Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

US: The BEAT goes on

Complex new guidance continually is rolling off the press for scrutiny, especially for year-end compliance.  EY’s Global Tax Alert provides a summary of recent developments,  references to IRS Notice 2019-01, IRS FAQ’s, and Proposed Regulations for BEAT are provided for reference.

Highlights:

  • Proposed BEAT Regulations provide certainty re: Service Cost Method payments and the mark-up component that would be includable. BEAT is not limited to cash payments, and would also include amounts paid or accrued using any other form of consideration including property, stock or the assumption of a liability.
  • Notice 2019-01 was issued to address the rules for repatriations, generally arising from Sec. 959(c)(1), (2) and (3) in that order based on a LIFO approach.  Compliance complexity has expanded significantly, demanding more time from multinational tax departments that will require added resources, technology demands and external advisor costs.
  • A new House Ways and Means tax package was introduced Dec. 10th, preserving the (correct) notion that tax year 2017 overpayments would not exclusively be attributed to the deemed repatriation tax without offset to 2018 regular tax liability.    The package would also provide technical guidance for downward attribution rules.
  • IRS FAQ’s have been updated, attached for reference.
  • The IRS on 13 December issued proposed regulations (REG-132881-17) under Code Sections 1471–1474 (FATCA) and Sections 1441–1461.
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will release a major update on its work on the taxation of the digital economy at the end of January 2019, according to Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration.

https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Report_on_recent_US_international_tax_developments_-_14_December_2018/$FILE/2018G_012449-18Gbl_Report%20on%20recent%20US%20international%20tax%20developments%20-%2014%20Dec%202018.pdf

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-19-01.pdf

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/reg-104259-18.pdf

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/questions-and-answers-about-reporting-related-to-section-965-on-2017-tax-returns

The Tax Executives Institute (TEI) provided insgihtful comments to the recently issued GILTI Proposed Regulations, addressing the following main points:

  • Proposed regulation section 1.951A-3(h)(1) (the “temporarily held property rule”) provides that temporarily held property acquired with “a principal purpose” of reducing a U.S. shareholder’s GILTI inclusion will be disregarded
  • Basis adjustment rule for tested losses
  • Only used tested losses should increase Subpart F E&P
  • Basis reductions should only apply to actual transfers of stock
  • Deemed Sec. 367(d) expense should reduce tested income
  • Prop. Reg. § 1.951A-2(c)(5) anti-abuse rule (and authority to issue such rule)

TEI’s comments are well reasoned and should be reviewed to further understand the complexities, and need for added clarification going forward.

 

https://www.tei.org/sites/default/files/advocacy_pdfs/TEI%20Comments%20-%20Proposed%20GILTI%20Regulations%20Section%20951A%20-%20FINAL%2026%20November%202018.pdf

Links to the proposed Foreign Tax Credit Regulations, and EY’s detailed Global Tax Alert, are provided for reference.

To the extent there are perceived favorable items, (i.e. including GILTI income and stock as subject to exemption rules), there are unfavorable items (i.e. exemption rules also affecting the FDII calculation and overall complexity).

From a multinational company perspective, these complex rules require almost immediate application for financial statement purposes while regular tax compliance/provision systems struggle to catch up.  Thus, new technology will be required to prepare non-intuitive calculations that are still uncertain for many to fully comprehend and apply.

https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/US_Treasury_issues_highly-anticipated_proposed_foreign_tax_credit_regulations/$FILE/2018G_012314-18Gbl_US%20Treasury%20issues%20highly-anticipated%20proposed%20foreign%20tax%20credit%20regs.pdf

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/reg-105600-18.pdf

The IRS recently released Proposed Regulations on Section 163(j): an interest limitation that is applicable for the calculation of Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (“GILTI”) under the US Tax Act (“TCJA”).  A copy of the Proposed Regulations are provided for reference, highlighting some areas of clarity/surprise.  Comments are due within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register, with a public hearing set for Feb. 25, 2019.

  • Former Proposed Regulations for Sec. 163(j), never finalized, are withdrawn
  • Proposed Regulations may be elected for 2018
  • General rule-Same as C corp; election (alternative method) for a CFC group
  • One limit for a consolidated group (affiliated, non-cons. group, or partnership n/a)
  • Adjusted Taxable Income (“ATI”) requires an adjustment for:
    • Capitalizable Sec. 263A costs re: inventory/sales  
    • sales/dispositions of certain property
    • Sec. 78 gross-up, Sec. 951(a) Subpart F, Sec. 951A GILTI, Sec. 250(a)(1)(B) deduction, without regard to Sec. 250(a)(2) limitation, related to GILTI
  • Upper tier CFC members include “excess interest” of lower tier CFC’s
  • Further guidance re: ordering of Code provisions, including BEAT, will be issued
  • A “new” definition of interest is provided, including:
    • Sec. 1275(a) and Reg. Sec. 1.1275-1(d) instruments
    • Factoring income
    • OID
    • Accrued market discount
    • Guaranteed payments of Sec. 702(c)
    • Income/loss re: hedges of interest-bearing assets/liabilities
    • Swaps, separated into a loan and payment swap (collateralized swap n/a)
    • Commitment fees
    • Debt issuance costs
  • Anti-avoidance rule
  • Sec. 382 attribution for pre/post-change periods
  • Sec. 381 includes the attribute for disallowed interest expense carryovers
  • No effect on E&P
  • Sec. 163(j) limit at partnership level
  • Intercompany CFC debt is included as interest income and expense, thus resulting in a net -0-; other debt will be a net adjustment to be allocated to separate CFC’s
  • New Form 8990 will be required

The most contentious items, as noted in recent days, are the adjustment of Sec. 263A depreciation (thus a factory does not add back depreciation in EBITDA), add back of Sec. 78, Sec. 951(a), Sec. 951A as reduced by the relevant Sec. 250 amount, complexity including excess ATI adjustments, and the new definition of interest, which includes interest equivalent instruments/transactions that will be included as a potential limitation.

The 439 pages require several readings for a general comprehension, aided by webinars and summaries from various advisory firms.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/REG-106089-18-NPRM.pdf

Poland: WHT cash leakage

Effective 1/1/2019, dividends, interest, and royalty payments from Poland will meet higher tax rates, and timing/permanent differences based on a “pay and refund” system.

Statutory tax rates of 19%/20% will be applicable, unless certain pre-conditions are applied for, which may not be certain or provided timely.

These provisions will impact current cash flows with potential adverse consequences on the annual ETR, resulting in additional proactive actions (i.e. providing statements for lower withholding no later than early January, etc.) to mitigate such actions to the extent possible.

EY’s Global Tax Alert provides additional insight on this significant development for multinationals.  Hopefully, other countries will not “follow the leader” by enacting similar actions.

https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Polands_President_signs_2019_tax_reform_including_strict_withholding_tax_regime/$FILE/2018G_011959-18Gbl_Poland%20-%202019%20tax%20reform%20including%20strict%20withholding%20tax%20regime.pdf

The review of these regulations by the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) review is progressing, with over 500 pages of proposed regulations to be released publicly this week.

Lafayette G. “Chip” Harter III, Treasury deputy assistance secretary for international tax affairs, provided comments on Nov. 9 at the Federal Tax Conference sponsored by the University of Chicago Law School.

The business interest expense limitation, currently applied by many at the individual CFC level, would be determined on a look-through method, with net external interest calculated at the CFC group level and allocated to CFC’s, with a tiering-up approach.

The proposed Reg’s will be very complex and long, with over 500 additional pages of BEAT, FTC, etc. also to be issued later this month.

 

IRS recently published proposed regulations under Section 956 (deemed dividend provision), with both good and bad news in further alignment with the US Tax Act enacted at the end of 2017.  At that time, it was hoped that Section 956 would be abolished, but a late-breaking change in the final law was put in place for Section 956 to remain.  This update achieves parity with the participation exemption system provided for dividend distributions.

  • Good news: Corporate US shareholders are excluded from the application of Section 956 to the extent necessary to maintain symmetry between the taxation of actual repatriations and effective repatriations.  Thus, the amount otherwise determined under Section 956 is reduced to the extent that the US shareholder had received a distribution qualifying for a Section 245A deduction from the CFC in an amount equal to the Section 956 amount.  (i.e. the distribution still needs to be a dividend)
  • Bad news: Section 956 is still in the Code, along with potential direct/indirect tax consequences from guarantees, loans, etc.  To the extent such amount is not a “dividend” for US tax purposes, there are traps still present to warily avoid.

There are planning opportunities (i.e. tax consequences from a loan vs. an actual dividend, etc.), however there are also traps to avoid, so it is safe to assume that diligence is still required for this Code section. 

A reference to the proposed Regulations are provided for reference.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/reg-114540-18.pdf

 

 

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