The focus of a debt-versus-equity inquiry generally narrows to whether there was intent to create a debt with a reasonable expectation of repayment and, if so, whether that intent comports with the economic reality of creating a debtor-creditor relationship. This determination has led various courts of appeals to identify and consider a multi-factor test for resolving such inquires.
In the typical debt-versus-equity case, the I.R.S. will argue for equity characterization whereas the taxpayer will endeavor to secure debt characterization to obtain an interest deduction. In some cases, the roles are reversed, but this does not require that courts apply different legal principles. Some courts consider 10 factors, while others consider as many as 16 factors. No matter how many factors are considered, the multi-factor test is the established, standard analysis used in such disputes.