McDermott Will & Emery
The Chicago office of McDermott Will & Emery opened in 1934 as the Firm's first office. Although we then focused solely on tax law, we now provide the full range of business-oriented legal services through more than 250 local lawyers.Show more
Competition & Antitrust
Department of Justice Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch recently stated that the Antitrust Division is re-examining whether, and to what extent, it should recognise pre-existing compliance programmes with some form of credit, including potentially at the charging stage or at sentencing. This might take the form of fine discounts of up to 20% for companies that have a credible and effective compliance programme.
The US Department of Justice Antitrust Division has further intensified its compliance focus by announcing the creation of the Office of Decree Enforcement, which will have the sole goal of ensuring compliance with, and enforcement of, Antitrust Division decrees. Firms that operate under existing decrees should stay ahead of any complaints of violation, as a newly energised and dedicated enforcement office will likely be investigating any claimed default.
According to press reports, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating several issues relating to the admission of students to institutions of higher learning. The DOJ expects institutions of higher learning to compete freely for students and faculty much as ordinary businesses compete for customers and employees. In today's high-enforcement environment, college and university counsel should be alert to Sherman Act pitfalls and seek antitrust counsel if close calls arise.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued an opinion dismissing US Steel Corporation's antitrust claim made under Section 337 of the Tariff Act 1930 against several Chinese steel manufacturers and distributors, ruling that a complainant must show an antitrust injury even in a trade case. The case demonstrates that a complainant with a Section 337 antitrust claim before the ITC must satisfy the same antitrust pleading requirements that a plaintiff in a federal court is required to satisfy.
The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service recently released proposed regulations for the Base Erosion and Anti-abuse Tax (BEAT), which was added to the Internal Revenue Code as part of the Tax Act 2017. The proposed regulations provide helpful guidance on a range of important topics and generally go a long way towards a reasonable implementation of a very challenging statute.
US taxpayers are generally taxable on income earned worldwide, regardless of the manner in which that income is paid (eg, currency (foreign or domestic) or property (tangible, intangible or virtual)). Therefore, if cryptocurrency has been bought, sold or exchanged, those transactions could be subject to federal tax. If the cryptocurrency is held offshore, a number of offshore reporting obligations could also apply to these holdings.
The Internal Revenue Service and US Department of the Treasury recently released proposed regulations that would prevent, in many cases, income inclusions for corporate US shareholders of controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) under Section 956. The proposed regulations are highly favourable to corporate taxpayers by significantly expanding the ability of US corporate borrowers to benefit from the credit support of CFCs.
The 2017 Tax Act significantly increased the tax benefits of a Section 338(g) election for domestic corporate purchasers of stock in a controlled foreign corporation (CFC). If an election is made, buyers are treated as organising a 'new' CFC that purchases the assets of the 'old' target CFC for the amount paid for the CFC stock. For buyers, this stepped-up basis in the CFC's assets can facilitate tax-efficient post-acquisition integration and a reduction of future global intangible low-taxed income.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Compliance Assurance Process programme is a real-time audit programme that seeks to resolve the tax treatment of all or most return issues before tax returns are filed. Taxpayers and IRS leadership have generally praised it as one of the most successful corporate tax enforcement programmes. However, its fate has been uncertain in recent years given the IRS's shift in the examination process and the agency's dwindling resources.
A domestic corporation's royalty income derived in connection with business conducted outside the United States is generally eligible for the reduced 13.125% effective tax rate on foreign derived intangible income. To qualify, the licensee must be a foreign person and the intangible property must be used outside the United States for the ultimate benefit of an unrelated foreign person. The reduced tax rate is also available for certain royalties derived from licensing intangible property to related foreign persons.
The 2017 Tax Act added a separate foreign tax credit limitation category for income earned in a foreign branch. As a result, certain US groups may be limited in their ability to use foreign income taxes paid or accrued by a foreign branch as a credit against their US federal income tax liability. This new limitation could present a problem for taxpayers with losses in some foreign branches and income in other foreign branches.
A minimum tax has been imposed on domestic corporations with substantial amounts of deductible payments made to related foreign persons, referred to as the 'base erosion and anti-abuse tax' (BEAT). BEAT is particularly onerous if a controlled foreign corporation's income is subject to foreign taxation because, while foreign income taxes can be used as a credit to reduce regular tax liability, no foreign tax credit is permitted to offset the BEAT.
The latest announcement by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) focuses on the $10,000 cap on the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted for federal income tax purposes. In a press release and release of guidance in the form of Notice 2018-54, the IRS announced that proposed regulations will be issued to help taxpayers understand the relationship between federal charitable contribution deductions in exchange for a tax credit against state and local taxes owed.
The Internal Revenue Service has increased the 2018 maximum deductible health savings account (HSA) contribution for taxpayers with family coverage under a high deductible health plan to $6,900. Employers that previously lowered their plan's contribution limit for HSAs to $6,850 should consider how to address the increased limit and whether any changes or employee communications are necessary.
Declining to address whether certain technology licensing royalties should be subject to taxation as income or capital gains, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that a patentee-taxpayer had waived his claim on appeal and affirmed the Tax Court's decision that the royalties should be treated as income. The Third Circuit acknowledged that a patentable invention may be subject to capital gains treatment even without a patent or patent application.
The New Mexico Administrative Hearings Office recently issued an opinion that addressed the following questions: under what circumstances can a state constitutionally impose tax on a domestic company's income from foreign subsidiaries, including Subpart F income; and when is factor representation required? Since many state income taxes are based on federal taxable income, inclusion of these new categories of income at the federal level could potentially result in their inclusion at the state level.
The Oregon Supreme Court has rejected a business taxpayer's constitutional challenges to a 1993 Oregon statute that eliminated the right to utilise a three-factor apportionment formula in calculating Oregon income tax. The Oregon Supreme Court joined courts in Texas, Minnesota, California and Michigan in rejecting taxpayer arguments that states which have enacted Article IV of the Multi-state Tax Compact have entered into a binding contractual obligation which may not be overridden.
Taxpayer Advocate Nina E Olson recently testified before a congressional oversight committee regarding ongoing challenges to the administration of an efficient and effective tax system. Her testimony echoes many tax professionals' concerns that the tax system is not being implemented in the most effective and efficient manner. With the advent of tax reform and the government's struggle to implement its sweeping changes, it is hoped that many of these issues will be addressed.
A shrinking Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget has meant that fewer agents are available to make sure that the tax laws are being enforced. In 2017 the audit rate fell to its lowest levels in 15 years, with the chance of being audited falling to 0.6%. There has been movement to get the IRS more funding in the wake of tax reform, but it remains to be seen whether some of those funds will be used to increase its enforcement functions.
Tax controversy practitioners are undoubtedly aware of the gradual movement over the years to conform certain Tax Court procedure rules to those of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A few important areas of divergence between the different rules, as well as situations where the Tax Court rules do not address a particular matter, were discussed at the recent Tax Court Judicial Conference.
The recently enacted tax reform legislation significantly expanded the application of Subpart F, adding a new inclusion rule for non-routine controlled foreign corporation (CFC) income, termed global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI). The GILTI rules apply higher tax rates to GILTI attributed to individuals and trusts that own CFC stock than to C corporation shareholders. There are several steps which individuals and trusts may take to defer or reduce the effect of the GILTI rules on individuals and trusts.
Recent broad tax reform legislation which applies to both US and non-US multinationals with cross-border operations has, among other things, reduced the corporate income tax rate and reformed the US international tax system. Several of the provisions could increase a foreign multinational entity's (FMNE's) US tax liability and compliance and administrative burdens. As such, FMNEs should thoroughly review their US operations, paying particular attention to cross-border payments to non-US related parties.
The 2017 tax reform act is now law, leaving private equity and M&A professionals to digest these significant changes and reconcile the new provisions with how they do business. Among other things, the act provides for a permanent reduction of the corporate tax rate to a flat rate of 21% and repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax. The act will be subject to corrections by and guidance from the US Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service in the coming months.
In an effort to offset the revenue loss associated with proposed tax cuts, both the House of Representatives tax reform bill and the corresponding Senate draft take aim at the tax treatment of several popular employer-provided fringe benefits. At this early stage of the legislative process, it is important to note that these proposals are subject to change. Nevertheless, it is important for employers to know which of their programmes may be cut or eliminated as soon as 2018.
Taxpayers that are not afforded the opportunity to seek review by Internal Revenue Service appeals after a case has been docketed in the Tax Court should seek to elevate the matter up the chain to obtain reconsideration and reversal of such a decision. If that course of action is unsuccessful, taxpayers should consider other options. In this regard, the outcome of Facebook's recent case in the District Court for the Northern District of California may be instructive.
The Tax Court recently rejected an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) attempt to expand on the privilege waiver principles set out in a previous case. The court concluded that the IRS was not entitled to any documents from the period after a notice of deficiency was issued, making clear that subpoenas are not for broad-based 'fishing expeditions'. The case is consistent with the IRS's recent pattern of arguing aggressively against the assertion of privilege and work-product protections in tax audits.
IRS and taxpayers continue to battle over Internal Revenue Code Section 199 deduction for computer softwareUSA | 10 November 2017
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently published an Office of Chief Counsel IRS memorandum, which deals with a merchant bank's claim that its revenue from merchant discount fees qualifies as domestic product gross receipts under Internal Revenue Code Section 199. The memorandum is further proof that taxpayers and the IRS do not see eye to eye.
Coca-Cola is seeking a redetermination in the Tax Court of certain Internal Revenue Service (IRS) transfer-pricing adjustments relating to its 2007 to 2009 tax years. The IRS has moved for partial summary judgment seeking a ruling that a 1996 Internal Revenue Code Section 7121 closing agreement executed by the parties is not relevant to the case before the court.
Faced with the prospect of potential tax liability after an unsuccessful audit, taxpayers can file a petition in the US Tax Court before paying the liability or pay the liability, make a claim for refund and sue the government for a refund in a local district court or the Court of Federal Claims. For taxpayers that select the Tax Court route, sometimes a question later arises as to whether they can seek to dismiss their case in order to refile in a different forum.
The US Department of the Treasury recently submitted a report to the president recommending the withdrawal, revocation or revision of eight Treasury regulations in order to eliminate or otherwise mitigate the "burdens imposed on taxpayers". This action springs from Executive Order 13789, which called on the Treasury to identify and reduce tax regulatory burdens that impose undue financial burdens on US taxpayers or otherwise add undue complexity to federal tax laws.