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Qualified Opportunity Zones: Second Set of Proposed Regulations Offers Greater Clarity to Investors

Qualified Opportunity Zones: Second Set of Proposed Regulations Offers Greater Clarity to Investors

The Opportunity Zone tax benefit, which was crafted as part of the 2017 tax reform, aims to encourage taxpayers to sell appreciated capital properties and rollover the gains into low-income areas in the U.S.  One major benefit – reducing recognition of deferred gains by up to 15% – is available only to investments made before the end of 2019, although other benefits will continue to be available to later investments.  The clock is ticking on the 15% reduction, and the I.R.S. is accelerating the issuance of guidance.  In late April, the I.R.S. released a second set of proposed regulations that address many of the issues that were deferred in the initial set.  They also address issues raised by written comments and testimony at the well-attended public hearing in February.  In their article, Galia Antebi and Nina Krauthamer lead the reader through the important and the practical parts of the second set of guidance.

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Grecian Magnesite Put to Bed: Tax Court Ruling Affirmed on Appeal

Grecian Magnesite Put to Bed: Tax Court Ruling Affirmed on Appeal

The battle is over. It is agreed that the emporer’s new clothes are made of fairy dust, and Rev. Rul. 91-32 is not worth the paper on which it was printed in the I.R.S. Cumulative Bulletin for 1991. In June, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed the 2017 Tax Court ruling in the matter of Grecian Magnesite Mining v. Commr., which held that a foreign corporation was not liable for U.S. tax on the gain arising from a redemption of its membership interest in a U.S. L.L.C. treated as a partnership. In their article, Galia Antebi and Stanley C. Ruchelman address the history of the I.R.S. position and the disdain given to it by the courts. However, they caution that the taxpayer victory applies only to sales, exchanges, and dispositions effected through November 26, 2017. Thereafter, new Code §864(c)(8) modifies the law by adopting a look-thru rule when determining the character of gain from the sale of a membership interest. Win some, lose some.

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Updates & Other Tidbits

Updates & Other Tidbits

This month, Fanny Karaman, Galia Antebi, and Stanley C. Ruchelman look at interesting items of tax news, including (i) the I.R.S. announcement that French contribution sociale généralisée ("C.S.G.") and contribution au remboursement de la dette sociale ("C.R.D.S.") are now considered creditable foreign income taxes as they are no longer considered to fall under the provisions of the France-U.S. Totalization Agreement, (ii) the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has recommended approval of protocols to income tax treaties with Japan, Luxembourg, Spain, and Switzerland, paving the way for Senate approval, and (iii) proposed regulations under Code §951A now allow taxpayers to claim the benefit of the high-tax kickout to limit the inclusion of G.I.L.T.I. income, thereby allowing individuals to avoid current taxation of net tested income when the controlled foreign corporation incurs foreign income taxes imposed at a rate that exceeds 18.9%.

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The Responsible Party – Changes Effective May 2019

The Responsible Party – Changes Effective May 2019

The U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number used by entities is the Employer Identification Number (“E.I.N.”).  To apply for an E.I.N., the entity must identify the “responsible party” who ultimately owns or controls the entity or who exercises ultimate effective control over the entity – in other words, the person who controls, manages, or directs the entity and the disposition of its funds and assets.  In March, the I.R.S. announced that, beginning on May 13, 2019, only individuals with a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number will be allowed to request an E.I.N.  Moreover, the responsible party must be a natural person – not an entity – unless the applicant is a government entity.  This change will affect many foreign companies entering the U.S. market after the effective date.  Galia Antebi and Nina Krauthamer explain all and speculate on whether revisions to the new procedure should be anticipated.

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It’s Time for Cayman Shell Entities to Come Out of Their Shells and Show Economic Substance

It’s Time for Cayman Shell Entities to Come Out of Their Shells and Show Economic Substance

·       It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The same can be said about economic substance.  In a step to adopt a standardized definition in the context of business arrangements that are typical for Cayman Islands companies, the country enacted the International Tax Cooperation (Economic Substance) Law, 2018 (“E.S. Law”) on December 27, 2018, and issued supplemental guidance on February 22, 2019.  Neha Rastogi and Galia Antebi address relevant aspects of the new rules, including (i) entities that fall within the ambit of the E.S. Law, (ii) entities that are exempt, (iii) identified business activities under the E.S. Law, and (iv) steps that may be taken to meet the economic substance test.

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Proposed Amendments to F.A.T.C.A. Suggest Reducing or Deferring Withholding

Proposed Amendments to F.A.T.C.A. Suggest Reducing or Deferring Withholding

In mid-December 2018, revised F.A.T.C.A. regulations were proposed by the I.R.S. Highlights included (i) the elimination of withholding on payments of gross proceeds, (ii) deferral, but not elimination, of withholding on foreign passthru payments, (iii) clarification of the definition of an investment entity, and (iv) changes to the consequence of hold-mail instructions on presumptions of residence. Galia Antebi explains all.

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Additional Guidance on New Opportunity Zone Funds

Additional Guidance on New Opportunity Zone Funds

Days after Galia Antebi and Nina Krauthamer published “The Opportunity Zone Tax Benefit – How Does It Work and Can Foreign Investors Benefit,” the I.R.S. issued guidance in proposed regulations. Now, in a follow-up article, Galia Antebi and Nina Krauthamer focus on the new guidance as it relates to the deferral election and the Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund. In particular, they address (i) which taxpayers are eligible to make the deferral election, (ii) the gains eligible for deferral, (iii) the measurement of the 180-day limitation, (iv) the tax attributes of deferred gains, and (v) the effect of an expiration of a qualifying zone status on the step-up in basis to fair market value after ten years.

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I.R.S. Adds New Issues of Focus for Cross-Border Audits

I.R.S. Adds New Issues of Focus for Cross-Border Audits

In late 2018, LB&I announced five additional campaigns aimed at determining whether taxpayers are complying with tax rules in the following areas of the law: (i) foreign tax credits claimed by U.S. individuals, (ii) offshore service providers that assist taxpayers in creating foreign entities and tiered structures to conceal the U.S. beneficial ownership of foreign financial accounts, (iii) F.A.T.C.A. compliance by F.F.I.’s and N.F.F.E.’s, (iv) tax return compliance by foreign corporations that ignore the fact that they are engaged in a U.S. trade or business under the rules of U.S. tax law, and (v) late issuance of Work Opportunity Tax Credit (“W.O.T.C.”) certifications that result in the need to file amended tax returns and result in a misuse of I.R.S. resources when returns are filed without the W.O.T.C certifications. The move follows more than two years, of I.R.S. publications that alert the public to certain issue-based approaches being followed by examiners. Galia Antebi and Elizabeth V. Zanet summarize the new releases.

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In the Fight Against Money Laundering, Europe Tackles Cash Controls

In the Fight Against Money Laundering, Europe Tackles Cash Controls

In early October, the European Council adopted a regulation aimed at improving controls on cash entering or leaving the E.U. The new regulation provides necessary tools to address threats arising from terrorist financing, money laundering, tax evasion, and other criminal activities. It is based on current standards for combating money laundering and terrorism financing developed by the Financial Action Task Force (“F.A.T.F.”). Among other things, the new regulation requires a declaration of unaccompanied cash – that is, (i) cash sent by post, freight, or courier shipment and (ii) highly liquid instruments and commodities, such as checks, traveler’s checks, prepaid cards, and gold.  Once the new regulation is signed by the European Council and the European Parliament, it will be published in the E.U. Official Journal and will enter into force 20 days thereafter. Galia Antebi explains all.

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Qualified Business Income – Are You Eligible for a 20% Deduction? Part II: Additional Guidance

Qualified Business Income – Are You Eligible for a 20% Deduction? Part II: Additional Guidance

In August, the I.R.S. issued much-awaited proposed regulations under the new Code §199A covering Qualified Business Income (“Q.B.I”). This provision of recently enacted U.S. tax law allows entrepreneurial individuals to claim a 20% deduction on taxable business profits of a sole proprietorship, partnership, L.L.C. or S-corporation. Galia Antebi, Nina Krauthamer, and Fanny Karaman ask and answer the pertinent questions: Who may benefit? How do the rules addressing R.E.I.T.’s and publicly traded partnerships (“P.T.P.’s”) affect Q.B.I when a net negative result is reported by the R.E.I.T. and the P.T.P.? When is an individual’s income effectively connected to a trade or business and when is the. income a form of disguised salary for which no deduction is allowed? What is a specified trade or business (“S.S.T.B.”)  for which the resulting income cannot benefit from the Q.B.I. deduction? How does the de minimis rule work under which a limited Q.B.I. deduction is allowed S.S.T.B. income does not exceed a specified ceiling? How does the ceiling based on W-2 wages work when calculating the Q.B.I. deduction? 

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The Opportunity Zone Tax Benefit – How Does it Work and Can Foreign Investors Benefit?

The Opportunity Zone Tax Benefit – How Does it Work and Can Foreign Investors Benefit?

State Aid to entice investment and development in a specific region is bad in Europe but encouraged in the U.S. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added an important new provision that is expected to unlock unrealized gains and defer the tax on the gain when it is invested in active operating businesses in distressed areas designated as “Opportunity Zones.” The tax is deferred until the targeted investment is sold, or until 2026 at the latest. A progressive partial step-up in basis is also granted if the investment is held for a minimum of five years. The entire appreciation in value of the new targeted investment is excluded from tax if held for ten years. In a plain English primer, Galia Antebi and Nina Krauthamer explain the concept and the necessary implementation steps and consider whether the new provision can eliminate F.I.R.P.T.A. tax for foreign investors.

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Blockchain 101

Blockchain 101

Blockchain has been in the spotlight since early 2017, mostly due to the 2017 surge in cryptocurrency values and the rise of initial coin offerings (“I.C.O.’s”). Many legal advisors have clients who use or wish to use blockchain in their businesses, and yet, the actual technology is often not discussed in the legal field. In a series of Q&A’s, Fanny Karaman and Galia Antebi explain the rationale behind blockchain technology and reasons for its reliability. Because blockchain is a decentralized system with inherent proof of work built into the program, it can eliminate the need for intermediaries, such as banks, lawyers, and brokers. Advisers should be aware of the benefits of the technology, as well as its potential for disrupting the legal landscape.

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Code §962 Election Offers Benefits Under U.S. Tax Reform

Code §962 Election Offers Benefits Under U.S. Tax Reform

Two provisions in the recent tax reform legislation – Code §§965 (transition tax) and 250 (50% deduction for G.I.L.T.I.) – focus on C.F.C.’s and their U.S. Shareholders.  In each case, corporate U.S. Shareholders are entitled to a deduction that is not granted to an individual with regard to income that is taxed under Subpart F.  However, Code §962 may allow an individual who is a U.S. Shareholder of a C.F.C. to elect to be taxed on the Subpart F Income as if a corporation.  This allows for tax at a lower rate and a foreign tax credit for corporate income taxes paid by the C.F.C.  Elizabeth V. Zanet and Galia Antebi explain the workings of Code §962 and focus on the position of naysayers who caution that it may not provide the relief it appears to provide.

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Investing in U.S. Real Estate on a (Possibly) Tax-Free Basis

Investing in U.S. Real Estate on a (Possibly) Tax-Free Basis

A Real Estate Investment Trust, or R.E.I.T., is a popular type of investment vehicle.  A R.E.I.T. is an entity that generally owns and typically operates a pool of income-producing real estate properties, including mortgages.  Its investors generally look to a return on investment in two forms: (i) distributions from the R.E.I.T. and (ii) dispositions of the R.E.I.T. stock.  If certain facts exist, U.S. tax law offers foreign investors a completely tax-free avenue to invest in a R.E.I.T.  Galia Antebi and Neha Rastogi explain the ins and outs of tax-free treatment for the foreign investor.

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B.E.A.T.-ing Base Erosion: U.S. Subjects Large Corporations to Anti-Abuse Tax

B.E.A.T.-ing Base Erosion: U.S. Subjects Large Corporations to Anti-Abuse Tax

Cross-border payments to related parties have been an arrow in the quiver of cross-border tax planners since the time that income tax and global trade first intersected.  The new Code §59A introduces the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (“B.E.A.T.”) on large corporations that significantly reduce their U.S. tax liability through the use of cross-border payments to related persons.  It is structured as another form of the now-repealed corporate Alternative Minimum Tax rather than a disallowance of a deduction in computing regular taxable income.  Banks that have significant interest payments and U.S. companies that pay significant royalties for trademarks, copyrights, and know-how are the targets of the tax to the extent full 30% withholding tax is not imposed.  Galia Antebi and Sheryl Shah explain how the tax is computed.  Is this another step towards a global trade war?

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Reform of the U.S. Tax Regime – The Swiss Perspective

Published by Prager Dreifuss, Tax Newsletter (February 2018).

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Anti-Inversion Rules Are Not Just for Mega-Mergers – Private Client Advisors Take Note

Anti-Inversion Rules Are Not Just for Mega-Mergers – Private Client Advisors Take Note

The U.S. has rules that attack inversion transactions, wherein U.S.-based multinationals effectively move tax residence to low-tax jurisdictions.  If successful, these moves allow for tax-free repatriation of offshore profits to the inverted parent company based outside the U.S.  However, the scope of the anti-inversion rules is broad and can also affect non-citizen, nonresident individuals who directly own shares of private U.S. corporations.  Attempts to place those shares under a foreign holding company as an estate planning tool may find that the exercise is all for naught once the anti-inversion rules are applied.  Elizabeth V. Zanet, Galia Antebi, and Stanley C. Ruchelman discuss the hidden reach of the anti-inversion rules to private structures.

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Family Limited Partnerships in Estate Planning – Is Estate of Powell the End or the Beginning of Aggressive Tax Planning?

Family Limited Partnerships in Estate Planning – Is Estate of Powell the End or the Beginning of Aggressive Tax Planning?

When transactional tax advisers come across estate planning advice, amazement is often expressed over the importance given to form rather than economic substance.  Value can be reduced when property is transferred to a family partnership.  In Estate of Powell, the Tax Court went beyond form to look at substance in determining the scope of the decedent’s taxable estate.  Galia Antebi and Rusudan Shervashidze explore the holding of the case.

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I.R.S. Pushes to Ease Implementation of Country-by-Country Reporting for U.S. M.N.E.’s

I.R.S. Pushes to Ease Implementation of Country-by-Country Reporting for U.S. M.N.E.’s

It is widely known that the U.S. is following its own path towards international tax compliance.  It has not signed onto the O.E.C.D.’s Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Exchange of Country-by-Country Reports; it does not participate in the Common Reporting Standard; and it did not sign the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent B.E.P.S.  Nonetheless, at the request of U.S. multinationals, the I.R.S. has adopted domestic income tax regulations on country-by-country (“CbC”) reporting.  In May, the I.R.S. confirmed the first bilateral competent authority agreement regarding CbC reporting was signed with the Netherlands.  That agreement has now been followed by agreements with Canada, Denmark, Guernsey, Iceland, Ireland, Korea, Latvia, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia, and South Africa.  Galia Antebi and Kenneth Lobo delve into the U.S. rules and forms for CbC reports.

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Foreign Tax Credits: General Principles and Audit Risks

Foreign Tax Credits: General Principles and Audit Risks

In April, the Large Business & International Division (“LB&I”) of the I.R.S. published an International Practice Unit directed to the foreign tax credit claimed by individuals.  Tax advisers to Americans living abroad or having global investment portfolios may find that the Practice Unit indicates topics of interest for the I.R.S.  Fanny Karaman and Galia Antebi explain the concepts covered, including persons eligible to claim the credit, foreign taxes that qualify for credit, whether to deduct or credit a foreign income taxes, foreign tax credit limitations, and means of ameliorating the effect of unused credits in a particular year.

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