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.

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 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.

On August 16, 2022 President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the “IRA”) into law.

The IRA  includes a 15% corporate alternative minimum tax, a 1% excise tax on stock buybacks and a two-year extension of the excess business loss limitation rules. The IRA also contains a number

On August 7, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the “IRA”).  The tax provisions in the bill that was passed vary from the bill that was originally released on July 27, 2022 by Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in four significant

On August 7, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the “IRA”). The IRA contains a significant number of climate and energy tax proposals, many of which were previously proposed in substantially similar form by the House of Representatives in November 2021 (in the “Build Back Better Act”).

On July 27, 2022, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) released the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the “IRA”). The IRA contains only two non-climate and non-energy tax proposals – a 15% corporate alternative minimum tax and a provision significantly narrowing the applicability of preferential