Canadian corporations should NOT be deemed (under the Treasury entity classification regulations) to be “per se” corporations. The reality is that corporations play different roles in different tax and business cultures. Corporations in Canada have many uses and purposes, including operating as private pension plans for small business owners (including medical professionals).
Deeming Canadian corporations to be “per se” corporations means that they are always treated as “foreign corporations” for the purposes of US tax rules. This has resulted in their being treated as CFCs or as PFICs in circumstances which do not align with the purpose of the CFC and PFIC rules.
The 2017 965 Transition Tax confiscated the pensions of a large numbers of Canadian residents. The ongoing GILTI rules have made it very difficult for small business corporations to be used for their intended purposes in Canada.
Clearly Treasury deemed Canadian Controlled Private Corporations to be “per se” corporations without:
1. Understanding the use and role of these corporations in Canada; and
2. Assuming that ONLY US residents might be shareholders in Canadian corporations. As usual, the lives of US citizens living outside the United States were not considered.
These are the problems that inevitably arise under the US citizenship-based AKA extraterritorial tax regime, coupled with a lack of sensitivity to how these rules impact Americans abroad. The US citizenship-based AKA extraterritorial tax regime may be defined as:
The United States imposing worldwide taxation on the non-US source income of people who are tax residents of other countries and do not live in the United States!
It is imperative that the United States transition to a system of pure residence-based taxation!
The United States imposes a separate and more punitive tax system on US citizens living outside the United States than on US residents. There are numerous examples of this principle – a principle that is well understood (but not directly experienced) by tax preparers.
The US tax system operates through a combination of laws, Treasury Regulations, enforcement by the tax compliance community and IRS administration. There are many instances where the extraterritorial application of the US tax system results in absurdities, that are very damaging to those who try their best to comply with those laws.
Treasury regulations have an enormous impact on how the Internal Revenue Code applies to Americans abroad. In a previous paper coauthored with Dr. Alpert and Dr. Snyder, we described how Treasury could provide “A Simple Regulatory Fix For Citizenship Taxation“. Treasury regulations can be extremely helpful to Americans abroad or extremely damaging. It is therefore crucial that Treasury consider how its regulations would/could impact the lives of those Americans abroad attempting compliance with the US extraterritorial tax regime. In some cases it may be appropriate to have different regulations for resident Americans than for Americans abroad.
Treasury has demonstrated that it can be very helpful
Although this post will focus on difficulties, it’s important to note that Treasury has demonstrated that it can be very helpful to Americans abroad. It has interpreted the Internal Revenue Code in ways that have mitigated what could have been extreme damage. Here are two recent examples from the GILTI context where Treasury:
– interpreted the 962 Election to allow individuals to receive the 50% deduction in GILTI income inclusion that was allowed to corporations; and
– interpreted the Subpart F rules to mean that ALL income earned by a CFC should be entitled to the high tax exclusion
Clearly some of the news coming from Treasury has been good!
The power to regulate is the power to destroy
This post provides examples of how certain Treasury regulations contribute to the application of the United States extraterritorial tax regime. The examples are found in the following two categories of regulations:
Category A: Foreign Trusts – The Form 3520A Penalty Fundraiser – Regulations That Are Unclear Resulting In Penalties
Category B: Business Entities Designated as “per se” Corporations – Creating CFCs In Unreasonable Circumstances (Canadian Controlled Private Corporations) – Regulations That Are Clear But Over-inclusive