International Taxation

Introduction

On April 9, 2024, the Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) and the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) issued two sets of proposed Treasury Regulations related to section 4501, REG-115710-22, which provides guidance on the application of section 4501, and REG-118499-23 (together with REG-115710-22, the

  1. Introduction

On April 24, 2024, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) and the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) issued final regulations[1] on the definition of “domestically controlled” real estate investment trusts (“REITs”) (the “Final Regulations”). The Final Regulations retain

On January 17, 2024, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) released a bill, the “Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024” (“TRAFA” or the “bill”). All of the provisions in the bill are taxpayer favorable, except

On July 11, 2023, the Senate Finance Committee released an open letter to the Digital Asset Community asking a variety of questions in connection with possible future legislation. Public comments must be emailed to the Senate Finance Committee staff at responses@finance.senate.gov by September 8, 2023. The questions are related to the following nine general areas.

  • Marking-to-market for traders and dealers;
  • Trading safe harbor;
  • Treatment of loans of digital assets;
  • Wash sales;
  • Constructive sales;
  • Timing and source of income earned from staking and mining;
  • Nonfunctional currency;
  • FATCA and FBAR reporting; and
  • Valuation and substantiation.

The balance of this blog describes each area, lists each question, and discusses certain of them.

On July 26, 2023, Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Ending Tax Breaks for Massive Sovereign Wealth Funds Act (the “bill”), which would deny the benefits of section 892 of the Internal Revenue Code[1] to sovereign wealth funds whose foreign government holds more than $100 billion of investable assets,[2] and either (i) is not a party to a free trade agreement or income tax treaty in effect with the United States or (ii) is North Korea, China, Russia, or Iran.[3]  If the bill is passed, it would deny the benefits of section 892 to several of the largest sovereign wealth funds by assets.

Section 892 generally exempts foreign governments (including “integral parts”[4] of foreign governments and foreign governments’ sovereign wealth funds and other “controlled entities”[5]) from U.S. federal income tax on income received from investments in U.S. stocks, bonds, and other securities, financial instruments held in the execution of governmental financial or monetary policy, and interest on deposits in banks in the United States. However, section 892 does not exempt from U.S. federal income tax any income that is derived from the conduct of a “commercial activity”,[6] income received by a “controlled commercial entity” or received (directly or indirectly) from a “controlled commercial entity”,[7] and income derived from the disposition of any interest in a controlled commercial entity.

The bill would generally apply to income received after December 31, 2023. However, the bill contains three grandfather provisions that would apply until 2026.

First, any investment made before the enactment of the bill would be grandfathered until 2026.

This blog post summarizes recent federal bills that have been introduced (but not yet passed), proposals by the Biden Administration, and guidance issued by the Internal Revenue Service with respect to the taxation of digital assets.

Summary of the Guidance:

The Responsible Financial Innovation Act (the “RFIA”) introduced

On December 28, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) and the Treasury Department released proposed regulations (the “Proposed Regulations”) under sections 892 and 897 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”).[1] If finalized as proposed, the Proposed Regulations would prevent a non-U.S. person from investing through a wholly-owned U.S. corporation in order to cause a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) to be “domestically controlled”.  The ability of a non-U.S. person to invest through a U.S. corporation to cause a REIT to be domestically controlled had been approved in a private letter ruling, and is a structure that is widely used.  The Proposed Regulations would also apply to existing REITs that rely on a non-U.S. owned U.S. corporation for their domestically-controlled status, and suggest that the IRS could attack such a structure under current law (i.e., even if the Proposed Regulations are not finalized).

The Proposed Regulations also clarify that in determining a REIT’s domestically controlled status, a foreign partnership would be looked through and “qualified foreign pension funds” (“QFPFs”) and entities that are wholly owned by one or more QFPFs (“QCEs”) would be treated as foreign persons.  Lastly, the Proposed Regulations also provide a helpful set of rules for sovereign wealth fund investors that indirectly invest in U.S. real estate.

Summary and Background

On 11 May 2022, the European Commission (the “Commission”) published its draft proposal for a debt-equity bias reduction allowance (“DEBRA” or, the “Directive”), which forms part of the Commission’s Communication on Business Taxation reforms which were first outlined on 18 May 2021.  The Directive seeks to remove tax as a weighted factor in the choice of funding for companies and encourage the use of equity investments.  The perceived view of the Commission is that debt is usually favoured over equity due to the fact that most tax systems allow for the deduction of interest on debt, while costs relating to equity financing are usually non-tax deductible.

Introduction and Summary

On March 28, 2022, the Biden Administration proposed changes to the U.S. international tax rules.

In short, the Biden Administration proposed to:

  • Enact a 15% minimum “undertaxed profits rule” (a “UTPR”) to replace the “Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax” (“BEAT”), and a 15% “qualified domestic minimum top-up tax” (a “QDMTT”). These proposals are intended to comply with “Pillar Two” – the “Global Anti-Base Erosion” (“GloBE”) rules – of the “Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” (“BEPS”), agreed to by the OECD/G20 member states on October 8, 2021.[1] Under the UTPR, U.S. corporations that are members of a foreign-parented multinational located in a jurisdiction that has not implemented an “income inclusion rule” (an “IIR”) would be denied deductions as are necessary to ensure that the non-U.S. group pays an effective tax rate based on book (and not taxable) income of at least 15% in each non-U.S. jurisdiction in which the group has profits. An IIR imposes a “top-up tax” on an “ultimate parent entity” (“UPE”) in its jurisdiction to produce a 15% minimum effective rate of book income in each taxing jurisdiction in which a member of the parent’s group does business. GILTI and Subpart F are IIRs.[2]

The QDMTT proposed by the Biden Administration would be a 15% domestic minimum top-up tax that would grant the United States taxing priority over other countries enacting a UTPR. The Biden Administration proposal also indicates that U.S. multinationals will benefit from U.S. tax credits and other tax incentives, despite the fact that the OECD/G20 agreement would treat nonrefundable tax credits (like most U.S. tax credits) as reducing a company’s effective rate of tax and would impose tax or deny deductions if those tax credits reduced the company’s effective rate of tax below 15%.

  • Increase the “Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income” (“GILTI”) rate from 10.5% to 20% in conjunction with an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% (which was proposed separately). Consistent with the Biden Administration’s previous proposal, GILTI and Subpart F would be applied on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis to prevent blending.  Applying GILTI and Subpart F on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis conforms them to the OECD/G20 agreement.
  • Provide a 10% tax credit for expenses incurred in “onshoring a U.S. trade or business,” which is reducing or eliminating a trade or business (or line of business) currently conducted outside the United States and starting up, expanding, or otherwise moving the same trade or business within the United States, but only to the extent that U.S. jobs result. The proposal would conversely deny deductions for “offshoring a U.S. trade or business,” which is reducing or eliminating a trade or business or line of business currently conducted inside the United States and starting up, expanding, or otherwise moving the same trade or business outside the United States, to the extent that this action results in a loss of U.S. jobs.
  • Authorize the IRS to issue regulations to allow taxpayers to make retroactive “qualified electing fund” (“QEF”) elections for their “passive foreign investment companies” (“PFICs”) without requesting IRS consent, so long as the U.S. government would not be prejudiced.

On January 25, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) and the Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) released regulations (the “Final Regulations”) finalizing provisions in prior proposed regulations which generally would treat domestic partnerships as aggregates of their partners (rather than as entities) for purposes of determining income inclusions under the Subpart F provisions applicable to certain shareholders of controlled foreign corporations.[1]  Under the aggregate approach, a partner in a domestic partnership would have a Subpart F inclusion from an underlying CFC only if the partner itself is a US shareholder of the CFC.