Tag Archives: Subpart F

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

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

Article 4 paragraph 2 of the U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty: A clause preventing the use of the tax treaty tie breaker for some Green Card holders

Introduction – In The 21st Century The Most Important Thing About A Person Is His Tax Residency

Green Card holders are deemed to be U.S. tax residents under the Internal Revenue Code. In most circumstances, Green Card Holders are also treated as U.S. tax residents under U.S. tax treaties.

U.S. Green Card holders have traditionally been able to use tax treaties to sever “tax residence” with the United States. This decision carries both burdens and benefits and should never be undertaken without competent professional advice. (For Green Card holders who are “long term residents“, the use of a “tax treaty tie breaker” will result in expatriation. Expatriation may trigger the imposition of the Sec. 877A Expatriation Tax.)

The tax treaty tie breaker is available if and only if the individual is, according to the tax treaty, a tax resident of BOTH the United States and the treaty partner country.

Typically the tax treaty tie breaker is a mechanism where one uses the provisions of the tax treaty to assign tax residency to one and only one country according to the tax treaty.

To repeat: a condition precedent to the use of the tax treaty tie breaker is that the individual be a tax resident of both countries according to the tax treaty.

Most tax treaties provide that if an individual is a tax resident of Country A according to domestic law, then the individual is a resident of Country A under the treaty. In other words, tax residency under the terms of the treaty follows from tax residency under domestic law.

Prior to the U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty of July 24, 2001, tax residency for Green Card holders according to the tax treaty, followed from tax residency under domestic law.

The U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty of July 24, 2001 changed this basic rule. The July 24, 2001 tax treaty contains a provision that provides that tax residency under the U.S. U.K. tax treaty, does not necessarily follow from tax residency under U.S. domestic law. Specifically Article 4 Paragraph 2 states that Green Card holders will NOT be treated as U.S. tax residents under the U.S. U.K. Tax treaty except as follows:

2. An individual who is a United States citizen or an alien admitted to the United States
for permanent residence (a “green card” holder) is a resident of the United States only if the
individual has a substantial presence, permanent home or habitual abode in the United States
and if that individual is not a resident of a State other than the United Kingdom for the purposes of a double taxation convention between that State and the United Kingdom.

Paragraph 2 of Article 4 provides a presumption against U.S. tax residency, under the tax treaty, for Green Card holders. This results in a situation where the Green Card holder is a U.S. tax resident under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, but NOT a U.S. tax resident under the treaty.

The purpose of this post is to explore the implications of this unusual provision and how it impacts Green Card holders who are tax residents of the U.K. The post will be divided into the following six parts:

Part A – U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty – Prior to July 24, 2001 (1975)

Part B – The U.S. U.K. Tax Treaty – signed July 24, 2001

Part C – The meaning of the two necessary conditions to qualify as a U.S. tax resident under the treaty: Joint Committee of Taxation Comments on Paragraph 2 of Article 4

Part D – The meaning of the two necessary conditions to qualify as a U.S. tax resident under the treaty: U.S. Treasury Technical Interpretation

Part E – IRS Commentary – July 3, 2018

Part F – What are the implications for Green Card Holders who are tax residents of the UK?

Continue reading

The United States imposes a separate and more punitive tax system on US dual citizens who live in their country of second citizenship

Prologue


Do you recognise yourself?
You are unable to properly plan for your retirement. Many of you with retirement assets are having them confiscated (at this very moment) courtesy of the Sec. 965 transition tax. You are subjected to reporting requirements that presume you are a criminal. Yet your only crime was having been born in America (something you didn’t even choose) and attempting to live as a U.S. tax compliant American outside the United States. Your comments to my recent article at Tax Connections reflect and register your conviction that you should not be subjected to the extra-territorial application of the Internal Revenue Code – when you don’t live in the United States.
The Internal Revenue Code: You can’t leave home without it!
Continue reading

Part 30 – Treasury issues final @USTransitionTax Regs with no relief for #Americansabroad


This is Part 30 of my series of blog posts about the Sec. 965 transition tax.
Because of the importance and significance of this news I am writing this post without having read the 305 pages of Treasury regulations which relate to the Sec. 965 transition tax which are found here. I am relying on Monte Silver’s analysis which concludes that the regulations propose NO regulatory relief for the small businesses of Americans abroad. This is disappointing after the lobbying efforts that have been undertaken.
The attitude of U.S. Treasury
Assuming no relief for Americans abroad, coupled with the vast campaign that was undertaken to educate Treasury, we can assume that the denial of relief was intentional and with full recognition of the harm caused to a political minority, who do not even live in the United States.
To put it simply: It is the intention of U.S. Treasury to confiscate the retirement assets of Canadians with Canadian Controlled Private Corporations and similarly situated individuals in other countries. No other conclusion is possible.
The attitude of Congress – As I have previously said:
The problem is NOT that Congress doesn’t care about Americans Abroad. The problem is that they con’t care that they don’t care!
The only remedy is with the courts and I strongly suggest that you support the transition tax lawsuit being organized by Monte Silver.
The attitude of the Courts
I anticipate that Monte Silver’s lawsuit (described in the previous paragraph) is now inevitable.
Here is what actually has happened this week …
First – as reported on January 15, 2019 before issuing final regulations …

Second – and on January 16, 2019 – for the encore the final Sec. 965 regulations are issued and guess what?

For further commentary I refer you to Monte Silver at Americans for Small Business.
For those who can stomach it, the final (supposedly) regulations are here.
John Richardson
Follow me on Twitter: @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.
Continue reading

Part 27 – While addressing some Sec. 965 @USTransitionTax concerns, there is NO EVIDENT CONCERN from @WaysandMeansGOP ‏for the injustice inflicted on Americans abroad

Introduction – “Indifference being the worst form of abuse”


A quick summary of this post:
On November 26, 2018 the House Ways and Means Committee under the leadership of Chairman Brady announced a bi-partisan bill which contains a number of “Technical Fixes” to the December 22, 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While specifically addressing the Sec. 965 transition tax, the bill contains neither mention nor relief for Americans Abroad who are at risk of having their retirement pensions confiscated by the U.S. Government. (While the transition tax may actually be beneficial for Homeland Americans, it is simply devastating for Americans abroad.)
In other words: The proposed legislation is NOT neutral. By specifically addressing the Sec. 965 transition tax and NOT providing relief for Americans abroad, it has exacerbated a difficult situation. My understanding is that many Americans abroad have requested filing extensions to December 15, 2018. The failure of this proposed bill to provide relief means that many Americans abroad with small businesses are in an untenable situation where compliance may well be impossible.
My analysis and discussion follows …
Continue reading

Part 26 – 2018 The @USTransitionTax in Review: As the year winds down lawyer @MonteSilver1 organizes the "Transition Tax" lawsuit – Monte has supported you! It's time for you to help Monte support you!


2018 has been a difficult year for Americans living outside the United States who operate small businesses through corporations. The tax compliance community is still interpreting Section 965 of the Internal Revenue to require them to “turn over” a percentage of their assets to the U.S. government.
For those who don’t understand what the “transition tax” is:


Okay, sorry the text in the above image is a little small. But, my point includes, that the “transition tax” is: (1) retroactive taxation (2) on income that was specifically NOT subject to U.S. taxation at the time that it was earned (3) without any triggering event whatsoever (4) that is an attempted tax grab before the host country can tax it (5) in a way that absolutely results in double taxation (6) that is in effect a confiscation of the “pensions” of Americans abroad. Yes, it’s true and NO U.S. TAX PROFESSIONAL HAS EVEN ATTEMPTED TO SUGGEST THAT POINTS 1 – 6 ARE FALSE.
The purpose or this post is to:
1. Review what has happened during the last year; and
2. Strongly encourage you to support Monte Silver (a U.S. tax lawyer based in Israel) in his organizing a lawsuit against U.S. Treasury for not having complied with various statutes in the implementation of this law. See Silvercolaw.com or contact Monte at ms@silvercolaw.com
Continue reading

Part 25 – Reflections on the "S Corporation" exemption to the Sec. 965 @USTransitionTax – Hat Tip to @SCorpAssn

Beginnings …
A recent comment at the Isaac Brock Society includes:

It’s too bad I didn’t put my Canadian corporation in an S Corp before I knew I was a US taxpayer. I must have misplaced my crystal ball at the time. As I had when I sold my house in Canada.
What a clusterfu@k!

On November 15, 2018 I did a second interview (first interview October 16, 2018 here) with Monte Silver and his Sec. 965 advocacy. The video was featured on a post at CitizenshipTaxation.ca.


If you have not watched the November 15 interview, I suggest that you begin by watching the video (click on the above tweet). The most significant part of the interview is where Sec. 965(I) is discussed. Interestingly Sec. 965(I) provides a transition tax exemption to individuals who are the shareholders of an “S Corp”. To understand the mechanism for the exemption, click on the link in the following tweet:


This interesting exemption is available only to individuals who are shareholders of S corporations and not to other individuals. The interview also included some discussion of the fact that “S Corp” shareholders have the benefit of lobbying from a powerful lobbying association – S-Corp. The interview ended with Monte Silver describing the probability that the Sec. 965 transition tax issue is headed to the courts.
But, in the “Pay To Play Casino” that America has become:


Why are individuals who are the shareholders of an S corporation, which owns the shares of a CFC, more equal than those individual shareholders who own the shares of a CFC directly?
Let’s see …
Purpose of this post …
The purpose of this post is to explore the following issues/questions:
1. What exactly is an S Corporation?
2. How the requirements of an S Corporation reflect that that S Corps are the “small business corps” of America
3. How the S Corporation is taxed and why that taxation is consistent with the S Corporation as an entity for small business
4. An interesting history of the S Corporation
5. Why most Americans abroad are like most small business owners in America (and presumably should have similar tax treatment)
6. How the S-Corp association lobbying in DC has likely resulted in favourable “transition tax” treatment for S-Corps
7. The argument that – with respect to the “transition tax” that Americans abroad with small businesses should be treated the same way as shareholders of U.S. S-Corps
8. Should Americans abroad who don’t renounce U.S. citizenship consider using U.S. Corps to own and operate their businesses abroad?
Continue reading

Part 24 – When it comes to the treatment of individuals: @USTransitonTax Code Sec. 965(i) proves that "Some individuals are more equal than other individuals"

Prologue – October 16, 2018 – Monte Silver explains the “Transition Tax” in general …


Internal Revenue Code – Section 965(i) begins with …
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/965

(i) Special rules for S corporation shareholders
(1) In general
In the case of any S corporation which is a United States shareholder of a deferred foreign income corporation, each shareholder of such S corporation may elect to defer payment of such shareholder’s net tax liability under this section with respect to such S corporation until the shareholder’s taxable year which includes the triggering event with respect to such liability. Any net tax liability payment of which is deferred under the preceding sentence shall be assessed on the return of tax as an addition to tax in the shareholder’s taxable year which includes such triggering event.

Only “some” individuals are subject to the Sec. 965 US “Transition Tax” – how “some individuals are more equal than others” …


The complete second interview with Monte Silver – The unfairness to Americans abroad is compounded…