On December 6, 2021, the White House issued the “United States Strategy on Countering Corruption” (the “Strategy Document”) and accompanying fact sheet. This release by the Biden Administration follows a months-long interagency review of existing U.S. government mechanisms for fighting corruption on both the domestic and global fronts. The five-point Strategy Document represents the U.S. Government’s first formal multi-departmental approach to combating corruption and acknowledges the ways transnational corrupt actors have exploited loopholes in United States financial reporting requirements to undermine anti-money laundering and counterterrorism efforts.

Please click here to read the full alert.

On Monday, November 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“Infrastructure Act”), Public Law No: 117-58. The Infrastructure Act is the result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (“Infrastructure Framework”) previously announced on June 24, 2021. See Ropes & Gray alert on Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.  The $1 trillion Infrastructure Act covers many of the Infrastructure Framework’s priorities for improvements to traditional infrastructure, including improvements to roads and bridges, rail, broadband internet, and some climate-related projects.  The Infrastructure Act does not contain any of the tax increases previously proposed by the American Jobs Plan, Made in America Tax Plan, or American Families Plan (see Ropes & Gray American Jobs Plan alert and American Family Plan alert).  To fund the Infrastructure Act there are, however, two tax-related changes: (i) increased required reporting of transactions involving the sale of digital assets, and (ii) an early end to the employee retention credits for certain eligible employers.  The cryptocurrency reporting is designed to encourage taxpayers to report cryptocurrency transactions and to support IRS enforcement against taxpayers who do not report those transactions.  Many have criticized the digital asset reporting as overbroad, and amendments were considered—but not passed—to narrow the reporting requirement.

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2nd Annual IFA USA Winter International Tax Conference: Kat Gregor is a speaker during the session “LB&I Hot Topics in Tax Controversy” on December 8.

New England SALT Forum: Ropes & Gray is a proud sponsor of the virtual New England SALT Forum, held on November 16-November 18. Kat Gregor, tax partner and co-founder of the tax controversy group, is a speaker on the panel “State Tax Considerations for Remote Workforces.” The panel will cover the challenges and risks for businesses as they move to this model. It will also examine the contours of New Hampshire v. Massachusetts, and its implications for remote work.

Update on LB&I Campaigns: Hear the Latest from the IRS–Northeast WIN Webinar. Northeast regional WIN-IFA chapters co-organized a webinar on August 10. The webinar provided an overview of LB&I campaigns focused on international and partnership issues, including the recently-announced campaign looking at “whether foreign investors were subject to U.S. tax on effectively connected income from lending transactions engaged in through a U.S. trade or business.”  The webinar discussed the campaign process in general and how these new initiatives fit in overall. John Hinding, Director, Cross Border Activities Practice Area and Cindy Kim, CBA Program Manager, Practice Network, both of the IRS and Ropes tax partner Kat Gregor served as panelists and Natallia Shapel, Partner, International Tax Services at BDO USA moderated the discussion.

IBA Tax Open Forum – Pillar 2 Agreed? A New Era of Minimum Corporate Taxation. Kat Gregor was a discussion leader during an International Bar Association (IBA) webinar, presented by the IBA Taxes Committee. This webinar focused on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Pillar 2 proposals.

In the latest installment of our Ropes & Gray podcast series addressing emerging issues for fiduciaries of 401(k) and 403(b) plans to consider as part of their litigation risk management strategy, ERISA and benefits partner Josh Lichtenstein, benefits consulting group principal David Kirchner, and benefits consultant Aneisha Worrell revisit the Department of Labor’s (DOL) regulation of ERISA investment duties and ESG considerations, and in particular, its recently re-proposed rule. As compared to the prior rule passed by the Trump administration at the end of last year, which Messrs. Lichtenstein and Kirchner and Ms. Worrell discussed in the first episode of this series in February, the latest proposal signifies a major shift in the Department’s attitude towards ESG factors, and if finalized, would significantly alter the investment landscape for ERISA plan sponsors and fiduciaries.

Please stay tuned for part two of this discussion, where we will discuss the implications of the DOL’s ESG proposal for asset managers.

In a recent Tax Notes Federal article, tax associate Bob Kane examines Pope & Talbot and argues that the IRS has inappropriately relied on that case in two rulings addressing the calculation of section 311 gain on distributions of partnership equity. Please click here to read the full article

​Tax partner Kat Gregor and tax associates Isabelle Farrar, Yulia Kirillova and Ningzhou Shen co-authored an article in Tax Notes Federal that examines how audit adjustments in the United States following litigation tied to Altera Corporation v. Commissioner could affect multinational corporations that have cost-sharing arrangements and file tax returns in multiple jurisdictions.

The four attorneys look closely at the landmark case to describe its implications as well as options for taxpayers subject to post-Altera audits who may be faced with the possibility of double taxation.

In this seventh episode in a series of Ropes & Gray podcasts addressing emerging issues for fiduciaries of 401(k) and 403(b) plans to consider as part of their litigation risk management strategy, litigation & enforcement partner Dan Ward, ERISA and benefits partner Josh Lichtenstein, and benefits consultant Jack Eckart discuss some recent updates on the continued ERISA retirement plan litigation landscape, including current trends and important takeaways for plan sponsors.

Last week, Richard Neal (D-Mass), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, unveiled an amendment to help fund the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation legislation that is currently under consideration in Congress. The Neal amendment would make dramatic changes to the rules governing retirement plans for certain high-income taxpayers by imposing new asset limitations and prohibitions. It would also require distributions and IRA contribution limitations for certain individuals with retirement savings over $10 million, require distributions of Roth balances in excess of $20 million and end the practice of so-called “back-door” Roth conversions. These changes aim to effectively prohibit mega IRAs, which were the subject of extensive press reports earlier this year following ProPublica’s revelation of multiple large IRAs, including Peter Thiel’s $5 billion mega-Roth IRA.

Please click here to read the full alert.

Senate Finance Committee Democrats unveiled a “discussion” draft bill that would implement certain international tax proposals included in the Biden Administration’s Made in America Tax Plan and generally follows the Senate framework for international tax reform proposed on April 5, 2021. Among other key proposals, the discussion draft revamps the U.S. subpart F rules and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income regime (GILTI), which it renames Global Inclusion of Low-Tax Income, to ensure that income of a controlled foreign corporation (CFC) is taxed at a minimum rate on a country-by-country basis.

While the discussion draft does not address specific tax rates, it clearly contemplates a higher rate of current U.S. taxation on GILTI. In contrast with the Biden Administration and House proposals to date, the discussion draft creates exemptions on a county-by-country basis from current income tax for high-tax foreign income that otherwise would be subject to GILTI, subpart F, or direct U.S. taxation (with respect to income earned in a high-tax foreign branch). In addition to reforming GILTI and conforming the subpart F regime to more closely align with the reformed GILTI rules, the discussion draft proposes significant changes to the foreign tax credit rules and the Foreign-Derived Intangible Income deduction (FDII) regime to encourage domestic R&D. The discussion draft retains the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) and applies a higher rate of tax for payments to low-tax jurisdictions. While the discussion draft is broadly consistent with the objectives described in the Made in America Tax Plan, it leaves open critical policy determinations regarding rates and the availability of offsets, as noted below. The Senate Democrats envision this draft bill being included in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.

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On August 5, 2021 Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse introduced proposed legislation (the “Ending the Carried Interest Loophole Act,” or the “Proposal”) that would substantially change the U.S. federal income tax treatment of partnership interests issued in exchange for services, commonly known as carried interests, and potentially other types of partnership interests as well. The Proposal would repeal Section 1061, the “three-year carry rule” that was enacted as part of the 2017 tax reform legislation, and instead subject the holder of a carried interest to current inclusions of compensation income, taxable at ordinary income rates, in amounts that purport to approximate the value of a deemed interest-free loan from the partnership’s other investors to the carried interest holder. The Proposal would be effective for taxable years of a taxpayer beginning after the date of enactment, provided that any applicable partnership’s taxable year ends with or within the relevant taxpayer’s year. For most impacted partnerships and partners, if the Proposal were passed anytime in 2021, the provisions would take effect for calendar year 2022.

Although the Proposal would likely be subject to revisions and clarifications before adoption as final legislation, the proposed rules raise, among other issues, potential phantom income and double taxation concerns for investment partnership sponsors, and uncertainties with respect to potential trade or business risks for non-U.S. persons and tax-exempt organizations that purchase carried interests as investors.

Please click here to read the full alert.