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As previously reported by Ropes & Gray, on July 24, 2018, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Tax Court’s prior decision in the Altera case and upheld the IRS regulation requiring the allocation of stock-based compensation in qualified cost-sharing agreements. The decision was particularly notable since it ended in a 2-1 vote, in which Judge Reinhardt, who passed away in March 2018, cast the deciding vote. Late last week, the Ninth Circuit appointed a new judge, Susan Graber, to replace Judge Reinhardt under a local procedural order mandating that the court clerk randomly draw a replacement judge upon the death of any panel member. However, in lieu of awaiting any motions for rehearing, today the Ninth Circuit withdrew its opinion “to allow time for the reconstituted panel to confer on this appeal.” Since a withdrawn decision has no legal effect and the decision of the court could change, affected taxpayers who have not already taken action in response to the decision should consider watching and waiting for a new opinion to be issued before taking any further action. To read today’s order, click here.

In a recent Law360 article, Kat Gregor provides insight on the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in the Altera case. The article analyzes what factors might lead to a reconsideration of the decision—a rare en banc review. If the decision stands, billions of dollars are at stake for multinational corporations. With this idea in mind, Kat noted that “if other companies are in similar positions as Altera and apply for a tax refund, they are now likely to be denied those tax benefits following the Ninth Circuit’s decision.”

Click here to read the full article.

In two recent Bloomberg Law articles, Kat Gregor comments on rules governing deductibility of payments enacted to governments as part of 2017 tax reform, including deporting requirements under section 6050X of the Code. The purpose of these new guidelines is to “boost transparency in corporate settlements and make it easier for the IRS to keep track of how much of a settlement payment a company is required to pay off.” Kat specifically notes that the Code’s vague standard might lead to misinterpretation by foreign courts as to what constitutes as restitution or compliance payments (as compared to non-deductible payments).

Click here and here to read more of Kat’s insights.

In an unexpected 2-1 decision, Judge Reinhardt, who passed away in March of this past year, cast the Ninth Circuit’s deciding vote to reverse the Tax Court’s prior ruling in Altera. In 2015, the Tax Court invalidated Treasury Regulation 1.482-7A(d)(2)’s requirement that related parties allocate stock-based compensation costs when entering into cost-sharing agreements to develop intangible assets. The Tax Court’s decision in Altera centered on the IRS’s failure to support the regulation with examples of unrelated parties sharing stock-based compensation costs (comparable uncontrolled transactions). This failure was fatal, according to Judge Marvel of the Tax Court, because to require related taxpayers to share stock-based compensation absent any evidence of similar behavior by unrelated parties would mean the regulation did not seek parity between these groups of taxpayers, contrary to the long-standing arm’s-length principle for transfer pricing. As a result, the Tax Court held that the regulation did not meet the reasoned decision-making standard in the State Farm Supreme Court case.

Click here to read the full alert.

In a recent Law360 article, Kat Gregor comments on a recent Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report that highlights the IRS’ stalled enforcement of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”). This stalled enforcement demonstrates that although the agency has cracked down on unreported offshore accounts, there are associated logistical challenges that must considered. Kat notes that the IRS “has a lot of data” and that it would be “difficult for any entity to use such a high volume of data effectively.” She also states that one of the “IRS’ goals should be giving the appearance of an effective, efficient enforcement, so people believe that there will be consequences.”

  • Click here to read the full article, including more insights from Kat.
  • Click here to read another Disputing Tax article focused on potential replacement of the offshore voluntary disclosure program discussed in this posting.

In this Ropes & Gray podcast, Brittany Cvetanovich, an associate in the tax group, is joined by Kat Gregor, tax partner and co-founder of the tax controversy group, to discuss a notable Supreme Court decision, South Dakota v. Wayfair. On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Wayfair that the State of South Dakota may constitutionally require large online retailers without actual physical presence in the state to collect and remit sales tax.

On May 21, 2018, the IRS Large Business & International Division (“LB&I”) announced its fourth set of compliance campaigns.  The six new campaigns include one campaign centered on Forms 3520 and 3520-A compliance.  A Form 3520, Annual Return To Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts, must be filed to report certain transactions regarding foreign trusts under section 6048 of the Internal Revenue Code, including:

  • Creation of a foreign trust by a U.S. person
  • Any transfer of money or property to a foreign trust, including by reason of death
  • Ownership of foreign trusts, including death of the U.S. owner of a foreign trust
  • Loans and distributions from foreign trusts
  • Gifts or bequests from foreign individuals or estates
  • Gifts from foreign corporations or partnerships

A Form 3520-A, Annual Information Return of Foreign Trust With a U.S. Owner, must be filed annually by a foreign trust with a U.S. owner.

The other five new compliance campaigns focus on (1) withholding, depositing, and reporting requirements of withholding agents under Forms 1042 and 1042-S; (2) compliance with tax treaties providing for exemptions from U.S. income; (3) itemized deductions claimed on Form 1040-NR, the U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return; (4) tax credits claimed on Form 1040-NR; and (5) the capitalization of interest associated when the construction of real and certain personal property.  As in prior campaigns, in addition to conducting audits, education of taxpayers and practitioners will be an important aspect of most of these campaigns.

As previously described in part in Disputing Tax and in a recent Bloomberg article that included remarks from Kat Gregor, Facebook has been involved in a multi-front litigation with the IRS for almost two years.  It began when Facebook refused to extend the statute of limitations for a sixth time to allow the IRS to continue to its nearly five-year long audit of Facebook for the tax years 2008 to 2010.  The IRS responded by filing suit to enforce a summons and then by issuing a Notice of Deficiency alleging that Facebook owed additional tax as a result of its $7 billion undervaluation of certain intangibles transferred to Facebook Ireland.  Facebook appealed the Notice of Deficiency in Tax Court and also filed two separate lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Continue Reading Northern District of California Strikes a Blow to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in Facebook Decision

In a recent Law360 article, Kat Gregor comments on current and future tax obligations Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, should consider as a U.S. citizen living abroad and married to a non-U.S. resident. Kat notes that the Duchess is still responsible for reporting and paying taxes on her worldwide income in accordance with Section 61 of the Code. One way to avoid these obligations would be to renounce her U.S. citizenship after becoming a British citizen. In the event that the Duchess decides to expatriate, it would be advisable to do this before the couple has children to avoid unwanted U.S. citizenship “…because she and Prince Harry cannot expatriate their children, all of the income and assets of those children would need to be reported to the U.S.”

Click here to read the full article, which includes further insights from Kat.