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The Devil in the Detail: Choosing a U.S. Business Structure Post-Tax Reform

The Devil in the Detail: Choosing a U.S. Business Structure Post-Tax Reform

Prior to the T.C.J.A. in 2017, the higher corporate income tax rate made it much easier to decide whether to operate in the U.S. market through a corporate entity or a pass-thru entity. With a Federal corporate income tax rate of up to 35%, a Federal qualified dividend rate of up to 20%, and a Federal net investment income tax on the distribution of 3.8%, the effective post-distribution tax rate was 50.47%, before taking into account State and local taxes. With the post-tax reform corporate income tax rate of 21% and the introduction of the qualified business income and foreign derived intangible income deductions, the decision to choose a pass-thru entity is no longer apparent. In their article, Fanny Karaman and Nina Krauthamer look into some important tax considerations when choosing the entity for a start-up business in the U.S.

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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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Missed Opportunities – Tax Court Shows No Mercy for Indirect Partner

Missed Opportunities – Tax Court Shows No Mercy for Indirect Partner

In the U.S., there are several options to challenge an I.R.S. adjustment in the courts, including the U.S. District Court, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Tax Court.  Of the three options, only a challenge in the Tax Court can be pursued without first paying the tax.  Strict time limits are placed on filing a petition to the Tax Court.  If a taxpayer misses the deadline, it must first pay the tax and then sue for refund in either of the other courts.  The petition deadline is easy to determine when the I.R.S. proposes an adjustment to an individual or corporation, but when the adjustment is made to the income of a partnership – which yields tax exposure for partners – it is not always clear when the time limit has run out.  In a recent memorandum decision, the Tax Court ruled that an indirect partner was not able to challenge the tax liability of a partnership because the petition came too late.  In their review of the decision, Rusudan Shervashidze and Nina Krauthamer explain the strange facts involved and point out that the taxpayer did not have “clean hands.”

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Proposed Code §864(c)(8) Regulations Codify Tax on Gain from Sale of Partnership Interest

Proposed Code §864(c)(8) Regulations Codify Tax on Gain from Sale of Partnership Interest

Enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Code§864(c)(8) codifies the holding in Rev. Rul. 91-32 and overturns the result ofthe Grecian Magnesite case. In late December 2018, the I.R.S. released pro- posed regulations containing guidance under new Code §864(c)(8). Among the points addressed in the proposed regulations are (i) rules to compute the amount of E.C.I. gain or loss, (ii) coordination with F.I.R.P.T.A. tax and withholding, (iii) interaction with income tax treaties, and (iv) anti-abuse rules. Fanny Karaman and Nina Krauthamer discuss these and other aspects of the proposed regulations.

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Corporate Matters: Profits Interest Basics

Corporate Matters: Profits Interest Basics

In the latest in his series of articles on the relative flexibility of limited liability companies and their desirability for use in many instances, including joint ventures, Simon H. Prisk looks at grants of profits interests as a means of compensating service providers and employees.  If done properly, these incentives can be optimized by favorable tax treatment, achieving the same or better tax results than incentive stock options available to C-corporations and S-corporations.  If done without proper thought and planning, the results may be suboptimal.  

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Non-Corporate Taxation: Individuals & Partnerships Face Highs & Lows Under the T.C.J.A.

Non-Corporate Taxation: Individuals & Partnerships Face Highs & Lows Under the T.C.J.A.

Most cross-border tax advisers with clients that are impacted by the T.C.J.A. focus on the principal items, such as B.E.A.T., G.I.L.T.I., and the like.  However, the act contains many additional provisions that can affect the non-corporate cross-border investor.  Taxes have been reduced, a holding period for capital gains treatment now applies to carried interests, the scope of like-kind exchanges has been limited, and the tax treatment of alimony payments has been changed.  These are just a few of the items addressed by Sheryl Shah.

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New U.S. Tax Law Adopts Provisions to Prevent Base Erosion

New U.S. Tax Law Adopts Provisions to Prevent Base Erosion

Following the lead of the O.E.C.D. and the European Commission (“E.C.”), the T.C.J.A. adopts several provisions designed to end tax planning opportunities.  In some instances, the new provisions closely follow their foreign counterparts.  In others, the provisions that are specific to U.S. tax law.  Among these changes are (i) the introduction of the G.I.L.T.I. minimum tax on the use of foreign intangible property by C.F.C.’s, (ii) the total revamp of Code §163(j) so that it reflects an interest ceiling rather than an earnings stripping provision, (iii) the restriction of tax benefits derived from the use of hybrid entities and transactions, (iv) the broadened scope of Subpart F through definitional changes, (v) legislative reversals of judicial decisions in which I.R.S. positions in transfer pricing matters were successfully challenged, and (vi) legislative reversals of a judicial decision invalidating Rev. Rul. 91-32 regarding the sale of partnership interests by foreign partner.  Sheryl Shah and Stanley C. Ruchelman discuss these provisions and place them in context. 

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Tax 101: Taxation of Intellectual Property—Selected Tax Issues Involving Corporations and Partnerships

Published in The Licensing Journal vol. 37, no. 9 (October 2017): pp. 11-18.

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Foreign Partner Not Subject to U.S. Tax on Gain from Redemption of U.S. Partnership Interest

Foreign Partner Not Subject to U.S. Tax on Gain from Redemption of U.S. Partnership Interest

Hurray!  After three years, the U.S. Tax Court ruled that gain from the sale of a partnership interest or the receipt of a liquidating distribution by a retiring partner is not subject to U.S. income tax even though the partnership conducts business in the U.S.  Neha Rastogi, Elizabeth V. Zanet, and Nina Krauthamer explain the reasoning behind the decision and the magnitude of the defeat for the I.R.S. Unless the case is reversed on appeal, the decision invalidates the I.R.S. position announced in Rev. Rul 91-32.

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Tax 101: Taxation of Intellectual Property – Selected Issues Involving Corporations and Partnerships

Tax 101: Taxation of Intellectual Property – Selected Issues Involving Corporations and Partnerships

Tax 101 continues its series regarding the U.S. Federal tax considerations involving the creation, acquisition, use, license, and disposition of intellectual property (“I.P.”).  This month, Elizabeth V. Zanet and Stanley C. Ruchelman focus on I.P. held through a corporation or a partnership/L.L.C.  In particular, the not-well-understood rules regarding the sale of interests in a partnerships/L.L.C.’s owning “hot assets” are explained.  Not all gain benefits from favorable long-term capital gains tax rates.

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Sale of a Partnership Interest by a Foreign Partner – Is Rev. Rul. 91-32 Based on Law or Administrative Wishes?

Sale of a Partnership Interest by a Foreign Partner – Is Rev. Rul. 91-32 Based on Law or Administrative Wishes?

The I.R.S. has a long history in misapplying U.S. tax rules applicable to a sale of a partnership interest.  For U.S. tax purposes, a partnership interest is treated as an asset separate and apart from an indirect interest in partnership assets.  In Rev. Rul. 91-32, the I.R.S. misinterpreted case law and Code provisions to conclude that gains derived by foreign investors in U.S. partnerships are subject to tax.  No one thought the I.R.S. position was correct, but then, in a field advice to an agent setting up an adjustment, the I.R.S. publicly stated that the ruling was a proper application of U.S. law when issued and remains so today. The adjustment was challenged in the Tax Court, and the tax bar is eagerly awaiting a decision.  Stanley C. Ruchelman and Beate Erwin examine the I.R.S. position, the string of losses encountered by the I.R.S. when challenged by taxpayers, and the Grecian Magnesite case awaiting decision.

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Property Contributions to Partnerships with Related Foreign Partners

The Tax Section of the American Bar Association recently commented on a set of proposed rules that appear in Notice 2015-54.  When adopted, these rules would limit the ability of U.S. persons to transfer appreciated property to a partnership in a tax-free transaction when the partnership has a non-U.S. person as a partner.  The I.R.S. is concerned that through special allocations of gain, built-in appreciation in contributed assets may escape taxation.  The Tax Section makes a case for additional guidance concerning the methods proposed to eliminate that result.  Philip R. Hirschfeld and Nina Krauthamer discuss the I.R.S. proposal and A.B.A. comments.

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A Concise Guide to Acquisition Vehicles for Purchase of U.S. Real Estate by Foreign Individuals

Question: How many ways are there to structure an investment in U.S. real property by a foreign person? Answer: Many. Nina Krauthamer describes five.

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Partnership Tax Traps and Recent Guidance

At the end of 2015, the I.R.S. issued a notice designed to limit the instances in which contributions of property to foreign partnerships benefit from nonrecognition of gain. In January, the I.R.S. came under pressure to modify its announced position in final regulations that are currently being developed. Philip R. Hirschfeld explains.

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Congress Enacts Sweeping New Partnership Audit Rules

Partnerships owning real estate or other assets sometimes take aggressive tax positions that may invite I.R.S. scrutiny. Philip R. Hirschfeld and Nina Krauthamer explain the new partnership audit rules enacted by Congress in November as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. With limited exception, partnerships will become liable for tax increases arising from audit adjustments. This treatment raises the importance of tax indemnities when partnership interests are acquired.

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Russian Recovery Fund v. U.S.

For many tax advisers, it is fashionable to complain about the O.E.C.D.’s B.E.P.S. project because it imposes an unrealistic standard of behavior on multinational groups. Then, along comes a case such as Russian Recovery Fund, Ltd. v. U.S. and one understands the problem of real base erosion.  The case involved a distressed asset/debt (D.A.D.) transaction. Here, hubris and greed in the financial services sector team up to make the O.E.C.D. look good.

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I.R.S. Proposed New Partnership Rules Under Code §956

The I.R.S. recently released temporary and proposed regulations to limit the use of foreign partnerships to avoid income inclusions under Code §956. The Temporary Regulations are more limited in their scope while the Proposed Regulations are quite broad. If finalized in the current form, the Proposed Regulations would cause most C.F.C. loans to partnerships with related U.S. partners to be investments in U.S. property.

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Notice 2015-54 on Reallocation to Foreign Partners – The Beginning of the End?

We address the I.R.S.’s latest attempt to shut down schemes to avoid U.S. taxation by cracking down on what some may have considered a loop-hole under applicable partnership rules. In Notice 2015-54, 2015-34 IRB 210 (8/06/2015), the I.R.S. announced that it intends to issue regulations that would change the nonrecognition rules on certain property contributions to partnerships and L.L.C.’s with foreign partners. The new regulations would require that income or gain attributable to property be taken into account by the U.S. transferor, either immediately or periodically. Regulations would also be issued under §§482 and 6662 of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) that apply to controlled transactions involving partnerships to ensure appropriate valuation of such transactions.

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Purchasing a Partnership/LLC Interest: Tax Tip #2 – Code Section 754 Election

Published by the American Bar Association in the Real Property Trust & Estate eReport, August 2015.

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U.S. Taxation of Carried Interest

Favorable long-term capital gains tax treatment for managers of hedge funds has been under attack by the Obama Administration. While the industry defended itself from outright changes to favorable tax treatment, the I.R.S. recently proposed to disallow favorable treatment where a manager’s right to payments bears no entrepreneurial risk. Nina Krauthamer, Philip R. Hirschfeld, and Kenneth Lobo explain.

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