Category Archives: Little Red Transition Tax Book

Part 54 – Reactions To The Argument Before The Supreme Court In Moore: “Due Process” Does Matter

Introduction – More on Moore – A Focus on “due process”

Much of the argument before the Supreme Court in the Moore case focused NOT on whether there was income (it was accepted that the foreign corporation had realized income). Rather the discussion was focused on “due process issues”. Specifically the issues of (1) the retroactive nature of the income and (2) the fairness of attributing the income of the foreign corporation to the U.S. shareholder.

In Part 42 and Part 49 have written about the relevance of retroactivity.

Because “due process” issues were raised in the hearing, some commentators have begun discussing the “due process” issues which are part of the Moore appeal.

What follows are links to some examples of the discussion.

It will be fascinating to see how “due process” factors into the decision of the Court.

Interested in Moore (pun intended) about the § 965 transition tax?

Read “The Little Red Transition Tax Book“.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter at @USTransitionTax

Part 53 – Debriefing The December 5, 2023 – Moore @USTransitionTax Hearing – WHAT The Court Must Do And HOW It Will Do It

Slicing and dicing the issues – WHAT the Court must do and HOW will the Court do it …

Prologue – Threading the needle – The job facing the court

On December 5, 2023 the U.S. Supreme Court heard argument in the Moore Transition AKA MRT case. Both the audio and a written transcript of the hearing is available on the Court’s website here. Additional discussion and commentary about the December 5, 2023 Moore v. United States MRT hearing is here.

The disappointment: There was no discussion of the fact (save a brief reference by the Solicitor General) that the Moores are INDIVIDUALS and theat INDIVIDUAL shareholders were treated very differently from CORPORATE shareholders under the MRT AKA transition tax. This was disappointing.

The hope: There was discussion about whether retroactivity and attribution could conflict with “due process” issues.

The questions from the court were helpful in identifying and categorizing the issues raised in the case.

The purpose of this post is to define the task that faces the Court and to offer some thoughts on what the Court must consider to achieve the task.

The post is divided into the following four parts:

Part I – WHAT must the Court must do?
Part II – HOW will the court do what it must do?
Part III – The context in Moore is what matters most
Part IV – What does the Moore decision imply for Americans abroad?
APPENDIXES – Important excerpts from the decision

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Part 52 – December 5, 2023 – The Supreme Court Hearing In Moore v. United States

Moore v. United States – December 5, 2023

https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/audio/2023/22-800

Audio of the actual hearing:

This podcast is an audio of the actual argument that took place before the court. The relevant link to the Supreme Court site is:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/audio/2023/22-800

Significantly a transcript of the argument is available at:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2023/22-800_9ol1.pdf

The audio of the argument is also available at:

https://prep.podbean.com/e/moore-v-united-states-december-5-2023-the-argument-before-the-court/

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SEAT President Dr. Laura Snyder attended the hearing. A fascinating podcast discussing her observations (right after the hearing ended) is available here.

https://prep.podbean.com/e/december-5-2023-debriefing-the-moore-case-what-happened-at-the-hearing/

SEAT along with AARO authored an amicus brief which explained the how the 965 transition tax impacted Americans abroad.

IRS Medic hosted a podcast both before, during and after the Supreme Court hearing. A link to that podcast is here:

Interested in Moore (pun intended) about the § 965 transition tax?

Read “The Little Red Transition Tax Book“.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Part 51 – Twas The Night Before Moore – SEAT Members Discuss What They Expect In Moore Hearing

December 2, 2023 – Participants include:

Dr. Karen Alpert – @FixTheTaxTreaty

Dr. Laura Snyder – @TAPInternation

John Richardson – @Expatriationlaw

SEAT members Dr. Karen Alpert, Dr. Laura Snyder and John Richardson discuss their predictions on how the Supreme Court will grapple with the difficult decisions in Moore. The SEAT/AARO amicus brief is here.

Prologue:

Twas the Night before Moore Poem

Twas the night before Moore, when all through the court
Not a justice was stirring, not even a clerk.
The issues were hung in the briefs with care,
In hopes that the justices soon would be there.

The tax profs were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of fake-income danced in their heads.
And Kathleen in ‘kerchief, and Charles in cap,
Had just settled their brains for a retroactive tax.

Interested in Moore (pun intended) about the § 965 transition tax?

Read “The Little Red Transition Tax Book“.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Part 49 – 2012 Report Of Congressional Research Service Suggests @USTransitionTax May Be Unconstitutionally Retroactive

Introduction and purpose

In an earlier post I argued that in the Moore appeal the Supreme Court should consider the retroactive nature of the MRT AKA transition tax. My argument was based my interpreting the law to be that retroactive legislation might be unconstitutional if it:

1. Was retroactive for an extensive period of time (in this case the period of retroactivity was 31 years); and

2. Was new legislation

After writing that post, I came across this 2012 Congressional Research Report which suggests that tax legislation could be unconstitutionally retroactive based on the same two principles.

A relevant excerpt from the report follows.

The 2012 Congressional Research Report: CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Constitutionality of Retroactive Tax Legislation

The following excerpt is of interest and relevance to the Moore appeal

Period of Retroactivity

The most common potential concern with respect to substantive due process is the length of the retroactivity. The Supreme Court has made clear that a modest retroactive application of tax laws is permissible, describing it as a “customary congressional practice” required by “the practicalities of producing national legislation.”9 As a result, tax legislation that is retroactive to the beginning of the year of enactment has routinely been upheld against due process challenges.10 There does not seem to be any serious question as to whether such a period of retroactivity is constitutional.

What then happens with periods of application that go beyond the year of enactment? The Court has upheld several tax laws where the period of retroactivity extended into the preceding calendar year.11 For example, in United States v. Carlton, the Court upheld the retroactive application of a federal estate tax provision that limited the availability of a recently added deduction for the proceeds of sales of stock to employee stock ownership plans. The deduction was added by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which had not included a requirement that the taxpayer own the stock immediately prior to death. The lack of such a requirement essentially created a loophole that Congress fixed with the 1987 amendment. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was enacted in October 1986, and the amendment was enacted in December 1987, to apply as if incorporated in the 1986 law. In upholding the 1987 law, the Court explained that the period of retroactivity was permissible since it was only slightly more than one year, as well as noting that the IRS had announced its concern with the original law as early as January 1987 and a bill to make the correction was introduced in Congress the very next month.12

However, it does appear that due process concerns may be raised by a more extended period of retroactivity. In Nichols v. Coolidge (one of the few cases where the Supreme Court struck down a retroactive tax on due process grounds),13 the Court disallowed the retroactive application of an estate tax provision that changed the tax treatment of a transfer 12 years after the transfer had occurred.14 The Court later unfavorably compared the 12-year period with periods where the “retroactive effect is limited.”15 This suggests that due process concerns are raised by an extended period of retroactivity. However, it is not clear how long a period might be constitutionally problematic. The Court has recognized retroactive liability for periods beyond one or two years in non-taxation contexts,16 but it is not clear how a similar situation arising under the tax laws would be addressed.

Reliance and Lack of Notice

One issue often raised is that it may seem unfair to change the tax laws once a taxpayer has done something based on the law as it existed at the time. The fact that taxpayers may have concluded a transaction in reliance on prior law is generally not important to the analysis as “reliance alone is insufficient to establish a constitutional violation.”17 As the Court has made clear, “[t]ax legislation is not a promise, and a taxpayer has no vested right in the Internal Revenue Code.”18 In other words,

Taxation is neither a penalty imposed on the taxpayer nor a liability which he assumes by contract. It is but a way of apportioning the cost of government among those who in some measure are privileged to enjoy its benefits and must bear its burdens. Since no citizen enjoys immunity from that burden, its retroactive imposition does not necessarily infringe due process….19

Additionally, lack of notice of the retroactive effect of a tax law is not dispositive of whether due process has been violated.20 Lack of notice may, nonetheless, be a concern when the retroactive legislation enacts a wholly new tax. This was the issue in two cases where the Court struck down retroactive tax legislation on due process grounds—Blodgett v. Holden and Untermyer v. Anderson.21 Both dealt with the constitutionality of retroactive application of the Revenue Act of 1924, which enacted the gift tax. The legislation was introduced in February 1924, enacted that June, and applied to gifts made after January 1, 1924. The taxpayer in Blodgett made a gift in January 1924, and the taxpayer in Untermyer made a gift in May 1924, while the bill was in conference. The plurality in Blodgett and the majority in Untermyer held the retroactive application was unconstitutional because it was arbitrary as the taxpayers made gifts without knowing they would subsequently be subject to tax.22 In such a situation, a taxpayer has “no reason to suppose that any transactions of the sort will be taxed at all.”23

The Court in later cases has clearly distinguished the two cases on the basis that they dealt with the “creation of a wholly new tax” and therefore “their authority is of limited value in assessing the constitutionality of subsequent amendments that bring about certain changes in operation of the tax laws.”24 Thus, while lack of notice is not dispositive, the Court has suggested that lack of notice may violate due process if the retroactive law creates a “wholly new tax.”

Since the two cases dealing with the creation of the gift tax, it does not appear the Court has found any other situations where lack of notice was an issue.25 In some instances, the Court determined the retroactive tax provision was not a wholly new tax, as with the provision in Carlton, which amended a new estate tax deduction that was enacted 14 months prior as part of a major overhaul of the tax code.26 Even in a case with what looked like a brand new tax—a tax on silver under the Silver Purchase Act—the Court upheld a 35-day period of retroactivity.27 In that case, the law was enacted on June 19, 1934, retroactive back to May 15, 1934. In upholding the law’s retroactive application, the Court suggested that taxpayers had sufficient notice since there had been pressure for legislation for months, the President had sent a message to Congress encouraging such a tax on May 15, and the bill that became the act was introduced on May 23. This suggests that it would be rare for a tax provision to be characterized as a “wholly new tax” so long as taxpayers were on some kind of notice that a tax might be imposed.

The full report is available here:

https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R42791.pdf

A pdf of the full report is here:

Retroactive Tax R42791

Interested in Moore about the § 965 transition tax?

Read “The Little Red Transition Tax Book“.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Part 50 – Moore: The Government And The Tax Academics Strike Back

Introduction

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Charles G. Moore v. United States on December 5, 2023. It is certain to be the most closely watched oral argument ever. I had originally considered travelling to DC to observe the spectacle in person. But, I have no desire to stand in a long line. I will have to settle for listening to audio online.

https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/22-800.html

The government’s reply was filed on October 16, 2023. It has been supported by (so far) a relatively small number of amicus briefs from various tax academics (law professors). The purpose of this post is to offer my impressions of what I have read so far. There is a saying that two good trial lawyers are like two ships passing in the night (each with a different theory of the case). This is also descriptive of the briefs (collectively) in support of the Moores and the briefs (collectively) in support of the government.

Outline

Part A – A Review – What is the Moore case actually about?
Part B – Some preliminary questions – in the context of understanding the 16th amendment:
Part C – The government’s reply and the “tax academic” supporters are notable in that they:
Part D – An attempt to consolidate what the government and tax profs are saying …
Part E – Retroactivity – An Uncomfortable Truth
Appendix – The Tax Law Center

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Part 48 – Discussing The @USTransitionTax and Moore With @FAIRTaxGuys of @FAIRTaxOfficial

Introduction – Previous Podcasts and Posts About The Fair Tax

I have previously written about the FAIR Tax as an alternative the existing income tax system. Basically, the FAIR Tax is a consumption based tax that would replace the income tax.

The Moore Appeal And The Income Tax

The Moore appeal is the most important case the U.S. Supreme Court has ever heard. The result will determine whether Congress can extinguish individual liberty under the guise of taxation.

At a minimum, the issue of whether Congress can tax unrealized income illuminates the evil and potential for weaponization and oppression the income tax affords. The FAIRTax is the only alternative.

During September of 2023 I had the opportunity to appear on Fair Tax Power Radio with Steve Hayes, Bob Scarborough and Bob Paxton.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Part 47 – Are Refunds For Payments Of The MRT Possible If The Moore Appeal Succeeds?

To file a protective refund claim or to not seek a refund, that is question …

Individuals who were subject to the 2017 965 Transition Tax would have responded (whether using the 962 election or not) to the tax obligation in one of two ways:

1. They would have paid the tax in full.

2. They would have chosen to pay the tax over the eight year instalment period.

The Supreme Court will hear the appeal in Moore. It is possible that the Court will issue a decision that means the MRT was unconstitutional with respect to (some or all) individual taxpayers. Are those individuals who paid the tax in full entitled to a refund?

An interesting post from U.S. tax lawyer Virginia La Torre Jeker provides a possible answer:

Virginia’s post (focusing on whether to file a protective refund claim) includes an excellent analysis. I highly recommend taking the time to read it. In relevant part she writes:

Here’s the law in a nutshell:

Section 965(k) provides the IRS 6 years to assess any transition tax that is owed. However, this 6-year statute only favors the IRS. Taxpayers seeking a refund are bound to Section 6511 which deals with refund claims. Pursuant to Section 6511(a) a taxpayer must file a refund claim by the later of 3 years of filing the tax return, or 2 years of paying the tax.

Lost Opportunity

Under the general refund claim rule, taxpayers that paid the full transition tax on their 2017 income tax return filed in 2018 (or 2018 tax return, filed in 2019, if they report on a fiscal year that is not a calendar year) will not be able to claim a refund. The time for claiming the refund expired in 2021 (or 2022 for fiscal year filers). Normally refund claims must be filed within 3 years of filing the tax return or 2 years from the date the tax was paid so these taxpayers are out of luck.

Clearly “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”!

Interested in Moore (pun intended) about the § 965 transition tax?

Read “The Little Red Transition Tax Book“.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

Part 46 – Why Other Countries Should File Amicus Briefs In The Moore MRT Appeal

Why U.S. deemed income events cause problems for U.S. citizens living in other countries and erode the tax based of the countries where they live

All countries in the world have an interest in the Moore MRT appeal and should file Amicus briefs in support of the Moores.

The U.S. citizenship tax AKA extraterritorial tax regime applies to ALL U.S. citizens and residents wherever they live in the world. With its very expansive definition of “tax residency”, the United States claims the tax residents of other countries as U.S. tax residents. Those unlucky dual filers are subject to additional administrative fees, additional taxation and the opportunity cost of the inability to effectively engage in retirement and financial planning.

In the Moore MRT appeal the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether “income” requires the actual receipt of income or whether “deemed income” meets the 16th Amendment test for income. Does the 16th Amendment require objective tests that must be satisfied before “income” can exist? The answer to this question will have profound implications for both the “U.S. citizen” residents of other countries and (2) the countries where they live. As previously discussed, if income does NOT have to be actually received, this opens the door for the U.S. tax the residents of other countries on income they have never received. Often the taxable event in the U.S. will take place before the taxable event in that other country.

The following post describes some examples where the United States is already deeming income to have been received for U.S. tax purposes before income has been received in the other country.

The following post describes how the U.S. deeming income to have been received for U.S. tax purposes prior to income having been received in the other country may result in (1) double taxation to the individual and (2) erosion of the tax base of the other country.

Continue reading

Part 45 – “Some” examples where the U.S. creates unrealized “foreign income” before a realization event in the source country

Let There Be Income And There Was Income!

The United States has an increasing propensity to create “deemed income” in circumstances where the taxpayer has received no income to pay the tax.

In some cases the “deemed income” created is “foreign source” income. In other cases it is purely domestic source.

When the “deemed income” is “foreign source” income over which the other country has primary taxing rights, the “deemed income” event creates a U.S. tax owing before an actual realization event in the foreign country.

The implications are experienced by both the country of source and the individual taxpayer.

1. Impact on country of source: The U.S. collecting tax owing before the source country has the opportunity to tax it

2. Impact on individual taxpayer: The U.S. creating a deemed realization event resulting in real taxation means that the taxpayer is more likely to experience double taxation. The taxpayer will first pay the U.S. tax and then (when an actual realization event takes place) pay the tax in the country of source.

“Some” examples of “deemed realization” of foreign source income

Note that each of these examples in found in Subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code (income tax)

877A Exit Tax,

951 Subpart F

965 Transition Tax,

951A GILTI

1291 PFIC

988 Phantom Capital Gains

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Interested in Moore (pun intended) about the § 965 transition tax?

Read “The Little Red Transition Tax Book“.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw

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U.S. Canada Tax Treaty – 1980

7. Where at any time an individual is treated for the purposes of taxation by a Contracting State as
having alienated a property and is taxed in that State by reason thereof and the domestic law of the
other Contracting State at such time defers (but does not forgive) taxation, that individual may elect in
his annual return of income for the year of such alienation to be liable to tax in the other Contracting
State in that year as if he had, immediately before that time, sold and repurchased such property for an
amount equal to its fair market value at that time

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-trty/canada.pdf

Paragraph 7 provides a rule to coordinate U.S. and Canadian taxation of gains in circumstances where an individual is subject to tax in both Contracting States and one Contracting State deems a taxable alienation of property by such person to have occurred, while the other Contracting State at that time does not find a realization or recognition of income and thus defers, but does not forgive taxation. In such a case the individual may elect in his annual return of income for the year of such alienation to be liable to tax in the latter Contracting State as if he had sold and repurchased the property for an amount equal to its fair market value at a time immediately prior to the deemed alienation. The provision would, for example, apply in the case of a gift by a U.S. citizen or a U.S. resident individual which Canada deems to be an income producing event for its tax purposes but with respect to which the United States defers taxation while assigning the donor’s basis to the donee. The provision would also apply in the case of a U.S. citizen who, for Canadian tax purposes, is deemed to recognize income upon his departure from Canada, but not to a Canadian resident (not a U.S. citizen) who is deemed to recognize such income. The rule does not apply in the case death, although Canada also deems that to be a taxable event, because the United States in effect forgives income taxation of economic gains at death. If in one Contracting State there are losses and gains from deemed alienations of different properties, then paragraph 7 must be applied consistently in the other Contracting State within the taxable period with respect to all such properties. Paragraph 7 only applies, however, if the deemed alienations of the properties result in a net gain.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-trty/canatech.pdf

Protocol to Canada/U.S. Tax Treaty 2007 – Article VIII – Replacing Article XIII Paragraph 7 in the 1980 Treaty

3. Paragraph 7 of Article XIII (Gains) of the Convention shall be deleted and replaced by the following:

7. Where at any time an individual is treated for the purposes of taxation by a Contracting State as having alienated a property and is taxed in that State by reason thereof, the individual may elect to be treated for the purposes of taxation in the other Contracting State, in the year that includes that time and all subsequent years, as if the individual had, immediately before that time, sold and repurchased the property for an amount equal to its fair market value at that time.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/131/Treaty-Canada-Pr2-9-21-2007.pdf

Technical explanation of the 2007 Protocol

Paragraph 3

Paragraph 3 of Article 8 of the Protocol replaces paragraph 7 of Article XIII.

The purpose of paragraph 7, in both its former and revised form, is to provide a rule to coordinate U.S. and Canadian taxation of gains in the case of a timing mismatch.

Such a mismatch may occur, for example, where a Canadian resident is deemed, for Canadian tax purposes, to recognize capital gain upon emigrating from Canada to the United States, or in the case of a gift that Canada deems to be an income producing event for its tax purposes but with respect to which the United States defers taxation while assigning the donor’s basis to the donee. The former paragraph 7 resolved the timing mismatch of taxable events by allowing the individual to elect to be liable to tax in the deferring Contracting State as if he had sold and repurchased the property for an amount equal to its fair market value at a time immediately prior to the deemed alienation.

The election under former paragraph 7 was not available to certain non-U.S. citizens subject to tax in Canada by virtue of a deemed alienation because such individuals could not elect to be liable to tax in the United States. To address this problem, the Protocol replaces the election provided in former paragraph 7, with an
election by the taxpayer to be treated by a Contracting State as having sold and repurchased the property for its fair market value immediately before the taxable event in the other Contracting State. The election in new paragraph 7 therefore will be available to any individual who emigrates from Canada to the United States, without regard to whether the person is a U.S. citizen immediately before ceasing to be a resident of Canada. If the individual is not subject to U.S. tax at that time, the effect of the election will be to give the individual an adjusted basis for U.S. tax purposes equal to the fair market value of the property as of the date of the deemed alienation in Canada, with the result that only post-emigration gain will be subject to U.S. tax when there is an actual alienation. If the Canadian resident is also a U.S. citizen at the time of his emigration from Canada, then the provisions of new paragraph 7 would allow the U.S. citizen to
accelerate the tax under U.S. tax law and allow tax credits to be used to avoid double taxation. This would also be the case if the person, while not a U.S. citizen, would otherwise be subject to taxation in the United States on a disposition of the property.

In the case of Canadian taxation of appreciated property given as a gift, absent paragraph 7, the donor could be subject to tax in Canada upon making the gift, and the donee may be subject to tax in the United States upon a later disposition of the property on all or a portion of the same gain in the property without the availability of any foreign tax credit for the tax paid to Canada. Under new paragraph 7, the election will be available to any individual who pays taxes in Canada on a gain arising from the individual’s gifting of a property, without regard to whether the person is a U.S. taxpayer at the time of the gift. The effect of the election in such case will be to give the donee an adjusted basis for U.S. tax purposes equal to the fair market value as of the date of the gift. If the donor is a U.S. taxpayer, the effect of the election will be the realization of gain or loss for U.S. purposes immediately before the gift. The acceleration of the U.S.
tax liability by reason of the election in such case enables the donor to utilize foreign tax credits and avoid double taxation with respect to the disposition of the property.

Generally, the rule does not apply in the case of death. Note, however, that Article XXIX B (Taxes Imposed by Reason of Death) of the Convention provides rules that coordinate the income tax that Canada imposes by reason of death with the U.S. estate tax.

If in one Contracting State there are losses and gains from deemed alienations of different properties, then paragraph 7 must be applied consistently in the other Contracting State within the taxable period with respect to all such properties. Paragraph 7 only applies, however, if the deemed alienations of the properties result in a net gain.

Taxpayers may make the election provided by new paragraph 7 only with respect to property that is subject to a Contracting State’s deemed disposition rules and with respect to which gain on a deemed alienation is recognized for that Contracting State’s tax purposes in the taxable year of the deemed alienation. At the time the Protocol was signed, the following were the main types of property that were excluded from the
deemed disposition rules in the case of individuals (including trusts) who cease to be residents of Canada: real property situated in Canada; interests and rights in respect of pensions; life insurance policies (other than segregated fund (investment) policies); rights in respect of annuities; interests in testamentary trusts, unless acquired for consideration; employee stock options; property used in a business carried on through a permanent establishment in Canada (including intangibles and inventory); interests in most Canadian
personal trusts; Canadian resource property; and timber resource property.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/131/Treaty-Canada-Pr2-TE-9-21-2007.pdf

Model U.S. Tax Treaty 2016

The following provision appears first in the 2016 Model Tax Treaty. There is at present no technical explanation discussing the treaty. Therefore, it must be interpreted based on the presumed intent (which can be gleaned in part from the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty). Significantly, this provision is intended to prevent double taxation resulting from the deemed “alienation” of property upon severing tax residency. It is far narrower than the Article XIII – Paragraph 7 of the Canada U.S. Tax Treaty.

Article 13 – Paragraph 7

7. Where an individual who, upon ceasing to be a resident (as determined under paragraph 1
of Article 4 (Resident)) of one of the Contracting States, is treated under the taxation law of that
Contracting State as having alienated property for its fair market value and is taxed in that
Contracting State by reason thereof, the individual may elect to be treated for purposes of
taxation in the other Contracting State as if the individual had, immediately before ceasing to be
a resident of the first-mentioned Contracting State, alienated and reacquired such property for an
amount equal to its fair market value at such time.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/131/Treaty-US-Model-2016_1.pdf