§267 Entity-to-Member Attribution: General Rule
§267(c)(1) describes the §267 entity-to-member attribution rule. It states that stocks owned by a corporation, partnership, estate or trust will be treated as owned proportionately by its shareholders, partners, or beneficiaries.
Let’s use an example to explain §267(c)(1). Let’s imagine that Peter and Mary (both US citizens who are not family members within the meaning of §267(c)(4)) own 70% and 30% respectively of shares of X, a C-corporation organized in South Dakota. X owns 100% of shares of N, a Nevada C-corporation.
In this situation, under §267(c)(1), Peter and Mary constructively own 70% and 30% of shares of N. Hence, pursuant to §267(b)(2), Peter is considered to be a related person with respect to X and N corporations due to actual constructive ownership of 70% of shares of both corporations (since this is higher than the 50%-of-value threshold demanded by §267(b)(2)).
Also, note that X and N are related persons, because, pursuant to §267(b)(3), they are members of the same controlled group. §267(b)(3) relies on §267(f) for the definition of the “controlled group”; §267(f), in turn, mostly adopts §1563 definition of controlled group (the main difference is that §267(f) reduces the required level of ownership to more than 50% of voting power and value of the stock as opposed to more than 80% demanded by §1563).
§267 Entity-to-Member Attribution: How Stock is Attributed
The §267(c)(1) is a downstream attribution rule. This means that the attribution of stock flows only in one direction – from entity to the shareholder, partner or beneficiary. There is no “upstream attribution” from shareholder, partner, or beneficiary to the corporation, partnership, estate or trust. Note that this differs from the attribution rules for many corporate transactions governed by §318.
Section 267(c)(1) fails to specify the manner in which attributed stock ownership should be apportioned. The most convincing authority for the apportionment of attributed stocks can be found in case law, particularly Hickman v. Commissioner, 30 T.C. Memo 1972-208. In that case, the Tax Court determined that stock would be attributed from a trust to its beneficiaries proportionately based on the fair market value without any discount for indirect ownership. Actuarial value apportionment was also rejected.
§267 Entity-to-Member Attribution: Chain Ownership
It is important to understand that stock constructively owned by a shareholder, partner, or beneficiary pursuant to §267(c)(1) is treated as actually owned for the purposes of further attribution. In other words, the constructive ownership of a shareholder, partner or beneficiary may be further attributed to others. Moreover, such attribution does not have to be under §267(c)(1); rather, any other attribution category can be used (for example, family member stock attribution).
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