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 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 27, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (the “Treasury”) released Notice 2023-2 (the “Notice”), which provides guidance regarding the application of the 1% excise tax on corporate stock buybacks under recently enacted section 4501 (the “Tax”).[1]  Taxpayers may rely on the Notice until proposed regulations are published.  The Notice also contains a request for comments on the rules included in the Notice and rules not included in the Notice.

The Treasury and the IRS took a literal interpretation of the statute; thus, the Tax applies broadly to stock repurchases and other transactions that are not traditionally viewed as stock buybacks, including a repurchase of mandatorily redeemable preferred stock (even if such stock was issued before January 1, 2023).  Special purpose acquisition companies (“SPACs”) will need to analyze whether a transaction is subject to the Tax under the general rules as the Notice does not include any special guidance for SPACs.  However, SPACs did receive comfort that redemptions that take place in the same year as a “complete liquidation” under section 331 are not subject to the Tax.

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.

On March 28, 2022, the Biden Administration proposed certain very limited changes to the taxation of cryptocurrency transactions. The proposals do not change the current treatment of cryptocurrency as property for federal income tax purposes, and do not address any of the fundamental tax issues that cryptocurrency raise.

I. Apply Securities Loan Rules to Digital Assets

Under current law, securities loans that satisfy certain requirements are tax-free under section 1058.[1] The Biden Administration’s proposal would expand section 1058 to apply to “actively traded digital assets” recorded on cryptographically secured distributed ledgers, so long as the loan agreement contains similar terms to those currently required for loans of securities. [2] The Secretary would also have the authority to define “actively traded” and extend section 1058 to “non-actively traded” digital assets. In addition, the proposal would require a lender to include in gross income amounts that would have been included had the lender not loaned the digital asset (i.e., “substitute payments”). The proposals would be effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2022.

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.

On October 7, 2020, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and Treasury Department released final regulations[1] providing guidance on the rules imposing withholding and reporting requirements under the Code[2] on dispositions of certain partnership interests by non-U.S. persons (the “Final Regulations”). The Final Regulations expand and modify proposed regulations[3] that were published on May 13, 2019 (the “Proposed Regulations”), and which we described in a prior Tax Talks post.[4] Unless otherwise specified, this post focuses on the differences between the Proposed Regulations and the Final Regulations affecting transfers of interests in non-publicly traded partnerships.

Enacted as part of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Section 1446(f) generally requires a transferee, in connection with the disposition of a partnership interest by a non-U.S. person, to withhold and remit ten percent of the “amount realized” by the transferor, if any portion of any gain realized by the transferor on the disposition would be treated under Section 864(c)(8) as effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States (“Section 1446(f) Withholding”).[5]

Prior to issuing the Proposed Regulations, the IRS had issued Notice 2018-08 and Notice 2018-29 to provide interim guidance with respect to Section 1446(f) Withholding.

On June 24, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) and the U.S. Department of Treasury (“Treasury”) issued final regulations (the “Final Regulations”) on the application of the “passthrough deduction” under Section 199A[1] to regulated investment companies (“RICs”) that receive dividends from real estate investment trusts (“REITs”). The Final Regulations broadly allow a “conduit” approach, through which RIC shareholders who would have been able to benefit from the deduction on a dividend directly received from a REIT can take the deduction on their share of such dividend received by the RIC, so long as the shareholders meet the holding period requirements for their shares in the RIC. This confirms the approach of proposed regulations issued in February 2019 (the “Proposed Regulations”), on which RICs and their shareholders were already able to rely. Additionally, the preamble to the Final Regulations (the “Preamble”) notes that the IRS and Treasury continue to decline to extend conduit treatment to qualified publicly traded partnership (“PTP”) income otherwise eligible for the deduction. Please read the remainder of this post for background, a description of the technical provisions of the Final Regulations, and a brief discussion of policy issues discussed in the Preamble.

The U.S. tax authorities have issued substantial guidance related to the phase-out of LIBOR – relevant to lenders, borrowers and parties to financial instruments of virtually every type.

In proposed regulations (“the Proposed Regulations”) released on October 9, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (the “Treasury”) addressed market concerns regarding the U.S. tax effect of the expected transition from LIBOR and other interbank offered rates (“IBORs”) on debt instruments (e.g., loans, notes and bonds) and non-debt contracts (e.g., swaps and other derivatives). The key tax concern to date has been whether the replacement of an IBOR-reference rate in a debt instrument or non-debt contract with a different reference rate would result in a taxable exchange of the debt instrument or contract, potentially triggering a current U.S. tax liability to one or more of the parties.

The core of the Proposed Regulations provide some comfort – they detail the requirements for the rate replacement to not result in a taxable event (either in respect of the instrument itself or to certain integrated hedging transactions). The Proposed Regulations also contain transition guidance on other matters potentially impacted by the rate change, such as maintenance of REMIC status and the calculation of interest expense of a foreign bank with a U.S. branch.

While the Proposed Regulations are broadly taxpayer favorable – and indeed draw heavily on input from the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (“ARRC”),[1] which was charged with facilitating voluntary acceptance of alternative reference rates, as well as comments from other industry groups – their scope is limited enough that affected taxpayers should take care to ensure that amendments to their loans and other financial instruments are tailored to conform to the Proposed Regulations. In particular, in order to avoid a taxable event, affected taxpayers substituting an IBOR-referencing rate for a new rate, such as SOFR, will need to satisfy several tests, including a test of whether the fair market value of the affected loan or financial instrument is substantially equivalent both before and after the rate is changed, taking into account any lump-sum payment made.

Taxpayers may generally rely on the Proposed Regulations until final regulations are published, provided that the rules are applied consistently by taxpayers and their related parties. Read the rest of this post for background on the LIBOR transition, and a more complete description of the Proposed Regulations. Please contact any of the authors listed above or your usual Proskauer contact to discuss any aspect of the Proposed Regulations applicable to your specific circumstances.

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.