Category Archives: Subpart F

Proposal by @JoeBiden to increase the GILTI tax has particularly vicious implications for #Americansabroad

Introduction

Taxation is what America is about and America is about taxation.

Perhaps it’s better to say that:

Politics is about taxation and taxation is about politics.

Once Upon A Time In America

The primary legislative achievement of President Trump’s first term was the 2017 TCJA. It’s important to note that the TCJA had it’s genesis in the work of Michigan Congressman Dave Camp and was the result of a long term project of reworking the US tax system. It is absolutely incorrect to suggest that the TCJA was developed by the Trump Administration. It should not be referred to as “Trump Tax Reform”. That said, because of the “politics” involved in enacting the TCJA, the Trump Administration and Republican Controlled Ways and Means Committee, did impact the legislation at the margins. (Rate of repatriation tax, etc.)

Like all tax legislation the TJCA had clear winners and clear losers.

The TCJA Winner(s)

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Seriously now, who’s GILTI? Senators Wyden and Brown attempt to reinforce the punishment of GILTI Americans abroad

Prologue

Americans abroad who are individual shareholders of small business corporations in their country of residence have been very negatively impacted by the Section 951A GILTI and Section 965 TCJA amendments. In June of 2019, by regulation, Treasury interpreted the 951A GILTI rules to NOT apply to active business income when the effective foreign corporate tax rate was at a rate of 18.9% or higher. Treasury’s interpretation was reasonable, consistent with the history of Subpart F and consistent with the purpose of the GILTI rules.

Now, Senators Wyden and Brown are attempting to reverse Treasury’s regulation through legislation. This is a direct attack on Americans abroad. Senators Wyden and Brown are living proof of the principle that:

When it comes to Americans abroad:

It’s not that Congress doesn’t care. It’s that they don’t care that they don’t care!

Introduction

As many readers will know the 2017 US Tax Reform, referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), contained provisions which have made it difficult for Americans abroad to run small businesses outside the United States. In the common law world a corporation is treated as a separate legal entity for tax purposes. In other words the corporation and the shareholders are separate for tax purposes, file separate tax returns and pay tax on different streams of income. The 2017 TCJA contained two provisions that basically ended the separation of the company and the individual for U.S. tax purposes. In other words: there is now a presumption (at least how the Internal Revenue Code applies to small business owners) that active business income earned by the corporation will be deemed to have been earned by the individual “U.S. Shareholders”. To put it another way: individual shareholders are now presumptively taxed on income earned by the corporation, whether the income is paid out to the shareholders or not! The effect of this on individual Americans abroad has been discussed by Dr. Karen Alpert in her article: “Callous Neglect: The impact of United States tax reform on nonresident citizens“.

The expansion of the Subpart F Regime

The Subpart F rules were established in 1962. The principle behind them was that individual Americans should be prevented from, using foreign corporations to earn passive income, in jurisdictions with low tax regimes (or tax regimes that have lower taxes than those imposed by the United States). The Subpart F rules have (since 1986) included a provision to the effect that investment income (earned inside a foreign corporation) which was subject to foreign taxation at a rate of 90% or more of the U.S. corporate rate, would NOT be subject to taxation in the hands of the individual shareholder.

To put it another way (with respect to investment income):

1. It was mostly investment/passive income that was subject to inclusion in the incomes of individual shareholders as Subpart F income; and

2. Passive income that was subject to foreign taxation at a rate of 90% or more of the U.S. corporate tax rate (now 21%) would NOT be considered to be Subpart F income (and therefore not subject to inclusion in the hands of individual shareholders).

To coordinate my background discussion with the Arnold Porter submission described below, I will refer to exclusion of investment income subject to a 90% tax rate as “HTKO” (High Tax Kick Out).

The basic principle was (and continues to be):

If passive income earned in a foreign corporation is taxed at a rate of 90% or more of the U.S. corporate tax rate, that there was no attribution of that corporate income to the individual U.S. shareholder.

In its most simple terms, the Subpart F rules are found in Sections 951 – 965 of the Internal Revenue Code. They are designed to attribute income earned by the corporation directly to the U.S. shareholder, without regard to whether the corporate profits were paid to the shareholders as a dividend. Note that many developed countries have similar rules. Many developing (from a tax perspective) countries (for example Russia) are adopting Subpart F type rules. The U.S. rules are more complicated, more robust and (because of citizenship taxation) apply to the locally owned companies of individuals, who do not live in the United States.

Punishing them for their past and destroying their futures – The expansion of the Subpart F Regime to active business income

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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:
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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)

Part 11 in series: The Emotional Toll of US Non-Resident Taxation and Banking Policies – “I Feel Threatened by My Very Identity”

Before moving to the post, if you believe that Americans abroad are being treated unjustly by the United States Government: Join me on May 17, 2019 for a discussion of U.S. “citizenship-based taxation” as follows:


You are invited to submit your questions in advance. In fact, PLEASE submit questions. This is an opportunity to engage with Homelanders in general and the U.S. tax compliance community in particular.
Thanks to Professor Zelinsky for his willingness to engage in this discussion. Thanks to Kat Jennings of Tax Connections for hosting this discussion. Thanks to Professor William Byrnes for his willingness to moderate this discussion.
Tax Connections has published a large number of posts that I have written over the years (yes, hard to believe it has been years). As you may know I oppose FATCA, U.S. citizenship-based taxation and the use of FATCA to impose U.S. taxation on tax residents of other countries.
Tax Connections has also published a number of posts written by Professor Zelinsky (who apparently takes a contrary view).
You will find Part 1 to Part 10 of this series of posts here.
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Psychological harm and the pain of living as an American abroad – Why this next series of posts is important


I began this “Citizenship Solutions blog” in 2014. The blog included a page (not very visible) called:
“Emotional counselling for those threatened by the FATCA Roundup”
The comments (occasional as they may be) are significant. The comments include a “ping back” to a discussion of great interest which took place at the Isaac Brock Society.
Origins of the psychological torment of those targetted by the extra-territorial application of U.S. tax and banking laws
The campaign of Barack Obama will be remembered by the slogan “Change You Can Believe In”. For Americans abroad the election of Barack Obama was the beginning of a nightmare that they will never forget. Although U.S. citizenship- based taxation had always been the law in theory, it was never applied in practice. This changed with the Obama administation in three ways:
First, a toxic mix of Obama’s IRS, the tax compliance industry and the media worked to create an environment where individuals living outside the United States were led to believe, that the U.S. was enforcing U.S. citizenship-based taxation on Americans abroad. During the summer of 2011 innocent Americans abroad (some who had relinquished U.S. citizenship years earlier),were ushered into the OVDI program.
Second, the rollout of FATCA enlisted banks in the process of searching for U.S. citizens living abroad, who were not filing U.S. taxes.
Third, many Americans experienced their “Oh My God” moment where they learned about U.S. extraterritorial tax policies. For many the “Oh My God” moment permanently changed their perceptions of themeselves. One day they were proud Amercians. The next day they were threatened by the fact that they either were or had been U.S. citizens. Furthermore, they became (or at least believed) that they were a threat to their non-U.S. citizen families.*
The simple truth is that U.S. citizens are terrified of the U.S. Government. The vast majority of Americans abroad were not (and are still not) filing U.S. taxes. Their failure to file was because, they didn’t know that they were required to. Those individuals who were financially responsible and compliant with the tax laws where the live, were most impacted emotionally. They couldn’t belive that they had done something wrong. After all, they had lived their lives “trying to do the right thing”. The realization that they were not compliant with U.S. laws evoked a range of very damaging emotions. They experienced a range of emotions that they had never experienced before.
The emotions experienced were somewhere between “anger” at one extreme and “fear at the other extreme”. The experience of either too much fear or too much anger is a dangerous thing. The best an individual can hope for is to live life somewhere between fear and anger. It’s important to understand how intense and how damaging the psychological impact of the experience of being criminalized by the U.S. Government, has been and continues to be.
Laura Snyder discusses the “emotional toll of U.S. non-resident taxation and banking policies
Laura Snyder has written (in addition to her original four posts) a series of five posts describing and exploring “The Emotional Toll of US Non-Resident Taxation and Banking Policies. Part 10 of this series (comments of Nando Breiter) was a prologue to Ms. Snyder’s five posts.
Now, over to Laura …
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Part 7 of series: Tax Law to American Abroad – “How Do I Hate Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

Before moving to the post, if you believe that Americans abroad are being treated unjustly by the United States Government: Join me on May 17, 2019 for a discussion of U.S. “citizenship-based taxation” as follows:


You are invited to submit your questions in advance. In fact, PLEASE submit questions. This is an opportunity to engage with Homelanders in general and the U.S. tax compliance community in particular.
Thanks to Professor Zelinsky for his willingness to engage in this discussion. Thanks to Kat Jennings of Tax Connections for hosting this discussion. Thanks to Professor William Byrnes for his willingness to moderate this discussion.
Tax Connections has published a large number of posts that I have written over the years (yes, hard to believe it has been years). As you may know I oppose FATCA, U.S. citizenship-based taxation and the use of FATCA to impose U.S. taxation on tax residents of other countries.
Tax Connections has also published a number of posts written by Professor Zelinsky (who apparently takes a contrary view).
This is post 7 in my series leading up to the May 17 Tax Connections discussion. The first six posts have been for the purpose of demonstrating:
– in posts 1 to 4, Laura Snyder did a wonderful job in explaining how the U.S. tax system impacts the lives of Americans abroad. Her specific focus was on those individuals who identify as being U.S. citizens
– in post 5, I extended the discussion to reinforce that what the U.S. calls “citizenship-based taxation” is actually a system that impacts far more than those who identify as being U.S. citizens. In fact it burdens every individual on the planet who can’t demonstrate that he is a “nonresident” alien (people are renouncing U.S. citizenship because they can save themselves ONLY if they become a “nonresident alien”).
– in Post 6, I added the thoughts of Toronto Tax Professional Peter Megoudis who explained how those who are connected to “U.S. persons” (through family or business arrangements) can be impacted by the U.S. tax system
In this, Post 7, I am extending the discussion to explain that:
1. Not only does the United States impose worldwide taxation on individuals who don’t live in the United States; but
2. The system of worldwide taxation imposed is in reality and separate and far more punitive collection of taxes than is imposed on Homeland Americans.
I have previously written on this topic at Tax Connections:


Think of it! With the exception of the United States, when a person moves away from the country and establishes tax residency in another country, they will no longer be taxed as a resident of the first country.
But in the case of the United States: If a U.S. citizen moves from the United States and establishes tax residency in a new country, (1) he will STILL be taxable as a tax resident of the United States and (2) will be subjected to a separate and more punitive system of taxation! #YouCantMakeThisUp!
Although this truth is rarely understood and is rarely stated (it’s one of America’s “dirty little secrets”) here is an excerpt from a discussion I had with three international tax experts:

In this series of posts I am incorporating the thinking and writing of guest bloggers. In order to guide us in this discussion I welcome Virginia La Torre Jeker, a U.S. tax lawyer based in Dubai. I have previously featured Virginia in my “Unsung Heroes Of Life” Series.
Now on to Virginia La Torre Jeker …


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