to tax, to identify the tax regime applicable to the income, and to quantify gross income, net income, and income subject to withholding tax. Nonetheless, the I.R.S. has identified withholding tax obligations of U.S. payers as a Tier I audit issue.