The Internal Revenue Service and US Department of the Treasury recently released proposed regulations that would prevent, in many cases, income inclusions for corporate US shareholders of controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) under Section 956. The proposed regulations are highly favourable to corporate taxpayers by significantly expanding the ability of US corporate borrowers to benefit from the credit support of CFCs.
The 2017 Tax Act significantly increased the tax benefits of a Section 338(g) election for domestic corporate purchasers of stock in a controlled foreign corporation (CFC). If an election is made, buyers are treated as organising a 'new' CFC that purchases the assets of the 'old' target CFC for the amount paid for the CFC stock. For buyers, this stepped-up basis in the CFC's assets can facilitate tax-efficient post-acquisition integration and a reduction of future global intangible low-taxed income.
A domestic corporation's royalty income derived in connection with business conducted outside the United States is generally eligible for the reduced 13.125% effective tax rate on foreign derived intangible income. To qualify, the licensee must be a foreign person and the intangible property must be used outside the United States for the ultimate benefit of an unrelated foreign person. The reduced tax rate is also available for certain royalties derived from licensing intangible property to related foreign persons.
The 2017 Tax Act added a separate foreign tax credit limitation category for income earned in a foreign branch. As a result, certain US groups may be limited in their ability to use foreign income taxes paid or accrued by a foreign branch as a credit against their US federal income tax liability. This new limitation could present a problem for taxpayers with losses in some foreign branches and income in other foreign branches.
A minimum tax has been imposed on domestic corporations with substantial amounts of deductible payments made to related foreign persons, referred to as the 'base erosion and anti-abuse tax' (BEAT). BEAT is particularly onerous if a controlled foreign corporation's income is subject to foreign taxation because, while foreign income taxes can be used as a credit to reduce regular tax liability, no foreign tax credit is permitted to offset the BEAT.