Final Regulations Limit Dividends Received Deduction

Final Regulations Limit Dividends Received Deduction

The Treasury and IRS have issued final regulations that limit the Code Sec. 245A dividends received deduction and the Code Sec. 954(c) exception on distributions supported by certain earnings and profits not subject to the integrated international tax regime created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97). Proposed regulations and temporary regulations, issued on June 18, 2019, are adopted and removed, respectively.

TCJA Provisions
The TCJA transitioned the United States from a primarily deferral-based international system of taxation (i.e., current taxation of subpart F income) to a participation exemption system with immediate taxation of certain offshore earnings. The TCJA introduced:

  • the Code Sec. 245A dividends received deduction;
  • the Code Sec. 965 transition tax; and
  • the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) regime under Code Sec. 951A.

The Code Sec. 245A deduction provides a 100-percent deduction to domestic corporations for certain dividends received from a specified foreign corporations (SFC) after December 31, 2017. Earnings and profits generated before the deduction became available are subject to the Code Sec. 965 transition tax on post-1986 earnings and profits.

The GILTI regime subjects certain intangible income of a controlled foreign corporation (CFC) to current taxation, for tax years starting in 2018.

The subpart F regime was retained for tax years starting in 2018. The regime subjects certain earnings of a CFC to current taxation. The regime also provides that dividends received by a CFC, from a related CFC, are not included in the recipient CFC’s income and subject to current tax under subpart F, if certain requirements are met under the Code Sec. 954(c) exception.

Earnings and profits that are previously taxed under the transition tax, or subpart F or GILTI regimes, are treated as being distributed before non-previously taxed earnings and profits, and a distribution of previously taxed earnings and profits (PTEP) is not treated as a distribution of a dividend eligible for the Code Sec. 245A deduction.

Limits on Deduction
The final regulation limit the Code Sec. 245A deduction with respect to a dividend received by a U.S. corporation from certain SFCs so that the deduction is not available for the earnings and profits attributable to base erosion-type income. The final regulations limit the deduction to the portion of the dividend that exceeds the ineligible amount of the dividend. The ineligible amount is the sum of (1) 50 percent of the extraordinary disposition amount, and (2) the extraordinary reduction amount.

An extraordinary disposition is a disposition of an asset by a SFC that:

is outside of the ordinary course of activities to a related party during the disqualified period (between January 1, 2018, and the end of the foreign corporation’s last taxable year beginning before January 1, 2018), and
exceeds the lesser of $50 million or 5 percent of the gross value of the SFC’s assets.
The Code Sec. 245A deduction is limited with respect to extraordinary dispositions, because earnings and profits generated in those transactions are not subject to tax under the transition tax, or the GILTI and subpart F regimes and, as a result, are not of the residual type for which the Code Sec. 245A deduction is intended to potentially be available.

Extraordinary reductions result from transfers of CFC stock where:

a controlling Code Sec. 245A shareholder transfers more than 10 percent of its stock of the CFC, or
there is a greater than 10 percent change in the controlling Code Sec. 245A shareholder’s overall ownership of the CFC.
The Code Sec. 245A deduction is limited in connection with extraordinary reductions because the deduction can result in complete avoidance of U.S. tax with respect to subpart F income or tested income that, absent the extraordinary reduction, would have been included in income by the selling U.S. shareholder under the subpart F or GILTI regimes, respectively

The final regulations require taxpayers to compute, track, and report information relevant for determination of extraordinary dispositions and extraordinary reductions. If an SFC is sold and there is no Code Sec. 245A shareholder of the target SFC after the transaction, the extraordinary disposition account of the target SFC is generally eliminated.

A taxpayer may elect to close the tax year of the CFC for all purposes of the Code on the date of an extraordinary reduction. This prevents disallowance of the Code Sec. 245A deduction. Under the election, the CFC’s earnings and profits for the tax year up to the date of the extraordinary reduction are subject to taxation under the subpart F or GILTI regimes in the seller’s hands, while the remaining earnings and profits of the CFC for the year would be subject to taxation under the subpart F or GILTI regimes in the buyer’s hands. The final regulations clarify that there must be agreement between the buyer and seller of the CFC that was subject to the extraordinary reduction for the election to be made.

Limits on Exception
Application of the Code Sec. 954(c)(6) is also limited when portion of a dividend is paid out of an extraordinary disposition account, or when an extraordinary reduction occurs.

The Code Sec. 954(c)(6) exception is limited where its application would otherwise allow earnings and profits that had accrued after December 31, 2017 (the last measurement date for determining the amount of earnings and profits subject to the transition tax), and that was generated by income that had never been tested under the subpart F and GILTI regimes, to inappropriately qualify for an exception to the subpart F regime.

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