Wealth & Risk Management Blog

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on November 18, 2019


Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Spring (January) semester for the transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

Final 401(k) Hardship Distribution Rules Take Effect January 1, 2020

Plan participants and sponsors should note that the final regulations governing 401(k) hardship distributions take effect in 2020. As of 2020, participants who take a hardship distribution must now be permitted to continue to make deferrals within the six months following the hardship distribution. While some aspects of the new rules are optional, this new requirement is mandatory with respect to qualified plans. For more information on hardship distributions, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Releases Proposed Regs on Accounting for Advance Payments

The IRS has released proposed regulations implementing changes made by the 2017 tax reform legislation that impact the tax treatment of advance payments. The regulations generally adopt the rules contained in Revenue Procedure 2004-34— the approach in place prior to tax reform. For more information on the tax treatment of advance payments, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS FAQ Provides for Specific Identification in Transactions Involving Virtual Currency

The recently released FAQ on the tax treatment of virtual currency confirms that transactions in bitcoin and other forms of virtual currency will be taxed as transactions in property. The guidance goes further and answers the question of whether taxpayers should identify particular virtual currency that is part of a transaction. For more information on the tax treatment of bitcoin, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Comments and Recommendations to the OECD Proposal for a “Unified Approach” under Pillar One

Posted by William Byrnes on November 15, 2019


Excerpt from SSRN here: A withholding based system will not be trapped in the tar pit of formation and implementation in the development of a new international tax regime, thereafter mired in the lack of institutional knowledge and capacity of resources for audit and MAP. A withholding based system offers a contrasted simplicity in relation to its implementation, including: (a) better procedural certainty for taxpayer and tax authority based upon current withholding regimes for services, (b) better revenue estimation for tax authorities, (c) less complex and expensive audits by tax authorities of taxpayers, (d) better tax risk management for taxpayers, (e) an established procedural system for relief of double taxation, and finally, (f) less cause for requiring MAP. Among proposals most likely to congeal into a uniform approach by March 2020, a withholding based system already has numerous adherents representing various economic strata.  Read the complete Excerpt from SSRN here

Thus, rather than running away from a withholding based system into a ‘brave new world’, the OECD should embrace it and shape its current contours of definitional income and source issues and range of rates. Thereafter, the respective OECD and UN committees may leverage economic theory and regulatory impact analyses, as was done in 1923, to modulate the withholding based system via the inclusive process of the OECD and UN MTCs while working within the context of the ALP bedrock of the OECD and UN TPGs to address Article 7 and Article 9 allocation issues resulting from intangible-based residual. Read the complete Excerpt from SSRN here

Posted in international taxation, OECD, Transfer Pricing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Brand Rights: What type of taxable income? Royalties or Business Income?

Posted by William Byrnes on November 13, 2019


The Tax Court recently decided a case, Slaughter v. Comm’r (find all the citations in 1 Taxation of Intellectual Property § 1.06 (2019), involving annual royalty payments to an author wherein the IRS argued that instead of treating the payments as royalties that are not subject to self-employment and Medicare tax, the payments should be treated as net earnings from self-employment. The dispute that the Tax Court faced was whether there is a distinction, for self-employment tax purposes, between an author’s royalty income derived from her writing and any royalty income derived from her name and likeness. The author contends that one portion of her royalty payments is derived from her writing, which is a trade or business, and that another portion is derived, not from her writing, but rather solely from her name and likeness which are personal attributes which are not part of any trade or business. The IRS argued that the entire payments the author received from her publishing contracts were derived from her trade or business as an author, thus subject to self-employment tax.

To provide context to the dispute, Karin Slaughter is a bestselling crime author: over 35 million books sold in 37 languages. The Tax Court stated the following details of her publishing contract are standard in the publishing industry. Her contracting publishers receive more than just the right to print, publish, distribute, sell, and license the works and manuscripts written, or to be written. The publisher also secures the right to use the author’s name and likeness in advertising, promotion, and publicity for the contracted works. The author is required to provide photos and be available for promotional activities. The contracts include noncompete clauses that vary in scope, from requiring that the specified manuscript be completed before others, to prohibiting the author from entry into another contract until her writing obligations are met. Publishers also secure the right to advertise other works in the author’s books, qualified by the requirement that the author’s consent to the specific advertisements. Several of the contracts allow for, but do not require, a share of advertising proceeds to be paid to the author as a condition of her consent. Finally, the contracts include an exclusive option for the respective publisher to negotiate the contract for the author’s next works.

The author also receives more than just her advances and royalties. For instance, some contracts include a marketing guaranty requiring the publisher to spend a minimum amount on marketing for the author’s books. Although the publishers fund the marketing plan, the author’s agent retains the authority over its development. Another example is the author’s option to purchase the publisher’s plates at a reduced cost for any book that goes out of print and that the publisher refuses to reissue or license. In that instance, the rights in the work also revert to the author.

On her Federal income tax returns, the author deducted as a business expense the cost of leasing a vehicle to attend media interviews and promotional events. She also deducted the cost of hosting her own promotional events. For marketing purposes, many of her meetings were scheduled in New York City. While there, the author often attended meetings, conducted media interviews, and participated in publishing industry events such as trade shows. During the years in the issue she also met with a fellow writer to collaborate on a script for a possible television series. To facilitate her various activities, the petitioner rented an apartment in New York City and deducted the rent. Petitioner also deducted the cost of business gifts to agents, editors, publishers, and others.

The authors income grew eightfold due to her brand as an author. That brand is monetized by the author’s ability to attract and engage readers, speak in front of a crowd, and recommend other authors within her publishing house. Petitioner’s promotional activities and writing have created a very successful brand and body of work. In petitioner’s case, her brand includes her name and likeness as well as her reputation, goodwill, and existing readership. She maintains contact with her readership through social media, websites, and a newsletter.

The author’s advisors concluded that any amount paid to the author for the use of her name and likeness was “investment income,” i.e., payment for an intangible asset beyond that of her trade or business as an author. The author’s name is a brand.  The author’s expert concluded that the actual writing of a manuscript is but a small percentage of the value a publisher seeks from an author. An author’s work may sell on the basis of the author’s name and readers’ expectations for a particular kind of story, rather than for the quality of the writing. Thus, the author contended that the amount paid for her writing is what a publisher would pay a nonbrand author, and the residual amount is a separate and distinct payment for her brand.

The Tax Court held that the author’s brand became part of her trade or business. The Tax Court focused on the following elements of her behavior. The author was engaged in developing her brand with continuity and regularity. The author set out in a businesslike fashion to obtain stationery, a reputable agent, and a publishing contract. The author worked with a media coach and publishers to develop a successful brand. She has spent time meeting with publishers, agents, media contacts, and others to protect and further her status as a brand author. She attended interviews and promotional events and works to develop and maintain good relationships with booksellers and librarians. The author uses social media, websites, and a newsletter to maintain her brand with her readership. The Tax Court noted that royalties earned from her brand are not solely a result of her publishers’ actions.

The Tax Court then turned the fact that the author deducted advertising costs, the cost of a car used, in part, to attend promotional activities around Atlanta, and gifts sent to her contacts in the publishing world. Such expenses, stated the Tax Court, demonstrate that petitioner’s trade or business extends beyond writing to its promotion. If the author takes such promotion and brand-related expenditures on her Schedule C trade or business expenses, then the income derived from the brand to which those expenses relate must also be trade or business income. The Tax Court found on behalf of the IRS.

The Tax Court stated that there was not a particular case on point regarding an author’s income from the business of writing and that attaching to royalties for the sales of an author’s books. The Tax Court distinguished other cases decided in favor of the taxpayer regarding athletes and image rights, albeit these cases arguably are applicable to Karen Slaughter’s situation. For example, in Garcia v. Comm’r, the issues were to what extent to which payments made to the taxpayer under the endorsement agreement were compensation for the performance of the taxpayer’s personal services and the extent to which the payments were royalties for the use of the taxpayer’s image rights. The Tax Court stated that

Courts have repeatedly characterized payments for the right to use a person’s name and likeness as royalties because the person has an ownership interest in the right.”

The Court therein cited Goosen v. Comm’r that the characterization of a taxpayer’s endorsement fees and bonuses depends on whether the sponsors primarily paid for the taxpayer’s services, for the use of the taxpayer’s name and likeness, or for both. The court held that the payments made by the company were allocated 65 percent to royalties and 35 percent to personal services.

In Kramer v. Comm’r, the Tax Court found that royalties paid primarily for the grant of the exclusive right to use the taxpayer’s name to sell sports equipment, and only secondarily for the personal services rendered by taxpayer under the royalty contract. Herein the Tax Court concluded that commercial success for sales upon which the royalty income derives depended upon accompanying aggressive promotional activities. For Mr. Kramer, the Tax Court concluded that only the portion of the royalties that reflected compensation for the personal services constituted “earned income.” In Boulez v. Comm’r, the Tax Court said if a taxpayer has an ownership interest in the property whose licensing or sale gives rise to the income, then that income should be characterized as a royalty as opposed to personal service income. Therein the Tax Court cited the Fifth Circuit decision of Patterson v. Texas Co, wherein the Court of Appeals adopted the definition of a “royalty” as

“a share of the product or profit reserved by the owner for permitting another to use the property.”

The Slaughter case is ripe for appeal. The weight of jurisprudence perhaps rests on the author’s side regarding whether the royalties should be apportioned and that a portion derives from her brand rights that are not personal service income. Like for the tennis star Mr. Kramer, aggressive promotional activities are necessary to grow the sales of the product. There can be no brand, such as a trademark, without promotion of it. But the promotional activities are not the business of the author but rather those of the publishing company to sell books.

Yet, the weight of the facts perhaps rest on the side of the IRS. If the author’s accountants claimed the full amount of the expenses, such as for the New York apartment, on the author’s Schedule C as a trade or business expense, then correspondingly, as the Tax Court presents, income associated with those expenses is also Schedule C. It does not appear that the accountants undertook any diligence, by example not reading the contracts and not seeking any support records for the guestimate by the author of her time apportionment. It does not appear the accountants undertook any research and analysis other than to dismiss that any cases applied. It does not appear that the accountants undertook any planning research, or at least, the author rejected paying for such advice because it is common practice for authors, artists, and athletes of this income level to operate via a Sub S corporation or LLC. The pass-through business is a well-understood mechanism for mitigating Medicare tax, though with its own host of issues regarding compensation versus distributions.

For more analysis and coverage on this and other related issues, see William Byrnes’ treatise Taxation of Intellectual Property and Technology (2020 edition), a 1,000-page analytical treatise to the federal tax consequences of the development, purchase, sale and licensing of intellectual properties and intangibles.  Primary author William Byrnes leads a team of America’s leading tax senior counsel to analyze tax risk challenges for business and investment decisions concerning intellectual property, technology, intangibles, and the digital economy.

Nine seats remain for the Spring (4 teams of 3 students each) to join the current 4 teams January 13 – April 20 semester for the TRANSFER PRICING course taught by Dr. Lorraine Eden, Prof. William Byrnes, TP Aggiesand several industry experts. The courses count toward the INTERNATIONAL TAX online Master curriculum of Texas A&M for tax attorneys, accountants, and economists. Taught live twice weekly using Zoom involving teams working to design positions and solutions for real-world post-BEPS client studies each week, supported by originally authored materials, videos and audio casts, PPTs, and a robust online law & business database library.  For more information, contact Texas A&M Admissions https://info.law.tamu.edu/international-tax

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Release of Taxation of IP & Technology Update for 2020

Posted by William Byrnes on November 11, 2019


Taxation of Intellectual Property and Technology 2020 edition is a 1,000 page analytical treatise to the federal tax consequences of the development, purchase, sale and licensing of intellectual properties and intangibles.  Primary author William Byrnes leads a team of America’s leading tax senior counsel to analyze tax risk challenges for business and investment decisions concerning intellectual property, technology, intangibles, and the digital economy. This 2020 update published in November (next update published in June 2020) contains:

  • Expands this treatise beyond 1,000 pages of analysis and planning research.
  • Provides in-depth analysis of the 2019 final and proposed regulations that impact intellectual property and intangibles, including GILTI and FDII.
  • Analyzes the new Cloud Computing Regulations.
  • Expanded analysis of the 2018 Supreme Court Wayfarer decision and its impact on interstate digital business models and trademark holding companies.
  • Analysis of several 2019 decisions cases including AmazonAlteraSlaughterhouse.

Major revisions this update, by chapter, include:

  • GILTI regulations. The final and newly proposed GILTI regs are analyzed in depth in § 2.04[8].
  • FDII regulations. The proposed regulations are explained in depth in § 2.04[9].
  • Cloud Computing Regulations. The proposed regulations are explained in depth in § 2.05[3] and § 10.02[2][c][iii][G].
  • International Transactions. Chapter 12 has been substantially revised and additional analysis of the Service Regulations as well as the Cost Sharing Regulations in light of Amazon and Altera.
  • Economic presence tax nexus and digital services tax. See analysis within Chapters § 11.09, § 14.07[6] and § 15.05[1].
  • Wayfarer’s Impact. On taxation of holding companies, see § 4.06. On tax nexus and sales tax, see Chapter § 11.04.
  • Taxation of Emerging Technologies for Cloud Computing, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence. See Chapter § 10.02[2][c].
  • Slaughter v Comm’r. IRS argued that the author’s promotion for the publisher which builds her brand is her trade or business and thus her royalties are net earnings from self-employment. Analyzed and critiqued in Chapter § 1.06[4].

New domestic and internationally focused chapters are in development by treatise author Prof. William Byrnes (Texas A&M Law) for 2020, including on the valuation of intangibles, tax considerations for entrepreneurs, and country analysis chapters. His team of internationally recognized expert practitioners provide strategic and tax risk analysis: Carlos Perez Gautrin, Yair Holtzman, Iselle Coronado-Torres, Jeffrey Trey, Arinjay Kumar Jain, Leonardo Macedo, Venetia Argyropoulou, Pamela Ann Fuller, William Seeger, Lucia Valenzuela, and Charles Lincoln. Please contact William Byrnes with chapter proposals. Taxation of Intellectual Property Publication Update (2019)

Nine seats remain for the Spring (4 teams of 3 students each) to join the current 4 teams January 13 – April 20 semester for TRANSFER PRICING course taught by Dr. Lorraine Eden, Prof. William Byrnes, TP Aggiesand several industry experts. The courses count toward the INTERNATIONAL TAX online Master curriculum of Texas A&M for tax attorneys, accountants, and economists. Taught live twice weekly using Zoom involving teams working to design positions and solutions for real-world post-BEPS client studies each week, supported by originally authored materials, videos and audio casts, PPTs, and a robust online law & business database library.  For more information, contact Texas A&M Admissions https://info.law.tamu.edu/international-tax

Posted in book, Taxation, Transfer Pricing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on November 9, 2019


2020’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Spring (January) semester for the transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

199A Rental Real Estate Safe Harbor Excludes Certain Businesses

Not all taxpayers will be able to take advantage of the Section 199A safe harbor for rental real estate. While the safe harbor does apply to residential rental real estate, taxpayers are not entitled to rely upon the safe harbor if the taxpayer uses the property as a residence during the tax year. Notably, if the real estate is rented or leased under a triple net lease, the safe harbor remains unavailable under the final rule. When satisfying the “hours of rental real estate services” criteria, only certain activities are counted toward the 250-hour threshold. Activities such as rent collection, advertising the rental, property maintenance, negotiating leases and managing the real property generally count toward the threshold. However, the taxpayer’s activities as an “investor” are not counted. Similarly, if any property within the rental real estate enterprise is classified as a specified service trade or business, the safe harbor is unavailable for the entire business. For more information on the final safe harbor rule, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

DOL Proposes New Electronic Disclosure Rules for Pension Plans

In response to the Trump administration’s executive order, the DOL has proposed a safe harbor rule that would allow pension plans to satisfy disclosure obligations electronically. As currently proposed, the rule only applies to pension plans. It would allow plan sponsors to email required documents to participants, beneficiaries and any other individuals entitled to receive disclosures–so long as the individual has provided an email address (which can be a work email address). Any documents required under Title I of ERISA could be furnished electronically, including notices of material modification or blackout notices, except for documents that must be furnished upon request. While employers are not yet entitled to rely upon this rule until it is finalized, it provides important insight into potential future developments surrounding pension disclosure obligations. For more information on the requirements that apply to pension plans, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

District Court Rules Small Business Qualified Retirement Plan Not Exempt in Bankruptcy

While 401(k) funds are generally exempt from a bankruptcy debtor’s estate, a recent district court ruling highlights a situation where a small business owner may lose the exemption. In this case, the taxpayer maintained a pension plan pursuant to a prototype plan document offered by his financial institution that had been approved via an IRS opinion letter, as is commonly the case. The court, however, found that amendments to the prototype plan document rendered the opinion invalid. Further, it found that the plan inappropriately benefitted the taxpayer and his spouse, rather than providing benefits to employees, in violation of IRS nondiscrimination rules. Because of this, the plan was deemed to be disqualified despite the fact that the taxpayer relied upon advisors to manage the plan. Because the taxpayer was owner of the small business responsible for the plan, he was deemed to be materially responsible for the qualification failure, therefore causing the plan assets to lose the typically available bankruptcy exemption. The court noted that this probably wouldn’t have been the case if the taxpayer had been an employee participating in a non-qualified plan. For more information on the treatment of 401(k) assets in bankruptcy, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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Transfer Pricing case studies based course Jan 13 – Apr 20 (Zoom based, small team groups)

Posted by William Byrnes on November 7, 2019


Nine seats remain for the Spring (4 teams of 3 students each) to join the current 4 teams January 13 – April 20 semester for TRANSFER PRICING taught by Dr. Lorraine Eden, Prof. William Byrnes, TP Aggiesand several industry experts. The courses count toward the INTERNATIONAL TAX online Master curriculum of Texas A&M for tax attorneys, accountants, and economists. Taught live twice weekly using Zoom involving teams working to design positions and solutions for real-world post-BEPS client studies each week, supported by originally authored materials, videos and audio casts, PPTs, and a robust online law & business database library.  For more information, contact Texas A&M Admissions https://info.law.tamu.edu/international-tax

Texas A&M Law offers the premier online program in international tax with a multidisciplinary, risk-management-focused approach. Our unique, industry-based online curriculum is vetted by and focuses on the needs of multinational corporations, large firms and governments. A degree from Texas A&M University, a Tier-1 research institution and one of the largest U.S. public universities, is recognized worldwide. Texas A&M’s online International Tax Program is specifically designed for tax professionals, both lawyers and non-lawyers, whose careers demand an understanding of international taxation and related issues.  For more information, contact Texas A&M Admissions https://info.law.tamu.edu/international-tax

The International Tax graduate program is an online, 24 or 30 credit hour graduate degree that can be completed in less than two years. The degree program offers a competitive advantage to any tax professional, including lawyers, accountants, finance executives and economists, that advises multinational clients on business and investment, or that works within a tax (risk management) department.

    • Industry-Responsive Curriculum:  A tax-risk management approach with a focus on tax data management and risk analysis based on the results of in-depth industry research.
      • Hanover Research, on behalf of Texas A&M, interviewed one-on-one and then validated by anonymous survey over 100 tax executives from multinational corporations, large firms and government. As a result, the program is designed with faculty and degree candidates that are multidisciplinary, including both tax lawyers and non-lawyer tax professionals, engaged together in teams.
    • Incredible Student Experience:  Texas A&M law offers small class sizes to ensure each student gets personal attention. These small class sizes allow ​you to forge strong connections with your classmates and to learn from each other’s experiences.
    • Faculty Expertise & Leadership:  The curriculum has been developed and is led by Professor William Byrnes, an international tax authority and globally recognized online education pioneer focused on student outcomes. The program’s faculty are multidisciplinary (e.g. lawyers, economists, accountants, data scientists) and include renowned authors, academics, tax executives of multinational corporations, and tax advisors from large firms.

Posted in Courses, international taxation, Transfer Pricing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Battle to Legalize Marijuana Comes Down to Tax Deductions and the 16th Amendment

Posted by William Byrnes on November 6, 2019


Every day I comb through my Law360 Tax Authority list of articles in order to update one of my tax treatises.  I found a really interesting one though today for my Money Laundering treatise.  It’s about fitting an elephant through a keyhole.  With enough pressure, it can be done, but by breaking down the entire door.  The case is Northern California Small Business Assistants Inc. v. Commissioner, 153 T.C. No. 4 (Oct. 23, 2019).  The Law360 Tax Authority analysis is here: https://www.law360.com/articles/1215134/tax-court-decision-may-open-up-new-challenges-to-280e

My commentary this week… (well, it will be for a debate in my Spring Fed Income Tax course actually)

Of course, it’s not a violation of 8th because not a penalty, albeit I appreciate the (losing) argument.  Yet, at this stage, cross-aisle agree both federal Cannabis-leaf-hempand state, marijuana, at least at defined dosages, it is more like Valium on Schedule IV then Vicodin Schedule II.  The Schedules allow for dosage amounts. Only ardent prohibitionists I think (I am no expert) want the Schedule I classification to remain.  I am sure state leaders, the financial industry (because of the AML provisions of the BSA), the IRS, and the AG industry want it reduced to at least Schedule II but preferably Schedule IV where it belongs.  Or break it up by THC levels into Sch II, III, and IV.

But I think that the DEA is the real problem. I do not understand why the DEA will not remove marijuana from the blacklist (Schedule I) unless the DEA needs it on Schedule I to maintain its significant funding for global marijuana crop eradication programs because govt agencies never shrink themselves by giving up jurisdiction or budget. But I do not believe that the FDA, HHS, et al who inform the DEA want to keep it at Schedule I.  Read the DEA’s current policy regarding CBD and THC-Cannabis.  The medical pharmacological evidence is building of the benefits for various ailments, see the 2017 National Institutes of Health meta analysis (Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting).  All pharma has side effects so the fact that some participants who ingested the THC Cannabis (“got high”) reported being dizzy is very mild (‘don’t operate heavy machinery or drive’ warning labels mandatory). Prolonged and heavy use of any pharma, any drug like caffeine (of which I have much experience, but not willing to kick the habit yet) and alcohol, is probably going to be harmful to very harmful to just out-right early death.  I am not saying something new – everyone in the debate already knows all the arguments for and against.  So it’s either the teetotaler lobby, the DEA not wanting to give up ‘the war against marijuana”, or a combination, keeping marijuana on Schedule I.

So lots of pressure on Treasury to fix two insurmountable issues to marijuana state-licensed businesses from being federally legit and compliant. The BSA problem for AML compliance (keeps this a cash business) and the IRC 280E problem (makes marijuana industry a federal tax evader or unprofitable because effective rates of taxation of state and federal are in many cases greater than 100% of net income).  And Treasury wants to fix it.  But its hands are technically tied because the DEA will not delist marijuana from Schedule I.  That forces 280E and AML rules to kick in.  I’d be happy for Treasury to ignore the law but it’s too dangerous for Treasury or any agency to pick and choose what laws to adhere to. Of course, the discretion of enforcement is a totally different issue.

The AML issue Treasury issued, albeit the former prohibitionist AG basically said DOJ is not playing ball, a soft guidance explaining to banks how to distinguish good and bad marijuana dollars (the Marijuana SAR guidance). (See marijuana SAR results for 2018) For 280E though, Treasury would need to tell the IRS to ignore 280E marijuana stated licensed businesses fraudulent filed returns to circumvent the prohibition of deductions.  It would be really hard to administer the audits.

If Treasury cannot do it, but wants to do it, that leaves the Tax Court.  The Tax Court judges have over the past two years have concluded that marijuana should be removed from Schedule I so that 280E is not an issue.  In this case, once again the conclusion is:

“Congress, rather than this Court, is the proper body to redress petitioner’s grievances. We are constrained by the law, and Congress has not carved out an exception in section 280E for businesses that operate lawfully under State law.”

It’s only doing so because the IRS Counsel (must I think) express this in arguments to the Court, begging the Court for a way out of this mess. So the Tax Court has written that Congress or an agency needs to fix the problem.  It hasn’t been fixed.   And then this case where a powerful voice on the Tax Court said to the DEA and Congress: ‘do not force us to rectify the problem because you are not going to like the theoretical hoop we must jump through to do it.’

So, the theoretical argument that could gain some traction about the denial of all deductions by 280E is that it imposes the tax rate (say 37%) on revenue which may violate the intention of the 16th Amendment.  This is what Gustafon is musing about at page 23. I agree.

At page 26 the point is driven home (pun coming..):

Very different would be an attempt by Congress to tax gross proceeds from the sale of a capital asset, without allowing a taxpayer to account for his “basis” in the property in calculating his taxable gain.”

So imagine Congress imposes the ordinary tax rate on the sale price of an individual taxpayer’s sale of the home.  Say 37% on $500,000.  Taxpayer not allowed the basis reduction of the acquisition cost of $450,000 three years ago.  TP owes $185,000 tax (and also the additional 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax), on the $50,000 – expenses of the transaction gain.  Of course, this is absurd because property requires financing and the remaining would be less than any mortgage secured loan.  Same scenario but now shares in Apple bought at $220 last year by our home owing taxpayer and 13 months later sold for $250.  Economic collapse.  TP rebellion.  Not a pretty civil scenario.

Well, 280E does not deny deductions for the cost of goods (of the narcotics like marijuana or heroin – I do not think marijuana should be a black-listed scheduled narcotic).  But why not?  Because, simply put, an ‘income’ tax on business ‘income’ should be imposed on the ‘income’ and not on the revenue which is not a business’ income.  A tax imposed on a business revenue is something other than an ‘income tax’.  Excise tax maybe, but not an income tax.  See Judge Gustafson explain this at page 26-27.

Likewise, a congressional attempt to tax the gross receipts of a business engaged in sales should fail. A taxpayer who purchased 100 widgets at a cost of $10 each and sold them at a price of $9 each would have gross receipts or sales of $900, which after being reduced by the “cost of goods sold” (“COGS”) of $1,000 (analogous to basis in the Blackacre example) would yield a loss of $100. Given that obvious loss, Congress could not tax the gross receipts of $900 as if it were “income”. Rather, as the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has explained: “To ensure taxation of income rather than sales, the ‘cost of goods sold’ is a mandatory exclusion from the calculation of a taxpayer’s gross income.””

Can Congress levy a tax on revenue under the 16th?  We know the answer is no because that is why COG is allowed to be above the line to derive an income, and then 280E applies.  Well settled.  See page 27.

The taxation of “income” must take account of the “basis” in a capital asset and of the COGS of inventory–not merely as an exercise of “legislative grace” but as mandatory under the Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution.”

So some expenses are allowed being COG, and other, operating expenses, not allowed.  Already 280E is in a quagmire of discriminating between good and bad expenses to fit into the 16th.  Thus, the Tax Court could force a bushel of marijuana through a 280E keyhole using the pressure of the 16th Amend if it must to deal with this situation.  Gustafson’s push through the keyhole is the second part of his sentence highlighted below at page 29.

“Congress taxes something other than a taxpayer’s “income” when it taxes gross receipts without accounting for basis or COGS--and, I would hold, when it taxes gross receipts without accounting for the ordinary and necessary expenses that are incurred in the course of business and must be paid before one can be said to have gain.”

The argument requires stretching the keyhole with a lot of 16th Amend pressure (though I personally quite like the 16th argument) and Appellate Circuits may want to keep the keyhole rather small and deflate that pressure.  But I think that the 1st, 9th, and 10th judges have to live in states where education or other government funding is significantly helped by the state-legal licensed marijuana industry.  Judges look at neighbor farmers who cannot sell to China about to go belly up with their grains and soybean – where marijuana can save the farm.  I have no litigation or controversy experience but I imagine some Appellate judges know these situations from reading or table talk.

So if the stretch of the 280E keyhole is not totally implausible by using the 16th Amend, a panel may just agree to send a message like the Tax Court to the DEA and failing that, Congress.  Anyway, the Supremes can sort out the ramifications of using the 16th to stretch the 280E keyhole.  And by that time, maybe the DEA did what the public pressure wants it to do, and is the right thing to do based on medical evidence being generated, move marijuana, based on amount of THC, to the relevant schedules of II through IV.

Anyway, my take on this case.  Look forward to our Spring debate.

Posted in Courses, Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

William Byrnes joins SDG project for taxation supported by the UN’s International Tax Committee

Posted by William Byrnes on October 29, 2019


William Byrnes of Texas A&M University’s Law School was invited to participate in the October 2019 4-day session of the United Nations’ International Tax Committee of Experts at its Geneva HQ2 followed by the day-long session of the international tax committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (the “ICC”), as well as the April 2019 UN international tax committee meeting in New York.

“150 plus countries, led by China, India, and Brazil, that are not members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (the “OECD”) which is led by the G7, have found their voice and are shaking up the international system for taxing business income,” said William Byrnes.

William Byrnes UN credentials

“At the United Nations Committee meetings, the future sharing of corporate profits among trading nations is being decided, from old industries such as Oil & Gas, to new ones such as digital advertising, big data, and cloud storage,” continued Byrnes. “Texas A&M Law, through my work with Dr. Lorraine Eden, is one of a very few public research institutions with a seat at the proverbial table, which I think is a testament to the impact of our research and mutual reputation.”

“Last October Dr. Lorraine Eden and I were invited to present our research on government tax agreements to the UN’s UNCTAD World Investment Forum, attended by over 4,000 national and industry leaders.  That event started a conversation that led to an invitation to the sustainable development goals for taxation conference sponsored by the University of Barcelona in collaboration with the UN, the OECD, the Spain and Netherlands Tax Authority, the Inter-American Center of Tax Administrations, and the Conféderation Fiscale Européenne.”

“I learned at this meeting that I have been appointed as a research scholar to the project of the 2030 Addis Ababa Sustainable Development Goals for the area of taxation, which is supported by the UN International Tax Committee and led by Prof. Eva Andrés Aucejo of the University of Barcelona,” shared William Byrnes.  “The team members will begin our research for an international tax cooperation convention that may be discussed among countries seeking a sustainable balance among capital exporter and importer countries, natural resource rich countries, entrepreneur countries, and market countries.”

Posted in international taxation, OECD | Leave a Comment »

State Aid: What is the Arm’s Length Return for Starbucks Netherlands?

Posted by William Byrnes on October 28, 2019


For the complete paper see https://ssrn.com/abstract=3464990

The crux of the legal issue is the EU Commission’s contention, required as the third Starbucks_Coffee_Logo.svgcondition for a finding of State aid, that the Netherlands-Starbucks APA conferred a selective advantage on Starbucks’ Netherlands manufacturing subsidiary (SMBV, aka the “roasting operation”) that resulted in a lowering of SMBV’s tax liability in the Netherlands as compared with what SMBV would have paid under the Netherlands’ general corporate income tax system dealing with third parties.

And the crux of the dispute that determines the legal issue outcome is whose choice of transfer pricing method (the Commission or The Netherlands/Starbucks) is the most reliable.

However, the most interesting aspect of the controversy is how to allocate the residual between SMBV and Starbucks intermediary IP management limited partnership? In a broader framework, not part of the analysis contemplated by the applicable 1995 OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines, is how to allocate the residual among Starbucks’ global value chain. For the complete paper see https://ssrn.com/abstract=3464990

Posted in Transfer Pricing, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Byrnes & Bloink’s TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on September 20, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Spring (January) semester for the transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

IRS Releases Guidance on Failure to Cash Distribution Checks

The IRS has released guidance providing that when a check for a fully taxable distribution from a qualified plan is mailed to a plan participant, but not cashed, it is considered to have been “actually distributed” from the plan and is taxable to the participant in the year of distribution. Further, the failure to cash the check did not change the plan administrator’s withholding obligations with respect to the distribution and did not change the obligation to report the distribution on Form 1099-R (assuming the distribution exceeds the applicable reporting threshold). Despite these findings, the IRS was careful to note that it continues to consider the issue of uncashed distribution checks in situations involving missing participants. For more information on the withholding requirements that may apply to qualified plan distributions, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

December 31 Opportunity Zone Deadline Fast Approaching

Investors who are considering an opportunity zone investment should be advised that now is the time to take advantage of the new rules in order to maximize the potential for deferral. December 31, 2019 is the final day that investors can elect to roll their gains into opportunity zone funds in order to obtain the full 15% reduction in the amount of the deferred gain. Generally, taxpayers can defer capital gains tax by rolling gains into a qualified opportunity fund (gains may be deferred until December 31, 2026). If the investment is held for at least seven years, the taxpayer will receive a 15% reduction in the amount of the deferred gain (so that the funds are invested for a full seven years). In turn, the fund has 180 days to acquire qualified property once the taxpayer invests the gain. Because gain on the sale of Section 1231 property is not determined until year-end, taxpayers wishing to roll over Section 1231 gain should be advised to track 1231 sales carefully to determine whether such sales will result in gain (treated as long-term capital gain) or loss (treated as ordinary loss). For more information on the opportunity zone rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Extends Nondiscrimination Relief for Closed Defined Benefit Plans

Many employers who have closed defined benefit plans to new participants have continued to allow groups of “grandfathered” employees to earn benefits under the closed defined benefit plans. Because of this, many of these plans have had difficulties meeting the applicable nondiscrimination requirements as more of these grandfathered employees become “highly compensated” over time. Proposed regulations published in 2016 contain special rules to make it easier for these plans to satisfy the nondiscrimination requirements and Notice 2014-5 was released to provide temporary relief if certain conditions are satisfied. The proposed regulations modify the rules applicable to defined benefit replacement allocations (DBRAs) that allow some allocations to be disregarded when determining whether a defined contribution plan has a broadly available allocation rate in order to allow more allocations to satisfy the rules. Further, the regulations provide a special nondiscrimination testing rule that can apply if a benefit or plan feature is only made available to grandfathered employees in a closed plan. In anticipation of the finalization of these regulations, Notice 2019-49 expands the nondiscrimination relief to plan years beginning before 2021, so long as the conditions in Notice 2014-5 are satisfied. For more information the nondiscrimination rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of September 13, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on September 14, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Texas A&M University School of Law has launched its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for Spring (January) semester for the transfer pricing courses.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

IRS PLR Approving CLAT Structure Provides Option for High-Net Worth Estate Planning

The IRS has recently released a private letter ruling approving a charitable lead annuity trust (CLAT) structure that may prove useful in estate planning for high net worth clients. In the case at issue, the taxpayer proposed to set up a revocable trust where the trust would first pay certain debts and expenses and then distribute the trust assets to other individuals and trusts if the taxpayer predeceased his spouse. Should the spouse die first, the trust would have paid the relevant debts, made distributions to individuals and trusts and then transfer the remaining assets to the CLAT, which would then pay a 5% annuity to the charity based upon the initial trust’s fair market value. The IRS approved this structure even though in most cases, the CLAT must have a payout stream that lasts a predetermined number of years to qualify for tax preferential treatment (deduction of the present value of annuity payments for the estate). Here, the IRS determined that it would eventually be possible to calculate that specified payout term once the CLAT was funded from the revocable trust after payment of debts, expenses and distributions to other beneficiaries. For more information on charitable lead trusts, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Recent Ninth Circuit Case Highlights Importance of Disclosing Transactions Substantially Similar to “Listed Transactions”

The IRS identifies certain types of transactions as having the potential for tax avoidance, and thus requires that taxpayers disclose these transactions affirmatively in order to avoid penalties. The IRS can impose penalties for failing to disclose a listed transaction, but also has authority to impose penalties for failure to disclose a transaction that it deems to be “substantially similar” to a transaction that is specifically listed. The case at hand involved a situation where a company participated in a group life insurance term plan in order to fund cash-value life insurance that the sole shareholder and employee owned. While the structure at issue was not specifically listed, the IRS determined that the transaction was substantially similar to other listed transactions and imposed a $10,000 penalty for every year that the taxpayer failed to disclose the transaction. For more information on the exemptions that may apply in cases involving prohibited transactions, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Reminder to Clients: 401(k) Exceptions for Early Withdrawal Liability Differ From IRAs

Most clients understand that they may be entitled to claim an exemption from the generally applicable 10 percent early withdrawal penalty if retirement accounts are tapped prior to age 591/2 where the funds are used for certain specified purposes. However, a recent Tax Court case highlights the need for clients to understand that the exceptions vary depending upon whether the account is a 401(k) or an IRA. In this case, the taxpayer used 401(k) account funds withdrawn early to fund the purchase of her home and attempted to claim an exception to the penalty. However, the exception for purchasing a home only applies in the case of IRA funds–and the courts strictly apply the exception even in cases where the error resulted from an honest mistake. Because of this, it’s important that clients be advised as to the detailed requirements that apply depending upon the type of account involved. For more information on the exceptions to the early withdrawal penalties, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Facts Team
Molly Miller
Publisher
William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M
Tax Facts Author
Jason Gilbert, J.D.
Senior Editor
Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Tax Facts Author
Connie L. Jump
Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
Alexis Long, J.D.
Senior Contributor
Patti O’Leary
Senior Editorial Assistant
Danielle Birdsail
Digital Marketing Manager
Emily Brunner
Editorial Assistant

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of Aug 29, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on August 30, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Tuition Waiver for International Tax Online Courses (more information here)

Texas A&M University School of Law will launch August 26, 2019 its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for the inaugural cohort of degree candidates to pilot the launch of the Fall semester introductory courses of international taxation and tax treaties, and provide weekly feedback on content, support, and general experience in exchange for waiving the tuition and providing the books free.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

IRS Reverses Stance on Lenient Enforcement of ACA Employer Mandate

In a recent reversal of practice, in the early weeks of August the IRS began issuing Notice 972CG to employers informing them that they owe substantial penalties for failing to strictly comply with the ACA employer mandate. Generally, the Notice is sent to inform employers who have made late or incorrect filings of Forms 1094-C and 1095-C that penalties now apply (the current notices generally apply for mistakes made in 2017). The penalty that applied in 2017 was $260 per return ($50 per return if the filing was made within 30 days of the original due date). Employers must respond to the Notice 972CG within 45 days (from the date listed on the notice) or the IRS will bill the employer for the penalty amount listed. If the employer disagrees in whole or part with the proposed penalty, box B or box C of the notice should be checked and the employer must submit a signed statement detailing the disagreement, including supporting documentation if applicable. Generally, the employer will be required to explain that the late or incorrect filing was due to reasonable cause. For more information on responding to this notice and other correspondence that the employer may receive with respect to the employer mandate, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

The Latest Tax Scam: Beware Fake IRS Letters

Nearly every taxpayer has heard warnings about phone-based IRS scams, assuming they have not experienced the calls themselves. However, because the general advice to avoid falling prey to these scams is often accompanied by the advice “the IRS will only contact you via U.S. mail” to initiate a dispute, scammers have now begun sending fake IRS letters–at the exact point in the year when legitimate IRS mail correspondence is at its highest. To avoid falling prey to letter-based scams, keep in mind that IRS letters arrive in government envelopes and provide a notice or letter number in the top right corner, along with a truncated version of your tax ID number. The tax year in question will also appear in the top right corner. A contact telephone number–usually a “1-800” number will appear. If the letter contains what appears to be a personal phone number, you can verify by visiting irs.gov, where legitimate contact information will be posted. Also keep in mind that the IRS will not send threats, such as threats of arrest or deportation. For more information on federal income tax filing requirements, visit Tax Facts Online.Read More

Own an S Corporation? Here’s How to Fix a Violation of the S Corp Requirements

For many clients, making the election to be taxed as an S corporation can have substantial benefits–but also carries the burden of risking disqualification if the business fails to meet the requirements governing S corporations. Selling shares to an impermissible shareholder (such as a partnership), violating the “one class of stock” rule can result in automatic revocation of the S status. To prevent this, the business must show the IRS that the violation was inadvertent, which can be accomplished by submitting a ruling request explaining how the violation occurred. Generally, the S corporation should seek to demonstrate to the IRS that it took remedial action as soon as it learned of the violation, explain the circumstances involved and how the S corporation discovered the violation, in which case the IRS may grant retroactive relief–so that it is treated as though no violation occurred at all. For more information on the specific requirements that an S corporation must satisfy, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Facts Team
Molly Miller
Publisher
William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M
Tax Facts Author
Jason Gilbert, J.D.
Senior Editor
Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Tax Facts Author
Connie L. Jump
Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
Alexis Long, J.D.
Senior Contributor
Patti O’Leary
Senior Editorial Assistant
Danielle Birdsail
Digital Marketing Manager
Emily Brunner
Editorial Assistant

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Hope to see you at the Cambridge Economic Crimes Symposium this week (Sept 1 – 8)!!

Posted by William Byrnes on August 29, 2019


It is almost 40 years now – each year the first week of September, over 2,000 delegates (government, financial institutions, large firms) from 120 countries descends on Jesus College, Cambridge University for the world’s oldest and #1 international economic crimes and money laundering risk symposium.

The Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime first convened nearly 40 years ago as a result of widespread concern that both the development and the integrity of the global financial system were at risk from those who engage in economically motivated crime, and those who would assist them.

8 days: The symposium runs over eight days and offers hundreds of opportunities to connect formally and informally. 3 meals a day together in the Jesus College Cambridge formal meals halls, drinks from 5pm until dinner every night, Jesus College Bar for after-dinner conversations and networking. Come for the week; or drop in for a day!  September 1 – September 8, 2019: registration by day or the week is here https://www.crimesymposium.org/register

120+ sessions: With the emphasis on expertise, topicality and practicality, there are over 120 plenary sessions and workshops, as well as smaller interactive workshops and think tanks.

650+ experts: The symposium’s emphasis has always been practical; therefore, we bring together experts across a range of fields to share knowledge and expertise.

It’s my 10th attendance and always come away with new ideas, much learned, and many new colleagues made through the networking. Three professors from Texas A&M University (Dr. Andrew Morriss, Dr. Lorraine Eden, and myself) will be in attendance and participating in workshops and plenary.  So if you’ve been thinking about joining the symposium but needed a push, then come meet us at the afternoon drinks after the last plenary session.

September 7th Saturday 11am plenary I will be chairing a transfer pricing and economic crimes discussion and idea generation session. Check out the full 8-day program https://www.crimesymposium.org/programme-37

 

Posted in Money Laundering, Transfer Pricing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors (August 15th release)

Posted by William Byrnes on August 16, 2019


Tuition Waiver for International Tax Online Courses (more information here) Texas A&M University School of Law International Tax online curriculum. Deadline is August 26 to apply, Transcripts must be received by September 3.  Books free as well, as well as access to LexisNexis and Texas A&M’s online tax library.

DOL Releases Final MEP Regulations

The DOL has released its final regulations governing multiple employer plans (MEPs). In general, to qualify as an MEP under the final regulations, a plan must satisfy five basic requirements. First, the association must have at least one substantial business purpose that is not related to offering the plan. The employer-members of the association must control its activities and any employers that participate in the MEP must control the MEP in substance and in form, directly or indirectly. The association must adopt a formal organizational structure. Only employees of the association’s employer-members and certain working owners may participate in the MEP. Finally, some commonality of interest must exist between the employers participating in the MEP, such as the same industry or geographic location. The regulations are effective September 30, 2019. For more information on small business retirement planning options, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Announces Campaign Aimed at Holders of Virtual Currency

The IRS has announced that it will begin sending letters to holders of various forms of cryptocurrency informing those taxpayers of potential misreporting (or failure to report) on virtual currency transactions. The IRS advises taxpayers who receive such a letter to review past tax filings to uncover any errors or underreporting, and amend those returns in order to pay back taxes, interest and penalties as soon as possible. These letters are part of a larger campaign designed by the IRS to crack down on misreporting or underreporting of virtual currency transactions, which are currently taxed according to the rules governing transactions in property. For more information on the tax treatment of virtual currency, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Provides Summertime Tax Checkup Tips

The IRS has released a list of summertime tax tips to help clients avoid surprises as we move closer to the end of the summer, especially with respect to part-time and seasonal workers. The IRS reminds business owners of the need to withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from part-time and seasonal employees’ pay even if the worker is unlikely to meet the federal income tax filing threshold. Further, business owners must pay close attention to properly classifying these workers as either employees or independent contractors, remembering that independent contractors, although not subject to withholding, are required to pay their own Social Security and Medicare taxes, in addition to applicable income taxes. For more information on the Social Security and Medicare tax requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Tax Facts, authored by renown experts William Byrnes and Robert Bloink, for 60 years continues to be the leading tax book and online strategic client resource for the financial professional and advanced products underwriter industry. Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into a client’s solution. Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of Aug 1, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on August 5, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

Tuition Waiver for International Tax Online Courses (more information here)

Texas A&M University School of Law will launch August 26, 2019 its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for the inaugural cohort of degree candidates to pilot the launch of the Fall semester introductory courses of international taxation and tax treaties, and provide weekly feedback on content, support, and general experience in exchange for waiving the tuition and providing the books free.  Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

IRS Expands List of Preventative Care Coverage Not Subject to HDHP Deductibles
Pursuant to the executive order directing the agencies to expand the use of HSAs and HDHPs for individuals suffering from certain chronic conditions, the IRS has released Notice 2019-45, which expands the definition of “preventative care” to include certain treatments and medications related to chronic illnesses. Generally, HDHPs may now provide these forms of care on a pre-deductible basis without jeopardizing the plan’s status as an HDHP and the participant’s ability to use HSA funds in connection with that HDHP. The agencies have indicated that they will review the new list, which includes items deemed to be “low cost”, every five to ten years. The new table, contained Notice 2019-45, includes items such as glucometers for patients suffering from diabetes and beta blockers for patients suffering from congestive heart failure. For more information on HDHPs, visit TaxFacts Online. Read More
 

IRS Releases Premium Tax Credit-Related Inflation Adjustments for 2020
The IRS has released the Affordable Care Act (ACA) premium tax credit-related inflation adjusted numbers for use in 2020. In 2020, the percentage used to determine whether an individual is eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance that is affordable is 9.78% (down from 9.86% in 2019). This means that individuals who contribute more than 9.78% of their household income toward health insurance in 2020, he or she may be eligible for premium tax credit assistance. For more information on determining when health coverage is deemed affordable for ACA purposes, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

IRS Announces Compliance Campaign Directed at S Corps
The IRS has announced that one of the areas it will be focusing its compliance efforts upon in the coming year involves S corporations that were formerly C corporations. The primary issue of focus will be the built-in gains tax. In general, the built-in gains tax applies to C corporations that convert to S status at a time when they have net unrealized built-in gain, and then sell assets within five years after converting to an S corporation. The tax should be paid at the S corporation level, but the IRS has determined that the tax is often not paid. While this does not necessarily mean that audit resources will be directed toward these entities, it does mean that the IRS has determined that it is necessary to dedicate training and resources toward the goal of ensuring proper compliance with the built-in gains tax. For more information on situations where S corporations may be taxed at the entity level, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

Posted in Estate Tax, Retirement Planning, Taxation | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Seeking inaugural cohort of tax professionals to pilot Texas A&M’s International Tax online curriculum starting August 26, 2019

Posted by William Byrnes on July 29, 2019


Texas A&M University School of Law will launch August 26, 2019 its International Tax online curriculum for graduate degree candidates. Admissions is open for the inaugural cohort of degree candidates to pilot the launch of the Fall semester introductory courses of international taxation and tax treaties.

How do I apply for the inaugural cohort? Only for this inaugural cohort, completed applications may be submitted directly, via the below-expedited process, to the law school’s admission office until noon central daylight time (CDT – Dallas) on August 22, 2019.   A completed Fall application must include four items:

(1) the completed and signed law school application (application fees and letters of recommendation are waived for Fall 2019 international tax);

(2) statement of interest for the international tax program that includes mention of prior tax or related experience.

(3) resume/CV reflecting at least three years of employment as a tax advisor or five years employment in a related field; and

(4) an official transcript from the highest academic degree awarded by an accredited University sent to Texas A&M University: Official electronic transcripts can be sent to law-admissions@law.tamu.edu  FedEx, UPS, DHL express mail can be sent to Attn: Office of Graduate Admissions 1515 Commerce Street Fort Worth, TX 76102-6509

To apply for the inaugural cohort opportunity, contact Jeff Green, Graduate Programs Coordinator, T: +1 (817) 212-3866, E: jeffgreen@law.tamu.edu or contact David Dye, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, T (817) 212-3954, E: ddye@law.tamu.edu. Texas A&M Admissions website: https://law.tamu.edu/distance-education/international-tax

What is the proposed curriculum of 12 international tax courses?

International Taxation & Treaties I (3 credits)                  International Taxation & Treaties II (3 credits)

Transfer Pricing I (3 credits)                                          Transfer Pricing II (3 credits)

Tax Risk Management (3 credits)                                  FATCA & CRS (3 credits)

International Tax Planning (3 credits)                             Country Tax Systems (3 credits)

U.S. Int’l Tax (3 credits)                                                 EU Taxation (3 credits)

VAT/GST/Sales (3 credits)                                            Customs & Excises (3 credits)

Ethics in Decision Making (1 credit required to graduate)

What distinguishes Texas A&M’s International Tax curriculum?

Since the original 1994 curriculum focus on tax risk management and methodology, the curriculum and the program operational structure continue to evolve based on in-depth industry research. “The central function of the tax office has evolved from strategy and planning into risk management”, says William Byrnes, professor of law and associate dean at Texas A&M University. “This evolution has been accelerated by trends — primarily globalization, transparency and regulatory reform — and by the OECD (through the project on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, or BEPS), the United States (through the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and the European Union.”

In 2019, Hanover Research on behalf of Texas A&M undertook an extensive long-form survey, including interviews, of 146 tax executives about the needs and value-added of Texas A&M’s new international tax curriculum. The surveys 2019 tax professionals included: 29% U.S. and 71% foreign resident. Half the participants were tax professionals of AmLaw 100 firms (27%) or of Big 4 accounting (21%). The other half of participants were tax professionals of large multinational tax departments in the following industries: Finance / Banking / Insurance; Consulting; Business / Professional Services; Computers (Hardware, Desktop Software); Telecommunications; Aerospace / Aviation / Automotive; Healthcare / Medical; Manufacturing; Food Service; Internet; Mining; Pharmaceutical / Chemical; Real Estate; and Transportation / Distribution. Four percent of survey participants were executive-level government tax authority staff.

Besides the actual design of the course curriculum, two interesting outcomes from the industry interviews are:

  • The faculty and graduate degree candidates must be multidisciplinary, including both tax lawyers and non-lawyer tax professionals (e.g. accountants, finance executives, and economists) engaged together in learning teams with practical case studies and projects that are “applicable in a real-world context”.
  • The curriculum must include the perspectives of tax mitigation and of tax-risk management with exposure to state-of-the-industry data analytics.

In its Tax Insights magazine that is distributed globally to clients, the Big 4 firm EY stated: “Texas A&M University is among the pioneers of change in tax education”.

Texas A&M professor William Byrnes explains: “A risk management approach to tax means that the new model will by definition be multidisciplinary. Financial and managerial accounting– and law– will still be important, of course. But students will also need new “hard” skills involving big data and communications technologies and “soft” skills geared to working in multicultural settings both at home and abroad.” Says Byrnes, “You don’t want to have people who are living in the ‘Stone Age’ (pre-2015) trying to work in a 2016-onward world.” 

What is the proposed course schedule during an academic year?

Fall 2019 Part A (6 week term)                                    Fall 2019 Part B (6 week term)     

International Taxation & Treaties I                                  International Taxation & Treaties II 

Spring 2020 Part A (6 week term)                              Spring 2020 Part B (6 week term)

Transfer Pricing I                                                             Transfer Pricing II

Summer 2020 concurrent 6 week term

Tax Risk Management & Data Analytics             FATCA & CRS

Fall 2020 Part A                                                           Fall 2020 Part B

International Tax Planning                                             Country Tax Systems

International Taxation & Treaties I                                  International Taxation & Treaties II

Spring 2021 Part A                                                      Spring 2021 Part B

U.S. Int’l Tax                                                                 EU Taxation

Transfer Pricing I                                                           Transfer Pricing II

Summer 2021 concurrent term

VAT/GST/Sales             Customs & Excises

Tax Risk Management               FATCA & CRS

When are the semesters?

Fall:                 August 26 until December 14, 2019

Spring:             January 9 until April 30, 2020

Summer:          May 18 until July 11, 2020

Who is leading and creating this International Tax curriculum?

The International Tax curriculum has been developed and is led by Professor William Byrnes (Texas A&M University Law).  In 1994, Professor William Byrnes founded the first international tax program leveraging online education and in 1998 founded the first online international tax program to be acquiesced by the American Bar Association and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  He is recognized globally as an online education pioneer focused on learner outcomes and best practices leveraging state of the art educational technology.  William Byrnes is also an international tax authority as LexisNexis’ leading published author of nine international tax treatises and compendium, annually updated, and a 10 volume service published by Wolters Kluwer.  His LinkedIn group International Tax Planning Professionals has over 25,000 members and is the largest international tax network on LinkedIn.

If you want to ask questions about the curriculum or how the online courses are as effective as residential ones, reach out to Professor William Byrnes at williambyrnes@law.tamu.edu.

How much time per week does a course require?

Each course unfolds over six weeks, designed to require 15 to 20 hours of input each week. This weekly input includes reviewing materials, listening to podcasts, watching video content, participating in discussion forums, engaging in live class sessions, and working with classmates on team-based learning projects. Working with the colleague groups on real-world case studies is critical to the educational experience.  Potential applicants must have available three to five hours per week to spend developing and working with colleagues on group case studies using communications technologies like Zoom video.

What is the title of this graduate degree?

For lawyers, it is a Master of Laws (LL.M.) and for accountants, tax professionals and economists, it is a Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.).  The degree is awarded by Texas A&M University via the School of Law. Completion of a curriculum, which is like a ‘major’ for university studies, is also recognized with a frameable certificate issued by the School of Law.

What are the minimum requirements of the application for each degree?

  • All applicants must have previous domestic tax or accounting professional experience reflected on the CV of work experience.
  • The Master of Laws (LL.M.) is awarded to successful graduates who hold a law degree from a law school or faculty of law that is accredited by the American Bar Association or if a foreign law degree then accredited by a governmental accreditation body and that allows the graduate eligibility for that country’s practice of law.
  • The Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) is awarded to all other successful graduates. Applicants for the Master of Jurisprudence must hold a prior degree from an accredited academic institution in business, accounting, finance, economics, or related business field.

What are the program requirements to graduate?

The Master of Laws candidates must complete at least 24 credits to be eligible to graduate.  The Master of Jurisprudence candidates must complete at least 30 credits to be eligible to graduate.

All candidates must complete the Ethics in Decision Making course to be eligible to graduate, which presents networking opportunities with candidates of the Risk management and Wealth Management curricula. Master of Jurisprudence candidates must also complete an Introduction to U.S. Law course which will include networking among all law graduate curricula.

Candidates must complete at least six courses specific to a curriculum in order to be eligible for a degree. Without permission, candidates are allowed to enroll in up to two courses from another curriculum.

How many months to graduate?

Normally, candidates will enroll in two courses during Fall and Spring semester, focusing on one course each term (Fall and Spring have two terms of six weeks each).  Candidates may enroll in one or two courses for the Summer semester, which is only one six-week term.  Thus, most candidates will reach eligibility to graduate within two years.  Candidates have the flexibility as to how many or few courses to enroll each term, subject to university graduate program rules. Candidates may complete the program in one year to as long as four years.  Each course in a curriculum is offered once per year.

Are these degrees eligible for the Aggie Ring and membership in the Texas A&M Former Student Network (Texas A&M alumni)?

Yes, all international tax graduates will become a member of the Texas A&M family.  Texas A&M is renown for the loyalty and engagement among its former students within the Texas Aggie clubs established throughout the world. Texas A&M has graduated over 500,000 “Aggies” who are eligible to wear the Texas A&M ring to identify each other throughout the world. See https://www.aggienetwork.com/

Will there be on-campus opportunities?

Yes.  Graduation, with on-campus activities hosted at the law school, is May 1, 2020.  October 24-25, 2019 is a networking conference of the risk, wealth, and international tax graduate students piggybacking on Texas A&M’s Financial Planning conference: Thursday night networking banquet and Friday conference activities. See https://financialplanning.tamu.edu/events/conference/  Saturday, October 26, 2019 is a Texas A&M football game at the on-campus Kyle stadium that two years ago underwent a $485 million renovation. The graduate program office has inquired about a block of tickets in the same section for students interested in purchasing a ticket and staying over for the game.  Texas A&M football games are sold out with a capacity of over 100,000 seats and thus, Friday night hotel reservations in College Station should be made ASAP.  Other opportunities will be announced during the program year.

What is Texas A&M University?

Texas A&M, the second largest U.S. public university, is one of the only 60 accredited U.S. members of the American Association of Universities (R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity), and one of the only 17 U.S. universities that hold a triple U.S. federal designation (Land, Sea, and Space).  As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery: research conducted in fiscal year 2017 at Texas A&M represented an annual expenditure of more than $900 million.  The Texas A&M University system’s operating budget exceeds $4.6 billion and Texas A&M’s combined endowments are 7th largest among universities in the world.

Texas A&M is ranked 1st among national public universities for a superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018); ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018); and ranked 1st in nation for most graduates serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (Fortune, 2019).  During the program, a candidate learns Texas A&M’s traditions and six core values that are grounded in its history as one of the six U.S. senior military colleges: Loyalty, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership, Respect, and Selfless Service.

Which government and professional organizations accredit Texas A&M University?

For the complete list, see https://www.tamu.edu/statements/accreditation.html

What are the other curricula’s courses that are available to international tax candidates? 

Risk Curriculum                                              Wealth Curriculum

Enterprise Risk & Data Analytics                        Taxation of Business Associations

Information Security Management Systems        Securities Regulations

Counter-Terrorism Risk Management                 Financial & Portfolio Management

Cybersecurity                                                   Income Tax Financial Planning

Anti-Money Laundering & Bank                          Principles of Wealth Management

Principles of Risk Management                          Estate Planning, Insurance, and Annuities

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act                            Advanced Wealth Management

Fiduciary & Risk Management                            Non-Profit & Fiduciary Administration

White-Collar Crime                                            Retirement & Benefits

Legal Risk Management                                    Insurance Law (& Alternative Risk Transfer)

Financial Innovations

What is the tuition? Normal Texas A&M University tuition and available financial aid applies after the Fall term and is available at https://tuition.tamu.edu/ Texas A&M University is a public university of the state of Texas and is ranked 1st among public universities for its superior education at an affordable cost (Fiske, 2018) and ranked 1st of Texas public universities for best value (Money, 2018). 

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Professor Jeffery Kadet responds with his thoughts on the Nike European Commission Decision

Posted by William Byrnes on July 26, 2019


Professor Jeffrey Kadet (University of Washington Law) responds below to my thoughts about Nike’s state aid case (Thank you Professor Kadet for your very informed counter to my contentions)

William, it was a pleasure reading your piece on the Nike situation (below in this blog).  I have a few thoughts. Please feel free to add this to your blog if you think these thoughts would be useful to the discussion.

I of course agree with your analysis of transfer pricing and the various functions that are performed (or not performed) in various places. My focus is rather on how groups like Nike, Starbucks, and Apple have potentially hoisted themselves on their own petards.

What do I mean by this? I mean that these groups created structures that make no sense except in light of a tax ruling that never should have been issued in the first place. They were so excited about their respective rulings that they didn’t build into their structures any Plan B in case the ruling were unexpectedly revoked or disappeared for any reason. They of course didn’t anticipate the European Commission actions; nobody anticipated it. But now that it’s there, they’re stuck with the structures they created.

Nike chose to place ownership of certain production and marketing intangibles through a cost-sharing agreement in a special purpose company (initially Nike International Limited and then later Nike International CV) with no personnel or operations of its own. The SPC then licensed whatever IP it held to Nike European Operations Netherlands BV, which clearly conducts an operating business. Since the focus here is Dutch taxation and not U.S. taxation, we ignore the check-the-box structure that Nike presumably created in which the SPC and NEON are merely divisions within one Nike CFC. I haven’t seen any public information on the group’s actual structure in this regard except within the July 29, 2016, Tax Court petition, which described NEON as “a disregarded subsidiary of NIKE Pegasus”.

In any case, the European Commission decision notes that NEON was established and began operations in 1994. The decision goes on to say that NEON has been acting as a principal and regional HQ since 2006. This at least implies that it conducted activities prior to 2006 as either an agent or distributor. In any case, it would have in all years conducted real operations locally and within Europe that added to the group’s marketing intangibles.

Maybe on the surface, NEON is just distributing branded products. However, contractually and economically, it is a manufacturer. How does it do its manufacturing? Prior to a 2009 restructuring, it contracted directly with contract manufacturers using Nike Inc. as an agent for arranging and contracting with these manufacturers. As described in the decision, Nike Inc. conducted for NEON as its agent the types of functions described in Reg §1.954-3(a)(4)(iv)(b) [Foreign base company sales income – (4)Property manufactured, produced, or constructed by the controlled foreign corporation]. Following the 2009 restructuring when the Singapore branch of Nike Trading Company BV was added to the mix, things are less clear but it seems doubtful that many production functions changed. Likely, a few functions might have been moved from the U.S. to Singapore. That, however, logically shouldn’t change NEON’s character as a manufacturer.

With the above in mind, Nike has voluntarily created NEON, which has conducted an active business now for 25 years. Over those years, it has created to some extent the marketing intangibles that it uses. This is in addition to whatever IP rights it secures from the SPC under the license agreement. Further, either through its own personnel or through its agents it is conducting all production activities aside from the physical production itself. NEON has never suggested that it has a PE in the U.S. or elsewhere that is conducting purchasing functions.

Nike structured an active manufacturing and sales business within NEON, which pays (i) a royalty for manufacturing IP and some marketing IP to an SPC with no operations of its own, and (ii) service fees (the arm’s length nature of which no one is questioning) to Nike Inc. and NTC for their production functions. NEON has no PE outside the Netherlands to which any profits could be attributed. Any royalty that NEON pays should be an arm’s length royalty for manufacturing IP and any marketing IP that NEON does not already hold based on its activities since its formation in 1994. To suggest that commercial returns in excess of this arm’s length royalty should be included in an expanded royalty to the SPC is completely contrary and out of phase with the structure that Nike voluntarily created. The revenues, production costs, and other expenses that NEON earns or incurs should be fully within the Dutch tax computation; there’s nowhere else it can go.

The same issue of creating a structure dependent on a tax ruling that invites, in the absence of that ruling, full taxation in the country where operations are being conducted is true as well for Starbucks in the Netherlands and Apple in Ireland. The latter, of course, created Apple Sales International, which manufactures products through contract manufacturers and sells them. With all the manufacturing functions (aside from the physical manufacturing performed by contract manufacturers) presumably being conducted by related parties under service agreements, there again is no basis to suggest that any of ASI’s profits should be attributed to some location outside of Ireland. Should the service fee payable to Apple U.S. group members be higher? Probably, but Apple chose its structure and the level of intercompany service fees. The ruling that created an allocation to a home office with no personnel or physical operations is creating a fiction. With the ruling being negated by the Commission’s decision and with no Plan B, Apple created its own mess.

William, I hope the above is useful to your thinking.

All the best,

Jeff (his faculty website is here)

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of July 25, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on July 26, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Jul 25, 2019

View in Browser

Taxpayer Cannot Shield Self-Directed IRA Assets from Bankruptcy Creditors

The 11th Circuit recently confirmed that a taxpayer was not entitled to creditor protection in bankruptcy with respect to a self-directed IRA that he used for impermissible purposes. The issue in this case was not whether IRA funds were used for prohibited personal use, however, but whether the assets left within the IRA could be protected from creditors in bankruptcy. The court ruled that the creditors could access amounts left in the IRA, regardless of whether that IRA continued to be tax-exempt, because the taxpayer failed to properly maintain the IRA by withdrawing funds for prohibited reasons in the past. For more information on the tax treatment of IRA assets in bankruptcy, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Proposed Regulations Would Eliminate the MEP “One Bad Apple Rule”

The IRS and Treasury have released proposed regulations that would eliminate the so-called “one bad apple rule” for multiple employer plans (MEPs). Under the one bad apple rule, the entire MEP could be disqualified based upon the actions of only one employer that participated in the plan. To qualify, the plan must have established practices and procedures designed to ensure compliance by all MEP participants. The failure must be isolated to a single employer, and cannot be a widespread issue across the employers. The plan administrator must have a process in place that would provide notice to the employer responsible for the failure, and such notice should include a description of the failure, actions necessary to remedy the failure, notice that the relevant employer has only 90 days from the notice date to take remedial action, a description of the consequences for failure to take the remedial action and notice of the right to spin off the non-compliant employer’s portion of the plan and assets. After providing the initial notice and two subsequent notices, the MEP must notify all participants, stop accepting contributions from the noncompliant party and implement spin off procedures designed to terminate the noncompliant employer’s interests in the MEP. For more information on plan qualification requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Considering an Opportunity Zone Investment? Here’s How to Tell the IRS

Now that the IRS has released a significant amount of guidance on the opportunity zone rules, qualified opportunity zone funds are likely to become more common, leading taxpayers to question how to actually defer taxation on their capital gains through the opportunity zone rules. Taxpayers who have made a sale where the proceeds qualify for capital gain treatment may invest all or a part of that gain in a qualified opportunity fund and defer recognizing the gain under the new opportunity zone rules. The taxpayer makes the election on his or her tax return by attaching a completed Form 8949 to the return. For multiple investments occurring on different dates, the taxpayer uses multiple rows of the form to report the deferral election. If the taxpayer has already filed the relevant tax return, he or she will need to file an amended return to make the election. For more information on the opportunity zone rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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Texas A&M Law Solicits Bids for ONLINE GRADUATE PROGRAMS Service Providers, deadline August 2

Posted by William Byrnes on July 25, 2019


Status Details
Open
The Texas A&M University School of Law seeks proposals from qualified vendors for the creation of On-Line Graduate Programs per the Request for Proposal herein.
Close 8/2/2019 2:00 PM CDT
Number TAMU-RFP-1418
Contact Clyde Oberg CO@TAMU.EDU

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How much TCJA Repatriated Dividends? USA Outward and Inward Direct Investment by Country and Industry, 2018

Posted by William Byrnes on July 24, 2019


These statistics cover outward and inward direct investment positions, financial transactions, and income in 2018 and will provide information answering the following questions:
  • How much did U.S. multinationals repatriate following the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?
  • Which countries and industries repatriated the most in 2018?
  • Which countries are the largest destinations for U.S. multinational enterprises’ direct investment?
  • Which countries’ multinational enterprises have the largest direct investment positions in the United States?
  • In which industries is foreign direct investment concentrated?
Statistics on foreign direct investment in the United States include data by the country of the immediate foreign parent as well as data by the country of the ultimate beneficial owner. Statistics on U.S. direct investment abroad will include data by the country and industry of the foreign affiliate as well as data by the industry of the U.S. parent.

Effects of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on U.S. Direct Investment Abroad

The TCJA generally eliminated taxes on dividends, or repatriated earnings, to U.S. multinationals from their foreign affiliates. Dividends of $776.5 billion in 2018 exceeded earnings for the year, which led to negative reinvestment of earnings, decreasing the investment position for the first time since 1982. Contrast $155.1 billion repatriated dividends in 2017.

By country, nearly half of the dividends in 2018 were repatriated from affiliates in Bermuda ($231.0 billion) and the Netherlands ($138.8 billion). Ireland was the third-largest source of dividends, but its value is suppressed due to confidentiality requirements. By industry, U.S. multinationals in chemical manufacturing ($209.1 billion) and computers and electronic products manufacturing ($195.9 billion) repatriated the most in 2018.

Chart of USDIA: Dividends by Country of Affiliate: 2017-2018

 

The U.S. direct investment abroad position, or cumulative level of investment, decreased $62.3 billion to $5.95 trillion at the end of 2018 from $6.01 trillion at the end of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The decrease was due to the repatriation of accumulated prior earnings by U.S. multinationals from their foreign affiliates, largely in response to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The decrease reflected a $75.8 billion decrease in the position in Latin America and Other Western Hemisphere, primarily in Bermuda. By industry, holding company affiliates owned by U.S. manufacturers accounted for most of the decrease.

The foreign direct investment in the United States position increased $319.1 billion to $4.34 trillion at the end of 2018 from $4.03 trillion at the end of 2017. The increase mainly reflected a $226.1 billion increase in the position from Europe, primarily the Netherlands and Ireland. By industry, affiliates in manufacturing, retail trade, and real estate accounted for the largest increases.

Chart of sDirect Investment Positions, 2017-2018

U.S. direct investment abroad (tables 1 – 6) see tables here: BEA tables

U.S. multinational enterprises (MNEs) invest in nearly every country, but their investment in affiliates in five countries accounted for more than half of the total position at the end of 2018. The U.S. direct investment abroad position remained the largest in the Netherlands at $883.2 billion, followed by the United Kingdom ($757.8 billion), Luxembourg ($713.8 billion), Ireland ($442.2 billion), and Canada ($401.9 billion).

By industry of the directly-owned foreign affiliate, investment was highly concentrated in holding companies, which accounted for nearly half of the overall position in 2018. Most holding company affiliates, which are owned by U.S. parents from a variety of industries, own other foreign affiliates that operate in a variety of industries. By industry of the U.S. parent, investment by manufacturing MNEs accounted for 54.0 percent of the position, followed by MNEs in finance and insurance (12.1 percent).

U.S. MNEs earned income of $531.0 billion in 2018 on their cumulative investment abroad, a 12.8 percent increase from 2017.

Foreign direct investment in the United States (tables 7 – 10) see tables here: BEA tables

By country of the foreign parent, five countries accounted for more than half of the total position at the end of 2018. The United Kingdom remained the top investing country with a position of $560.9 billion. Canada ($511.2 billion) moved up one position from 2017 to be the second-largest investing country, moving Japan ($484.4 billion) into third, while the Netherlands ($479.0 billion) and Luxembourg ($356.0 billion) switched places as the fourth and fifth largest investing countries at the end of 2018.

By country of the ultimate beneficial owner (UBO), the top five countries in terms of position were the United Kingdom ($597.2 billion), Canada ($588.4 billion), Japan ($488.7 billion), Germany ($474.5 billion), and Ireland ($385.3 billion). On this basis, investment from the Netherlands and Luxembourg was much lower than by country of foreign parent, indicating that much of the investment from foreign parents in these countries was ultimately owned by investors in other countries.

Foreign direct investment in the United States was concentrated in the U.S. manufacturing sector, which accounted for 40.8 percent of the position. There was also sizable investment in finance and insurance (12.1 percent).

Foreign MNEs earned income of $208.1 billion in 2018 on their cumulative investment in the United States, a 19.7 percent increase from 2017.

Updates to Direct Investment Statistics Delayed

Updates to BEA’s detailed country and industry statistics for U.S. direct investment abroad and for foreign direct investment in the United States for 2016 and 2017 were delayed due to the impact of the partial federal government shutdown that started in late December 2018. BEA will update the 2016 and 2017 statistics in 2020 along with updates to the 2018 statistics.”

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Texas A&M University School of Law Recruiting Multiple Outstanding Scholars for Professorships

Posted by William Byrnes on July 22, 2019


TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW aims to hire multiple outstanding scholars, across an array of fields, over the next several years.

Since integrating with Texas A&M six years ago, the School of Law – based in Dallas/Fort Worth – has achieved a remarkable forward trajectory by dramatically increasing entering class credentials; adding nine new clinics; strengthening student services; and hiring twenty-six new faculty members. The Appointments Committee welcomes expressions of interest in all areas, including especially from candidates who will add to the diversity of our faculty. Areas of particular interest include:

cybersecurity, privacy, and health law (with emphasis on healthcare finance, policy, regulation, delivery, and unfair competition).

The Texas A&M System is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability Employer committed to diversity. Texas A&M University is committed to enriching the learning and working environment for all visitors, students, faculty, and staff by promoting a culture that embraces inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability. Diverse perspectives, talents, and identities are vital to accomplishing our mission and living our core values. The School of Law provides equal opportunity to all employees, students, applicants for employment or admission, and the public, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Candidates must have a J.D. degree or its equivalent. Preference will be given to those with outstanding scholarly achievement and strong teaching skills. Successful candidates will be expected to engage in scholarship, teaching,  and service. Rank as an Executive Professor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor will be determined based on qualifications and experience.

Applicants should email a cover letter (indicating teaching and research interests) and CV/references to Professor Milan Markovic, Chair of the Appointments Committee, at appointments@law.tamu.edu. The Appointments Committee will treat all applications as confidential, subject to the requirements of state and federal law.

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Nike State Aid case analysis: Would you pay $100 for a canvas sneaker designed the 20’s? (Where does the residual value for “Just Do it” and the ‘cool kids’ retro branding of All Stars belong?)

Posted by William Byrnes on July 19, 2019


I have received several requests this month about my initial thoughts on the EU Commission’s 56-page published (public version available here) State Aid preliminary decision with the reasoning that The Netherlands government provided Nike an anti-competitive subsidy via the tax system.  My paraphrasing of the following EU Commission statement [para. 87] sums up the situation:

The Netherlands operational companies are remunerated with a low, but stable level of profit based on a limited margin on their total revenues reflecting those companies’ allegedly “routine” distribution functions. The residual profit generated by those companies in excess of that level of profit is then entirely allocated to Nike Bermuda as an alleged arm’s length royalty in return for the license of the Nike brands and other related IP”

The question that comes to my mind is: “Would I pay $100 for a canvas sneaker designed the 20’s that I know is $12 to manufacture, distribute, and have enough markup for the discount shoe store to provide it shelf space?” My answer is: “Yes, I own two pair of Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars.” So why did I spend much more than I know them to be worth (albeit, I wait until heavily discounted and then only on clearance).  From a global value chain perspective: “To which Nike function and unit does the residual value for the ‘cool kids’ retro branding of All Stars belong?”

infograph

U.S. international tax professionals operating in the nineties know that The Netherlands is a royalty conduit intermediary country because of its good tax treaty system and favorable domestic tax system, with the intangible profits deposited to take advantage of the U.S. tax deferral regime that existed until the TCJA of 2017 (via the Bermuda IP company).  Nike U.S., but for the deferral regime, could have done all this directly from its U.S. operations to each country that Nike operates in.  No other country could object, pre-BEPs, because profit split and marketing intangibles were not pushed by governments during transfer pricing audits.

The substantial value of Nike (that from which its profits derive) is neither the routine services provided by The Netherlands nor local wholesalers/distributors.  The value is the intangible brand created via R&D and marketing/promotion.  That brand allows a $10 – $20 retail price sneaker to sell retail for $90 – $200, depending on the country.  Converse All-Stars case in point.  Same  $10 shoe as when I was growing up now sold for $50 – $60 because Converse branded All-Stars as cool kid retro fashion.

Nike has centralized, for purposes of U.S. tax deferral leveraging a good tax treaty network, the revenue flows through NL.  The royalty agreement looks non-traditional because instead of a fixed price (e.g. 8%), it sweeps the NL profit account of everything but for the routine rate of return for the grouping of operational services mentioned in the State Aid opinion. If Nike was an actual Dutch public company, or German (like Addidas), or French – then Nike would have a similar result from its home country base because of the way its tax system allows exemption from tax for the operational foreign-sourced income of branches.  [Having worked back in the mid-nineties on similar type companies that were European, this is what I recall but I will need to research to determine if this has been the case since the nineties.]

I suspect that when I research this issue above that the NL operations will have been compensated within an allowable range based on all other similar situated 3rd parties.  I could examine this service by service but that would require much more information and data analysis about the services, and lead to a lesser required margin by Nike. The NL functions include [para 33]: “…regional headquarter functions, such as marketing, management, sales management (ordering and warehousing), establishing product pricing and discount policies, adapting designs to local market needs, and distribution activities, as well as bearing the inventory risk, marketing risk and other business risks.”

By example, the EU Commission states in its initial Nike news announcement:

Nike European Operations Netherlands BV and Converse Netherlands BV have more than 1,000 employees and are involved in the development, management and exploitation of the intellectual property. For example, Nike European Operations Netherlands BV actively advertises and promotes Nike products in the EMEA region, and bears its own costs for the associated marketing and sales activities.

Nike’s internal Advertising, Marketing, and Promotion (AMP) services can be benchmarked to its 3rd party AMP providers.  But by no means do the local NL AMP services rise to the level of Nike’s chief AMP partner (and arguably a central key to its brand build) Wieden + Kennedy (renown for creating many industry branding campaigns but perhaps most famously for Nike’s “Just Do it” – inspired by the last words of death row inmate Gary Gilmore before his execution by firing squad).

There is some value that should be allocated for the headquarters management of the combination of services on top of the service by service approach.  Plenty of competing retail industry distributors to examine though.  If by example the profit margin range was a low of 2% to a high of 8% for the margin return for the combination of services, then Nike based on the EU Commission’s public information falls within that range, being around 5%.

The Commission contends that Nike designed its transfer pricing study to achieve a result to justify the residual sweep to its Bermuda deferral subsidiary.  The EU Commission states an interesting piece of evidence that may support its decision [at para 89]: “To the contrary, those documents indicate that comparable uncontrolled transactions may have existed as a result of which the arm’s length level of the royalty payment would have been lower…”.  If it is correct that 3rd party royalty agreements for major brand overly compensate local distributors, by example provide 15% or 20% profit margin for local operations, then Nike must also.  [I just made these numbers up to illustrate the issue]

All the services seem, on the face of the EU Commission’s public document, routine to me but for “adapting designs to local market needs”.  That, I think, goes directly to product design which falls under the R&D and Branding.  There are 3rd parties that do exactly this service so it can be benchmarked, but its value I suspect is higher than by example ‘inventory risk management’.  We do not know from the EU document whether this ‘adapting product designs to local market’ service was consistent with a team of product engineers and market specialists, or was it merely occasional and outsourced.  The EU Commission wants, like with Starbucks, Nike to use a profit split method.  “…a transfer pricing arrangement based on the Profit Split Method would have been more appropriate to price…”.  Finally, the EU Commission asserts [para. 90]: “…even if the TNMM was the most appropriate transfer pricing method…. Had a profit level indicator been chosen that properly reflected the functional analysis of NEON and CN BV, that would have led to a lower royalty payment…”.

But for the potential product design issue, recognizing I have not yet researched this issue yet, based on what I know about the fashion industry, seems rather implausible to me that a major brand would give up part of its brand residual to a 3rd party local distributor.  In essence, that would be like the parent company of a well-established fashion brand stating “Let me split the brand’s value with you for local distribution, even though you have not borne any inputs of creating the value”.  Perhaps at the onset of a startup trying to create and build a brand?  But not Nike in the 1990s.  I think that the words of the dissenting Judge in Altera (9th Cir June 2019) are appropriate:

An ‘arm’s length result is not simply any result that maximizes one’s tax obligations’.

The EU Commission obviously does not like the Bermuda IP holding subsidiary arrangement that the U.S. tax deferral regime allows (the same issue of its Starbucks state aid attack), but that does not take away from the reality that legally and economically, Bermuda for purposes of the NL companies owns the Nike brand and its associated IP.  The new U.S. GILTI regime combined with the FDII export incentive regime addresses the Bermuda structure, making it much somewhat less comparably attractive to operating directly from the U.S. (albeit still produces some tax arbitrage benefit).  Perhaps the U.S. tax regime if it survives, in combination with the need for the protection of the IRS Competent Authority for foreign transfer pricing adjustments will lead to fewer Bermuda IP holding subsidiaries and more Delaware ones.

My inevitable problem with the Starbucks and Nike (U.S. IP deferral structures) state aid cases is that looking backward, even if the EU Commission is correct, it is a de minimis amount (the EU Commission already alleged a de minimis amount for Starbucks but the actual amount will be even less if any amount at all).  Post-BEPS, the concept and understanding of marketing intangibles including brands is changing, as well as allowable corporate fiscal operational structures based on look-through (GILTI type) regimes. More effective in the long term for these type of U.S. IP deferral structures is for the EU Commission is to spend its compliance resources on a go-forward basis from 2015 BEPS to assist the restructuring of corporations and renegotiation of APAs, BAPAs, Multilateral PAs to fit in the new BEPS reality.  These two cases seem more about an EU – U.S. tax policy dispute than the actual underlying facts of the cases.  And if as I suspect that EU companies pre-BEPS had the same outcome based on domestic tax policy foreign source income exemptions, then the EU Commission’s tax policy dispute would appear two-faced.

I’ll need to undertake a research project or hear back from readers and then I will follow up with Nike Part 2 as a did with Starbucks on this Kluwer blog previously.  See Application of TNMM to Starbucks Roasting Operation: Seeking Comparables Through Understanding the Market and then My Starbucks’ State Aid Transfer Pricing Analysis: Part II.  See also my comments about Altera:  An ‘arm’s length result is not simply any result that maximizes one’s tax obligations’.

Want to help me in this research or have great analytical content for my transfer pricing treatise published by LexisNexis? Reach out on profbyrnes@gmail.com

Prof. William Byrnes (Texas A&M) is the author of a 3,000 page treatise on transfer pricing that is a leading analytical resource for advisors.

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of July 18, 2019 – Actionable Analysis for Financial Advisors

Posted by William Byrnes on July 19, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Jul 18, 2019

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Words of Caution for Non-spouse Beneficiaries of Inherited IRAs

Generally, non-spouse beneficiaries are required to take distributions from the account either under the five-year rule (i.e., exhaust the funds within five years of inheriting them) or based on that beneficiary’s life expectancy. However, what many beneficiaries fail to understand is that when they take a distribution, that distribution will be taxable, cannot be undone by rolling the amount into another IRA and can cause the IRA to forfeit its stretch treatment. Non-spouse beneficiaries should be advised that their only opportunity with respect to rollover of an inherited IRA is to transfer the account (as an inherited account) to a new IRA custodian via a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer. For more information on inherited IRAs, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

District Court Finds Retiree Not Entitled to Change Election Regarding Pension Distribution Form

A district court recently ruled that a pension plan did not abuse its discretion by denying the request of a participant in pay status to change her election from a monthly annuity payout to a lump sum payment. In this case, the pension had opened a window whereby retirees could elect to switch from receiving an annuity to the lump sum option. The option also allowed the participant to revoke the change by a certain set date, and revert back to the annuity. Here, the retiree and her son, who had power of attorney, took the lump sum option but later revoked it to revert back to the annuity. Later, when the retiree was diagnosed with a neurological disease, they attempted to revoke the revocation to receive the lump sum. The court held that there was no abuse of discretion in the pension’s denial of that request because the window for electing the lump sum had closed. The impact of the neurological disease was irrelevant because the son who made the initial requests had power of attorney to speak on the participant’s behalf. For more information on what to consider when facing a lump sum option, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Updated IRS FAQ Confirms Section 1231 Gains Invested in Qualified Opportunity Funds in 2018 are Qualifying Investments

The second round of proposed regulations regarding qualified opportunity zone fund (QOF) investments generated questions as to the treatment of Section 1231 gains that had been invested in a QOF. Section 1231 capital gain treatment generally applies to depreciable property and real property used in a business (but not land held as investment property). Under the proposed regulations, Section 1231 capital gains are only permissible QOF investments to the extent of the 1231 capital gain amount, if the investment is made within 180 days of the last day of the tax year. IRS released FAQ to provide relief for the 2018 tax year, so that investment in the QOF and deferral will be available for the gross amount of Section 1231 gain realized during the 2018 tax year if the investment was made within 180 days of the sale date, rather than the last day of the tax year (assuming that the taxpayer’s tax year ended before May 1, 2019, when the regulations were released). For more information on opportunity zones, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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Getting its “fair share” from the U.S., U.K. implements 2% tax on gross revenues of Google, Amazon, and Facebook

Posted by William Byrnes on July 11, 2019


From April 2020, the government will introduce a new 2% tax on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. Large multi-national enterprises with revenue derived from the provision of a social media platform, a search engine or an online marketplace (‘in scope activities’) to UK users.

The Digital Services Tax will apply to businesses that provide a social media platform, search engine or an online marketplace to UK users. These businesses will be liable to Digital Services Tax when the group’s worldwide revenues from these digital activities are more than £500m and more than £25m of these revenues are derived from UK users.

If the group’s revenues exceed these thresholds, its revenues derived from UK users will be taxed at a rate of 2%. There is an allowance of £25m, which means a group’s first £25m of revenues derived from UK users will not be subject to Digital Services Tax.

The provision of a social media platform, internet search engine or online marketplace by a group includes the carrying on of any associated online advertising business. An associated online advertising business is a business operated on an online platform that facilitates the placing of online advertising, and derives significant benefit from its connection with the social media platform, search engine or online marketplace. There is an exemption from the online marketplace definition for financial and payment services providers.

The revenues from the business activity will include any revenue earned by the group which is connected to the business activity, irrespective of how the business monetises the platform. If revenues are attributable to the business activity and another activity, the business will need to apportion the revenue to each activity on a just and reasonable basis.

Revenues are derived from UK users if the revenue arises by virtue of a UK user using the platform. However, advertising revenues are derived from UK users when the advertisement is intended to be viewed by a UK user.

A UK user is a user that is normally located in the UK.

Where one of the parties to a transaction on an online marketplace is a UK user, all the revenues from that transaction will be treated as derived from UK users. This will also be the case when the transaction involves land or buildings in the UK. However, the revenue charged will be reduced to 50% of the revenues from the transaction when the other user in respect of the transaction is normally located in a country that operates a similar tax to the Digital Services Tax.

Businesses will be able to elect to calculate the Digital Services Tax under an alternative calculation under the ‘safe harbour’. This is intended to ensure that the tax does not have a disproportionate effect on business sustainability in cases where a business has a low operating margin from providing in-scope activities to UK users

The total Digital Services Tax liability will be calculated at the group level but the tax will be charged on the individual entities in the group that realise the revenues that contribute to this total. The group consists of all entities which are included in the group consolidated accounts, provided these are prepared under an acceptable accounting standard. Revenues will consequently be counted towards the thresholds even if they are recognised in entities which do not have a UK taxable presence for corporation tax purposes.

A single entity in the group will be responsible for reporting the Digital Services Tax to HMRC. Groups can nominate an entity to fulfil these responsibilities. Otherwise, the ultimate parent of the group will be responsible.

The Digital Services Tax will be payable and reportable on an annual basis.

Draft legislation

Explanatory notes

Read:

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of July 11

Posted by William Byrnes on July 11, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Prof. William H. Byrnes, Esq. and Robert Bloink, Esq. of

Texas A&M University Law Wealth Management programs

Jul 11, 2019

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IRS Snapshot Guidance Provides Insight into Post-2018 Plan Hardship Distribution Requirements

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made substantial changes to the rules governing hardship distributions from qualified plans beginning in 2019. These changes have left many employers wondering how to adequately comply with the new rules. The IRS has directed its agents to review the language in the plan document, as well as any written statement provided by the participant to ensure all documents are properly executed and signed. Further, agents are directed to examine any records that the employer used to verify that a true hardship did exist, as well as the amount of that hardship. These records can include bills, eviction notices, closing documents for purchase of a home, etc. The employee should also provide documentation to establish that no other readily available source of funds existed, which can be as simple as an employee attestation. For more information on post-2018 hardship distributions, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Clarifies Treatment of Transportation Benefits Upon Termination of Employment

An IRS information letter has clarified that a taxpayer forfeits any unused transportation benefits upon termination of employment. Because employers have only been permitted to provide tax-preferred transportation benefits to current employees, those benefits must be lost once the individual is no longer an employee. This is the case even if the benefits were provided through pre-tax employee contributions, and even if the employee is fired (i.e., compensation reductions cannot be reimbursed if the employee had not fully used them). Importantly, employees can change their elections regarding transportation benefits monthly without the need for a change in status event. For more information on employer-provided transportation benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Ninth Circuit Affirms Termination of Pension Benefits for Working Retiree

The Ninth Circuit recently confirmed that a pension plan was within its rights to terminate pension benefits to a participant who retired early, but then returned to work in the same industry. This was the case even though the plan itself had initially approved the taxpayer’s post-retirement work in the same industry in which he worked prior to retirement. Although Supreme Court precedent prohibits a pension from adding additional requirements to a participant’s benefit eligibility after that participant has retired, the court here found that the precedent did not apply because the plan in question had always required participants to withdraw from the industry in order to be eligible for benefits. The plan had begun enforcing the rule pursuant to a voluntary corrective action with the IRS that was entered in order to maintain the plan’s tax-qualified status. For more information on situations where a pension plan may reduce a participant’s benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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Texas A&M Hiring Senior Associate Vice President positions

Posted by William Byrnes on July 10, 2019


The Division of Research at Texas A&M University is seeking applications for one or more positions at the Senior Associate Vice President (AVP) level.

The retirement of the Executive Associate Vice President for Research (EAVP) provides an opportunity to realign and expand the portfolios overseen by the EAVP and the two current Senior AVPs.  Senior AVPs report directly to the Vice President for Research and each has a portfolio of administrative, compliance, and research advancement responsibilities. Responsibilities to be covered by the appointment of new Senior AVP(s) include:

  • Oversight of the Comparative Medicine Program (CMP), as well as supervision of the Attending Veterinarian. The CMP is the centrally administered support service for research and teaching programs at Texas A&M and provides high quality animal care consistent with the standards established by the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and all pertinent local, state, and federal laws. The Attending Veterinarian is responsible for the health and well-being of all animals used for research, teaching, and testing at Texas A&M.
  • Leadership of The Texas A&M University System’s expanding emphasis on interdisciplinary life sciences, health, biomedical activities, and multidisciplinary research initiatives for the Division.
  • Oversight of the membership of compliance committees (IACUC, IRB, IBC).
  • Oversight of facilities-related issues for the Division; and developing campus-wide policies for research space.
  • Oversight of the development and recognition of University researchers at all levels.
  • Development of external partnerships.
  • Serving as the University’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO).

Ideal candidates will communicate effectively and work well with all segments of the University and its external constituencies. In addition, these positions require a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Experience implementing and designing processes and projects is ideal. Familiarity with faculty-associated rules, guidelines, and administrative procedures is preferred.

Applications should include a cover letter with a clear statement of why the applicant believes they are qualified for the position, a description of key relevant experience, a vision statement for the position and its role in the Division of Research, a vita, and names and contact information of three references. For full consideration, applications should be received no later than July 22, 2019. These positions will remain open until filled. Applications should be submitted through email to Dr. Mark Barteau.

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Counter-Terrorism Financing’s International Best Practices and the Law – new book by Dr. Nathalie Rébé

Posted by William Byrnes on July 9, 2019


Counter-Terrorism Financing

International Best Practices and the Law

Series:

In Counter-Terrorism Financing: International Best Practices and the Law, Nathalie Rébé, offers a new comprehensive framework for CTF worldwide and reviews the strengths and weaknesses of current regulations and policies.

Both accessible, interesting and engaging in how it approaches chronic problems of Counter-Terrorism Financing, this book provides general understanding of this topic with a literature review and a gap-analysis based on CTF experts’ advices, as well as a very detailed analysis of current international regulatory tools.

Nathalie Rébé’s ‘all-in’one’ CTF manual is innovative in this field and provides answers for the international community to fight terrorism financing together more effectively, using a set of standards which promotes strong and diligent cooperation between countries concerning reporting, information exchange and gathering, as well as enforcement.

order here: https://brill.com/abstract/title/55779?rskey=Qa3MQv&result=1

For the Americas call (toll free) 1 (844) 232 3707 | or email us at: brillna@turpin-distribution.com
For outside the Americas call +44 (0) 1767 604-954 | or email us at: brill@turpin-distribution.com

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly of June 27

Posted by William Byrnes on June 28, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Jun 27, 2019

IRS Clarifies Employer Withholding Obligations for Retirement Account Distributions to Non-U.S. Destinations

The IRS has released long-awaited proposed regulations clarifying the income tax withholding obligations when distributions from employer-sponsored plans (including pension, annuity, profit sharing, stock bonus or deferred compensation plans) are made to destinations outside the U.S. While U.S. payees can elect to forgo withholding, non-U.S. payees cannot. In general, the participant cannot elect to forgo withholding with respect to these distributions even if the participant provides a U.S. residential address, but directs funds to be delivered to a destination outside the U.S. If the participant provides a non-U.S. residential address, withholding obligations cannot be waived even if the participant directs that the funds be distributed to a U.S. financial institution. When the participant provides no residential address, withholding obligations cannot be waived. For more information on retirement plans and nonresident taxpayers, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Administration Releases Final Regs Expanding HRA Use

The regulations expanding the use of HRAs to purchase individual health insurance in the marketplace have now been finalized. The regulations largely follow the proposed regulations, but differ in that they place limits on the ability of an employer to vary HRA contributions by age. For more information on the new rule, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Buy-Sell Agreement Did Not Create Second Class of Stock for S Corp Qualification Purposes

The IRS recently ruled that, for purposes of the “one class of stock rule”, it would disregard a buy-sell agreement that provided if the S corporation shareholder-employee was terminated for cause, the company could repurchase his or her shares at the lesser of (1) fair market value or (2) the price paid for the shares (a forfeiture price, which could have been zero). To qualify as an S corporation, the entity must only have one class of stock, a determination that is primarily based on whether the shares confer equal rights as to distribution and liquidation proceeds. The Treasury regulations, however, provide that buy-sell and redemption type agreements will be disregarded for purposes of the one class of stock rule unless its principal purpose is to avoid the one-class rule and the agreement establishes a purchase price significantly above or below the fair market value of the stock when the parties entered the agreement. Bona fide buy-sell agreements providing for redemption or repurchase of S corporation shares in the event of death, divorce, disability or termination of employment are always disregarded, regardless of price. S corporations should review their buy-sell agreements to ensure that they satisfy guidance as to the one-class rule. For more information on the one class of stock rule, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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Analysis of Altera’s Double Take. Will Altera Be Reheard En Banc or Will Altera Seek The Supreme Court To Weigh In On Chevron and State Farm?

Posted by William Byrnes on June 8, 2019


Prof. William Byrnes (Texas A&M Law) is the author of the treatises Practical Guide to U.S. Transfer Pricing and Taxation of Intellectual Property & Technology

“an arm’s length result is not simply any result that maximizes one’s tax obligations”

In a double take two-to-one decision because of a withdrawn decision due to the death of a judge, a Ninth Circuit panel in Altera reversed a unanimous en banc decision of the Tax Court that the qualified cost sharing arrangements (QCSA) regulations[1] were invalid under the Administrative Procedure Act.[2]  The renown Professor Calvin Johnson (Texas) and I shared comments on this case.  Professor Johnson’s pragmatism is worth noting (see his latest Altera article here) in the context of Altera: “$100 million of stock options is a $100 million cost, as a matter of law.” Because it is a cost for public accounting, Calvin states it is incredulous hat Altera would enter into a arm’s length negotiation in which the counterparty invests $200 cash, and Altera invests $200 cash plus $100 million stock options, but then Altera agrees to ignore its additional $100 million cost and agrees to split equally.  Altera wants to deduct its $100 million of stock cost domestically but pass on the associated income to the foreign-controlled group member.  This is bad policy.

I agree with Professor Johnson that it is bad policy.  But I think that Treasury is taking shortcuts to generate the result that it wants instead of going through the steps necessary to effect a change in policy. Most of my academic colleagues support the majority’s opinion of the proposition that Congress bestowed such latitude to Treasury in IRC § 482.  I agree that the latitude is within the Code Section, but that Treasury to date has regulated a policy dependent on the arm’s length and comparables, as the dissent enunciates and the Ninth Circuit panel majority supported in Xilinx II.  Treasury may change its policy approach, but that requires a formal procedural process laid out by the APA, I argue in favor of the dissent’s approach.  Even with the new language added to IRC § 482 by the TCJA of 2017, Treasury, I propose, must still formally open a public process that it is changing tact from arm’s length and comparables to something else like apportionment of profits and loss by formulae.

The last word has not been heard in Altera.  I expect that Altera will request an en banc hearing.  However, Altera II may be the case that the two newest members, in particular, Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, of the Supreme Court have been waiting for to weigh in on Chevron and State Farm.  Expect Altera III.

Altera I and Altera II (withdrawn)

The Ninth Circuit’s issuance, withdrawal, and re-issuance of a CSA decision is also a double take of Xilinx.[3] However unlike Altera, after the withdrawal of its initial Xilinx decision favoring the IRS position, the Ninth Circuit rejected the IRS’ position that the (pre-2003) QCSA Regulations required treating deductions for stock-based compensation as costs that must be shared by the foreign related party in cost-sharing arrangements. The former QCSA regulations, and current ones still, require that related entities share the cost of employee stock compensation in order for their cost-sharing arrangements to be classified as qualified cost-sharing arrangements. Treasury has consistently stated that the previous and current versions of the QCSA regulations are consistent with the arm’s length standard whereas the Tax Court has consistently disagreed with the IRS position.

At the Tax Court level for Altera, the Court held that the current QCSA regulations are a legislative rule because the regulations have the force of law, as opposed to an interpretive rule, and thus the State Farm standard applied.[4] The Tax Court concluded that Treasury did not undertake “reasoned decision making” required by State Farm in issuing the cost-sharing regulations because Treasury failed to support with any evidence in the administrative record its opinion that unrelated parties acting at arm’s length would share stock-based compensation (SBC) costs.[5] The Tax Court held that Treasury’s decision-making process relied on speculation rather than on hard data and expert opinions and that Treasury ignored public comments evidencing that unrelated party cost-sharing arrangements did not share stock compensation costs.

The Ninth Circuit’s first panel’s opinion, now withdrawn, held that Treasury did not exceed its authority delegated by Congress under IRC § 482.[6] That panel explained that IRC § 482 does not speak directly to whether Treasury may require parties to a QCSA to share employee stock compensation costs in order to receive the tax benefits associated with entering into a QCSA. The first panel held that the Treasury reasonably interpreted IRC § 482 as an authorization to require internal allocation methods in the QCSA context, provided that the costs and income allocated are proportionate to the economic activity of the related parties and concluded that the regulations are a reasonable method for achieving the results required by the statute. Thus, the first panel granted Chevron deference to the QCSA regulations.

The primary issue of Altera I and II, and the cases that precede it that have found in favor of the taxpayers is whether the arm’s length standard requires the comparability standard be met through a method seeking evidence of empirical data or known transactions?  Alternatively, is Treasury afforded deference to disregard a comparability method to instead seek an arm’s length result of tax parity that relies on an internal method of allocation to allocate the costs of the U.S. employee stock options between the U.S. and foreign related parties in proportion to the income enjoyed by each, determined post facto (after the fact) of the cost-sharing agreement?[7]

Altera II’s majority, relying on Frank,[8] states that the arm’s length standard need not be based solely on comparable transactions for reallocating costs and income, though recognizing that Frank is limited[9] to situations wherein it is difficult to hypothesize an arm’s length transaction.  The dissenting Judge provided a descriptive history that Treasury has repeatedly asserted that a comparability analysis is the only way to determine the arm’s length standard. Regarding Frank, the dissent stated, “The majority’s attempt to breathe life back into Frank is, simply, unpersuasive.” The Judge emphasized that the Ninth Circuit had declared Frank an outlier because (a) the parties in Frank had stipulated to applying a standard other than the arm’s length, (b) “there was no evidence that arms-length bargaining upon the specific commodities sold had produced a higher return,” and (c) that the complexity of the circumstances surrounding the services rendered by the subsidiary made it “difficult for the court to hypothesize an arm’s length transaction.”[10]

Pre Altera

The regulatory rules for cost-sharing arrangements (“CSAs”) at issue in Altera I and II, issued in temporary form January 5, 2009[11] and in subsequent final form effective December 16, 2011,[12] are different from the previously issued CSAs. The rules for earlier CSAs are subject to grandfather provisions.  For periods before January 5, 2009, the status of an arrangement as a CSA and the operative rules for complying arrangements, including rules for buy-in transactions, were determined under the qualified cost sharing arrangement regulations issued in 1995 and substantively amended in 1996 and 2003 (the “2003 QCSA Regulations”).[13]

The Ninth Circuit, in Xilinx,[14] rejected the position of the Service that the pre-2003 QCSA Regulations in effect in 1997–99 required treating deductions for stock-based compensation as costs that must be shared in cost-sharing arrangements.

The purpose of the regulations is parity between taxpayers in uncontrolled transactions and taxpayers in controlled transactions. The regulations are not to be construed to stultify that purpose. If the standard of arm’s length is trumped by 7(d)(1), the purpose of the statute is frustrated. If Xilinx cannot deduct all its stock option costs, Xilinx does not have tax parity with an independent taxpayer. Xilinx, Inc. v. Comm’r, 598 F.3d 1191, 1196, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 5795, *14 (9th Cir 2010)

The Xilinx concurring opinion summarizes the positions at odds between Xilinx and the IRS:

The parties provide dueling interpretations of the “arm’s length standard” as applied to the ESO costs that Xilinx and XI did not share. Xilinx contends that the undisputed fact that there are no comparable transactions in which unrelated parties share ESO costs is dispositive because, under the arm’s length standard, controlled parties need share only those costs uncontrolled parties share. By implication, Xilinx argues, costs that uncontrolled parties would not share need not be shared.

On the other hand, the Commissioner argues that the comparable transactions analysis is not always dispositive. The Commissioner reads the arm’s length standard as focused on what unrelated parties would do under the same circumstances, and contends that analyzing comparable transactions is unhelpful in situations where related and unrelated parties always occupy materially different circumstances. As applied to sharing ESO costs, the Commissioner argues (consistent with the tax court’s findings) that the reason unrelated parties do not, and would not, share ESO costs is that they are unwilling to expose themselves to an obligation that will vary with an unrelated company’s stock price.  Related companies are less prone to this concern precisely because they are related — i.e., because XI is wholly owned by Xilinx, it is already exposed to variations in Xilinx’s overall stock price, at least in some respects. In situations like these, the Commissioner reasons, the arm’s length result must be determined by some method other than analyzing what unrelated companies do in their joint development transactions. Xilinx, Inc. v. Comm’r, 598 F.3d 1191, 1197, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 5795, *16-17 (9th Cir 2010)

The concurring Judge concludes: “These regulations are hopelessly ambiguous and the ambiguity should be resolved in favor of what appears to have been the commonly held understanding of the meaning and purpose of the arm’s length standard prior to this litigation.”

The Treasury amended the QCSA in 2003 to explicitly provide that the intangible development costs that must be shared include the costs related to stock-based compensation. From January 5, 2009, the 2009/2011 QCSA Regulations apply (the “2009 QCSA Regulations”). For periods starting with January 5, 2009, a pre-January 5, 2009 arrangement that qualified as a CSA under the 2003 QCSA Regulations is subject in part to the 2003 QCSA Regulations and in part to the 2009 QCSA Regulations. Arrangements that qualified as CSAs under the 2003 QCSA Regulations, whether or not materially expanded in scope on or after January 5, 2009, are known as “grandfathered CSAs.” The IRS contends that grandfathered CSAs are subject, with significant exceptions, to the 2009 QCSA regulations provisions for cost sharing transactions (“CSTs”) and platform contribution transactions (PCTs).  The significant exceptions for the grandfathered CSAs include that, unless the CSA is later expanded by the related parties, the original pre-2009 CSA is not subject to the 2009 QCSA regulations ‘Divisional Interest’ and Periodic Adjustment rules.

However, the IRS attempted to adjust the application of the 2003 QCSA Regulations by issuing a Coordinated Issue Paper on Section 482 CSA Buy-In Adjustments on September 27, 2007 (the “2007 CSA-CIP”).[15] The CSA-CIP was de-coordinated effective June 26, 2012, after the rejection of its concepts in the 2009 Tax Court decision in the VERITAS case. [16] The CSA-CIP provided that the Income Method and the Acquisition Price Method, similar to the specified transfer pricing methods set forth in the 2009 QCSA Regulations, are to be considered ‘best methods’ under the 2003 QCSA Regulations even though they only could be applied as ‘unspecified methods’. The Tax Court in VERITAS, addressing assessments for the tax years 2000 and 2001, neither cited nor followed the IRS methods of its 2007 CSA-CIP. Note that VERITAS survives Altera II because the 2009 QCSA Regulations years were not yet promulgated for the years of concern.  From the IRS’ perspective, though it does not acquiesce in the decision, it cured VERITAS by including the Income Method and the Acquisition Price Method as specified methods for determining “buy-in” payments for the 2009 QCSA regulations buy-ins.  Thus, the IRS continues to aggressively litigate in favor of these methods, exemplified by the appeal from Altera[17] and Amazon[18] in 2017.

Post Altera

Although the IRS withdrew the CSA-CIP in 2012, it continues to pursue cases under the pre-2009 Treasury Regulations as is the CSA-CIP remained in place. Amazon filed a Tax Court petition in December of 2012 challenging a $2 billion transfer pricing adjustment related to a qualified cost sharing arrangement between Amazon.com Inc. and its European subsidiary pre-2009.  Amazon claimed that the IRS erred in relying on a discounted cash flow method which the tax court clearly rejected in VERITAS. In the 207-page Amazon opinion, the Tax Court ruled that the IRS’s adjustment with respect to a buy-in payment for the intragroup CSA was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.

Moreover, the IRS has an ongoing CSA controversy against Microsoft for the 2004-06 tax years for which President George Bush’s former Treasury Secretary John Snow promised at a February 7, 2006 hearing to then Chairman of the Committee Senator Charles E. Grassley that the IRS would bring a substantial CSA adjustment.[19] Microsoft reported an effective tax rate for fiscal years 2016, 2017, and 2018 of 15 percent, eight percent, and 19 percent respectively.[20] Microsoft reported that this unresolved transfer pricing issue is the primary cause for it to increase its tax contingency from $11.8 billion to $13.5 billion to $15.4 billion.[21] The IRS has not issued a deficiency because the controversy remains in the IDR stage of the audit currently due to litigation over the issues of legal privilege and the issue of the IRS’ contract with a third party law firm to assist in the audit.[22]

The IRS announced in 2016 and 2018 a CSA adjustment against Facebook for the tax years 2010 and subsequent of at least $5 billion, and of 2011 – 2013 of approximately $680 million.[23] Facebook reported an effective tax rate of 13 percent for the second quarter of 2017 and 2018.[24] The controversy remains in the procedural phase on the docket of the Tax Court. The Microsoft and Facebook controversies appear to be further second take of Amazon and Altera.

Based on Treasury’s litigation stances and the 2015 temporary CSA regulations proposals, Treasury updated several International Practice Service Transaction Units’ audit guidelines relevant for CSAs, including (1) Pricing of Platform Contribution Transaction (PCT) in Cost Sharing Arrangements (CSA)—Initial Transaction, (2) Change in Participation in a Cost Sharing Arrangement (CSA)—Controlled Transfer of Interests and Capability Variation, (3) Pricing of Platform Contribution Transaction (PCT) in Cost Sharing Arrangements (CSA) Acquisition of Subsequent IP, (4) Comparison of the Arm’s Length Standard with Other Valuation Approaches—Inbound, and (5) IRC 367(d) Transactions in Conjunction with Cost Sharing Arrangements (CSA).

Altera’s Double Take Analysis Of Majority and Dissenting Opinions (Read the Altera II Decision here)

The Ninth Circuit Court majority evaluated the validity of Treasury’s regulations under both Chevron and State Farm, which the Court stated: “provide for related but distinct standards for reviewing rules promulgated by administrative agencies.”[25] The majority distinguished State Farm from Chevron in that State Farm “is used to evaluate whether a rule is procedurally defective as a result of flaws in the agency’s decision-making process,” whereas Chevron “is generally used to evaluate whether the conclusion reached as a result of that process—an agency’s interpretation of a statutory provision it administers—is reasonable.”  The majority first turned to the Chevron analysis that:[26]

“When Congress has ‘explicitly left a gap for an agency to fill, there is an express delegation of authority to the agency to elucidate a specific provision of the statute by regulation,’ and any ensuing regulation is binding in the courts unless procedurally defective, arbitrary or capricious in substance, or manifestly contrary to the statute.”

The Ninth Circuit Court panel’s majority resolved that IRC § 482 is ambiguous because it does not address share employee stock compensation costs.[27] The majority stated that it is not persuaded by Altera’s argument that stock-based compensation is not “transferred” between parties because only intangibles in existence can be transferred. Altera argues that QCSAs to “develop” intangibles does not constitute a “transfer” of intangibles. The majority instead concludes that the transfer of intangibles may include the transfer of future distribution rights to intangibles which stock-based compensation are albeit yet to be developed. The majority relies upon the expansive meaning of the statutory word “any” for IRC § 482 (“any” transfer . . . of intangible property).[28] But the dissent counters that “any” does not modify “intangible property.” Rather, “any” precedes and thus, applies only to “transfer.”[29]

The majority accepts Treasury’s new explanation that the taxpayer’s agreement to “divide beneficial ownership of any Developed Technology” constitutes a transfer of intangibles.[30]  The dissenting Judge points out that Treasury never made, much less supported, a finding that QCSAs constitute transfers of intangible property.[31] The dissent states that:[32]

“No rights are transferred when parties enter into an agreement to develop intangibles; this is because the rights to later-developed intangible property would spring ab initio to the parties who shared the development costs without any need to transfer the property. And, there is no guarantee when the cost-sharing arrangements are entered into that any intangible will, in fact, be developed.”

The majority next turned to the reasonableness of Treasury ignoring the comparables presented by the Taxpayer and during the regulatory comment period.  The majority quotes from an aspect of the legislative history:[33]  

 “There are extreme difficulties in determining whether the arm’s length transfers between unrelated parties are comparable. . . . [I]t is appropriate to require that the payment made on a transfer of intangibles to a related foreign corporation be commensurate with the income attributable to the intangible.”

The majority concludes that Congress granted Treasury the authority to develop methods that did not rely on the analysis of ‘problematic’ comparable transactions and that Treasury promulgated the QCSA based on this authority because Treasury stated, “The uncontrolled transactions cited by commentators do not share enough characteristics of QCSAs involving the development of high-profit intangibles…”.[34]

The dissenting Judge pointed out that Treasury merely cited to the general legislative history IRC § 482 1986 amendment but that Treasury “did not explain what portions of the legislative history it found pertinent or how any of that history factored into its thinking.”[35] The dissenting Judge holds out that the majority accepts the “ever-evolving post-hoc rationalizations” of Treasury and then “goes even further to justify what Treasury did here”.[36] Commentators of the 2009 QCSA regulations submitted comparable transactions demonstrating that unrelated companies do not share the cost of stock-based compensation. Treasury distinguished these uncontrolled transactions as not sharing enough characteristics of QCSAs involving the development of high-profit intangibles. The dissent agreed with the Tax Court which held that Treasury’s explanation for its regulation was insufficient under State Farm because Treasury “failed to provide a reasoned basis” for its “belief that unrelated parties entering into QCSAs would generally share stock-based compensation costs.”[37]

The dissenting Judge explained that the legislative history and plain reading of the second sentence of IRC § 482 did not offer Treasury the flexibility to depart from a comparability analysis required by the first sentence but for a limited context of “any transfer (or license) of intangible property”.  The Judge then pointed out that Treasury’s 1988 White Paper also stated: “intangible income must be allocated on the basis of comparable transactions if comparables exist.”[38]  Thus, the Tax Court’s found for Xilinx because the IRS had not provided evidence that unrelated parties transacting at arm’s length share expenses related to stock-based compensation.[39]  The Ninth Circuit majority upheld the finding in favor of Xilinx because the arm’s length standard required that stock-based compensation expenses would not be shared in the absence of evidence that unrelated parties would share these costs.[40]

The majority next concludes that Treasury complied with the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”) so that the 2009 QCSA survives a State Farm analysis.[41] The State Farm analysis second step requires that the Treasury “must consider and respond to significant comments received during the period for public comment.”[42] The majority summarizes Altera’s four arguments that Treasury did not meet this requirement: (1) Treasury improperly rejected comments submitted in opposition to the proposed rule, (2) Treasury’s current litigation position is inconsistent with statements made during the rulemaking process, (3) Treasury did not adequately support its position that employee stock compensation is a cost, and (4) a more searching review is required under Fox,[43] because the agency altered its position.  Boiled down, Altera argues that Treasury stated its intent to coordinate the new regulations with the arm’s length standard and then dismissed submissions addressing arm’s length comparables.

The majority was not persuaded by Altera’s argument that an arm’s length analysis requires actual transactional analysis. Altera submitted that “unrelated parties do not share stock compensation costs because it is difficult to value stock-based compensation, and there can be a great deal of expense and risk involved.”[44] Treasury responded in the 2009 QCSA that “the uncontrolled transactions cited by commentators do not share enough characteristics of QCSAs involving the development of high-profit intangibles to establish that parties at arm’s length would not take stock options into account in the context of an arrangement similar to a QCSA.”[45] The majority sided with Treasury’s justification that the lack of similar transactions led it to “employ a methodology that did not depend on non-existent comparables to satisfy the commensurate with income test and achieve tax parity.”[46]  The majority also concluded that Treasury’s use of an internal method of reallocation is consistent with the arm’s length standard because the internal method attempts to bring parity to the tax treatment of controlled and uncontrolled taxpayers as does a comparison of comparable transactions when they exist.[47]

Finally, the majority distinguished the previous, contrary, 2010 holding of the majority in Xilinx that stock-based compensation is not required to be included for a CSA. This majority stated that administrative authority was not at issue in Xilinx and that the previous panel was not called upon to consider the “commensurate with income.  The Xilinx panel had to reconcile a conflict between two rules: the specific methods of the 1994 arm’s length rule and the pre-2003 QCSA Regulations.[48]

The dissenting panel member instead concluded that the two-member majority justified Treasury’s about-face by (a) providing “a reasoned basis for the agency’s action that the agency itself has not given”,[49] (b) encouraging “executive agencies’ penchant for changing their views about the law’s meaning almost as often as they change administrations”,[50] and (c) endorsing a practice of requiring interested parties to engage in a scavenger hunt to understand an agency’s rulemaking proposals.[51]  The dissenting Judge was troubled that Treasury stated “for the first time and with no explanation that it may, instead, employ the “commensurate with income” standard to reach the required arm’s length result.”[52]

Based on the Tax Court decision in Xilinx and in Altera that the taxpayer had presented sufficient evidence of comparable transactions, the dissent agreed with the Tax Court’s finding that Treasury was required at least to attempt to gather empirical evidence before declaring that no such evidence was available, in the face of such evidence being available.  In light of this evidence, Treasury concedes the comparables issue in its appellate brief and instead pivots its justification for the 2009 QCSA that Treasury is not required to undertake an analysis of what unrelated entities do under comparable circumstances. Treasury’s argument is that it was statutorily authorized to dispense with a comparability analysis in this narrow context and thus Treasury does not need to investigate whether the uncontrolled transactions were comparable.[53] The dissenting Judge would hold that the APA requires Treasury to state that it was taking this new position in a stark departure from its previous regulations.[54]

In my opinion, Treasury had to concede the comparables point.  The issues remain the same as explained by the Xilinx concurring Judge above.  Treasury’s argument, regarding CSAs, is that related parties should be treated differently because as a group the parties have more information and more control over the other party as regards the share options.  Given the group relationship, the U.S. and the foreign party will split the costs of the U.S. employees’ share options.  But the application of the arm’s length standard has been understood to treat the related parties and unrelated.  If unrelated, then the assumption of information is unfounded.  Moreover, why would the foreign party bear the costs of the share options of the U.S. employees without negotiating on behalf of its employees to also receive such options?  What is the quid pro quo for the foreign subsidiary?  Yet, I also consider that potentially such lopsidedness in favor of the U.S. party can be brought to bear by the economic dominance of the U.S. party. which can potentially occur in an outsourcing relationship.  However, Altera and amicus industry groups provided agreements evidencing the contrary and the IRS chose not to seek rebuttal evidence (or it could not locate any). 

The issues of comparables and comparability, at least in my perspective, are distinguishable.  The first step is to identify transaction comparables, which Altera clearly has, and the second is to then to adjust for the commonly accepted (market, economic) variances between the comparables.  By example, size of parties in relation to each other, size of market and competition within, term, etc the factors of the Treasury Regs and other arm’s length differences that would require adjustments.  I disagree with the underlying premise of the “three percent”. Stated another way, 97 percent of transactions are therefore incomparable.  That’s a lot of “unicorns”.  But business is not like our fingerprints and rarely generates unicorns.  More often, competitors develop distinguishing approaches that can be adjusted for.  Said another way, I disagree with the lack of comparables, and base my disagreement on the managerial sciences like supply and value chain.  The economy does produce unicorns and we call these unicorns first movers.  Sometimes we grant patent protection to maintain unicorn status for a period of time.  And sometimes first movers develop a new formation of the supply and full value chain that we call a business method.  But for the issue of a monopoly or concentrated oligopoly, such first movers eventually experience competitors and comparables begin to emerge.  Thus, the argument for a lack of comparable transactions within an industry or industry segment necessarily requires believing that unicorns are common.

Also, the “three percent” must be viewed in historical context.  Firstly, that report was written at a time when there was a lack of available information via the Internet and electronic (pay for) databases that captured such information, cleaned it, and tagged it.  Secondly, the domestic economy itself was less mature and robust, with much less competition and thus much less transactions to be compared. Thirdly, the world was not a globalized competitive economy as it is today.  The OECD and Treasury still state a lack of comparable transactions today with regard to “hard to value intangibles”.  My academic sense thinks that it is just hard, laborious work to find them.  (And arguably for simplicity maybe as a policy we should move away from the arm’s length). 

The dissenting Judge finds that in 1986 Congress could not have legislated against the backdrop of stock-based compensation and cost-sharing arrangement because these activities did not develop until the 1990s. Thus, the dissenting Judge concludes that while “Congress may choose to address this practice now, it cannot be deemed to have done so then.”[55] In his conclusion, the Judge states “… an arm’s length result is not simply any result that maximizes one’s tax obligations.”[56] In my opinion, the ball is in Treasury’s court, not Congress’.

Lexis’ Practical Guide to U.S. Transfer Pricing is 36 chapters, 3,000 pages, updated annually to help multinationals cope with the U.S. transfer pricing rules and procedures, taking into account the international norms established by the OECD and UN. It is also designed for use by tax administrators, both those belonging to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and those belonging to the tax administrations of other countries, and tax professionals in and out of government, corporate executives, and their non-tax advisors, both American and foreign. Fifty co-authors contribute subject matter expertise on technical issues faced by tax and risk management counsel.  Free download of chapter 2 here

END NOTES

[1]Treas. Reg. § 1.482-7A(d)(2).

[2] Altera Corp. v Commr, __ F.3d. __ (9th Cir., June 7, 2019) (case no. 16-70496) [hereafter “Altera II”] reversing Altera Corp. v. Commr, 145 TC No 3 (July 27, 2015) [hereafter “Altera I”].

[3] Xilinx, Inc v Commr, 125 TC 37 (2005), affd, 598 F 3d 1191 (9th Cir 2010). It is noted that in 2009 the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion accepting the position of the Service, but withdrew that opinion on Jan. 13, 2010.

[4] See Am. Mining Cong. v. Mine Safety & Health Admin., 995 F.2d 1106, 1109 (D.C. Cir. 1993). Interpretive rules are excluded from the general notice requirement for proposed rulemaking by 5 U.S.C. sec. 553(b)(3)(A). See Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984) that the Tax Court held incorporates the State Farm standard.

[5] Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n of the U.S. v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29 (1983).

[6] The Ninth Circuit’s majority stated that the summary of the first panel’s withdrawn opinion constitutes no part of the opinion of the second panel.

[7] Altera II at 6, citing Comm’r v. First Sec. Bank of Utah, 405 U.S. 394, 400 (1972) (quoting 26 C.F.R. §1.482-1(b)(1) (1971)).

[8] Frank v. Int’l Canadian Corp., 308 F.2d 520, 528–29 (9th Cir. 1962).

[9] Oil Base, Inc. v. Comm’r, 362 F.2d 212, 214 n.5 (9th Cir. 1966).

[10] Altera II dissent at 54.

[11] 74 Fed Reg 340 (Jan 5, 2009) (the “Temporary Regulations”).

[12] 76 Fed Reg 80,082 (Dec 22, 2011) (the “Final Regulations”).

[13] Treas. Reg. § 1.482-7A. The “A” was added to the QSCA Regulations effective on January 5, 2009, when the Temporary Regulations were published.

[14] Xilinx, Inc v Commr, 125 TC 37 (2005), affd, 598 F 3d 1191 (9th Cir 2010).

[15] Coordinated Issue Paper on Section 482 CSA Buy-In Adjustments, LMSB-04-0907-62 [hereinafter CSA-CIP].

[16] VERITAS Software Corp v Commr, 133 TC 297 (2009), nonacq, 2010-49 IRB (Dec 6, 2010) (detailed explanation of the IRS’ reasoning available at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-aod/aod201005.pdf, assessed June 7, 2019).

[17] Altera I.

[18] Amazon.Com, Inc. v Commr, 148 TC No 8 (March 23, 2017).

[19] Unofficial Transcript of Finance Hearing on Fiscal 2007 Budget is Available, 2006 TNT 31-15 (Feb 15, 2006).

[20] Fiscal year end of June 30 for 2016 and 2017, last three months ending December 31, 2018.  Microsoft 10-K (2017) at 38; Microsoft 10-K (2018); Microsoft 10-K (2Q 2019) at Note 11-Income Taxes.

[21] Microsoft 10-K (2017) at 39; Microsoft 10-K (2Q 2019) at Note 11-Income Taxes.

[22] United States v Microsoft Corp, No 2:15-cv-00102 (WD Wash May 5, 2017).

[23] See U.S. v Facebook Inc ND Cal, No 3:16-cv-03777 (pet filed July 6, 2016).

[24] Facebook 10-Q (2Q 2017) at 20; Facebook 10-K (2018) at 35, 48.

[25] Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc. v. EPA, 846 F.3d 492, 521 (2d Cir. 2017).

[26] Chevron, 467 U.S. at 843–44.

[27] Altera II at 25.

[28] The Court cites United States v. Gonzales, 520 U.S. 1, 5 (1997) (“Read naturally, the word ‘any’ has an expansive meaning . . . .”) and Republic of Iraq v. Beaty, 556 U.S. 848, 856 (2009) (“Of course the word ‘any’ (in the phrase ‘any other provision of law’) has an ‘expansive meaning, giving us no warrant to limit the class of provisions of law [encompassed by the statutory provision].”

[29] Altera II dissent at 79.

[30] Altera II dissent at 67.

[31] Altera II dissent at 73.

[32] Altera II dissent at 73.

[33] See H.R. Rep. No. 99-426, at 425.

[34] Citing Compensatory Stock Options Under Section 482, 68 Fed. Reg. 51,171-02, 51,173 (Aug. 26, 2003).

[35] Altera II dissent at 63.

[36] Altera II dissent at 67.

[37] Altera II dissent at 65.

[38] Study of Intercompany Pricing under Section 482 of the Code (“White Paper”), I.R.S. Notice 88-123, 1988-1 C.B. 458, 474;

[39] Xilinx v. Commissioner (“Xilinx I”), 125 T.C. 37, 53 (2005).

[40] Altera II dissent at 58.

[41] Altera II at 33.

[42] 5 U.S.C. § 553(c); Perez v. Mortg. Bankers Ass’n, 135 S. Ct. 1199, 1203 (2015).

[43] FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 556 U.S. 502 (2009).

[44] Altera II at 36.

[45] Compensatory Stock Options under Section 482 (Preamble to Final Rule), 68 Fed. Reg. 51,171-02, 51,172–73 Aug. 26, 2003).

[46] Altera II at 39.

[47] Altera II at 41.

[48] Treas. Reg. § 1.482-1(b)(1) (1994).

[49] Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n of U.S., Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983) (citing SEC v. Chenery Corp. (“Chenery II”), 332 U.S. 194, 196 (1947))

[50] BNSF Ry. Co. v. Loos, 586 U.S. ___, No. 17-1042, slip op. at 9 (2019) (Gorsuch, J., dissenting)

[51] Altera II dissent at 51.

[52] in its preamble to § 1.482-7A(d)(2),

[53] Altera II dissent at 66 citing Appellant’s Br. 64.

[54] Altera II dissent at 68 citing FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 556 U.S. 502, 515 (2009) (“[T]he requirement that an agency provide reasoned explanation for its action would ordinarily demand that it display awareness that it is changing position.”).

[55] Altera II dissent at 80.

[56] Altera II dissent at 81.

 

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly June 6 – 12 by William Byrnes & Robert Bloink

Posted by William Byrnes on June 6, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

IRS Releases 2020 HSA Inflation-Adjusted Amounts

The IRS has released Revenue Procedure 2019-25, which provides the 2020 inflation adjusted amounts for taxpayers who contribute to health savings accounts (HSAs). For 2020, the annual contribution limit for taxpayers with self-only coverage under an HDHP is $3,550 ($7,100 for family coverage). Relatedly, a high deductible health plan (HDHP) for 2020 is one with an annual deductible of not less than $1,400 for self-only coverage ($2,800 for family coverage), with annual out-of-pocket expenses for self-only coverage that do not exceed $6,900 ($13,800 for family coverage). For more information on the contribution limits that apply to HSAs, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

PBGC Releases Final Regulations on Valuation and Notice Requirements for Insolvent Multiemployer Plans

Under the final regulations, insolvent plans that are receiving financial assistance or terminated via amendment, but expected to become insolvent, must only perform actuarial valuations once every five years if the plan provides nonforfeitable benefits of $50 million or less. Under prior law, valuations were required every three years and the nonforfeitable benefit threshold was $25 million. In the alternative, the plan may, within 180 days, submit their current SPD, most recent actuarial report and certain other information to allow the PBGC to complete the valuation. Additionally, plan sponsors of insolvent or terminated plans now must file information about their withdrawal liability payments and withdrawal of employers who have not yet been assessed withdrawal liability with the PBGC within 180 days of the earlier of the end of the plan year in which the plan terminates or becomes insolvent. This filing is due annually. For more information on multiemployer pension plans, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Expands Determination Letter Program

The IRS has released guidance expanding the determination letter program for individually designed cash balance plans and certain plans that have merged. Revenue Procedure 2019-20 now allows both hybrid plans and merged plans to obtain a favorable determination letter. Hybrid plans can submit determination letter applications during the 12-month period beginning September 1, 2019 and ending August 31, 2020. During this period, the IRS will not penalize these plans for plan document failures related to the final hybrid plan regulations and will cap the penalty amounts for certain other good faith amendments. Merged plans that survive after two plans have merged into a single individually designed plan. To be eligible, the plan merger must occur no later than the end of the plan year after the corporate merger transaction took place and the application for the determination letter program must be submitted after the date of the plan merger, but no later than the end of the plan year after the plan merger. For more information on plan qualification requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

LL.M. or M.Jur. Curriculum in Wealth Management at Texas A&M Law

Our Wealth Management program gives you the knowledge and skills you need to advise wealthy clients and help manage their assets. Because wealth management involves professionals with various backgrounds, we’ve designed the program with both lawyers and non-lawyers in mind. This program is offered completely online, which gives professionals the flexibility they need to learn and to meet the increasing need of being versed in the legal aspects of financial transactions and in the legal aspects of financial investment and portfolio management. Contact us to learn more

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly for May 2 – May 8

Posted by William Byrnes on May 6, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

Family Attribution Rules Do Not Impair Deductibility of S Corporation Employee Health Insurance

The IRS released a CCM providing that an S corporation employee who was considered a 2-percent shareholder via the family attribution rules was entitled to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums paid by the S corporation and included in the employee’s income. Here, the S corporation paid the premium costs and included those amounts in the individual’s income, who was, in turn, entitled to the deduction. For more information on the tax treatment of S corporation health insurance, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Rules Loan Availability Does Not Jeopardize Employee Stock Purchase Plan Qualification

The IRS released a PLR providing that a plan participant’s eligibility to obtain a loan from the employer (or a third party) to purchase shares under an employee stock purchase plan does not jeopardize the plan’s qualification under IRC Section 423(b). In this case, loan availability was premised on the fact that the loan could not violate the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, meaning that some participants may have been rendered ineligible to take out a loan to purchase employee shares through the plan. This PLR indicates the IRS’ view that provisions allowing purchase of shares via loans do not prevent qualification even if some employees are ineligible. For more information on the ownership of employer stock in an employer-sponsored plan, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Received a 226J Letter? Here’s How to Respond

Employers have recently begun receiving 226J letters detailing employer mandate compliance issues from the IRS with respect to the 2016 tax year. Importantly, employers must remember that the employer mandate continues in effect despite the repeal of the individual mandate and despite pending challenges to the ACA itself. An employer may receive a 226J letter with respect to two types of failures: failure to offer minimum essential coverage to at least 95% of full-time employees or failure to: (1) offer coverage to the employee, (2) provide affordable coverage or (3) offer coverage that satisfied minimum value requirements, in all cases if the FTE received a tax credit. Letter 226J should contain a deadline for a response, usually 30 days after the letter was issued (employers may request a 30-day extension). It is important to get expert advice when drafting the response, but issues to consider include whether the IRS was using the correct data (i.e., was a corrected Form 1094 filed with the IRS in 2016?), whether the plan was a calendar year plan (transition relief may apply) and whether the employer did, in fact, offer minimum coverage during each month. For more information on the employer mandate, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

LL.M. or M.Jur. Curriculum in Wealth Management at Texas A&M Law

Our Wealth Management program gives you the knowledge and skills you need to advise wealthy clients and help manage their assets. Because wealth management involves professionals with various backgrounds, we’ve designed the program with both lawyers and non-lawyers in mind. This program is offered completely online, which gives professionals the flexibility they need to learn and to meet the increasing need of being versed in the legal aspects of financial transactions and in the legal aspects of financial investment and portfolio management. Contact us to learn more

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TEXAS A&M REACHES MILESTONE: EXPANDS ITS NETWORK TO 500,000+ AT GRADUATION

Posted by William Byrnes on May 3, 2019


Commencement ceremonies will be held May 3 in Fort Worth for Texas A&M University School of Law for 17​4 graduates. The day will include a Law School Aggie Ring ceremony and a Military Cord ceremony prior to the hooding ceremony.

The school’s first Masters of Jurisprudence (M.Jur.) ​diplomas will be awarded along with Masters of Law (LL.M.) honors. Graduates walking across the stage are students who earned their ​graduate degrees in ​risk ​management or ​wealth management via Texas A&M Law’s innovative online program.

This May, Texas A&M University will surpass 500,000 former students and record more than 500,000 degrees granted since its opening in the fall of 1876, according to Texas A&M Today. Texas A&M University will award a record 10,767 degrees at 15 commencement ceremonies across multiple campuses.

“These milestones are reflective of our commitment to our land-grant mission to bring higher education to all who seek it, to develop leaders of character and to pursue excellence in teaching, research and service,” Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young said. “Congratulations to the Class of 2019 for being part of this historic moment, and thank you to each and every Aggie who came before for providing the foundation upon which we will continue to build.”

“This milestone is a testament to the unique and unparalleled education and experience provided by Texas A&M. As we also celebrate our 140th year of service and support to Texas A&M, I know the 11 Aggies who created our organization in 1879 would be proud to see the difference 500,000 former students have made on Texas A&M and our world,” The Association of Former Students President and CEO Porter S. Garner III said.

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly Client Questions Answered on April 29

Posted by William Byrnes on April 29, 2019


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

William Byrnes and Robert Bloink reduce complicated tax questions to understandable client answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

IRS Releases FAQ on Section 199A Shedding Light on Impact of S Corporation Health Insurance Deductions

The IRS has released a set of FAQs based upon the regulations governing the new Section 199A deduction for pass-through entities, such as S corporations. One potentially overlooked issue in the S corporation context is the impact of health insurance premium payments on QBI. The FAQ provides that health insurance premiums paid by the S corporation for a greater-than-2-percent shareholder reduce QBI at the entity level (by reducing the ordinary income used to calculate QBI). Similarly, when a self-employed individual takes a deduction for health insurance attributable to the trade or business, this will be a deduction in determining QBI and can reduce QBI at the entity and individual levels. For more information on the treatment of health insurance premiums in the S corporation context, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Post-Reform Life Insurance Reporting Regs Provide Relief for Certain Contacts Acquired in Business Combinations

The proposed regulations governing the new life insurance reporting requirements created by the 2017 tax reform legislation (which do not become effective until finalized) would exclude from the new rules situations where one entity acquires a C corporation that owns life insurance contracts, so long as the life insurance contracts do not represent more than half of the corporation’s assets. Generally, the new rule created by tax reform would make cause certain life insurance contracts to lose their tax-preferred status if transferred in a reportable policy sale (and most business combinations would qualify as such). Under the proposed rules, however, the pre-tax reform exceptions to the transfer for value rule could apply when a C corporation is acquired. For more information on the future reporting requirements that will apply, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Missed the April 15 Tax Filing Deadline? Tips for Obtaining an Extension After the Fact

With the 2018 tax filing deadline behind us, many taxpayers who were unable to complete their returns may be wondering what steps to take to file those returns after the deadline has expired. Most taxpayers can easily request an extension through October 15 by using Form 4868 (available at irs.gov) to request the extension. The form will require that the client provide his or her estimated tax liability–remembering that the filing extension only extends the time for filing a return, so that the client’s 2018 tax payment was still due April 15. If the client was impacted by certain recent disasters, including the California wildfires, severe storms in Alabama, and storms and flooding in Nebraska or Iowa, have automatically been granted various extensions, so are not required to complete the paperwork necessary to obtain the extension. For more information on federal income tax filing requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on April 12, 2019


Tax Reform Impact on Performance Goal Certification Requirements in Executive Compensation Context

Prior to tax reform, companies were afforded special treatment for certain compensation in excess of the $1 million limit so long as the compensation was based on performance goals certified by the company’s compensation committee. Tax reform eliminated that exception so that companies cannot deduct this excess compensation even if it is performance based–therefore, there is no tangible benefit to having a compensation committee certify that those goals were met in many cases. Despite this, in order to qualify under tax reform’s grandfathering provisions, performance-based compensation must continue to satisfy all of the standards that existed prior to the reform, so many companies may wish to continue their certification practice if they otherwise qualify for grandfathering treatment. For more information on the post-reform rules governing the deduction for executive compensation and the grandfathering rules, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2019 Tax Season Preview: Now is the Time to Check Withholding

As we near the end of the 2018 tax season, many clients may have been disappointed by the amount of their refunds or even unexpectedly owed taxes because of the changes brought about by the 2017 tax reform legislation. Many of these surprises were caused by the new withholding tables developed by the IRS because the personal exemption was suspended from 2018-2025. Because of this, taxpayers should be advised to check their withholding now even though it may seem early in order to make any adjustments necessary to avoid unpleasant tax surprises next year. Taxpayers are entitled to have their employers withhold more or less depending upon their personal preferences, and the IRS website provides a calculator designed to help taxpayers anticipate how their withholding choices will impact their refund next year. For more information on the federal tax rules that apply this year post-reform, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

IRS Provides Last-Minute Penalty Relief for Taxpayers Who Underpaid in 2018

The IRS released last minute penalty relief for certain taxpayers whose tax withholding or estimated tax payments were insufficient in 2018. Usually, a penalty will apply if the taxpayer did not pay at least 90 percent of his or her tax liability for the year. For the 2018 tax year only, the IRS lowered the threshold to 80 percent to account for the significant changes made to the tax code late in 2017. Under previous guidance released in January, the relief was to apply for taxpayers who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability. This relief applies both to taxpayers who paid through employer withholding and those who paid quarterly estimated payments (or any combination). If the taxpayer qualifies for this relief but has already filed a return, the taxpayer can request a refund using Form 843, which must be filed in paper format. For more information on the underpayment penalty, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Facts Team
Molly Miller
Publisher
William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M
Tax Facts Author
Jason Gilbert, J.D.
Senior Editor
Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Tax Facts Author
Connie L. Jump
Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
Alexis Long, J.D.
Senior Contributor
Patti O’Leary
Senior Editorial Assistant
Danielle Birdsail
Digital Marketing Manager
Emily Brunner
Editorial Assistant

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on April 10, 2019


IRS Explains Impact of SALT Cap on Taxpayers Receiving State and Local Tax Refunds

The IRS has provided guidance explaining the relevance of the “tax benefit rule” for taxpayers who receive a refund of state and local taxes in years when the post-reform limit on deducting state and local taxes (the “SALT cap”) is in effect. For more information on the impact of the SALT cap, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Federal Court Invalidates DOL Rules Expanding Association Health Plans

A Washington, D.C. federal court struck down the final regulations released by the DOL in effort to expand the availability of association health plans for various smaller employers and owner-employees, which would have given these groups access to less expensive plans that offered fewer benefits and did not satisfy ACA requirements. The fate of the actual expansion of association health plans remains unclear, however, as the DOL has indicated it will explore all available options and continue to work toward expanding access. For more information on the tax rules for self-employed business owners’ health coverage, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Employer Stock & 401(k) Plans: The Bad, the Ugly…and the Potentially Good?

In recent years, many employers have begun shying away from offering employer stock to employees as 401(k) investments. Fiduciary liability concerns and lack of diversification, especially amid dramatic decreases in value in some cases, have made the strategy risky for some companies. However, this does not mean that any client who currently holds employer stock in a 401(k) should immediately liquidate all employer stock. Clients should first be advised that the potential to take advantage of a net unrealized appreciation (NUA) strategy could provide a more valuable way to sell off employer stock. For more information on the NUA strategy, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Facts Team
Molly Miller
Publisher
William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M
Tax Facts Author
Jason Gilbert, J.D.
Senior Editor
Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Tax Facts Author
Connie L. Jump
Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
Alexis Long, J.D.
Senior Contributor
Patti O’Leary
Senior Editorial Assistant
Danielle Birdsail
Digital Marketing Manager
Emily Brunner
Editorial Assistant
For questions, contact Customer Service at 1-800-543-0874.

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on March 29, 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE FOR ONLINE SUBSCRIBERS
You will notice a new orange banner appearing at the top of your screen called “Latest Developments”. In this section we are offering new features, and we will introduce other features later in the year….

· Tax Facts Intelligence Weekly – current as well as archive weekly newsletters you receive by email as another way to access our latest developments.

· Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down – a debate each week between Robert Bloink and myself (William Byrnes) whereby we take opposing viewpoints on tax policy and argue our opinions. Find out if you agree or disagree and, eventually, you will be able to vote on whose side you are on for that week.

· Featured Articles – a weekly article with archives written by Robert Bloink and myself, thought leaders in finding customer needs for new products and how to make new practice tools work with your clients, perhaps in ways you may not have thought about.

· Recent Updates – as you may know, our digital version of Tax Facts is updated weekly and not annually like our print version of Tax Facts. You can now see any significant changes made to a Tax Facts question that week as it will appear in the “Latest Developments” section, so you are aware of changes. These changes can even be delivered to your smartphone should you choose.

We are looking for another big year providing lots of value-added commentary and analysis. I am always interested in your feedback so feel free to email me at williambyrnes@gmail.com.

Sixth Circuit Confirms Insurance Agents Remain Independent Contractors

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently confirmed that life insurance agents were properly classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. The case involved eligibility for benefits under ERISA, and a district court, using the traditional Darden factors for determining classification status, had ruled in 2017 that the agents were employees who were eligible for ERISA benefits. For more information on insurance agents and employment classification issues, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Renewed Importance of Checking “Compensation” Definition in Retirement Plans Post-Tax Reform

The definition of “compensation” is important for many reasons in the retirement planning arena, but has gained new importance in light of suspended deductions and exclusions post-tax reform. Retirement plans generally must use the IRC’s definition of compensation for nondiscrimination testing purposes, which includes, for example, nondeductible moving expenses (but excludes deductible moving expenses). Post-reform, however, all moving expenses are nondeductible. Despite this, the moving expense deduction was only suspended, not eliminated. This is one example of how tax reform has created a level of uncertainty regarding the appropriate definition of compensation while all tax reform provisions remain (at least temporarily) in effect. For more information on the definition of compensation for qualified plan purposes, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Grandfathered Health Plan Status: Still Important for Employers

In the years that have passed since the ACA became effective, many employers may have forgotten the importance of maintaining the grandfathered status of their health insurance plans. Grandfathered health plans remain exempt from many of the ACA market reform provisions and help employers avoid some of the more difficult compliance issues presented by the ACA. To maintain grandfathered status, employers should be sure to maintain proper documentation of the plan coverage extending from March 23, 2010 to the present. If and when the plan enters a new policy or contract, it should provide the health insurance company with documents governing the plan terms to make sure the change will not cause loss of grandfathered status. Adding new employees or new contributing employers will not impact the grandfathered status of the plan, so long as the principal purpose of any restructuring of the business was not to cover additional people under a grandfathered plan. Amendments to the plan that eliminate certain benefits can cause loss of grandfathered status, as can increases in certain cost-sharing requirements and copayments. For more information on grandfathered health plans, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on March 27, 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE FOR ONLINE SUBSCRIBERS
You will notice a new orange banner appearing at the top of your TaxFacts & App screen called “Latest Developments”. In this section we are offering new features, and we will introduce other features later in the year….

· Tax Facts Intelligence Weekly – current as well as archive weekly newsletters you receive by email as another way to access our latest developments.

· Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down – a debate each week between Robert Bloink and myself (William Byrnes) whereby we take opposing viewpoints on tax policy and argue our opinions. Find out if you agree or disagree and, eventually, you will be able to vote on whose side you are on for that week.

· Featured Articles – a weekly article with archives written by Robert Bloink and myself, thought leaders in finding customer needs for new products and how to make new practice tools work with your clients, perhaps in ways you may not have thought about.

· Recent Updates – as you may know, our digital version of Tax Facts is updated weekly and not annually like our print version of Tax Facts. You can now see any significant changes made to a Tax Facts question that week as it will appear in the “Latest Developments” section, so you are aware of changes. These changes can even be delivered to your smartphone should you choose.

We are looking for another big year providing value-added commentary and analysis. I am always interested in your feedback and “practitioner note” submissions so feel free to email me at williambyrnes@gmail.com.

IRS Releases New Safe Harbor for Depreciating Passenger Autos Under Tax Reform 

Post-reform, taxpayers are generally entitled to an additional depreciation deduction for qualified property, including passenger automobiles, if that property was placed in service after September 27, 2017 (and before 2027). If the passenger auto qualifies for 100% depreciation deduction in year one, the tax legislation increased the first-year limitation by $8,000. Assuming the depreciable basis is less than the first year limitation, the additional amount is deductible in the first tax year after the end of the recovery period. Under the safe harbor, however, the taxpayer can take the depreciation deductible for the excess amounts during the recovery period up to the limits applicable to passenger autos during this time frame. The IRS will publish a depreciation table in Appendix A of Publication 946, which taxpayers must use to apply the safe harbor. The safe harbor only applies to passenger autos placed into service before 2023, and does not apply if (1) the taxpayer elected out of 100% first year depreciation or (2) elected to expense the automobile under Section 179. For more information on the rules that apply in determining the depreciation deduction for passenger automobiles, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

PBGC Proposes Regulations to Simplify Calculating Withdrawal Liability Under the Multi-Employer Pension Reform Act

PBGC recently released a set of proposed regulations to amend the rules on calculating withdrawal liability and annual withdrawal liability payments when an employer withdraws from a multi-employer pension plan. Under the regulations, in calculating withdrawal liability, plan sponsors must disregard benefit suspensions for the ten plan years following the plan year in which the suspension of benefits became effective, and include the suspended benefits when determining the plans unvested benefit liability (UVBs) during that period. The proposed regulations would also require plan sponsors to disregard surcharges when determining how to allocate UVBs to a withdrawing employer, as well as certain increases in contribution rates. The regulations provide detailed guidance on how each element necessary to calculate a withdrawing employer’s liability could be calculated. For more information on benefit reductions under the MPRA, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Court Clarifies When Disabled Employees May be Entitled to Disability Benefits

A district court recently clarified that an employee’s request for reasonable accommodations for a disability does not necessarily mean that the employee will also qualify for benefits under a short-term disability plan. In this case, the employee provided evidence from his doctor that stated he was unable to drive in traffic, but the employer’s plan required that he be unable to perform essential duties of his job in order to qualify for disability benefits. The employer denied the claim for benefits because the employee’s job did not involve driving, although he was entitled to work from home so that he could avoid driving into an office (the “reasonable accommodation” in this case). The court agreed with the employer that the employee’s ability to perform his job was not impaired, so he was not entitled to disability benefits. The key takeaway from this case is that, even if an employee has a disability that requires reasonable accommodation, that employee is not necessarily entitled to receive employer-sponsored disability benefits. For more information on employer-sponsored disability benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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Request for Applications: Associate Dean of Faculties, Texas A&M University

Posted by William Byrnes on March 26, 2019


Dear Faculty,

The Office of the Dean of Faculties seeks applications for the position of Associate Dean of Faculties.  This is an internal search with an expected completion by the end of the Spring semester.

The Associate Dean of Faculties reports to the Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost and plays a major role in the proactive planning for the Office of the Dean of Faculties, representing faculty needs and issues. The Associate Dean of Faculties works with multiple university constituencies to facilitate an environment in which each faculty member can achieve his or her maximum potential. The Associate Dean of Faculties oversees and/or collaborates in administrative aspects of key faculty-related processes such as recruiting, hiring, evaluation, tenure and promotion, and grievances. This position is part-time (50-70% time) and it is limited to senior tenured faculty members. The Associate Dean of Faculties is expected to maintain a faculty appointment, with associated responsibilities in teaching and/or research.

The ideal candidate will have the ability to communicate effectively and evaluate all requests objectively. The individual must also be able to work well with all segments of the University and external constituencies and have demonstrated a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The applicant must possess the ability to verbalize the office goals to both large and small groups. Experience implementing and designing processes and projects is ideal.  Familiarity with faculty associated rules, guidelines, and administrative procedures is helpful. Further, acumen and expertise with database management and data presentation are important.

The position description can be found at dof.tamu.edu/Associate-DOF.

Applications should include a cover letter with a clear statement of why the applicant believes he or she is qualified for the position, a description of key relevant experience, and a vision statement for the position and its role in the Office of the Dean of Faculties; a vitae; and names of three references. For full consideration, applications should be received no later than COB Wednesday April 3, 2019. The position will remain open until filled. Applications should be submitted through email todof@tamu.edu.

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on March 25, 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE FOR ONLINE SUBSCRIBERS
You will notice a new orange banner appearing at the top of your screen called “Latest Developments”. In this section we are offering new features, and we will introduce other features later in the year….· Tax Facts Intelligence Weekly – current as well as archive weekly newsletters you receive in email today as another way to access our latest developments.

· Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down – a debate each week between Robert Bloink and myself (William Byrnes) whereby we take opposing viewpoints on tax policy and argue our opinions. Find out if you agree or disagree and, eventually, you will be able to vote on whose side you are on for that week.

· Featured Articles – a weekly article with archives written by Robert Bloink and myself, thought leaders in finding customer needs for new products and how to make new practice tools work with your clients, perhaps in ways you may not have thought about.

· Recent Updates – as you may know, our digital version of Tax Facts is updated weekly and not annually like our print version of Tax Facts. You can now see any significant changes made to a Tax Facts question that week as it will appear in the “Latest Developments” section, so you are aware of changes. These changes can even be delivered to your smartphone should you choose.

We are looking for another big year providing lots of value-added commentary and analysis. I am always interested in your feedback so feel free to email me at williambyrnes@gmail.com.

IMPORTANT TAX DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Provides Additional Rules for Employers’ Ability to Recover Mistaken HSA Contributions
The IRS clarified when an employer can recover health savings account (HSA) contributions made in error. Generally, erroneous HSA contributions must be corrected by reducing future contributions. The IRS Office of the Chief Counsel released an information letter stating an employer can recover mistaken contributions if the employer has clear documentary evidence that demonstrates an administrative or process error that caused the mistaken contribution. Examples of correctable mistakes provided by the IRS include situations where the participants’ names were confused, mathematical errors and duplicate payroll transmittals. For more information on excess HSA contributions, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

8th Circuit Denies Bankruptcy Exemption for Retirement Accounts Transferred Incident to Divorce 
The 8th Circuit denied the bankruptcy exemption for retirement plan assets that the debtor acquired incident to divorce. Qualified plan assets and up to about $1.3 million in IRA assets are usually protected from creditors in bankruptcy. In this case, the debtor received a portion of his former spouse’s 401(k) and her entire IRA in their divorce settlement, via a domestic relations order. The courts relied upon the Supreme Court’s prior ruling that inherited IRAs are not exempt in bankruptcy in concluding that assets acquired through a divorce are not primarily retirement assets of the debtor. Instead, the assets represented a property settlement, so were not entitled to any type of special treatment in bankruptcy. For more information on the treatment of qualified plans in divorce, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
LITIGATION WATCH

Wellness Programs Post-EEOC: What Remains Important 
EEOC regulations that were recently vacated and removed focused incentives an employer could offer without rendering the program impermissibly involuntary. Although the incentive based regulations were removed, the remaining regulations provide some clarity on this “voluntariness” issue. The program may not require employees to participate, and the employer is not permitted to deny health coverage or limit group health plan or other benefits if the employee chooses not to participate in the program. The employer cannot take an action that would be considered retaliation or take any adverse employment actions for non-participation. For more information on the rules that currently govern employer-sponsored wellness programs, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

 

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly March 21, 2019

Posted by William Byrnes on March 21, 2019


William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

IRS Ruling Provides New Impetus for Lump-Sum Pension Buyouts for Retirees

The IRS has released a ruling that impacts whether pension plan sponsors are permitted to provide lump-sum distributions to plan participants who are already receiving plan benefits via regular annuity payments. The issue was whether, under the IRS required minimum distribution (RMD) rules, a lump-sum payment would constitute an impermissible increase in the payment amounts these participants were receiving. In 2015, the IRS reversed its previous stance allowing these lump-sum payments to participants in pay status and stated its intent to amend the RMD rules to prohibit these payment options. Now, the IRS has once again changed course and announced that, for the time being anyway, it is no longer planning to amend the RMD rules to prohibit lump-sum payments to pension plan participants already receiving annuity payments under the plan. For more information on lump sum pension buyout offers, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Court Case Could Eliminate Valuable Split-Dollar Insurance Estate Planning Strategy

The Tax Court is set to hear a case that has had planners who help very wealthy clients use split-dollar strategies to minimize transfer taxes waiting for results since 2014. This issue in this case involves the value of several life insurance policies. Here, a parent purchased life insurance on her sons’ lives–the policies were technically purchased through revocable “dynasty” trusts–for $29.9 million (premium costs). When she died, her reimbursement rights under these “split-dollar” arrangements were valued at only $7.5 million, because the policies would not pay out until the sons died at some future date (essentially, the strategy is valuable because the difference between the two values is a tax-free gift). The IRS has argued that a fair market valuation approach must be used in split-dollar cases, which would assign the much higher premium cost to the value of the policies using the logic typically applied to buy-sell arrangements in family businesses. Initially, the Tax Court indicated that the economic benefit theory of split-dollar could be applied, a result that would favor the estate. Since then, the court has noted that the estate may have to prove it can satisfy an exception under IRC Section 2703 to avoid full taxation of the $29.9 million in premiums paid. A similar case, Cahill v. Comm., was settled out of court in 2018. For more information on split-dollar plans, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Sixth Circuit Allows Employer to Terminate Retiree Health Benefits Despite Collective Bargaining Agreements

The Sixth Circuit recently overturned a district court ruling, finding instead that an employer was permitted to terminate certain retiree health benefits despite the presence of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). The plaintiffs in this case failed to show that the CBAs’ general durational clauses did not apply to healthcare benefits covered under the agreements. In the Sixth Circuit, a CBA’s general durational clause applies to every provision, unless the contract clearly states that it does not. Despite language pertaining to health benefits in the CBAs, that language did not specifically state the duration of the health benefits, so that the general durational clauses applied and the employer was permitted to modify or terminate coverage when the relevant CBAs expired. For more information on retiree-only health benefits provided in the employment context, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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15 Recent Tax Debates Between Robert Bloink and William Byrnes

Posted by William Byrnes on March 18, 2019


the weekly tax debate transcribed from Tax Facts authors Professors Robert Bloink and William Byrnes, both of Texas A&M University Law School’s Wealth Management graduate program for professionals.

— More Bloink & Byrnes Go Thumb to Thumb:

  1. IRS Relief for Tax Underpayment: Bloink & Byrnes Go Thumb to Thumb
  2. IRS’ New 199A Real Estate Safe Harbor
  3. Postcard Premiere of IRS Form 1040
  4. Repeal SALT Cap, Raise Corporate Tax
  5. Tax Deferral on Stock Options and RSUs
  6. Should Annuity Products Get a Fiduciary Safe Harbor?
  7. Should Tax Hikes Need Supermajority Vote?
  8. Does DOL’s HRA Proposal Go Far Enough?
  9. Should 2017 Tax Changes Be Permanent?
  10. Is the Proposed Child Tax Credit Even Needed?
  11. Is Inflation Indexing of Capital Gains Good?
  12. Are New USA Plans a Boon to Savers?
  13. Was It Right to Kill the DOL Fiduciary Rule?
  14. Is DOL Rule on Health Plans Bad?
  15. Trump’s RMD Rule Change

 

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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TaxFacts Intelligence (Week of March 14, 2019)

Posted by William Byrnes on March 14, 2019


William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

Mar 14, 2019

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IRS: Employers Must Exercise Caution in Providing “Free Lunch” for Employees 

The IRS has released a technical advice memorandum (TAM) that sheds light on the potential tax implications when employers provide employees with free meals in the office. Post-tax reform, meals provided “for the convenience of the employer” may receive favorable tax treatment. In the TAM, the IRS denied exclusion of the meals’ value from employee compensation. Here, the employer provided free meals to all employees in snack areas, at their desks and in the cafeteria, justifying provision of these meals by citing need for a secure business environment for confidential discussions, employee protection, improvement of employee health and a shortened meal period policy. The IRS rejected these rationales, stating that the employer was required to show that the policies existed in practice, not just in form, and that they were enforced upon specific employees. In this case, the employer had no policies relating to employee discussion of confidential information and provided no factual support for its other claims. General goals of improving employee health were found to be insufficient. The IRS also considered the availability of meal delivery services a factor in denying the exclusion, but indicated that if the employees were provided meals because they had to remain on the premises to respond to emergencies, that would be a factor indicating that the exclusion should be granted. For more information on “de minimis” type fringe benefits, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Common Scenarios in Client Retirement Planning: Account Consolidation and the Rules of the Road

Most clients will change jobs a few times in their lives, which often means they wind up with multiple 401(k) and other types of retirement plans. Consolidating can produce many benefits–namely, making it easier to manage retirement assets and easing RMD calculations, but there are rules to consolidating and clients also need to be aware of benefits that may be unique to any one type of plan. Clients should evaluate their goals with respect to eventual withdrawals, as the rules for penalty-free withdrawals–for example, via using an IRA to establish a series of substantially equal periodic payments to provide penalty-free withdrawals prior to age 591/2. For more information on the rollover rules and how they may impact clients considering retirement account consolidation, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

April 1 is Fast Approaching: Important Deadline for Clients With First-Time RMD Obligations

While April 15 is a well-known and understood deadline, most clients don’t associate April 1 with any important tax-related deadlines—but April 1 is, in fact, one of the most important deadlines for clients who turned 701/2 years old in the previous year. For those clients who maintain traditional retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, April 1 is the date by which they must take their first required minimum distribution (RMD) from the account if they turned 701/2 in the previous year. For example, a client who turned 701/2 in 2018 must take their first RMD by April 1, 2019. This April 1 deadline is a special rule that applies only to first-time RMDs–a client’s 2019 RMD will be due by December 31, 2019. This means that clients who choose to wait until the April 1 deadline will be required to take two RMDs in 2019. For each subsequent year, the generally applicable December 31 deadline is the relevant date for RMDs. For more information on lifetime RMD requirements, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

 

2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874

 

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly (Feb 7, 2019)

Posted by William Byrnes on February 8, 2019


William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

TAX REFORM DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Provides New 199A Safe Harbor for Rental Real Estate Activities
Since the introduction of Section 199A, business owners engaged in real estate activities have been confused by the new 20 percent deduction for qualified business income of certain pass-through entities. IRS proposed Revenue Procedure 2019-07 provide a safe harbor so that rental real estate businesses will qualify as “trades or businesses” if it: (1) maintains separate books and records for each rental enterprise, (2) involves the performance of at least 250 hours of rental real estate activities, and (3) maintains contemporaneous records regarding the rental real estate services. The safe harbor is effective for tax years ending after December 31, 2017. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

Final 199A Guidance on Tracking W-2 Wages Provides Guidance for Short Tax Years
The IRS has recently finalized the methods that a business owner can use to track W-2 wages for calculating the Section 199A deduction. The new guidance clarifies that, in the case of short taxable years, the business owner is required to use the “tracking wages method” with certain modifications. The total amount of wages subject to income tax withholding and reported on Form W-2 can only include amounts that are actually or constructively paid to the employee during the short tax year and reported on a Form W-2 for the calendar year with or within that short tax year. For more information on the methods available for calculating W-2 wages for Section 199A purposes, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

LITIGATION WATCH

Court Requires Employer to Pay Dependent Life Insurance Benefits After Failure to Provide SPD
A court recently ruled that an employer was required to pay life insurance benefits to an employee under a life insurance policy insuring her former spouse, which was offered by the employer as a dependent life insurance benefit. When the employee’s former husband died within three months’ of their divorce, her claim for benefits under the policy was denied because she was not an “eligible dependent” because of the divorce. The employee made several claims, including one that the she was not provided a summary plan description (SPD) with respect to the policy. The court agreed with the plaintiff’s claim that failure to provide the SPD was a breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. For more information on employer-sponsored life insurance, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

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Tax Facts Team

  • William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M, Tax Facts Author
  • Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M., Tax Facts Author
  • Alexis Long, J.D., Senior Contributor
  • Richard Cline, J.D. Senior Director, Practical Insights
  • Jason Gilbert, J.D., Senior Editor
  • Patti O’Leary, Senior Editorial Assistant
  • Connie L. Jump, Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
  • Molly Miller, Publisher
  • Danielle Birdsail, Digital Marketing Manager
  • Emily Brunner, Editorial Assistant

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Guidance on receiving the 20% deduction from qualified business income; many rental real estate owners may claim deduction

Posted by William Byrnes on January 25, 2019


The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations and three related pieces of guidance, implementing the new qualified business income (QBI) deduction (section 199A deduction).

The new QBI deduction, created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) allows many owners of sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, trusts, or estates to deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified business income.  Eligible taxpayers can also deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends and publicly traded partnership income.

The QBI deduction is available in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, meaning eligible taxpayers will be able to claim it for the first time on their 2018 Form 1040.

The guidance, released today includes:

  • A set of regulations, finalizing proposed regulations issued last summer, A new set of proposed regulations providing guidance on several aspects of the QBI deduction, including qualified REIT dividends received by regulated investment companies
  • revenue procedure providing guidance on determining W-2 wages for QBI deduction purposes,
  • notice on a proposed revenue procedure providing a safe harbor for certain real estate enterprises that may be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the QBI deduction

The proposed revenue procedure, included in Notice 2019-07, allows individuals and entities who own rental real estate directly or through a disregarded entity to treat a rental real estate enterprise as a trade or business for purposes of the QBI deduction if certain requirements are met.  Taxpayers can rely on this safe harbor until a final revenue procedure is issued.

The QBI deduction is generally available to eligible taxpayers with 2018 taxable income at or below $315,000 for joint returns and $157,500 for other filers. Those with incomes above these levels, are still eligible for the deduction but are subject to limitations, such as the type of trade or business, the amount of W-2 wages paid in the trade or business and the unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition of qualified property. These limitations are fully described in the final regulations.

The QBI deduction is not available for wage income or for business income earned by a C corporation.

For details on this deduction, including answers to frequently-asked questions, as well as information on other TCJA provisions, visit IRS.gov/taxreform

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on December 3, 2018


TAX DEVELOPMENTS

SEC Announces New Disclosure Requirements for Variable Annuities and Life Insurance 
The SEC recently proposed a rule change designed to improve disclosures with respect to variable annuities and variable life insurance contracts. The new disclosure obligations would help investors understand the features, fees and risks to these types of products in an effort to allow investors to make more informed investment decisions. Under the proposal, annuity and life insurance carriers would be entitled to provide information to investors in a summary prospectus form that would provide a more concise summary of the terms of the contract. For more information on variable annuities, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

Digging Into the Details of Hardship Distributions for Primary Residence Purchases
Qualified plans can to allow participants to take hardship distributions to help with the purchase of a primary residence. The distribution must be directly taken to purchase the residence–items such as renovations made prior to move-in do not qualify. Despite this, the distribution can cover more than just the purchase price of the residence itself. Closing costs would also qualify, as would the cost of a piece of land upon which the primary residence would be built. If a participant buys out a former spouse’s interest in a jointly-owned home pursuant to divorce, the distribution would also qualify. For more information on the hardship distribution rules, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
Avoiding Gift Tax Traps This Holiday Season
Most taxpayers believe that they are not required to file a gift tax tax return if they do not owe gift taxes–as many will not because of the current $11.18 million gift tax exemption will shield most donors from gift tax liability. Despite this, each gift made during a donor’s lifetime serves to reduce that $11.18 million amount, which applies both to lifetime gifts and transfers made at death. Taxpayers must file Form 709 to report taxable gifts in excess of the annual exclusion amount to avoid potential IRS penalties for failure to file a return. The form is required not because gift taxes are owed, but to provide the IRS with a mechanism for tracking any given taxpayer’s use of the exemption amount during life. For more information on the gift tax filing requirements, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

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IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2019

Posted by William Byrnes on November 23, 2018


The Internal Revenue Service was very late (only on November 15) in announcing the tax year 2019 annual inflation adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2018-57 provides details about these annual adjustments. The tax year 2019 adjustments generally are used on tax returns filed in 2020.

The tax items for tax year 2019 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts:

  • The standard deduction for married filing jointly rises to $24,400 for tax year 2019, up $400 from the prior year. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rises to $12,200 for 2019, up $200, and for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $18,350 for tax year 2019, up $350.
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2019 remains at 0, as it was for 2018, this elimination of the personal exemption was a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • For tax year 2019, the top rate is 37 percent for individual single taxpayers with incomes greater than $510,300 ($612,350 for married couples filing jointly). The other rates are:

o 35 percent, for incomes over $204,100 ($408,200 for married couples filing jointly);

o 32 percent for incomes over $160,725 ($321,450 for married couples filing jointly);

o 24 percent for incomes over $84,200 ($168,400 for married couples filing jointly);

o 22 percent for incomes over $39,475 ($78,950 for married couples filing jointly);

o 12 percent for incomes over $9,700 ($19,400 for married couples filing jointly).

o The lowest rate is 10 percent for incomes of single individuals with incomes of $9,700 or less ($19,400 for married couples filing jointly).

  • For 2019, as in 2018, there is no limitation on itemized deductions, as that limitation was eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2019 is $71,700 and begins to phase out at $510,300 ($111,700, for married couples filing jointly for whom the exemption begins to phase out at $1,020,600). The 2018 exemption amount was $70,300 and began to phase out at $500,000 ($109,400 for married couples filing jointly and began to phase out at $1 million).
  • The tax year 2019 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,557 for taxpayers filing jointly who have three or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,431 for tax year 2018. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phase-outs.
  • For tax year 2019, the monthly limitation for the qualified transportation fringe benefit is $265, as is the monthly limitation for qualified parking, up from $260 for tax year 2018.
  • For calendar year 2019, the dollar amount used to determine the penalty for not maintaining minimum essential health coverage is 0, per the Tax Cuts and Jobs act; for 2018 the amount was $695.
  • For the taxable years beginning in 2019, the dollar limitation for employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements is $2,700, up $50 from the limit for 2018.
  • For tax year 2019, participants who have self-only coverage in a Medical Savings Account, the plan must have an annual deductible that is not less than $2,350, an increase of $50 from tax year 2018; but not more than $3,500, an increase of $50 from tax year 2018. For self-only coverage, the maximum out-of-pocket expense amount is $4,650, up $100 from 2018. For tax year 2019, participants with family coverage, the floor for the annual deductible is $4,650, up from $4,550 in 2018; however, the deductible cannot be more than $7,000, up $150 from the limit for tax year 2018. For family coverage, the out-of-pocket expense limit is $8,550 for tax year 2019, an increase of $150 from tax year 2018.
  • For tax year 2019, the adjusted gross income amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning Credit is $116,000, up from $114,000 for tax year 2018.
  • For tax year 2019, the foreign earned income exclusion is $105,900 up from $103,900 for tax year 2018.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2019 have a basic exclusion amount of $11,400,000, up from a total of $11,180,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2018.
  • The annual exclusion for gifts is $15,000 for calendar year 2019, as it was for calendar year 2018.
  • The maximum credit allowed for adoptions is the amount of qualified adoption expenses up to $14,080, up from $13,810 for 2018.

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Tax Facts was first published in 1951 in a slim, 137-page volume covering the income, estate and gift tax aspects of life insurance and annuity ownership, titled Tax Facts on Life Insurance. Since that first year, the breadth and depth of Tax Facts coverage has grown to include employee benefits, business continuation, individual and qualified retirement plans, as well as decades of hard-to-find rulings and clarifications of longstanding regulations.  In 1983, Tax Facts grew to two volumes, with the second covering investments of all types: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and the tax requirements related to each. What began as a 234-page book grew rapidly as tax reform in the 1980s multiplied the rules covering the treatment of investments.

In 2010 Tax Facts expanded to its current 4 volume and online format.  In its 67-year history, Tax Facts has become the financial advisor industry’s standard for clear, up-to-date thorough tax information. Now in an all-inclusive online format, every answer, ruling and table is easier than ever to find.

Tax Facts is the place I go to find the answers to those tough life insurance questions that no one else has – and to check those they do. It’s THE SOURCE for authoritative income, estate, and gift tax information on life insurance and annuity contracts.”

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly Nov 16th

Posted by William Byrnes on November 16, 2018


IRS Releases Guidance on Impact of Personal Exemption Suspension on Premium Tax Credit
The 2017 tax reform legislation suspended the personal exemption for tax years beginning after 2017 and before 2026. Relatedly, taxpayers are entitled to claim the Affordable Care Act premium tax credit with respect to an individual if the taxpayer has claimed an exemption with respect to that taxpayer (i.e., the personal or dependency exemption). A taxpayer is entitled to claim the premium tax credit with respect to another individual if the taxpayer would otherwise be entitled to claim a dependency exemption with respect to that individual, and includes the individual’s name and TIN on his or her Form 1040. For more information, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
OTHER IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS

Grandfathering Potential May Still Exist Under Section 162(m) Post-Regulations
The IRS regulations governing the new limitations on the Section 162(m) executive compensation deduction limits may have curtailed grandfathering opportunities that some had expected under the new tax law, but possibilities still remain. The test for determining whether grandfather treatment is permitted involves whether the company was legally obligated to pay the compensation under state law (meaning contract law) as of November 2, 2017. For more information on the new rules governing the deductibility of executive compensation, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

LITIGATION WATCH

Tax Court Rules Business-Provided Life Insurance Taxable to Insured Individual Under Split Dollar Rules
The Tax Court recently ruled that the “economic benefit” of business-sponsored life insurance provided to a key employee through a multiple-employer welfare benefit fund was taxable income to the employee. The Tax Court agreed with the IRS that this structure required current income inclusion under the split dollar life insurance principles, so that the economic benefit received by the employee was required to be included in his gross income for the year in question despite the fact that no actual cash benefits were received during that year. For more information on the rules governing split dollar life insurance, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly (Nov 2)

Posted by William Byrnes on November 2, 2018


TAX REFORM DEVELOPMENTS by William Byrnes & Robert Bloink

IRS Guidance Provides Market Discount Not Included Under Section 451
The IRS has released guidance on the treatment of market discount under the new accounting rules created by the 2017 tax reform legislation. For accrual basis taxpayers, income must be included in gross income when all events have occurred to fix the right to the income and the amount can be determined with reasonable accuracy. Post-reform, this “all events test” is satisfied when the taxpayer takes the item into account as revenue on an applicable financial statement. For more information on the rules governing accrual-based accounting post-reform, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

OTHER TAX REFORM DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Releases New Model Notice Implementing Tax Reform Rollover Changes for Safe Harbor Retirement Plans
The IRS has released a new safe harbor model tax notice under IRC Section 402(f), which is important for plans that use these notices for eligible rollover distributions (however, alternative notice formats should also be updated). The model notice incorporates the new rollover deadline for qualified plan loan offsets–the deadline has been extended from 60 days to the taxpayer’s tax filing deadline. The new self-certification procedures for waiver of the 60-day rollover deadline are also reflected in the notice (these were introduced in 2016) For more information on the rules governing qualified plan rollovers, including tax reform’s changes, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

Tax Court Finds Capital Gain Income Counted in Determining Premium Tax Credit Eligibility Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rules may seem to have taken a back burner following the repeal of the individual mandate, most ACA provisions remain in force and clients continue to claim the premium tax credit. A recent Tax Court summary opinion highlights the importance of continuing to understand the ACA rules. In the case, a taxpayer’s gross income from most sources was very low, allowing the taxpayer and her son to qualify for premium tax credit assistance. However, to make ends meet, they sold several of their personal belongings in the same year, generating capital gain income. Because the capital gain income exceeded 400% of the poverty line, they were required to repay all advance premium tax credit payments. For more information on the premium tax credit, visit Tax Facts on Individuals and Small Business Online and Read More.
LITIGATION WATCH

Court Rules Stock in Former Parent No Longer Qualified as “Employer Securities” for ERISA Purposes
A district court in Texas recently ruled that stock in a former parent ceased to qualify as an “employer security” following a spinoff, so that the ERISA exemption from the duty to diversify investments and the duty of prudence no longer applied. The plan at issue was a defined contribution plan that also contained an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which was formed after a spinoff. The plan held both newly issued employer stock, as well as stock in the former parent company that was transferred from an old plan. The court rejected the defendants’ argument that the ERISA exemption applied, finding that stock does not retain its character as employer securities indefinitely. For more information on the tax treatment of employer securities in retirement plans, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly (Oct 31)

Posted by William Byrnes on October 31, 2018


Tax Reform Developments by William Byrnes & Robert Bloink

IRS Official Explains Link Between Business Expense and Fringe Benefit Rules for Tax-Exempt Entities Post-Reform
The 2017 tax reform legislation disallowed deductions for certain transportation-related benefits, including parking expenses, transit passes, commuter vehicles, as well as other types of employee fringe benefits. The law also modified the rules governing unrelated business income, so that tax-exempt entities that provide these benefits may now be subject to the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) on the benefits’ value. An IRS official recently explained that because of the close ties between Section 512 (UBIT) and Section 274 (fringe benefit rules), tax-exempt entities that are considering o fringe benefits to employees should look to the Section 274 expensing rules. For more information on tax reform’s impact on tax-exempt entities, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

Section 199A QBI Deduction Introduces Potential Compensation Planning Issues
The Section 199A deduction for the qualified business income of certain pass-through entities presents potential compensation planning issues for both small and large businesses. For example, partnerships and S corporations may wish to reevaluate guaranteed payments to partners and wages to S corporation shareholders. Larger companies may benefit from converting subsidiaries to pass-through entities and using interests in these entities to compensate certain executives where the deductibility of compensation would otherwise be limited by the post-reform restrictions contained in IRC Section 162(m). For more information on the Section 199A QBI deduction, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
OTHER IMPORTANT TAX DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Extends Key Tax Filing Deadlines for Victims of Hurricane Michael in Florida and Georgia
The government has declared areas impacted by Hurricane Michael to be major disaster zones, and in recognizing this, the IRS has extended several key filing deadlines for individuals who reside or have businesses in the affected areas. The filing deadline has been extended for individuals who had extended their 2017 filing deadline to October 15, and the January 15, 2019 estimated tax filing deadline has been extended to February 28, 2019. Impacted entities required to file a Form 5500 also have until February 28, 2019 to file if the form was originally due on or after October 7, 2018 and before February 28. For more information on casualty loss deductions in major disaster zones, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

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TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly

Posted by William Byrnes on September 21, 2018


TAX REFORM DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Provides Guidance Updating Accounting Method Changes for Terminated S Corporations
The 2017 tax reform legislation added a new IRC section that now requires eligible terminated S corporations to take any Section 481(a) adjustment attributable to revocation of the S election into account ratably over a six-year period. Under newly released Revenue Procedure 2018-44, an eligible terminated S corporation is required to take a Section 481(a) adjustment ratably over six years beginning with the year of change if the corporation (1) is required to change from the cash method to accrual method and (2) makes the accounting method change for the C corporation’s first tax year. For more information on the rules governing S corporations that convert to C corporation status post-reform, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
OTHER IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS

IRS Guidance on Interaction between New Association Health Plan Rules and ACA Employer Mandate
The IRS recently released new guidance on the rules governing association health plans (AHPs), which permit expanded access to these types of plans, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer mandate. The guidance provides that determination of whether an employer is an applicable large employer subject to the shared responsibility provisions is not impacted by whether the employer offers coverage through an AHP. Participation in an AHP does not turn an employer into an applicable large employer if the employer has less than 50 employees. For more information on the employer mandate, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.

OCC Explains Employee Tax Consequences of Employer’s Belated Payment of FICA Tax on Fringe Benefits
The IRS Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) released a memo explaining the tax consequences of a situation where the employer failed to include $10,000 of fringe benefits. The employer paid the FICA taxes associated with the benefits in 2018, although the benefits were provided in 2016. The guidance provides that the payment in 2018 did not create additional compensation for the employee in 2016. If the employer collects the amount of the employee portion of the FICA tax from the employee in 2018, the employer’s payment is not additional compensation. However, if the employer does not seek repayment, the payment of the employee’s portion is additional compensation. For more information on FICA tax issues in the employment benefit context, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
LITIGATION WATCH

Employer Amendments to VEBA Did Not Result in Adverse Tax Consequences
The IRS recently ruled that an employer could amend its voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (VEBA) to provide health benefits for active employees in addition to retired employees without violating the tax benefit rule or incurring excise taxes. In this case, the VEBA provided health benefits for collectively bargained retired employees. When the VEBA became overfunded, the employer proposed transferring the excess assets into a subaccount for collectively bargained active employees. The IRS found that this proposed amendment would not violate the tax benefit rule because, the new purpose of providing health benefits to active employees under a collective bargaining agreement was not inconsistent with the employer’s earlier deduction. For more information on VEBAs, visit Tax Facts Online and Read More.
Tax Facts Team
Molly Miller
Publisher
William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M
Tax Facts Author
Richard Cline, J.D.
Senior Director, Practical Insights
Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.
Tax Facts Author
Jason Gilbert, J.D.
Senior Editor
Alexis Long, J.D.
Senior Contributor
Connie L. Jump
Senior Manager, Editorial Operations
Danielle Birdsail
Digital Marketing Manager
Patti O’Leary
Senior Editorial Assistant
Emily Brunner
Editorial Assistant
For questions, contact Customer Service at 1-800-543-0874.

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