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The Trouble with QEF Reporting

BY MARY BETH LOUGEN, EA, USTCP

Wolters Kluwer

Mary Beth Lougen examines the issues surrounding the sale of a fiscal year qualified electing fund (QEF) by passive foreign investment companies (PFICs).

Practitioners that work with clients who have international connections often have to run the gauntlet of Code Secs. 1291–1298, the portion of the statute that covers passive foreign investment companies or PFICs. As someone who frequents the PFIC regulations, I am always in awe of this section of the Internal Revenue Code (“the Code”). The men and women who took the directive provided by Congress in the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and put to paper how we are to treat passive foreign investment companies on a U.S. tax return were geniuses. They have woven an intricate and complex web of “if this, then that” rules that speak to many other sections of the Code—if the PFIC is also a CFC, then … , if the shareholder becomes a U.S. person after already owning an investment that became a PFIC the minute they crossed into U.S. personhood, then … , if the investment was owned prior to 1987 when the regulations came into play, then … . But there is one place where the interaction between the PFIC rules and the rest of the regulations is not in sync, this is the case when there is a sale of a fiscal year qualified electing fund (QEF) during the period between the end of the fiscal reporting year and the taxpayer’s calendar year end.

It is widely thought that QEF election is the best solution to a bad problem— but I am going to have to disagree, or at least disagree when the PFIC reports on a fiscal year.

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Handouts and Examples

Interplay of Foreign Assignment Length and Income Tax Considerations (BMA Webinar)


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM ET

DESCRIPTION

This program goes back to basics to reinforce how the current tax code affects the personal income tax situations for your employees on foreign assignment.  A well-crafted package can allow your employee to benefit from the best the Internal Revenue Code and State Tax Codes have to offer on a personal level.  Too often, employees on international assignments are surprised at tax time to learn that they do not qualify for federal earned income exclusions or state safe harbor programs which could have saved them thousands in taxes.  When employees accept assignments outside the United States and are provided with a thoughtful employment package that considers not only the company’s interest but their own, your company will be able to retain talent easier and have employees more willing to accept international assignments.

More Information

The Nightmare of PFICs at the State Level – Answers to FAQs

BY MARY BETH LOUGEN, EA, USTCP

Bloomberg BNA

The taxation of Passive Foreign Investment Companies is incredibly complicated because of the various ways these companies can be treated federally. In this article, Mary Beth Lougen of Expat Tax Tools brings up frequently asked questions intended to make tax professionals think about what their clients with state residency or domicile who also own a PFIC are facing.

If the federal treatment of passive foreign investment companies (PFICs) under I.R.C. §§1291–1298 isn’t enough to send you screaming from the room, have you ever considered how the various states view that same investment?

Once you start looking closely at the multiple federal treatments and how many ways a state can view those treatments, you quickly realize that the number of considerations and potential issues awaiting your clients is on a scale that is so large it can overwhelm the most seasoned professional. This article will bring up more questions than it answers and is intended to have you really think about what you are dealing with when you have a client with a U.S. state residency or domicile who also owns a PFIC.

You need to stop and thoughtfully evaluate how the state will treat income that is included in federal AGI but does not meet the definition for constructive receipt, income that is constructively received but not included in federal income, losses that are taxed differently than gains for the same investment, losses that are accounted for in different years than gains, income not included in AGI but instead subject to an additional tax by the IRS and just as many
variations of basis adjustments.

As I see it, the main issues are:

  • determining when state adjustments are required to accurately reflect state income,
  • how to recognize when state and federal basis may be different due to timing of income inclusions, and
  • lack of guidance by many state tax codes…
Alleviating Double Taxation on Foreign Income at the State Level

For those of U.S. who work in the arena of international taxation our idea of a great client is one who lives in Texas, Washington or any of the sevens states that do not impose income tax on their residents. On a good day figuring out how to prepare the federal tax returns for people whose fiscal lives cross international borders can be vexing and time consuming. But throw an extra taxing jurisdiction into the mix and there are now another set of regulations to consider. What may have been the best outcome when considering only the implications at the federal level may no longer be the case…