Category Archives: Section 962 election

Part 34 – 2019: Treasury Fails To Prevent @MonteSilver1 lawsuit against @USTransitionTax From Proceeding – Case To Be Heard On The Merits

What Happened

The judgment is here.

We win!!!!!

About The Transition Tax

As part of the 2017 TCJA, Congress imposed a retroactive tax, without any realization event, on the retained earnings of Controlled Foreign Corporations. Although intended to be the the “trade off” for lowering the Corporate Tax rate from 35% to 21%, it was interpreted to apply to the small business corporations owned by Americans abroad. (The tax compliance industry aggressively promoted this damaging interpretation of the law.) In any event, this imposed significant and life altering consequences on Americans abroad (particularly in Canada) for whom their small business corporations were really their pension plans. I documented the history, damage and madness of this in a series of posts about the transition tax. The law was interpreted (in various ways) and the regulations were drafted in an extremely punitive manner. What needs to be most understood is that a law intended for the Apples, Googles, etc. was interpreted to apply in the same way to individuals (your friends and neighbors) who owned small business corporations.

About The Regulatory Flexibility Act

Title 5 of the U.S. Code of Laws deals with how the U.S. Government works. Subtitle 5 is the Administrative Procedure Act. Subtitle 6 is the Regulatory Flexibility Act. At the risk of over-generalization, the purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act are to require the Government to consider the effect that certain rules/regulations have on small businesses and undertake specific procedural steps in relation to this consideration.

Learn About the Regulatory Flexibility Act

An excellent site providing education about the Regulatory Flexibility Act is here. Although written in the context of the EPA, the description offers the following introduction to the Regulatory Flexibility Act:

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 601 et seq, was signed into law on September 19, 1980. The RFA imposes both analytical and procedural requirements on EPA and on other federal agencies. The analytical requirements call for EPA to carefully consider the economic impacts rules will have on small entities. The procedural requirements are intended to ensure that small entities have a voice when EPA makes policy determinations in shaping its rules. These analytical and procedural requirements do not require EPA to reach any particular result regarding small entities.

The key is that Government is required by law to consider the economic effect of regulations on small business entities.

And here …

Monte Silver’s Lawsuit Against the Transition Tax – Treasury Did NOT Consider The Impact Of The Transition Tax Regulations on Small Business Entities (including those run by Americans Abroad

The lawsuit was not (like other lawsuits) against the Transition Tax per se. Rather the lawsuit was about the the failure of U.S. Treasury to comply with the procedural requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Predictably, the Government argued that the lawsuit lacked standing. On December 24, 2019 a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the plaintiff (Mr. Silver) did have standing. The reason was that his lawsuit was not against the transition tax itself. Rather the lawsuit was against U.S. Treasury causing injury resulting from the failure of Treasury to comply with the requirements mandated in the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Congratulation to Monte Silver for an incredibly important win. The success of his lawsuit opens the door to many similar lawsuits (GILTI anyone?) down the road.

Earlier posts

In November of 2018 I first wrote about Mr. Silver’s lawsuit.

That post included the following earlier interviews.

Speaking with Monte Silver …

Interview 1 – October 16, 2018

Interview 2 – November 15, 2018

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

US Treasury proposes that foreign income subject to high foreign tax be excluded from definition of #GILTI

In general – Good News For American Entrepreneurs Abroad …

On Friday June 14, 2019 US Treasury proposed in Notice 2019-12436 that any foreign income earned by Controlled Foreign Corporations be (subject to election) excluded from the definition of GILTI income. This will be particularly welcome to Americans living outside the United States, who are attempting to carry on business in their country of residence, through non-U.S. corporations.

For those who are concerned with understanding the hows and whys, I suggest you read Treasury’s Notice which includes a good history and description of the Subpart F rules, some Legislative History leading to the GILTI rules, and Treasury’s attempt to piece it all together. You will find it all here.

Treasury Notice 2019-12436

Treasury Notice 2019-12436
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Part 32 – So, you have received a letter saying that your @USTransitiontax is also subject to the 3.8% NIIT


This is Part 32 of my series of blog posts about the Sec. 965 transition tax. I recently received a message from a person who says that he was assessed a Section 1411 Net Investment Income Tax assessment on the amount of the Section 965 transition tax. Although not intended as legal advice, I would like to share my thoughts on this. I don’t see how the transition tax could be subject to the NIIT.
Let’s look at it this way:
Why Section 965 Transition Tax Inclusions Are NOT Subject To The Sec. 1411 Net Investment Income Tax
A – The Language Of The Internal Revenue Code – NIIT Is Not Payable On Transition Tax Inclusions

I see no way that the language of the Internal Revenue Code leads to the conclusion that the transition tax can be subject to the NIIT.
My reasoning is based on the following two simple points:
1. The NIIT is based on Net Investment Income which is generally defined as dividends, interest and capital gains as per this tweet:


2. Subpart F income by legal definition (controlling case law) is NOT interest, dividends or capital gains as per this tweet


B – The Purpose Of The Section 965 Transition Tax
3. The whole point of the transition tax is to go after active income that was not subject to U.S. tax when it was earned. There is nothing about the transition tax that converts active income into investment income by making it a subpart F inclusion as per this tweet:


Therefore, (and this is speculation on my part) the NIIT charge must be based on something specific to your tax filing – likely treating the transition tax inclusion as meeting the definition of Net Investment Income – specifically Dividends, Interest or Capital Gains.
Under no circumstances should you or anybody else impacted by this simply pay a NIIT surcharge on the transition tax, without a careful and meticulous investigation of the reasons for it. Have a good look at your tax return.
The mandatory disclaimer: Obviously this is not intended to be legal advice or any other kind of advice. It is simply intended to give you the framework to discuss this issue with your tax preparer if you were one of the unfortunate victims who received an NIIT tax assessment on your acknowledged transition tax liability.
John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Part 31 – "Double Taxation Disguised as Tax Reform": Jackie Bugnion comments in @TaxNotes on @USTransitionTax and #GILTI

https://twitter.com/worldnewsreader/status/1132961693598986241

This is Part 31 of my series of blog posts about the Sec. 965 transition tax. It is a “guest post” by Jackie Bugnion who is the former tax direction of ACA. The article explores the impacts of the Section 965 transition tax and GILTI on the lives of Americans abroad. Ms. Bugnion places the transition tax and GILTI in the context of the U.S. system of citizenship-based taxation.

This article is reproduced with thanks to the author Jackie Bugnion and the publisher Tax Analysts.

Bugnion (4-29)

Bugnion (4-29)

US Treasury interprets Section 962 Election to mean that individual shareholders are entitled to 50% exclusion of #GILTI income when calculating income attributed

On March 4, 2019 as described by Helen Burggraf at American Expat Finance:
My comment included:

Also welcoming the news of the changes in the tax treatment of Americans’ overseas small businesses was John Richardson, a Toronto-based lawyer at CtizenshipSolutions.ca, who specializes in assisting Americans abroad with their tax and citizenship issues. The Treasury, Richardson said, should be congratulated for taking a “purposive” approach “when interpreting how Sec. 951A interacts with Sec. 962” of the relevant regulations.
In layman’s terms, Richardson noted, the new regulation means that “American expats may now deduct 50% of the active business income defined as GILTI, thus reducing the amount of GILTI they would be expected to have to pay tax on.”
However, the new regulations don’t affect the so-called Section 965 “transition tax,” he noted.
“It appears that Treasury heard and understood the problems faced by individual shareholders of CFCs [Controlled Foreign Corporations].
“I suspect that organisations representing S Corps [a type of closely-held corporation, as defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service] also made submissions to Treasury and had an influence on this decision.
“All Americans abroad should be encouraged by this. Instead of interpreting the law in the most literal and punitive way, it appears that Treasury has recognized the problems that individuals, whether living inside or outside America, faced.
“The bottom line is that small business owners abroad will now, for the most part, be able to defer U.S. taxation on the active business income of their corporations by using the Sec. 962 election, provided that their corporations are paying sufficient local tax. They will of course have to pay U.S. tax when the income is distributed to them.
“But [even here], the distributions will be subject to local tax which can then be used, via the FTC rules, to offset U.S. tax owing – for active business income.
“In other words, this is excellent news for Americans abroad.”

Full discussion here …


An example of the 50% discount and the Section 962 election here …


John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter at @ExpatriationLaw

Part 29 – Can the full Canadian tax paid personally on distributions from Sec. 965 income be used to offset the @USTransitionTax

Introduction – As the year of the “transition tax” comes to an end with no relief for Americans abroad (who could have known?)
As 2018 comes to and end (as does my series of posts about the transition tax) many individuals are still trying to decide how to respond to the Sec. 965 “transition tax” problem. The purpose of this post is to summarize what I believe is the universe of different ways that one can approach Sec. 965 transition tax compliance. These approaches have been considered at various times and in different posts over the last year. As 2018 comes to an end the tax compliance industry is confused about what to do. The taxpayers are confused about what to do. For many individuals they must choose between: bad and uncertain compliance or no attempt at compliance. (I add that the same is true of the Sec. 951A GILTI provisions which took effect on January 1, 2018.)
But first – a reminder: This tax was NEVER intended to apply to Americans abroad!!!
A recent post by Dr. Karen Alpert – “Fixing the Transition Tax for Individual Shareholders” – includes:

There have been several international tax reform proposals in the past decade, some of which are variations on the final Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) package. None of these proposals even considered the interaction of the proposed changes with taxing based on citizenship. One even suggested completely repealing the provision that eliminates US tax on dividends out of previously taxed income because corporate shareholders would no longer be paying US tax on those dividends anyway.

and later that …

One of the obstacles often mentioned when it comes to a legislative fix is the perceived requirement that any change be “revenue neutral”. While this is understandable given the current US budget deficit, it shouldn’t apply to this particular fix because the transition tax liability of individual US Shareholders of CFCs was not included in the original estimates of transition tax revenue.

The bottom line is:
Congress did not consider whether the transition tax would apply to Americans abroad and therefore did not intend for the transition tax to apply to them. Within hours of release of the legislation, the tax compliance industry, while paying no attention to the intent of the legislation, began a compliance campaign to assist owners of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations to turn their retirement savings over to the IRS. There was (in general) no “push back” from the compliance industry. There was little attempt on the part of the compliance industry to analyze the intent of the legislation. In general (there are always exceptions – many who I know personally – who have done excellent work), the compliance industry failed their clients. By not considering the intent of the legislation and not considering responses consistent with that intent, the compliance industry effectively created the “transition tax”.
In fairness to the industry, Treasury has given little guidance to practitioners and the guidance given came late in the year. In fairness to Treasury, by granting the two filing extensions, Treasury made some attempt to do, what they thought they could, within the parameters of the legislation.
The purpose of this post …
This post will summarize (but not discuss) the various options. There is no generally preferred option. This is not “one size fits all”. The response chosen will largely depend in the “stage in life” of the individual. Younger people can pay/absorb the “transition tax”. For people closer to retirement, for whom the retained earnings in their corporations are their pensions: compliance will result in the destruction of your retirement.
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Punishing you for your past – Presuming you #GILTI for your future

Introduction – Punishing You For Your Past and Destroying Your Future
Punishing You For Your Past – Retroactive Taxation And The Sec. 965 Transition Tax
The 2017 U.S. Tax Reform AKA – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ushered in significant changes for Americans abroad who carry on business through small business corporations. Section 965 was an attempt to impose retroactive taxation on 31 years of corporate earnings that were NOT subject to U.S. taxation at the time that they were earned. In Canada Canadian Controlled Private Corporations are used as private pension plans. The effect of the Sec. 965 transition tax was/is to confiscate the pensions which were earned in Canada by Canadian residents. It’s simply wrong.
In early of 2018 Dr. Karen Alpert and I worked on a series of videos to explain the Sec. 965 Transition Tax. Those vides spawned a series of 27 posts about the Sec. 965 transition tax.
Destroying Your Future – Presumed GILTI – The Sec. 951A GILTI Tax
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