Category Archives: International – Inbound

PATH Act Brings FIRPTA Changes

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The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the “PATH Act”), signed December 18, 2015, introduces significant changes to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA), particularly concerning REITs. The reforms are generally intended to make foreign investment in U.S. real estate more attractive, though some revenue-raising measures are thrown in the mix. Among the PATH Act's taxpayer-friendly FIRPTA updates: The ownership threshold for foreign “portfolio investors” in publicly traded REITs increases from 5% to 10%. These investors are exempt from FIRPTA tax [...]Read more

Déjà Vu All Over Again – The Recurring Saga of Expiring Tax Provisions

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If you go by what Yogi Berra says, tax policy and baseball have a lot in common.  Just as we head toward the end of the regular season of baseball and hope we make it to play-offs, Congress is doing the same.  Having returned from the August recess, they are looking ahead at what they need to do to finish strong.  As for déjà vu, the atmosphere surrounding expired tax provisions is markedly similar to what it was last year around this time.  Will the result be different this year?  Maybe.  Let’s take a look at the issues and what’s happened so far. Discussions of tax reform have [...]Read more

Scapegoats: How Foreign Taxpayers’ Credits & Refunds Could Be Limited by Withholding Agents’ Non-Compliance

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In Notice 2015-10 (the “Notice”), the IRS announced that it and the Treasury will issue regulations to limit credits or refunds for withholding taxes under Chapter 3 (Sections 1441-1443) and Chapter 4 (Sections 1471-1472, aka FATCA) to the amount actually deposited by withholding agents. The hope is that this “deposit limitation” will lessen the Treasury’s financial risk of crediting or refunding more tax, based on Form 1042-S reporting, than it collects or can collect. The Notice previews regulatory amendments to provide that a credit or refund for withheld tax is available only [...]Read more

IRS Private Letter Ruling Holds that Pass-Through Interests in Mortgages Can Qualify as Registered Form Obligations

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In late January, the IRS issued a private letter ruling (P.L.R. 201504004) dealing with whether interests in a non-grantor trust and a partnership are considered to be in registered form, a precursor to qualification for payments thereon to the portfolio interest exemption. Although the ruling answers in the affirmative, it does not ultimately state whether the particular payments addressed in the ruling would be eligible for the portfolio interest exemption. To qualify for the portfolio interest exemption, and avoid U.S. withholding tax on payments of U.S.-source interest to a foreign person, [...]Read more

Few Changes in Final Rules on Foreign Tax Credit Splitters

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On February 9, 2015, the U.S. Treasury released final regulations on foreign tax credit (FTC) splitting arrangements (the “2015 Regulations”). The final rules, released the same day that the 2012 temporary and proposed regulations were set to expire, offer some definitional and other clarifications and add useful illustrations. But for the most part, the 2015 Regulations adopt the prior proposed and temporary regulations, including the exclusive list of FTC splitter arrangements. Notably, the final rules fail to address several “mechanical issues” (i.e., issues concerning the tracking [...]Read more

When Do a Foreign Fund’s Lending & Underwriting Activities Constitute a U.S. Trade or Business?

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In Chief Counsel Advice 201501013, the IRS determined that a foreign fund was engaged in a U.S. trade or business ("ETBUS") based on lending and underwriting activities conducted on the fund's behalf by a U.S. resident fund manager under a management agreement. The IRS attributed the manager's activities to the fund, for purposes of the ETBUS analysis, finding the activities to be "considerable, continuous, and regular." The CCA further concluded that the foreign fund's activities did not qualify for the "trading safe harbors" under Section 864, exploring the fine distinction between "traders" [...]Read more

Global Banks Being Audited

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All global banks currently being audited by the IRS, which have engaged in cross-border withholding planning for clients, should take careful notice of AM 2012-009. This GLAM explains to IRS LB&I how to assess foreign affiliates of domestic banks that did not withhold tax on foreign stock borrowing and back-to-back swaps, in reliance on Notice 97-66. The basic advice is to assert the economic substance doctrine. Fortunately, the advice applies only to transactions prior to the partial codification of the doctrine in 2010, which happened to coincide with legislation fixing the Notice 97-66 [...]Read more

International Tax Advisory – U.S. Treasury Releases Model FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement

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In February 2012, Treasury issued a joint statement with France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom regarding plans for an intergovernmental approach to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). FATCA, a part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act of 2010, provides for a withholding tax to enforce reporting requirements for certain U.S.-owned foreign accounts. Under FATCA, a withholding agent must withhold a 30 percent tax on any “withholdable payment” to a foreign financial institution (FFI) or nonfinancial foreign entity that fails to disclose [...]Read more

North-South Spinoffs

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A North-South spinoff is a section 355 distribution that is accompanied by a contribution of property from the shareholder to the Distributing corporation. The IRS has consistently ruled in recent years that the contribution will not be integrated with the spinoff. Taxpayers like this result because integrating the contribution with the spinoff could generate tax liabilities: the shareholder and Distributing might be found to have exchanged property in a taxable exchange. Given the state of play allowed by the IRS, the more interesting question is why so many shareholders evidently want to make [...]Read more

Spinoff Can Use Corporate Name

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LTR 201203004 rules favorably on a spinoff of Controlled to public shareholders in which Controlled will be allowed to use in its corporate name the trade name of Distributing, which will be licensed to Controlled by Distributing. This appears to be the first time that a section 355 ruling has explicitly allowed such a close continuing connection between two corporations that split up for the business purpose of conducting separately Businesses A and B. Facts: Distributing is a domestic public corporation that conducts Businesses A and B. For the usual “fit and focus” reasons it desires [...]Read more