§318 Double-Inclusion Prohibition | International Tax Lawyers Tampa FL

In a previous article, I discussed the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) §318 general rule on the re-attribution of corporate stock; in that context, I mentioned that there are certain restrictions on §318 re-attribution. Today, I would like to discuss one of such restrictions – §318 double-inclusion prohibition.

§318 Double-Inclusion Prohibition: General Re-Attribution Rule

Before we discuss the §318 double-inclusion prohibition, let’s recall the general §318 re-attribution rule. Under §318(a)(5)(A), stock constructively owned by a shareholder under any of the §318 attribution rules is deemed to be actually owned for the purposes of re-attribution to others.

The problem with this rule is that it can allow the re-attribution of stock to spread uncontrollably to include persons who have little to no relationship to the actual stock owners. This is precisely why Congress chose to impose certain limitations on the general rule so that the §318 re-attribution applies only to related persons with a real connection to the actual owners. One of these limitations is the prohibition on double-inclusion.

§318 Double-Inclusion Prohibition: Re-Attribution is Counted Only Once

Under Treas. Reg. §1.318-1(b)(2), corporate stock held by any one person will be included only once in the computation of ownership. This is the §318 double-inclusion prohibition rule.

It is important to note, however, that even though the stock ownership is counted only once, it should be counted “in the manner in which it will impute to the person concerned the largest total stock ownership”. Id.

§318 Double-Inclusion Prohibition: Example

The best way to understand the §318 double-inclusion prohibition is to look at the following example. Assume that husband and wife, H and W, equally own a partnership P (i.e. 50% each); H also owns 100% of the outstanding stocks of a C-corporation X.

Under §318(a)(1)(A)(i), W constructively owns all of her husband’s shares of X. Since H and W are partners of P, under the partnership upstream attribution rules, all stock owned by them is attributed to P. Since each spouse owns 100% of X (one actually and one constructively), does it mean that P owns 200% of X? No, this absurd result is prevented by Treas. Reg. §1.318-1(b)(2), which limits the attribution of X’s shares from H and W to P to a total of 100%.

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