Introduction to Corporate Distributions | US Business Tax Law Firm

This essay opens our new series of articles which focuses on corporate distributions. The new series will cover the classification, statutory structure and tax treatment of various types of corporation distributions, including redemptions of corporate stock. This first article seeks to introduce the readers to the overall US statutory tax structure concerning corporate distributions.

Corporation Distributions: Legal Philosophy for Varying Treatment

In the United States, the tax code provisions with respect to corporate distributions were written based on the belief that stock ownership bestows on its owner an inherent right to determine the right to receive distributions from a corporation.

Generally, a corporation can make distributions from three types of sources. First, a corporation can distribute funds from its accumulated earnings, to be even more precise accumulated Earnings and Profits (E&P). Second, a corporation may also distribute some or all of the invested capital to its shareholders. Finally, in certain circumstances, a corporation may distribute funds or property in excess of invested capital.

Moreover, certain corporate distributions may in reality be made in lieu of other types of transactions, such as payment for services. Additionally, some corporate distributions may be made in the form of stocks in the corporation, which may or may not modify the ownership of the corporation and which may or may not entitle shareholders to additional (perhaps unequal) future distribution of profits.

This varied nature of corporate distributions lays the foundation for their dissimilar tax treatment under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

Corporation Distributions: General Treatment under §301

IRC §301 generally governs the tax treatment of corporation distributions. This section classifies these distributions either as dividends, return of capital or capital gain (most likely, long-term capital gain). In a future article, I will discuss §301 in more detail.

Corporation Distributions: Special Case of Stock Dividends

The IRC treats distribution of stock dividends in a different manner than distribution of cash and property. Under §305(a), certain stock distributions are not taxable distributions. However, §305 contains numerous exceptions to this general rule; if any of these exceptions apply, then such stock distributions are governed by §301.

Moreover, additional exceptions to §305(a) are contained in §306. If a stock distribution is classified as a §306 stock, then the disposition of this stock will be treated as ordinary income. In a future article, I will discuss §§305 and 306 in more detail.

Corporation Distributions: Special Case of Stock Redemptions

Stock redemptions is a special kind of a corporate distribution. §317(b) defines redemption of stock as a corporation’s acquisition of “its stock from a shareholder in exchange for property, whether or not the stock so acquired is cancelled, retired, or held as treasury stock.”

§302 governs the tax treatment of stock redemptions. In general, it provides for two potential legal paths of stock redemptions. First, if a stock redemption satisfies any of the four §302(b) tests, then it will be treated as a sales transaction under §1001. Assuming that the redeemed stock satisfied the §1221 definition of a capital asset, the capital gain/loss tax provisions will apply.

On the other hand, if none of the §302(b) tests are met, then the stock redemption will be treated as a corporate distribution under §301. Again, in a future article, I will discuss stock redemptions in more detail.

Corporate Distributions in the Context of US International Tax Law

All of these tax provisions concerning corporate distributions are relevant to US shareholders of foreign corporations. In fact, in the context of US international tax law, these tax sections become even more complex and may have far graver consequences for US shareholders than under purely domestic tax law. These consequences may be in the form of higher tax burden (for example, due to an anti-deferral tax regime such as Subpart F rules) or increased compliance burden (for example, triggering the filing of international information returns such as Form 5471 or Form 926).

A failure to recognize these differences between the application of aforementioned tax provisions in the domestic context from the international one may result in the imposition of severe IRS noncompliance penalties.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Tax Help Concerning Corporation Distributions

Sherayzen Law Office is an international tax law firm highly-experienced in US and foreign corporate transactions, including corporate distributions. We have helped our clients around the world not only to engage in proper US tax planning concerning cash, property and stock distributions from US and foreign corporations, but also resolve any prior US tax noncompliance issues (including conducting offshore voluntary disclosures). We can help you!

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The Tinkov Case: Concealment of Foreign Assets During Expatriation

On March 5, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Mr. Oleg Tinkov was arrested in London in connection with an indictment concerning concealment of about $1 billion in foreign assets and the expatriation income in connection with these assets. Let’s discuss the Tinkov case in more detail.

The Tinkov Case: Alleged Facts

According to the indictment, Oleg Tinkov was the indirect majority shareholder of a branchless online bank that provided its customers with financial and bank services. The indictment alleges that, as a result of an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange in 2013, Tinkov beneficially owned more than $1 billion worth of the bank’s shares. He allegedly owned these shares through a British Virgin Island (“BVI”) structure.

The indictment further alleges that three days after the IPO, Mr. Tinkov renounced his U.S. citizenship or expatriated. Expatriation is a taxable event subject to the expatriation tax. As a an expatriated individual, Mr. Tinkov should have reported to the IRS the gain from the constructive sale of his worldwide assets and pay the expatriation tax on such a gain to the IRS. Yet, he allegedly never did it.

Instead, Mr. Tinkov filed an allegedly false 2013 tax return with the IRS that reported income of less than $206,000. Moreover, the IRS further alleges that he filed a false 2013 Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement reporting that his net worth was $300,000.

The Tinkov Case: Potential Noncompliance Penalties

If convicted, Mr. Tinkov faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison on each count. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties. Other penalties (including Form 5471, Form 8938 and FBAR penalties) may be imposed.

The Tinkov Case: Presumption of Innocence

The readers should remember that an indictment is a mere allegation that crimes have been committed. The defendant (in this case, Mr. Tinkov) is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Tinkov Case: Lessons from This Case

The Tinkov Case offers a number of useful lessons concerning US international tax compliance, particularly U.S. expatriation tax laws. Let’s concentrate on the three most important lessons.

First, a U.S. citizen or a long-term U.S. permanent resident must carefully consider all tax consequences of expatriation. Such a taxpayer must engage in careful, detailed tax planning prior to expatriation. Mr. Tinkov did not do such planning and renounced his U.S. citizenship merely three days before the IPO. By that time, the value of his assets was already easily established beyond reasonable dispute.

Second, one must be very careful and accurate with one’s disclosure to the IRS. Mr. Tinkov’s 2013 U.S. tax return and the Expatriation Statement contained information vastly different from the one that the IRS was able to acquire during its investigation. It is no wonder that the IRS concluded that he willfully filed false returns to the IRS, especially since it does not appear that his submissions to the IRS attempted to explain the gap between the returns and the information that IRS had or acquired later during an investigation.

Finally, expatriation cases involving sophisticated tax structures, especially those incorporated in an offshore tax-free jurisdiction, are likely to face a closer scrutiny and even a criminal investigation by the IRS. We have seen the confirmation of this fact in many cases already. In this case, Mr. Tinkov’s BVI corporation, which protected his indirect ownership of his online bank, was a huge red flag. His attorneys should have predicted that this structure alone would invite an IRS investigation of his expatriation.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your U.S. International Tax Compliance and Offshore Voluntary Disclosures

If you are a U.S. taxpayer with assets in a foreign country, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with your U.S. international tax compliance. If you have already violated U.S. international tax laws concerning disclosure of your foreign assets, foreign income or expatriation, then you need to secure help as soon as possible to conduct an offshore voluntary disclosure to lower your IRS penalties.

We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the globe with their U.S. international tax compliance and offshore voluntary disclosures. We can help you!

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§318 Entity-Member Attribution Summary | International Tax Lawyer

In a previous article, I discussed the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) §318 sidewise attribution limitation. This limitation was the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle of the §318 entity-member attribution rules; now, we are ready to summarize these rules in light of this exception. This is the purpose of this article – state the §318 Entity-Member Attribution summary.

§318 Entity-Member Attribution Summary: Definition of Member

For the purpose of this §318 Entity-Member Attribution summary, I am using the word “member” to describe partners, shareholders and beneficiaries.

§318 Entity-Member Attribution Summary: Limitations

This summary of §318 entity-member attribution rules is limited only to situations where a member owns at 50% of the value of stock (in case of a corporation) and a beneficiary of a trust does not hold a remote and contingent interest in a trust. The readers need to keep these limitations in mind as they apply the summary below to a particular fact pattern.

Moreover, the readers must remember that this summary of the §318 Entity-Member attribution rules may be altered when one applies it within the context of a specific tax provision. Hence, the readers must check for any modification of these §318 attribution rules contained in that specific tax provision.

§318 Entity-Member Attribution Summary

Now that we understand the limitations above, we can state the following summary of the §318 Entity-Member attribution rules:

  1. All corporate stock is attributed to an entity from its member irrespective of whether the member owns this stock actually or constructively;
  2. If corporate stock is attributed from an entity to its member, such attribution will be done on a proportionate basis; and
  3. The following corporate stock is attributed from an entity to its member on a proportionate basis:
    (a). Corporate stock which the entity actually owns;
    (b). Corporate stock which the entity constructively owns under the option rules; and
    (c). Corporate stock which the entity constructively owns because it is a member of some other entity.

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US international tax law is incredibly complex and the penalties for noncompliance are exceptionally severe. This means that an attempt to navigate through the maze of US international tax laws without assistance of an experienced professional will most likely produce unfavorable and even catastrophic results.

This is why you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with US international tax law. We are a highly experienced, creative and ethical team of professionals dedicated to helping our clients resolve their past, present and future US international tax compliance issues. We have helped clients with assets in over 70 countries around the world, and we can help you!

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July 15 Deferral: More Deadlines Affected | US International Tax News

On April 9, 2020, the IRS announced additional relief to taxpayers by moving the due date for more deadlines to July 15, 2020. Let’s discuss this additional July 15 Deferral in more detail.

July 15 Deferral: Background Information

On March 13, 2020, in response to the 2019 coronavirus (also called “COVID-19″) pandemic, President Trump issued an emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. This declaration instructed the Treasury Department to provide relief from tax deadlines to Americans who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §7508A(a).

Section 7508A of the Internal Revenue Code provides the Secretary of the Treasury with authority to postpone the time for performing certain acts under the internal revenue laws for a taxpayer determined by the Secretary to be affected by a federally-declared disaster as defined in section 165(i)(5)(A). Pursuant to section 7508A(a), a period of up to one year may be disregarded in determining whether the performance of certain acts is timely under the internal revenue laws.

On March 18, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-17 to postpone April 15 tax payment deadlines from April 15 to July 15, 2020. A few days later, on March 21, 2020 (the actual relief occurred even earlier on March 20, 2020), among other measures, the IRS announced a new notice 2020-18 for the extension of all April 15 deadlines to July 15, 2020. This extension applied only to the April 15 deadlines.

Later, on March 27, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-20, which amplified the earlier notice 2020-18 and postponed certain federal gift tax return filings and payments to July 15, 2020.

July 15 Deferral: More Deadlines Affected

On April 9, 2020, the IRS took another decisive step forward and issued Notice 2020-23. This notice extends to July 15 all tax deadlines that fall on or after April 1, 2020 and July 14, 2020. This deferral applies to all tax filing and tax payment deadlines.

The July 15 deferral of deadlines applies to all taxpayers – individuals, trusts, estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers.

July 15 Deferral: Taxpayers Residing Abroad

Americans who reside abroad usually get an automatic extension to file their tax returns until June 15, but they are required to pay taxes due by April 15. Notice 2020-23 defers the tax payment and the tax filing deadlines from April 15 and June 15 respectively to July 15, 2020.

July 15 Deferral: Individual Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to the following types of individual tax returns and tax payments:

  1. Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors;
  2. 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return;
  3. 1040-NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents;
  4. 1040-PR, Self-Employment Tax Return – Puerto Rico; and
  5. 1040-SS, U.S. Self-Employment Tax Return (Including the Additional Child Tax Credit for Bona Fide Residents of Puerto Rico);

July 15 Deferral: Corporate Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to the following types of corporate tax returns and tax payments (irrespective of whether they are calendar-year or fiscal-year taxpayers):

  1. Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return;
  2. 1120-C, U.S. Income Tax Return for Cooperative Associations;
  3. 1120-F, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation;
  4. 1120-FSC, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Sales Corporation;
  5. 1120-H, U.S. Income Tax Return for Homeowners Associations;
  6. 1120-L, U.S. Life Insurance Company Income Tax Return;
  7. 1120-ND, Return for Nuclear Decommissioning Funds and Certain Related Persons;
  8. 1120-PC, U.S. Property and Casualty Insurance Company Income Tax Return;
  9. 1120-POL, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Political Organizations;
  10. 1120-REIT, U.S. Income Tax Return for Real Estate Investment Trusts;
  11. 1120-RIC, U.S. Income Tax Return for Regulated Investment Companies;
  12. 1120-S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation; and
  13. 1120-SF, U.S. Income Tax Return for Settlement Funds (Under Section 468B).

July 15 Deferral: Partnership Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to the following types of partnership calendar-year and fiscal-year tax returns:

  1. Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income; and
  2. Form 1066, U.S. Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit (REMIC) Income Tax Return.

July 15 Deferral: Estate, Gift and Trust Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to the following types of estate, gift and trust tax returns (including all tax payments required to be made under these returns):

  1. Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts;
  2. 1041-N, U.S. Income Tax Return for Electing Alaska Native Settlement Trusts;
  3. 1041-QFT, U.S. Income Tax Return for Qualified Funeral Trusts;
  4. Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return (for estate of a citizen or resident of the United States), including for filings pursuant to Revenue Procedure 2017-34;
  5. 706-NA, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return (for estate of a nonresident not a citizen of the United States);
  6. 706-A, United States Additional Estate Tax Return;
  7. 706-QDT, U.S. Estate Tax Return for Qualified Domestic Trusts;
  8. 706-GS(T), Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Terminations;
  9. 706-GS(D), Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Return for Distributions;
  10. 706-GS(D-1), Notification of Distribution from a Generation-Skipping Trust (including the due date for providing such form to a beneficiary);
  11. Form 8971, Information Regarding Beneficiaries Acquiring Property from a Decedent and any supplemental Form 8971, including all requirements contained in section 6035(a) of the Code; and
  12. Estate tax payments of principal or interest due as a result of an election made under sections 6166, 6161, or 6163 and annual recertification requirements under section 6166 of the Code.

July 15 Deferral: Tax-Exempt Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 applies to Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (and proxy tax under section 6033(e) of the Code).

July 15 Deferral: Excise Taxes

Notice 2020-23 applies to excise tax payments on investment income and return filings on Form 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation or Section 4947(a)(1) Trust Treated as Private Foundation as well as excise tax payments and return filings on Form 4720, Return of Certain Excise Taxes under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code.

July 15 Deferral: Quarterly Estimated Tax Payments

Notice 2020-23 applies to various types of quarterly estimated income tax payments calculated on or submitted with the following forms:

  1. 990-W, Estimated Tax on Unrelated Business Taxable Income for Tax-Exempt Organizations,
  2. 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals;
  3. 1040-ES (NR), U.S. Estimated Tax for Nonresident Alien Individuals;
  4. 1040-ES (PR), Estimated Federal Tax on Self Employment Income and on Household Employees (Residents of Puerto Rico);
  5. 1041-ES, Estimated Income Tax for Estates; and Trusts; and
  6. 1120-W, Estimated Tax for Corporations.

July 15 Deferral: Certain Other Affected Taxpayers and Elections; Tax Court Deadlines

Notice 2020-23 also applies to any person performing a time-sensitive action listed in either § 301.7508A-1(c)(1)(iv) – (vi) of the Procedure and Administration Regulations or Revenue Procedure 2018-58, 2018-50 IRB 990 (December 10, 2018), which is due to be performed on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020 (“Specified Time-Sensitive Action”). For purposes of this notice, the term Specified Time-Sensitive Action also includes an investment at the election of a taxpayer due to be made during the 180-day period described in the IRS §1400Z-2(a)(1)(A).

Affected Taxpayers also have until July 15, 2020, to perform all Specified Time-Sensitive Actions, that are due to be performed on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020. This relief includes the time for filing all petitions with the Tax Court, or for review of a decision rendered by the Tax Court, filing a claim for credit or refund of any tax, and bringing suit upon a claim for credit or refund of any tax. This notice does not provide relief for the time period for filing a petition with the Tax Court, or for filing a claim or bringing a suit for credit or refund if that period expired before April 1, 2020.

July 15 Deferral: Schedules, Elections and Other Forms

Notice 2020-23 applies not only to the aforementioned forms (hereinafter “Specified Forms), but also to schedules, returns, and other forms that are filed as attachments to the Specified Forms or are required to be filed by the due date of the Specified Forms. For example, this affects Schedule H and Schedule SE.

Moreover, elections that are made or required to be made on a timely filed Specified Form (or attachment to a Specified Form) shall be timely made if filed on such Specified Form or attachment, as appropriate, on or before July 15, 2020

July 15 Deferral: International Information Returns and 965 Tax Payments

Notice 2020-23 applies to all US international information returns including forms 3520, 5471, 5472, 8621 (including PFIC elections), 8858, 8865, and 8938. Furthermore, the Notice applies to installment payments under section 965(h) due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.

This is highly important to Sherayzen Law Office clients’ because almost all of our clients must file these forms and many are required to make 965 installment tax payments.

July 15 Deferral: 2016 Unclaimed Refunds

For 2016 tax returns, the normal April 15 deadline to claim a refund has also been extended to July 15, 2020. The law provides a three-year window of opportunity to claim a refund. If taxpayers do not file a return within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury. Notice 2020-23 requires taxpayers to properly address, mail and ensure the tax return is postmarked by the July 15, 2020, date.

July 15 Deferral: IRS Audits, IRS Appeals and Amended Tax Returns

Notice 2020-23 provides a 30-day postponement for “Affected Taxpayers” with respect to “Time-Sensitive IRS Actions” if the last date for performance of the action is on or after April 6, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.

Notice 2020-23 defines “Affected Taxpayers” as:

  1. Persons who are currently under examination (including an investigation to determine liability for an assessable penalty under subchapter B of Chapter 68);
  2. Persons whose cases are with the Independent Office of Appeals; and
  3. Persons who, during the period beginning on or after April 6, 2020 and ending before July 15, 2020, file written documents described in section 6501(c)(7) of the Code (amended returns) or submit payments with respect to a tax for which the time for assessment would otherwise expire during this period.

Notice 2020-23 defines “Time Sensitive IRS Action” as actions described in § 301.7508A-1(c)(2).

July 15 Deferral: Extension of time to file beyond July 15

It is still possible to request an extension of time beyond July 15, 2020 (to October 15, 2020). In order to do it, individual taxpayers must file Form 4868 and business taxpayers must file Form 7004. Both forms should be filed by July 15, 2020.

Taxpayers should keep in mind that an extension to file is not an extension to pay taxes. Taxpayers must estimated their tax liability and pay any taxes owed by July 15, 2020, even if they request an extension to file forms.

Employee Retention Credit | US Tax Lawyers & Attorneys

On March 31, 2020, the IRS launched the Employee Retention Credit. This new tax credit is designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. Let’s discuss the Employee Retention Credit in more detail.

Employee Retention Credit: Eligibility Criteria

Two categories of employers are not eligible to apply for the Employee Retention Credit: (a) state and local governments and their instrumentalities; and (b) small businesses who take certain small business loans.

The rest of the employers (including tax-exempt organizations) regardless of size can apply as long as they fall within one of the following two categories.

The first category includes all businesses which were fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter. It appears that this category applies to the state “shelter-in-place” orders.

The second category includes businesses with gross receipts below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer’s gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.

Employee Retention Credit: Credit Calculation

The amount of the credit is 50% of qualifying wages paid up to $10,000 in total. Wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021, are eligible for the credit. The definition of wages includes not only cash payments, but also a portion of the cost of employer-provided health care insurance.

Employee Retention Credit: Qualified Wages

Qualifying wages are based on the average number of employees in 2019. There is an important difference, however, in the calculation of qualified wages based on the size of an employer.

With respect to employers with less than 100 employees: the credit is based on wages paid to all employees, regardless if they worked or not. If the employees worked full time and were paid for full time work, the employer still receives the credit.

With respect to employers with more than 100 employees: if the employer had more than 100 employees on average in 2019, then the credit is allowed only for wages paid to employees who did not work during the calendar quarter.

Employee Retention Credit: Application Process

Employers can be immediately reimbursed for the credit by reducing their required deposits of payroll taxes that have been withheld from employees’ wages by the amount of the credit.

Eligible employers will report their total qualified wages and the related health insurance costs for each quarter on their quarterly employment tax returns or Form 941 beginning with the second quarter of 2020. If the employer’s employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, the employer may receive an advance payment from the IRS by submitting Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19. Eligible employers can also request an advance of the Employee Retention Credit by submitting Form 7200.

Sherayzen Law Office will continue to follow closely the tax developments concerning the COVID-19 tax relief.