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Final Transition Tax Regulations Issued


Elias Koumniotes
Final Transition Tax Regulations Issued

The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations for determining the inclusion under Code Sec. 965 of a U.S. shareholder of a foreign corporation with post-1986 accumulated deferred foreign income. Code Sec. 965 imposes a “transition tax” on the inclusion. The final regulations retain the basic approach and structure of the proposed regulations, with certain changes.

The final regulations generally apply beginning the last tax year of the foreign corporation that begins before January 1, 2018, and with respect to a U.S. person, beginning the tax year in or with which such tax year of the foreign corporation ends.

Note: The final regulations were published without a T.D. number. According to the IRS, a T.D. number will be assigned after the IRS resumes normal operations.

Controlled Domestic Partnerships

Certain controlled domestic partnerships may be treated as foreign partnerships for determining the section 958(a) U.S. shareholders of a specified foreign corporation owned by the controlled domestic partnership and the section 958(a) stock owned by the shareholders. The definition of controlled domestic partnership is revised to not be defined only with respect to a U.S. shareholder, so that the controlled foreign partnership is clearly treated as a foreign partnership for all partners if the rule applies.

Pro Rata Share

The definitions of pro rata share and section 958(a) U.S. shareholder inclusion year are modified. The final regulations will require a section 965(a)inclusion by a section 958(a) U.S. shareholder if the specified foreign corporation, whether or not it is a CFC, ceases to be a specified foreign corporation during its inclusion year.

Downward Attribution Rule

A special rule applies when determining downward attribution from a partner to a partnership where the partner has a de minimis interest in the partnership. The threshold for applying the special attribution rule for partnerships is increased from five to 10 percent, and is extended to trusts.

Basis Election Rules

The final regulations allow a taxpayer elect to increase its basis in the stock of its deferred foreign income corporations (DFICs) by the lesser of its section 965(b) previously taxed earnings and profits or the amount it can reduce the stock basis of its E&P deficit foreign corporations without recognizing gain. Within limits, a taxpayer may designate which stock of a DFIC is increased and by how much.

Exception from Anti-Abuse Rules

The final regulations provide an exception from the anti-abuse rules for certain incorporation transactions. The rules will not apply to disregard a transfer of stock of a specified foreign corporation by U.S. shareholder of a domestic corporation, if certain requirements are met. The section 965(a) inclusion amount with respect to the transferred stock of the specified foreign corporation must not be reduced, and the aggregate foreign cash position of both the transferor and the transferee is determined as if each had held the transferred stock of the specified foreign corporation owned by the other on each of the cash measurement dates.

Cash Position

Code Sec. 965 taxes foreign earnings of a domestic corporate U.S. shareholder at a 15.5-percent rate if held in cash, but only an 8-percent rate if held otherwise. Cash includes cash and cash equivalents. The final regulations provide a narrow exception from the definition of cash position for certain commodities held by a specified foreign corporation in the ordinary course of its trade or business, as well as for certain privately negotiated contracts to buy and sell these assets.

Election and Payment Rules

Under the final regulations, the signature requirement on an election statement is satisfied if the unsigned copy is attached to a timely-filed return of the person making the election, provided that the person retains the signed original in the manner specified.

Transition rules for filing transfer agreements have also been updated. If a triggering event or acceleration event occurs on or before December 31, 2018, the transfer agreement must be filed by January 31, 2019. Rules are added to address the death of an S corporation shareholder transferor. The final regulations also include modifications to certain requirements for the terms of a transfer agreement.

The final regulations provide that in the case of an additional liability reported on a return or amended return, any amount that is prorated to an installment, the due date of which has already passed, will be due with the return reporting the additional amount. The rule on deficiencies remains the same, and payment for a deficiency prorated to an installment, the due date of which has already passed, is due on notice and demand.

Total Net Tax Liability

A taxpayer may elect to defer the payment of its total net tax liability under Code Sec. 965(h) and (i). Total net tax liability under Code Sec. 965, which defines the portion of a taxpayer’s income tax eligible for deferral, is equal to the difference between a taxpayer’s net income tax with and without the application of Code Sec. 965. The final regulations will disregard effective repatriations taxed similarly to dividends under Code Sec. 951(a)(1)(B) resulting from investments in U.S. property under Code Sec. 956 when determining net income tax liability without the application of Code Sec. 965.

Consolidated Groups

The consolidated group aggregate foreign cash position is determined under the final regulations as if all members of the consolidated group that are section 958(a) U.S. shareholders of a specified foreign corporation are a single section 958(a) U.S. shareholder.

Obsolete Guidance

The following previous guidance is obsolete:

  • Notice 2018-7, I.R.B. 2018-4, 317;
  • Notice 2018-13, I.R.B. 2018-6 341, Secs. 1-4, 6;
  • Notice 2018-26, I.R.B. 2018-16, 480, Secs. 1-5, 7; and
  • Notice 2018-78, I.R.B. 2018-42, 604, Secs. 1-3, 5.