On September 8, 2017, the IRS announced that the 4th Quarter 2017 underpayment and overpayment interest rates will remain the same as they were in the third quarter of 2017. The IRS underpayment interests also govern the PFIC interest rates under the default Section 1291 method of calculation. PFIC interest rates are very important not only to taxpayers who currently hold PFICs, but also to the US taxpayers who are participating in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures and, to a lesser extent, the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”).
Recent History of the IRS Underpayment, Overpayment and PFIC Interest Rates
Following the global financial meltdown, the Federal Reserve quickly dropped its interest rates to almost zero. The IRS underpayment, overpayment and PFIC interest rates are set to follow the Federal Reserve short-term rates on a quarterly basis.
For taxpayers other than corporations, the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points. Generally, in the case of a corporation, the underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points and the overpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points. The rate for large corporate underpayments is the federal short-term rate plus 5 percentage points. The rate on the portion of a corporate overpayment of tax exceeding $10,000 for a taxable period is the federal short-term rate plus one-half (0.5) of a percentage point.
Hence, from the 4th quarter of 2011 through the first quarter of 2016, the IRS underpayment, overpayment and PFIC interest rates remained at 3%. Once the Federal Reserve started to raise its short-term rates, however, the IRS raised the interest rates in the second quarter of 2016, from 3% to 4%. Since then, the rates remained the same.
4th Quarter 2017 IRS Underpayment, Overpayment and PFIC Interest Rates
4th quarter 2017 IRS underpayment, overpayment and PFIC interest rates will be as follows:
four (4) percent for overpayments (two (3) percent in the case of a corporation);
four (4) percent for underpayments;
six (6) percent for large corporate underpayments; and
one and one-half (1.5) percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000.
These interest rates were computed based on the federal short-term rate determined during July of 2017 to take effect on August 1, 2017, plus daily compounding. The 4th Quarter IRS underpayment, overpayment and PFIC interest rates will apply during the period of October 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017.