Category Archives: Section 962

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

Part 33 – US residents bring suit alleging that the Section 965 US Transition Tax is Unconstitutional


A lawsuit alleging that the Section 965 transition tax is unconstitutional affords the opportunity to write Part 33 in my series of posts about the U.S. Transition Tax.
Part 22 of this series included a discussion of a paper by Sean P. McElroy which argued that the Section 965 repatriation tax was unconstitutional for the following reasons explained in the abstract:
Continue reading

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

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