Partnership Related Party Loss Disallowance | Tax Lawyer & Attorney

In a series of articles concerning Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §267, I discussed various rules concerning related party loss disallowance. In this article, I would like to focus on special rules concerning partnership related party loss disallowance.

Partnership Related Party Loss Disallowance: Main IRC Provisions

Three IRC sections are most relevant to special rules of partnership related party loss disallowance. §707(b)(1) governs the disallowance of losses with respect to transactions between a partnership and its members as well as certain transactions between partnerships with common partners. §267(a)(1) contains the main rule concerning losses on sales or exchanges between a partnership and any person other than a member of the partnership (a third party), including another partnership. Finally, there are special provisions under §267(a)(2) which are applicable to partnerships. Let’s discuss each of these provisions in more detail.

Partnership Related Party Loss Disallowance: §707(b)(1)

§707(b)(1) disallows a loss from a direct or indirect sale or exchange of property (other than a partnership interest) when such sale or exchange occurs between: “(A) a partnership and a person owning, directly or indirectly, more than 50 percent of the capital interest, or the profits interest, in such partnership, or (B) two partnerships in which the same persons own, directly or indirectly, more than 50 percent of the capital interests or profits interests.”

It is important to note that the ownership the capital or profits interest in a partnership by a partner may be direct or indirect. For example, in TAM 201737011, the IRS disallowed the losses of hedge fund upon its transfer of securities to trading account owned by taxpayer who held greater than 50% interest in capital or profits of hedge fund.

Furthermore, it should be noted that §707(b)(1) incorporates §267(d) in order to mitigate the impact of loss disallowance. This means that the transferee may offset future gain on a sale or exchange of the affected property by the disallowed loss.

Partnership Related Party Loss Disallowance: Expansion of §707(b)(1) to Related Persons

Prior to 1985, §707(b)(1) applied strictly to partners. In September of 1985, the IRS dramatically expanded the application of §707(b)(1) to certain persons related to partners by incorporating the constructive ownership rules of §267(c)(1), §267(c)(2), §267(c)(4) and §267(c)(5). “Under these rules, ownership of a capital or profits interest in a partnership may be attributed to a person who is not a partner as defined in section 761(b) in order that another partner may be considered the constructive owner of such interest under section 267(c).” Treas. Reg. §1.707-1(b)(3). Note, however, that §707(b)(1)(A) does not apply to a constructive owner of a partnership interest since he is not a partner as defined in §761(b). Id.

Treas. Reg. §1.707-1(b)(3) provides an illustration of this expansion of §707(b)(1):

“For example, where trust T is a partner in the partnership ABT, and AW, A’s wife, is the sole beneficiary of the trust, the ownership of a capital and profits interest in the partnership by T will be attributed to AW only for the purpose of further attributing the ownership of such interest to A. See section 267(c) (1) and (5). If A, B, and T are equal partners, then A will be considered as owning more than 50 percent of the capital and profits interest in the partnership, and losses on transactions between him and the partnership will be disallowed by section 707(b)(1)(A). However, a loss sustained by AW on a sale or exchange of property with the partnership would not be disallowed by section 707, but will be disallowed to the extent provided in paragraph (b) of § 1.267(b)-1.”

In this context, it should be noted that the validity of Treas. Reg. §1.267(b)-1(b)(1) is currently in question. There is definitely an unsettled conflict between these regulations and the expanded version of §707(b)(1).

Partnership Related Party Loss Disallowance: Transactions Between Partnerships and Third Parties

As it was mentioned above, the IRC §267(a)(1) contains a special rule concerning losses which occur between between a partnership and a third party (i.e. someone other than a partner). Under this rule, the transaction is treated as if it happened between the third party and individual members of the partnership; this is a type of a look-through rule.

The disallowance rules of §267 govern as long as the third party and a partner are considered to be related parties under any of the relationships described in §267(b). In other words, if 267(b) applies in this context, then no deductions will be allowed with respect to transactions between the third party and the partnership “ (i) To the related partner to the extent of his distributive share of partnership deductions for losses or unpaid expenses or interest resulting from such transactions, and (ii) To the other person to the extent the related partner acquires an interest in any property sold to or exchanged with the partnership by such other person at a loss, or to the extent of the related partner’s distributive share of the unpaid expenses or interest payable to the partnership by the other person as a result of such transaction.” Treas. Reg. §1.267(b)-1(b)(1).

Partnership Related Party Loss Disallowance: Transactions Between Certain Partnerships

As a result of the Tax Reform Act of 1984, §267(a)(1) rules were expanded to disallow loss realized on transactions between certain partnerships. “Certain partnerships” include two types of partnerships.

First, partnerships that have one or more common partners. A “common partner” is a partner who owns directly, indirectly, or constructively any capital or profits interest in each of the partnerships. Treas. Reg. §1.267(a)-2T(c) Q&A-2.

Second, a situation where a partner in one partnership and one or more partners in another partnership are related parties within the meaning of §267(b). Id.

The amount of the disallowed loss is generally the greater of: (1) either the amount that would have been disallowed if the transaction had occurred between the “selling partnership and the separate partners of the purchasing partnership (in proportion to their respective interests in the purchasing partnership)”; or (2) the amount that would have been disallowed if the transaction had occurred between “the separate partners of the selling partnership (in proportion to their respective interests in the selling partnership) and the purchasing partnership.” Id. There is an exception: there will be no disallowance of loss if the disallowed amount is less than 5% of the total loss from the sale or exchange. Id.

It should be noted that §267(a)(1) also applies to S-corporations. §267(a)(1) disallows losses realized in transactions between an S corporation and its shareholder holding more than 50%-in-value of the stock.

Partnership Related Party Loss Disallowance: Deferral of a Deductible Payment Under §267(a)(2)

The Tax Reform Act of 1984 affected not only §267(a)(1), but also expanded the deferral of an otherwise deductible payment between certain partnerships under §267(a)(2). These “certain partnerships” are the same as those described in the expanded rules of §267(a)(1): (i) partnerships that have one or more common partners and (ii) a partner in one partnership and one or more partners in another partnership are related parties within the meaning of §267(b) (without §267(e) modification). See Treas. Reg. §1.267(a)-2T(c) Q&A-3.

The amount of deferred deduction is the greater of: (1) the amount that would have been deferred if the transaction that gave rise to the otherwise allowable deduction had occurred “between the payor partnership and the separate partners of the payee partnership (in proportion to their respective interests in the payee partnership)”, or (2) the amount that would have been deferred if such transaction had occurred “between the separate partners of the payor partnership (in proportion to their respective interests in the payor partnership) and the payee partnership.” Id. Similarly to 267(a)(1), there is an exception: no deferral shall occur if the amount that would be deferred is less than 5% of the otherwise allowable deduction. Id.

It should be noted that the status of some provision of the expanded §267(a)(2) is unclear at this point, because §707(b)(1) was amended in 1986 specifically in reference to §267(a)(2) income-deduction matching rules. As amended, §707(b)(1) state that partnerships in which the same persons own more than 50% of the capital interest or profits interests are treated as related under §267(b). It appears that, with respect to such partnerships, §707(b)(1) overrides the rules described in Reg. §1.267(a)-2T(c) Q&A-3.

Partnership Related Party Loss Disallowance: Additional Deferrals Under §267(a)(2)

With respect to the §267(a)(2) limitations on deductions for payment to related persons, a partnership and its members are treated as related persons under §267(e). As already described above, §707(b)(1) (last sentence) extended this rule to transactions between commonly owned partnerships.

Additionally, under §§267(e)(1)(C) and §267(e)(1)(D), a partnership and a person owning any profits or capital interest in a partnership in which the partnership also holds such an interest (and any persons related to these parties within the meaning of §707(b)(1) or §267(b)) are also related persons.

Finally, §267(a)(2) also applies to S-corporations in an almost identical way as it applies to regular partnerships: the deduction for a payment to a related person is delayed until the recipient includes the payment in his gross income. As a result of the Tax Reform Act of 1984, §267(e) treats an S-corporation and any of its shareholders (regardless of amount of stock owned) as related persons.

§§267(e)(1)(C) and §267(e)(1)(D) further expand the definition of related persons to situations where a transaction occurs between an S-corporation and a person owning any profits or capital interest in a partnership in which the S-corporation also holds such an interest (and any persons related to these parties within the meaning of §707(b)(1) or §267(b)).

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