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Tax Concerns on Outbound I.P. Transfers: Pitfalls & Planning in Light of I.R.S. Defeat in Amazon Case

Tax Concerns on Outbound I.P. Transfers: Pitfalls & Planning in Light of I.R.S. Defeat in Amazon Case

In the 21st century, the method of apportioning income from intangible property (“I.P.”), between the various jurisdictions in which the I.P. is developed, owned, and used or consumed, is contentious.  This was evidenced in a recent Tax Court case, Amazon.com, Inc. & Subsidiaries v. Commr., which dealt with transfer pricing rules applicable to an outbound transfer of I.P. and a related cost sharing agreement.  Philip R. Hirschfeld discusses the case in the context of Code §367(d), which relates to outbound transfers of I.P., and Treas. Reg. §1.482-7, which addresses qualified cost sharing agreements.

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Using a §897(i) Non-Discrimination Election to Avoid F.I.R.P.T.A.

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Mistakes happen. Often nonresident alien individuals buy U.S. real property, often personal use property, in their individual names. This can be a costly mistake. With certain exceptions, if such an individual were to die while owning the property, a U.S. estate tax of approximately 40% of the value of the property could be imposed.

There is one method to restructure this investment in the case of a foreign individual, or an entity owned by a foreign individual, if such a person is eligible to claim the benefit of an income tax treaty with the United States and the treaty contains a so-called “Nondiscrimination Clause.” These clauses provide that a resident of a treaty state will not be treated any less favorably than a U.S. resident carrying on the same activities. This article will look at how a Nondiscrimination Clause can be used to avoid onerous F.I.R.P.T.A. provisions when a foreign person invests in U.S. real property.

The technique described in this article essentially permits a nonresident alien individual to transfer U.S. real property on a tax-free basis to a foreign entity, which will be treated as a domestic entity for income tax purposes and as a foreign (non-taxable) entity for U.S. estate tax purposes.