As 2019 year-end is quickly approaching, there are important items of legislation still pending, including the following:
US Tax Act (TCJA) technical corrections, including the ability to apply transition tax overpayments (several Republicans and Democrats have already agreed to sponsor a relevant bill), and CFC downward attribution rules
Tax extenders, including the important look-through rules for CFC’s, which expires at the end of this year
Additional tax treaties will be reviewed, following the recent ratification of Spain and Japan treaties with the US
Final BEAT regulations, with new proposed regulations in some areas
Section 163(j) rules for application to CFC’s
GILTI high-tax exclusions
Final foreign tax credit regulations
Section 245A dividends received deduction regulations
FDII and anti-hybrid regulations
The above items are important as stand-alone items, and represent a significant amount of regulations to absorb prior to year-end if they can be issued this year.
These changes may significantly impact the annual ETR of multinationals in the fourth quarter, as well as introduce new TCJA concepts into treaties and complex Limitation of Benefit (LOB) clauses therein.
The TCJA complexities, and interpretations thereto, continue this year and next, posing compliance and planning uncertainties going forward.
EY’s Global Tax Alert provided additional details, as referenced.
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.