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IRC §318 Family Attribution | International Tax Law Firm Minnesota

In a previous article, I outlined six main relationship categories of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §318. In this article, I will focus on the first of these categories: the IRC §318 family attribution rules.

§318 Family Attribution: General Rule

§318(a)(1)(A) describes the §318 family attribution rule . It states that an individual is a constructive owner of shares owned (directly and indirectly) by his spouse, children, grandchildren and parents. While it appears to be simple, this general rule has a number of exceptions and complications.

§318 Family Attribution: Certain Exceptions for Spouses

Under §318(a)(1)(A)(i), ownership of stock held by a spouse who is legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance is not attributed to her spouse. However, based on the §318 legislative history and Commissioner v. Ostler, 237 F.2d 501 (9th Cir. 1956), it appears that an interlocutory decree of divorce would not prevent the attribution of stock ownership between spouses, because such decree is not final.

§318 Family Attribution: Special Cases Involving Children and Grandchildren

§318(a)(1)(B) expands the attribution of shares from children to shares held by legally adopted children. Without legal adoption, however, shares owned by a step-child cannot be attributed to step-parents and step-grandparents. Similarly, absent legal adoption of a step-child, there is no attribution from a step-parent to the step-child.

Treas. Reg. §1.318-2(b) also makes it clear that there is no attribution of shares owned by grandparents to their grandchildren. Only shares owned by grandchildren can be attributed to their grandparents. For example, if a grandfather and a grandson each own 100 shares of X, a C-corporation, the grandfather will be deemed to own 200 shares while the grandson’s stock ownership will be based only on his actual ownership of 100 shares.

Also, note that great-grandchildren are not listed under §318(a)(1). Hence, the shares owned by great-grandchildren are not attributed to great-grandparents; this is different from §267.

§318 Family Attribution: Other Relatives

The §318 definition of family excludes aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins; this treatment is identical to that of §267. Moreover, unlike §267(c)(4), there is no attribution of stock between siblings under §318(a)(1).

§318 Family Attribution: Prohibition of Double Attribution

Treas. Reg. §1.318-4(b) explains that §318 family attribution rules do not allow double attribution of stock among family members. Under §318(a)(5)(B), stock deemed owned through a family member under §318(a)(1)(A) may not be re-attributed to another family member under the family attribution rules of §318.

For example, let’s say that mother M, daughter D and son S each own one-third of the outstanding shares of X corporation; each of them owns 100 shares. Under §318(a)(1)(A), M owns 100 shares and is deemed to own her children’s 200 shares. On the other hand, D actually owns 100 shares and is deemed to own her mother’s 100 shares – i.e. 200 shares total; under §318(a)(5)(B), while M is deemed to own 100 of S, there is no re-attribution of S’ 100 shares to D. In other words, §318(a)(5)(B) prevents the attribution of brother’s stock to his sister through the deemed ownership of brother’s stock by their mother. Also, as explained above, there is no family attribution of stocks between siblings.

§318 Family Attribution: Special Rule Concerning §302(c)(2)

IRC §302(c)(2) relates to redemptions of corporate stock and contains a special rule concerning the waiver of §318 family attribution of stocks. This section permits the termination of attribution of stock from family members when a shareholder severs ties with the corporation. The purpose of this rule is to allow such shareholder report capital gains instead of dividends upon the redemption of corporate stock.

§318 Family Attribution: Multiple Control of Corporation Possible

The upshot of the §318 rules is the expansion of stock ownership to an extent where multiple related parties may be deemed to be in control of a corporation (and even be deemed as owners of all shares of the corporation) at the same time.

For example, let’s suppose that there are five family members: husband (H), wife (W), son (S), H’s mother (i.e. grandmother – M) and son of S (i.e. grandson – G). Each of them actually owns 100 shares of corporation Y; there are 500 shares outstanding in total. Let’s analyze each of these person’s actual and constructive ownership of shares under the §318 family attribution rules.

H owns all 500 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. He actually owns 100 shares; the rest of the shares are attributed to him from his mother, his wife, son and grandson.

W owns 400 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. She actually owns 100 shares and constructively owns 300 shares that belong to her husband, son and grandson. However, she does not own 100 shares owned by her mother-in-law and the re-attribution of ownership of these shares through her husband is prevented by §318(a)(5)(B).

M owns 300 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. She actually owns 100 shares and is deemed to own 100 shares owned by her son and 100 shares owned by her grandson. M, however, is not deemed to own stocks held by her daughter-in-law W and her great-grandson G.

S owns 400 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. He actually owns 100 shares and constructively owns 200 shares owned by his parents and 100 shares owned by his son. S, however, does not constructively own shares held by his grandmother.

Finally, G owns 200 shares under the §318 family attribution rules. He actually owns 100 shares and constructively owns 100 shares held by his father S. G, however, does not constructively own shares held by his grandparents H and M as well as his great-grandmother M.

Thus, even though each family member actually owns only 100 shares, four of them (out of the total five) are deemed to be in control of the corporation and H is deemed to own the entire corporation. If we transfer this scenario to US international tax law, we can immediately see that the application of §318 constructive ownership rules through family attribution may greatly increase the tax compliance burden for this family.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US International Tax Law

IRC §318 is but a tiny part of the incredible voluminous US domestic and international tax law. US international tax law is not only very complex, but it is also very severe with respect to noncompliant taxpayers. In other words, it is very easy to get yourself into trouble with respect to US international tax compliance and, once this happens, you may be subject to high IRS penalties.

In order to avoid such an undesirable result, you need the help of Sherayzen Law Office. We are a highly-experienced US international tax law firm that has helped clients from over 70 countries with their US international tax compliance. We can help you!

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§318 Relationship Categories | International Business Tax Lawyer & Attorney

In a previous article I discussed the importance of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §318 constructive stock ownership rules. Today, I would like to introduce the readers to the various §318 relationship categories – i.e. what types of taxpayers are affected by this section’s constructive ownership rules.

§318 Relationship Categories: Related Persons

The Congress created IRC §318 constructive ownership rules to prevent or minimize the possibility of using business transactions between related persons for tax avoidance purposes. In other words, in order for §318 to be relevant, there must be some type of a close relationship between persons engaged in a business transaction.

It is important to point out that one should not confuse §267 definition of related persons with the one described in §318. These are two completely separate sets of rules that apply to different situations.

§318 Relationship Categories: Six Main Categories

§318 deals specifically with six main categories of related individuals and entities. I will list them here with only a general description; in future articles, I will address each of these §318 relationship categories specifically.

  1. Family members: certain family members are treated as related persons for §318. Again, the §318 definition of “family” should not be confused with the §267 definition.
  2. Partnerships and partners: unlike §267, the constructive ownership rules of §318 are both “upstream” and “downstream”. In other words, the attribution of stock ownership works both ways: from partners to partnership and from partnership to partners. Additionally, one must remember that an S-corporation and its shareholders are treated respectively as a partnership and partners for the purposes of §318.
  3. Estates and beneficiaries: the IRS §318 constructive ownership rules with respect to estates and beneficiaries are quite unique and invasive. They also work downstream and upstream – i.e. the stocks owned by estate are attributed to its beneficiaries and vice-versa.
  4. Trusts and beneficiaries: again, the stock ownership attribution rules of §318 between a trust and its beneficiaries can be downstream and upstream. Stock owned, directly or indirectly, by or for a trust is considered owned by its beneficiaries in proportion to their actuarial interests in the trust. The upstream relationship is more complex: while generally all stocks owned directly or indirectly by a beneficiary of a trust is considered owned by the trust, there are important exceptions.
  5. Corporations and shareholders: surprisingly, §318 attribution rules between a corporation and its shareholders also contain both downstream and upstream provisions. The application of these rules, however, is limited to persons who own directly and indirectly 50% or more of the value of stocks in the corporation. Again, the corporate attribution rules under §318 apply only to C-corporations; S-corporations are treated as partnerships for the purposes of this section.
  6. Holders of stock options: unlike §267, the constructive stock ownership rules of §318 are expanded to options. §318(a)(4) classifies a holder of an option to acquire stock as the owner of that stock. There are detailed rules for defining what an “option” is for the §318 purposes. Interestingly, the stock option attribution rule supersedes the family member attribution rules (which often results in a more extensive constructive ownership).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US International Business Tax Law

US business tax law is incredibly complex. In fact, an ordinary taxpayer who attempts to decipher it on his own is likely to get himself into deep trouble; this is especially the case, if one deals with the international aspects of US business tax law.

This is why you need to contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We have helped business owners around the world with their US tax planning and US tax compliance, and we can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

§267 Family Attribution | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

In a previous article, I introduced the constructive ownership rules of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §267. Today, I would like to discuss one of them in more detail – §267 family attribution.

§267 Family Attribution: General Rule

The §267 family attribution rule is described in §267(c)(2). It states that, for the purposes of determining whether an individual is a related party under §267, this individual is considered as a constructive owner of stocks owned, directly or indirectly, by or for his family.

§267 Family Attribution: Who is a Family Member

The critical question for §267(c)(2) is the definition of family. §267(c)(4) provides the answer to this question: “the family of an individual shall include only his brothers and sisters (whether by the whole or half blood), spouse, ancestors, and lineal descendants.”

Under Treas. Reg. §1.267(c)-1(a)(4), if any such family relationship was formed through legal adoption, such adoption is given full legal force for the purposes of §267(c)(2). “Ancestors” here include parents and grandparents; it appears that great-grandparents should also be family members for the purposes of §267 family member attribution. Id. The term “lineal descendants” includes children and grandchildren. Id.

Neither §267 and relevant Treasury regulations contain any reference to aunts and uncles. There is, however, a reason to believe that aunts and uncles are not family members for the purpose of §267(c)(2). This argument is based on the fact that, prior to its repeal in 2004, the definition of family in §544(a)(2) (which was part of the foreign personal holding company provisions) was identical to that of §267(c)(4). The IRS held in Rev. Rul. 59-43 that aunts and uncles are not family members for the purposes of §544(a)(2); hence, the same logic should apply to §267(c)(2).

Furthermore, neither step-parents nor step-children are family members for the purposes of §267(c)(2) (see Rev. Rul. 71-50 and DeBoer v. Commissioner, 16 T.C. 662 (1951), aff’d per curiam, 194 F.2d 289 (2d Cir. 1952)). Based on Tilles v. Commissioner, 38 B.T.A. 545 (1938), aff’d, 113 F.2d 907 (8th Cir. 1940), nieces or nephews are also not family members. Nor are the in-laws.

§267 Family Attribution: Attribution and Limitations

Under the §267 family attribution rule, any family member will be the constructive owner of any other family member’s stocks. This will be the case even if the person to whom the stock ownership is attributed has no direct or even indirect ownership of stock in the corporation (see Reg. §1.267(c)-1(a)(2)).

On the other hand, §267(c)(5) prevents the double-attribution of stock. In other words, a stock constructively owned under the family attribution rules may not be owned by another person under §267(c)(2). For example, if stock ownership is attributed to an individual’s wife under §267(c)(2), §267(c)(5) prevents further attribution of stock ownership to the wife’s mother.

§267 Family Attribution: Other Doctrines Should Be Considered

It is important to emphasize that a lawyer should always be on the lookout for other doctrines which may intervene with the attribution under §267(c)(2). For example, where a wife transfers property to her husband in anticipation of the sale of that property by the husband to her brother, §267(c)(5) double-attribution limitation may be ignored by the application of the “substance over form” principle by a court. The “step transaction” doctrine should always be a concern in such transactions.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With US Tax Law

US tax law is extremely complex. An ordinary person will simply get lost in this labyrinth of tax rules, exceptions and requirements. Once you get into trouble with US tax law, it is much more difficult and expensive to extricate yourself from it due to high IRS penalties.

This is why it is important to contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with US tax law as soon as possible. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to successfully resolve their US tax compliance and US tax planning issues. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

§267 Entity-to-Member Attribution | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

In a previous article, I introduced the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §267 constructive ownership rules. Today, I would like to focus specifically on the §267 entity-to-member attribution rule.

§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).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help With US Tax Law

US tax law is extremely complex. An ordinary person will simply get lost in this labyrinth of tax rules, exceptions and requirements. Once you get into trouble with US tax law, it is much more difficult and expensive to extricate yourself from it due to high IRS penalties.

This is why it is important to contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help with US tax law as soon as possible. We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to successfully resolve their US tax compliance and US tax planning issues. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

PLR TAM Comparison | IRS International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

The IRS Private Letter Rulings (“PLR”) and the IRS Technical Advice Memoranda (“TAM”) often get confused by non-practitioners. In this small essay, I will engage in a brief PLR TAM comparison in order to clarify the similarities and differences between both types of IRS administrative guidance.

PLR TAM Comparison: Similarities

Let’s begin our PLR TAM comparison with the similarities. The similarities are great between both types of the IRS administrative guidance; this is why so many taxpayers cannot tell the difference between PLR and TAM. Both, PLR and TAM are written determinations issued by the IRS National Office. Also, PLR and TAM both interpret and apply US tax law to a taxpayer’s specific set of facts. Finally, both PLR and TAM are written IRS determinations which are binding on the IRS only in relation to the taxpayer who requested them.

PLR TAM Comparison: Differences

The differences between PLR & TAM are more nuanced but highly important. The two main differences are: (a) the requesting party and (b) timing of the request.

PLR is requested by a taxpayer; i.e. the IRS issues its opinion to the taxpayer, based on the taxpayer’s pattern of facts and at his request. The request for TAM, however, is made by a district IRS office. Oftentimes, though, the district IRS office makes this request at the urging of a taxpayer to seek technical advice from the IRS National Office.

With respect to the timing of the request, a taxpayer requests a PLR before he files his tax return. The taxpayer wishes to know the IRS position (or he is seeking IRS permission to do something, like a late election) in order to prevent the imposition of IRS penalties by filing an incorrect or late return.

TAM, however, deals with refund claims and examination issues after a tax return has been filed. In fact, oftentimes, a TAM is issued in response to a question concerning a specific set of facts uncovered during an IRS audit.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Experienced US International Tax Help

If you have questions concerning US international tax law and procedure, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help. We are a highly experienced US international tax law firm that has helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the globe with their US international tax compliance issues, including offshore voluntary disclosures, IRS audits and various annual tax compliance issues.

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