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Have You Inherited a P.F.I.C.? – What it Means to Be a U.S. Beneficiary

Have You Inherited a P.F.I.C.? – What it Means to Be a U.S. Beneficiary

In today’s global environment, it is not surprising to find that a beneficiary of a foreign estate or trust is living in the U.S. An interest in a foreign trust can be problematic for the beneficiary if the foreign trust invests through a foreign “blocker” corporation that holds passive assets (such as publicly traded stocks and securities) or a foreign mutual fund. These companies can stumble into P.F.I.C. categorization for U.S. tax purposes, which yields sub-optimal tax consequences for the U.S. beneficiary. Rusudan Shervashidze and Nina Krauthamer break down the U.S. tax rules that make a foreign corporation a P.F.I.C., the various ways in which a U.S. investor in a P.F.I.C. will be taxed, and the reporting obligations that are imposed on the U.S. investor in a P.F.I.C.

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Good News for REITs Investing in Non-US Real Estate

Good News for REITs Investing in Non-US Real Estate

Published in the GGi Insider, No. 88, March 2017 (p. 44).

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The Peripatetic Client: What to Expect When a Foreign Settlor Becomes a U.S. Tax Resident

Published in GGi Insider No. 81, January 2016 (p.35).

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Proposed P.F.I.C. Exception Regulations Detrimental to Foreign Insurers

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.

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Anti-Deferral Regimes: U.S. Taxation of Foreign Corporations

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When a U.S. business expands abroad, it is frequently believed that the income of foreign subsidiary corporations will not be taxed in the U.S. until dividends are distributed to the U.S. shareholder. This is known as tax deferral, which is the general expectation of clients. However, in the U.S., tax deferral may be overridden by provisions accelerating the imposition of U.S. tax on U.S. shareholders of foreign corporations. As a result, income may be taxed before a dividend is distributed. This article describes the anti-deferral provisions of U.S. tax law that may be applicable in certain situations.

ANTI-DEFERRAL REGIMES

The Internal Revenue Code contains two principal anti-deferral regimes that may impose tax on a U.S. taxpayer on a current basis when its foreign subsidiaries generate income. These provisions reflect a policy under which Congress believes the deferral rules are being abused to inappropriately defer U.S. tax, especially if foreign tax is not imposed for one reason or another. The two regimes are the:

  • Controlled Foreign Corporation (“C.F.C.”) regime under Code §§951-964, also known as the “Subpart F” provisions; and
  • Passive Foreign Investment Company (“P.F.I.C.”) regime under Code §§1291-1298.

Controlled Foreign Corporations

Under Code §957(a), a foreign corporation is a C.F.C. if stock representing more than 50% of either the total combined voting power or the total value of shares is owned, directly, indirectly, or by attribution, by “U.S. Shareholders” on any day during the foreign corporation’s taxable year. With respect to a foreign corporation, a U.S. Shareholder is defined as a “U.S. person” that owns, under the foregoing expanded ownership rules, stock representing 10% or more of the total voting power of all classes of the foreign corporation’s stock that is entitled to vote. A “U.S. person” includes a U.S. citizen or resident, a U.S. corporation, a U.S. partnership, a domestic trust, and a domestic estate. Stock ownership includes indirect and constructive ownership under the rules of Code §958. Consequently, ownership can be attributed, inter alia, from foreign corporations to shareholders, from one family member to another, and from trusts and estates to beneficiaries, legatees, and heirs.