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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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Modifications to the Foreign Tax Credit System Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Modifications to the Foreign Tax Credit System Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The T.C.J.A. introduces new concepts in foreign tax credit planning and eliminates others.  Gone are the pool of post-1986 earnings & profits and deemed-paid foreign tax credits for intercompany dividends.  In their place is a dividends received deduction.  Allocations of interest expense between foreign-source income and domestic income now must be based on tax book value.  Entities that manufacture in one jurisdiction and sell in another will find that the source of income is controlled only by production activities.  Neha Rastogi and Stanley C. Ruchelman explain.

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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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Foreign Tax Credit May Not Be Available for Gains Derived Outside the U.S.

Foreign Tax Credit May Not Be Available for Gains Derived Outside the U.S.

Merely because a foreign country imposes an income tax and the tax is creditable does not mean that effective relief from double taxation is available.  The U.S. retains the first right to tax income and gains that are domestic in character, and the income or gain on which the foreign tax is imposed must be categorized as foreign for relief to be provided.  Kenneth Lobo and Galia Antebi focus on this issue and advise that advance planning will be required.

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§338(g) Election in the Cross-Border Context: I.R.S. Targets Foreign Tax Credit Enhancer

§338(g) Election in the Cross-Border Context: I.R.S. Targets Foreign Tax Credit Enhancer

Code §338(g) allows a taxpayer to elect to treat certain share purchases as if the transactions were asset purchases.  As a result, the premium paid for the shares can be pushed down to increase the basis in operating assets of the acquired company.  The step-up in depreciable basis results in steeper depreciation and amortization deductions for U.S. tax purposes.  Because a comparable tax benefit is not obtained in the jurisdiction where the target operates, the Code §338(g) treatment magnifies the effective tax rate in the foreign country when looked at from a U.S. tax viewpoint.  This creates mountains of excess foreign tax credits that can be used to reduce U.S. tax on other items of foreign-source income, provided those items are subject to little or no foreign tax and fall within the same foreign tax credit limitation basket.  A similar result can be achieved through a check-the-box election, which acts as a poor man’s Code §338(g) election.  Code §901(m) attempts to disallow the enhanced level of the foreign tax credit, and the I.R.S. recently issued temporary and proposed regulations.  Rusudan Shervashidze and Stanley C. Ruchelman explain the labyrinth of rules.

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