Tag Archives: mandatory repatriation tax

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 42 – In Moore The Supreme Court Should Consider The Retroactive Nature Of The Transition Tax

Prologue – Taxation, Fairness And “The Man On The Street”

Imagine asking an individual (who was not a tax academic, lawyer or accountant) the following two questions:

1. Do you think that people should be forced to pay taxes on income never received?

2. Do you think people should be forced to pay taxes on income from the previous 30 years that they had never received?

The average person would be shocked by the possibility of this.

It may be difficult for the average person to understand Subpart F’s attribution of the income of a corporation to a shareholder. The average person would not doubt the unfairness of attributing 30 years of untaxed earnings of the corporation to the shareholder (especially when the income was never received by the shareholder).

Moore and Retroactivity – The Readers Digest Version

This history of the Moore case is described by Professors Brooks and Gamage as follows:

The taxpayers brought suit challenging the MRT, arguing that it was an unapportioned direct tax and therefore in violation of the Constitution.25 (They also argued that its seeming retroactivity was in violation of the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment,26 though this was not the main focus of the case, nor did the dissenters address it, nor do the petitioners raise the issue in the cert petition, so we put that claim aside.27) The district court dismissed the claim, and a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit unanimously affirmed the dismissal.28 The taxpayers’ subsequent petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc was denied.29

The Chamber of Commerce’s amicus cert brief filed on March 27, 2023 included on page 18:

The Constitution imposes numerous safeguards that prevent the government from making rapid changes that would unsettle expectations. Such principles “find[] expression in several [constitutional] provisions,” Landgraf v. USI Film Prods., 511 U.S. 244, 265 (1994), and often implicate tax laws.

First, “a retroactive tax provision [can be] so harsh and oppressive as to transgress the constitutional limitation” of due process. Carlton, 512 U.S. at 30. When “Congress act[s] promptly and establishe[s] only a modest period of retroactivity,” like “only slightly greater than one year,” a tax law’s retroactive effect has been deemed permissible. Id. at 32–33. But a tax law that deals with a “novel development” regarding “a transfer that occurred 12 years earlier” has been held unconstitutional. Id. at 34 (discussing Nichols v. Coolidge, 274 U.S. 531 (1927)). Here, of course, the Ninth Circuit called the MRT a “novel concept,” and it reached back—not one, not twelve—but more than thirty years into the past, long after companies made decisions about where to locate their long-term as- sets.2 App 6. The MRT’s aggressive retroactivity showcases the danger of unmooring income from its defining principle of realization. Erasing the realization requirement upends taxpayer expectations—leaving them looking over their shoulders for what unrealized gain Congress might next call “income.”

How “retroactivity” was considered by the District Court and the 9th Circuit

The District court specifically found that the transition tax was a retroactive tax, but ruled that the retroactivity did NOT violate the 5th Amendment. The 9th Circuit “assumed” (without considering) the retroactivity of the tax and like the District Court ruled that the retroactivity did NOT violate the 5th Amendment.

The Supreme Court granted the cert petition based only on the question of whether the 16th amendment requires income to be “realized”. The issue in Moore is whether 30 years of income realized by a CFC, never distributed to the US shareholder, and never previously taxable to the U.S. shareholder (under Subpart F) in that 30 year period, can be deemed to be “income” and taxed directly to the U.S. citizen shareholder in 2017.

Can a current attribution to a shareholder, of income earned by a corporation 30 years ago, meet the constitutional requirement of “income” under the 16th Amendment?

A ruling that 30 years of retroactive income could not qualify as 16th Amendment income might allow the court to:

1. Provide relief to the Moores (and other individual shareholders of CFCs); and

2. Avoid ruling on the broader and more general issue of realization.

Arguably a finding of “retroactivity” could mean that (whether realized or not), income earned by the CFC in the past 30 years cannot be considered to be current “income” under the 16th Amendment.

The purpose of this post is to focus on the issue of retroactivity. I do not believe that “retroactivity” was properly analyzed by either the District Court or 9th Circuit.

This post is divided into the following parts:

Part A – Introduction – Thinking about taxation of income
Part B – What is it about the “transition tax” that raises the question of retroactivity?
Part C – Retroactivity and the “Carlton” standard
Part D – Discussion of retroactivity: District Court Decision Moore
Part E – Discussion of retroactivity – 9th Circuit – Moore
Part F – Concluding thoughts …
Appendixes – Excerpts from relevant cases and articles
Appendix A – Excerpt from Hank Adler interview discussing the retroactive nature of the MRT
Appendix B – Moore District Court
Appendix C – Moore the 9th Circuit
Appendix D – Quarty
Appendix E – Justice Blackmun’s majority decision in Carlton
Appendix F – Justice O’Connor concurrence in Carlton
Appendix G – Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas in Carlton

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Part 38 – The § 965 Transition Tax Caused The Moore’s To Pay $14,712 Moore In Double Taxation

In my last post I discussed the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Moore’s challenge to the 965 Transition Tax.

A direct link to the Supreme Court site which will track the progress and filings of all briefs (including what are expected to be a large number of amicus briefs) is here.

Although the 965 Transition Tax was the fact that prompted the litigation, the issue as framed for the Supreme Court was:

22-800 MOORE V. UNITED STATES
DECISION BELOW: 36 F.4TH 930
CERT. GRANTED 6/26/2023

QUESTION PRESENTED:

The Sixteenth Amendment authorizes Congress to lay “taxes on incomes … without apportionment among the several States.” Beginning with Eisner v. Macomber, 252 U.S. 189 (1920), this Court’s decisions have uniformly held “income,” for Sixteenth Amendment purposes, to require realization by the taxpayer. In the decision below, however, the Ninth Circuit approved taxation of a married couple on earnings that they undisputedly did not realize but were instead retained and reinvested by a corporation in which they are minority shareholders. It held that “realization of income is not a constitutional requirement” for Congress to lay an “income” tax exempt from apportionment. App.12. In so holding, the Ninth Circuit became “the first court in the country to state that an ‘income tax’ doesn’t require that a ‘taxpayer has realized income.”‘ App.38 (Bumatay, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc).

The question presented is:

Whether the Sixteenth Amendment authorizes Congress to tax unrealized sums without apportionment among the states.

LOWER COURT CASE NUMBER: 20-36122

The relevant facts as recited in the petition may be found in the Appendix* below.

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Part 37 – 2023: US Supreme Court To Hear Moore Appeal In Lawsuit Against @USTransitionTax – Great News!

June 26, 2023 – Great News! – The US Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Moore 965 Transition Tax Case!

A direct link to the Supreme Court site which will track the progress and filings of all briefs (including what are expected to be a large number of amicus briefs) is here.

The brief from the CATO Institute frames the question addressed to the Supreme Court as follows:

QUESTION PRESENTED

Whether Congress may levy income tax on a tax-payer who has not realized income.

What follows is a twitter thread (which I will continually update) which includes commentary, resources and general information about the appeal.

Litigation against the 965 Mandatory AKA transition tax has come from two sources.

The first source was from U.S. tax lawyer Monte Silver. His challenge to the tax was based generally on procedural grounds and specifically on the failure of U.S. Treasury to comply with the provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Despite a heroic, valiant and determined effort the Supreme Court refused to hear his cert petition. As a result, in May 2023, his challenge came to an end. Monte Silver’s challenge focused on the legality of the Treasury Regulations insofar as they applied to US citizens living outside the United States.

The second source is the Charles Moore case. This case is arguing that the tax is unconstitutional. Although brought on behalf of an individual shareholder of a CFC, the case makes no mention of the application of the tax to Americans abroad. On June 26, 2023 (about a month after denying the cert petition in the Silver case) the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the Moore case. To be clear, this case is attacking the constitutionality of the tax (not the procedural aspects) head on. Much will be written about this issue and the case.

On September of 2019 I wrote a post describing the Moore lawsuit arguing that the Section 965 Transition Tax AKA Mandatory Repatriation Tax is unconstitutional. Although the Moore’s were not successful in the District Court and Appeals court, the Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear the case!

The Cert Petition

The Cert petition was based on an appeal from the 9th Circuit and a dissenting judgment from the plaintiff’s application to rehear the case in the 9th Circuit.

The original 9th Circuit decision is here.

The decision of the 9th Circuit denying the request (with the dissent) to rehear the Moore case is here.

An excellent article discussing the history of the Moore “Transition Tax” ligation is here.

The cert petition in CHARLES G. MOORE and KATHLEEN F. MOORE, Petitioners, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,Respondent, includes:
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