On June 17, 2024, the IRS announced the formation of a dedicated group in the Office of Chief Counsel specifically focused on developing guidance on partnerships, which is expected to work with a new “passthrough working group” being established in the Large Business and International Division of the IRS. At the same time, Treasury and the IRS launched an attack on a specific partnership strategy involving so-called “basis bump” or “basis shifting” transactions involving related parties through a combination of guidance challenging the substance of such arrangements and declaring such arrangements to be “transactions of interest” that are subject to the strict disclosure requirements of the “reportable transaction” rules.1

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

I. Executive Summary

On February 15, 2024, the IRS and Treasury issued a supplemental notice to a prior notice from December 2022, to correct a petition requesting that the Superfund Chemical Tax apply to polyphenylene sulfide. While the supplemental notice is narrow in scope, the IRS and Treasury have requested

On November 15, 2023, the U.S. Tax Court held in YA Global Investments v. Commissioner[1] that a non-U.S. private equity fund (YA Global) with a U.S. asset manager that bought equity and convertible debt of U.S. portfolio companies was engaged in the conduct of a trade or business within the United States for U.S. federal income tax purposes, all of its income was “effectively connected” to that trade or business, and the fund (which was treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes) was liable for penalties and interest for failing to withhold with respect to its non-U.S. corporate feeder fund partner. 

  • YA Global made loans and convertible loans and entered into standby equity distribution agreements (“SEDAs”) to purchase equity.  It entered into hundreds of these transactions over the years in question.  YA Global described itself as providing underwriting services, its manager received structuring fees and banker’s fees, and YA Global itself received commitment fees.  The Tax Court held that YA Global provided services, and therefore was engaged in a trade or business in the United States for tax purposes.
  • The case provides a reminder that labels matter and taxpayers should not assume that they will be able to assert a substance argument which conflicts with their own form.  For example, the outcome of the case may have been different had YA Global received all of the fee income that was paid to its manager and if the upfront payments had not been labeled as “fees”.  It certainly would have been easier to argue such income was earned for the provision of capital rather than for services if the income actually had been earned by the entity providing the capital and if the income was not called “fees”.  Where it is not possible to adopt a corporate form that is consistent with the intended tax treatment, it also can be helpful for the parties to agree on the tax treatment of the payment and explicitly state that agreed intention in the transaction documents.
  • The IRS argued that YA Global’s manager should be treated as YA Global’s agent merely because it was acting on behalf of YA Global.  However, the court declined to adopt such a broad standard, instead holding that it is the power to provide interim instructions that made the manager YA Global’s agent.  The court found that YA Global had that power based on a provision in its governing documents requiring it to promptly advise its manager of any relevant investment restrictions.  It is doubtful that future courts will follow this very narrow view of agency, and, therefore, funds should not rely on it.  However, funds whose managers have full discretion to invest on their behalf will have a second defense against an assertion that they are engaged in a U.S. trade or business.
  • YA Global held many of its securities for 12-24 months, told its investors that it sought “capital appreciation”, and had returns similar to venture capital funds (some investments doubled in value and a large number experienced losses).  Despite this, the court held that YA Global was a “dealer in securities” for purposes of section 475, and that its portfolio companies were “customers”.  Again, YA Global’s characterization of its own business to these portfolio companies as being a low-risk spread business likely worked against it.

Introduction

Section 1402(a)(13) of the Internal Revenue Code provides that the distributive share of “limited partners, as such” from a partnership is not subject to self-employment tax.[1]  Managers of private equity and hedge funds are routinely structured as limited partnerships to exclude management and incentive fees from self-employment

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 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.

Tax-exempt organizations, while not generally subject to tax, are subject to tax on their “unrelated business taxable income” (“UBTI”).  One category of UBTI is debt-financed income; that is, a tax-exempt organization that borrows money directly or through a partnership and uses that money to make an investment is generally subject

After a more than 26 year hiatus, on July 1, 2022, the Superfund chemical excise tax (the “Superfund Chemical Tax”) will again become effective. This excise tax, reinstated by the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,[1] is imposed on manufacturers, producers, and importers of certain chemicals and chemical substances. As discussed below, the re-establishment of this tax may have significant financial, administrative, and operational impacts; thus, it is crucial that businesses potentially subject to this tax understand its applicability, obligations, and exceptions, for tax year 2022 and beyond.

Even for those who have dealt with the first iteration of this tax, there are many material differences in the resurrected tax regime, including the applicable tax rates on chemicals and the threshold for determining which chemical substances are taxable.