Photo of Muhyung (Aaron) Lee

Muhyung (Aaron) Lee is a partner in the Tax Department. Aaron works predominantly on U.S. federal corporate, partnership and international tax matters that include advising on mergers and acquisitions, fund formation, financial products and financing transactions.

Before joining Proskauer, Aaron was an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York. Before attending law school he worked in finance at Société Générale and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Today, March 23, 2020, for the second time the Senate defeated a procedural motion on a third stimulus bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) (H.R. 748).  The vote was 49 in favor and 46 opposed (yesterday, the vote was 47 to 47).  Sixty votes were

On September 10, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (the “Treasury”) issued proposed regulations (the “Proposed Regulations”) on calculation of built-in gains and losses under Section 382(h) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.[1] In general, the Proposed Regulations replace the existing guidance on the calculation of net unrealized built-in gains (“NUBIG”), net unrealized built-in losses (“NUBIL”), realized built-in gains (“RBIG”) and realized built-in losses (“RBIL”) under Section 382(h). This guidance had largely taken the form of Notice 2003-65[2] (the “Notice”), which had been the key authority relied upon by taxpayers for purposes of the various calculations required under Section 382(h).

By eliminating the Notice’s 338 Approach and by making certain other changes, the Proposed Regulations, if finalized in their current form, could significantly cut back on a loss corporation’s ability to use pre-change losses and therefore could substantially diminish the valuation of this tax asset in M&A transactions and could hamper reorganizations of distressed companies. In fact, these proposed changes could put more pressure on companies in bankruptcy to attempt to qualify for the benefits of Section 382(l)(5) or to engage in a “Brunos-like” taxable restructuring transaction, and, when those options are not available, could lead to more liquidations rather than restructurings.

The Proposed Regulations are another factor in a series of changes and circumstances that affect the value of tax assets such as net operating losses for corporations. Both the current low applicable federal long-term tax-exempt rate (1.77% for October 2019)—which creates relatively small Section 382 limitations—and the new rule from the 2017 tax reform that limits the usability of net operating losses arising in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 to 80% of taxable income are developments that, in conjunction with the Proposed Regulations, put downward pressure on the expected value of this tax asset.

The Proposed Regulations are not effective until they are adopted as final regulations and published in the Federal Register, and will apply only with respect to ownership changes occurring after their finalization. Until that happens, taxpayers may continue to rely on the Notice for calculations of NUBIG, NUBIL, RBIG and RBIL.

Implements 2018 Proposed Regulations, ending most limitations on investments in U.S. property, as well as pledges and guarantees by CFCs wholly-owned by U.S. corporations – also provides PTI guidance for CFC shareholders.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In anticipated and important guidance, the U.S. tax authorities have issued final regulations under I.R.C. Section 956 (the “New 956 Regulations”).[1] The New 956 Regulations are intended to eliminate, in most situations, the “deemed-dividend” issue with respect to controlled foreign corporations (“CFCs”) that are subsidiaries of U.S. corporations, including where the U.S. domestic corporation is a partner in a partnership.

The New 956 Regulations achieve this result by generally giving a U.S. corporation’s income inclusions under Section 956 the same benefit of the U.S.’s limited participation exemption[2] that is otherwise available to actual dividends received from a CFC. The impact of Section 956 on noncorporate U.S. entities (which generally do not benefit from the participation exemption), including where the noncorporate entity is a partner in a partnership, is generally unchanged by the New 956 Regulations. The New 956 Regulations finalize, with limited but important changes, proposed regulations from November 2018.

An immediate impact of the New 956 Regulations will be on the use of non-U.S. subsidiaries to secure borrowings by U.S. corporations. A U.S. borrower generally should now be able to grant lenders complete pledges of stock of CFCs and provide full security interests in the assets of CFCs (and so-called CFC Holdcos — i.e. borrower subsidiaries that hold CFC stock) as long as the CFCs are directly or ultimately owned, in whole, by U.S. domestic corporations and partnerships where all of the direct and indirect partners are either U.S. domestic corporations or entities not subject to U.S. income tax (e.g., tax-exempts, foreign investors) without negative U.S. federal income tax consequences. Under existing Section 956 regulations, the effective limit to avoid phantom dividend income was a pledge of 65% of the voting stock in the CFC, with no guarantee by the CFC. The New 956 Regulations should end the position that new loan agreements must include the old, limited 65% voting stock pledge to protect U.S. corporate borrowers – which was an arguable residual concern while the regulations were still proposed.

The New 956 Regulations also provide a welcome change for multinationals with substantial previously taxed income (“PTI”) under the CFC rules relating to certain hypothetical distributions under the ordering rules for PTI.

These final regulations were issued and became effective on May 23, 2019 (with lookback effectiveness to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 in certain circumstances).

Please contact any Proskauer tax lawyer, or your usual Proskauer contact, for further information about the New 956 Regulations and their effect on shareholders of CFCs, as well as lenders and borrowers in structures with non-U.S. subsidiaries or operations. A detailed description of the New 956 Regulations, along with background, a description of the U.S. tax authorities’ explanation of the provisions and discussion of differences from the proposed regulations, continues below.

On September 21, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) issued Revenue Procedure 2017-52[1] (the “Rev. Proc.”), introducing an 18-month “pilot program” in respect of corporate “spin-off,” “split-up” and “split-off” transactions (“Spin-off Transactions[2]). Under this pilot program, the IRS will again issue private letter rulings on the general federal income tax consequences of Spin-off Transactions intended to qualify as tax-free under Section 355 (a “Transactional Ruling”).[3]