This month, we reminisce on the best of 2016, with articles on the brewing transatlantic trade war disguised as European Commission attacks on illegal State Aid given to U.S.-based groups.Read More
On February 17, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department released its 2016 Model Treaty. This month, as we reminisce on the best of 2016, we review significant revisions to the baseline text from which the U.S. initiates treaty negotiations.Read More
For several years, the European Commission has been on a mission to raise on a retroactive basis the income tax of large corporations that received favorable tax rulings from national authorities. Using as its tool the rules prohibiting State Aid, the Commission has gone after Fiat Chrysler, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and others. Christine Long and Beate Erwin explore the Commission’s latest push and the outcry it is causing on both sides of the Atlantic. Luxembourg and the Netherlands have appealed recent rulings and the mood in Washington, D.C. is chilly, at best.Read More
Global taxpayers live in a process driven world. It is not enough to be correct when claiming a benefit, the paperwork must be completed. In a detailed article on proper procedure, Beate Erwin and Christine Long explain that U.S. persons claiming treaty tax benefits with regard to payments from Spanish entities face two hurdles. First, they must meet the treaty qualification tests under the limitation on benefits article. Second, they must obtain a U.S. Tax Residency Certification from the I.R.S. before payment is met.Read More
One of the fallouts of the Panama Papers is a European call for a blacklist of countries that fail to meet the O.E.C.D. C.R.S. standards. The European Parliament and several E.U. Member States contend that if the U.S. should be declared a tax haven and added to the European Commission’s new blacklist if it does not implement the C.R.S. and B.E.P.S. Project recommendations. Are these contentions based on fact or on political agenda? Christine Long and Beate Erwin explain a trend that that is inching towards an outright trade war.Read More
In the heyday of tax shelters, transactions involving transfers of low value assets with high tax bases were elevated to an art form. The fervor effectively ended when the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 enacted anti-loss importation provisions under Code §§334(b)(1)(B) and 362(e)(1). In March, the I.R.S. issued final regulations to stop base erosion through shifting of loss property into the U.S. Christine Long and Beate Erwin explain all.Read More
On February 17, 2016, the Treasury Department released its 2016 Model Treaty. The model serves as the baseline from which the U.S. initiates treaty negotiations. Various provisions are discussed in detail in this month’s Insights.
A new provision of the 2016 Model Treaty attacks special tax regimes. Treaty benefits are denied for payments to connected persons who benefit from such provisions. Patent box regimes and regimes that allow for notional interest deductions are specifically targeted. Christine Long and Stanley C. Ruchelman explain.Read More
U.S. multinationals are the target of a global trade war initiated by the European Commission, resulting from its attack on State Aid in the form of advance rulings. Christine Long and Beate Erwin explain the latest developments and the brewing response in the U.S. Congress.Read More
Two court cases in different parts of the world attack tax plans premised on the absence of a permanent establishment. Pertinent U.S. income tax treaties, with Japan and India respectively, were effectively ignored in each case. Taketsugu Osada, Christine Long, and Stanley C. Ruchelman explain.Read More
Christine Long delves into the world of I.P. contributions to foreign subsidiaries. She explains how Code §367(d) works and how the regulations have been revised recently to attack goodwill and going concern contributions.Read More
Everyone likes Christmas presents and the P.A.T.H. Act delivers. It provides favorable tax treatment in the form of (i) F.I.R.P.T.A. exemptions for foreign pensions funds, (ii) increased ownership thresholds before F.I.R.P.T.A. tax is imposed on C.I.V. investment in R.E.I.T.’s, (iii) increased ownership thresholds before F.I.R.P.T.A. tax is imposed on foreign investment in domestically-controlled R.E.I.T.’s, (iv) a reduction in the time that must elapse in order to avoid corporate level tax on built-in gain when an S-election is made by a corporation after the close of the year of its formation, and (v) a permanent exemption from Subpart F income for active financing income of C.F.C.’s.
However, not all taxpayers benefitted from the Act. The P.A.T.H. Act increases F.I.R.P.T.A. withholding tax to 15%, adopts new partnership tax examination rules, and tightens rules regarding I.T.I.N.’s. Elizabeth V. Zanet, Christine Long, Rusudan Shervashidze, and Philip R. Hirschfeld explain these and certain other legislative changes.Read More
Last month, Christine Long analyzed the basis of the I.R.S. motion for summary judgment in Mylan Inc. v. Commr., a case addressing whether a license that relinquishes all substantial rights in a patent is the equivalent of a sale, so that basis can be recovered and capital losses can reduce the resulting capital gain. This month, she analyzes the taxpayer’s opposition to the motion. In addition to the existence of material questions of fact that were ignored by the I.R.S., the taxpayer argues economic substance in support of its position and evaluates the rights that were transferred and those that were retained.Read More
The question of the proper treatment of a contract transferring exclusive rights to the use of a patent – as a sale or a license – is one that has been addressed many times in U.S. jurisprudence. It has recently popped up again in a case before the U.S. Tax Court involving the generic pharmaceutical giant Mylan Inc., a company that has been the subject of much negative publicity arising from its inversion and subsequent re-immersion as a U.S. domestic company. In September, the I.R.S. filed a memorandum in support of a motion for summary judgment. We explain the basis for the I.R.S. position and comment on its merits.Read More
Newly issued temporary regulations (T.D. 9733) modify three of the six ways that rental or royalty income can qualify for the active exception to foreign personal holding company income (F.P.H.C.I.) under Subpart F. The new Treas. Reg. §1.954-2T addresses who can perform the required functions when a controlled foreign corporation (C.F.C.) leases or licenses property to an unrelated person, as well as the treatment of cost sharing arrangements.Read More
In April, the I.R.S. proposed regulations (REG-108214-15) that provide exceptions for P.F.I.C. treatment for offshore insurance companies, unless they are formed by hedge funds intending to defer or reduce tax. Andrew P. Mitchel and Christine Long look at comments of industry representatives. Many professionals deem these regulations too restrictive, needlessly subjecting legitimate insurance businesses to the harsh tax treatment of P.F.I.C.’s.Read More
In a partial reversal of the I.R.S. position, a U.S. financial institution was allowed to deduct interest expense on borrowings that formed part of a S.T.A.R.S. transaction in Salem Financial, Inc. v. United States. While the Appeals Cout held that the taxpayer could not claim foreign tax credits for the U.K. taxes paid pursuant to the S.T.A.R.S. transaction, it allowed deductions for interest paid on a loan.
Branch Banking & Trust Corporation (“BB&T”), a North Carolina financial holding company, and Barclays Bank PLC (“Barclays”), a U.K. bank were the participants in a financial product transaction BB&T entered into a structured trust advantaged repackaged securities (“S.T.A.R.S.”) transaction with Barclays from August 2002 through April 2007. Generally, the economic benefit of a S.T.A.R.S. transaction is to increase yields on investments by affixing an interest expense deduction and a double dip of foreign tax credits to the total return of the investor. Barclays invented the S.T.A.R.S. transaction structure along with the international accounting firm based in the U.K., KPMG L.L.P.
The U.S. Tax Court’s transfer pricing trial of Eaton Corp. v. Comm’r1 will begin on August 24, 2015, despite attempts by the I.R.S. to further delay the trial until 2016. The controversy between the parties began in 2011, when the I.R.S. used its discretionary power to cancel its advance pricing agreements2 with Eaton Corp. and issued a notice of deficiency. Eaton Corp. filed a petition in 2012 challenging the I.R.S. cancellations and claiming that the agreements should be upheld on the basis of contract principles. The outcome of the trial could have a substantial impact on the I.R.S. Advance Pricing Agreement Program and impact the finality of these agreements with other taxpayers.
The trial was originally scheduled to begin August 5, but the I.R.S. filed a motion to delay the trial for five months. In response to the motion, Judge Kathleen Kerrigan ordered a 19-day continuance. The I.R.S. filed another motion to reconsider the five-month delay, which Judge Kerrigan denied. The I.R.S. argued that Eaton Corp. has failed to cooperate during the discovery process and that it requires additional time to prepare for trial in light of new developments. Judge Kerrigan denied a further delay of the trial because she doubts that the hostile relationship between the parties will improve with additional time.
The U.K. has implemented the controversial diverted profits tax on the profits of multinational companies that are “artificially diverted” from activity within the country. This 25% levy became effective on profits arising on or after April 1, 2015. At this point, it is unclear whether the outcome of the Parliamentary election on May 7 will impact the enforcement of the diverted profits tax, which was enacted without thorough examination by Parliament.
U.K. officials claim multinational corporations are manipulating the tax system and have imposed the 25% levy to prevent companies from avoiding a taxable presence in the U.K. This corporate diversions tax is aimed at entities that transfer profits to lower tax jurisdictions, away from the U.K. The diverted profits tax is being called the “Google tax” because it addresses the practices of well-known international entities such as Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and Starbucks Corp. that have used the U.K.’s permanent establishment and economic substance rules to craft tax advantages within the bounds of the law. Legislators have held hearings within the last year on how these three companies in particular have been able to generate billions of dollars in revenue in the U.K. but report little or no taxable profits.
The U.K. tax authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (“H.M.R.C.”), introduced a draft of the diverted profits tax last fall and quickly implemented the legislation ahead of the May 7 election. There is great concern about the legislation’s complexity and that its hasty enactment will only result in future revisions, which will further complicate the matter. On the whole, the government is targeting transactions that it does not favor even though they are legal, and the tax itself is being criticized for undermining the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project executed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Foreign institutional investors in India have been troubled by the demands from Indian tax officials to pay liabilities owed under the newly enforced minimum alternate tax (“M.A.T.”). India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, announced that beginning April 1, portfolio investors residing in countries that have tax treaties with India are fully exempt from the tax and will not have to pay the accompanying 20% levy on past capital gains.
The M.A.T. is essentially a minimum corporate tax that creates an overall tax of 20% on capital gains. Previously, foreign investors paid 15% on short term listed equity gains, 5% on bond gains, and nothing on long term gains.
In 2014, India’s Finance Ministry began issuing notices to foreign companies for the payment of the M.A.T. on past capital gains amounting to $6.4 billion, collectively. The Finance Ministry has not enforced the M.A.T. on foreign institutional investors for over 20 years, according to the international fund organization, Investment Company Institute Global. Foreign institutional investors have been contending that the M.A.T. should only apply to Indian companies, not foreign entities.
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