Wednesday, June 29, 2022

S Corporation Dissolution – Part Two; Divisive Reorganization Alternative

Overview

In Part One earlier this week, the focus was on the tax issues associated with liquidating an S corporation.  In Part One, I noted that the same general liquidation rules apply to an S corporation as to a C corporation.  However, the tax cost is significantly smaller unless the S corporation is subject to built-in gains taxation.  One other point to note is that an S corporation must be liquidated in the same tax year as the sale/distribution of assets to produce the desired tax result.  If a sale/distribution of assets is accomplished in one tax year and the liquidation of the corporation in the following year, the capital loss produced upon liquidation would not offset the capital gain generated by the sale of assets.  In such a case, the capital loss produced upon liquidation would only offset other long-term capital gains for the tax year of the liquidation, plus $3,000 of ordinary income.  The remaining long-term capital loss would be carried forward to subsequent tax years.

An alternative to liquidating an S corporation is a divisive reorganization – and it’s the topic of today’s post.

Alternative to Liquidation – Divisive Reorganization

An alternative to liquidating an S corporation at the death of the surviving spouse is a divisive reorganization under I.R.C. §355.  This can be an option where heirs exist that are interested in continuing the farming/ranching business.  In a divisive reorganization, part of the assets of a parent corporation are split-off to one or more (former) shareholders through a new corporation.  A divisive reorganization typically involves three major steps:

  • Formation of a new subsidiary corporation;
  • Transfer of part of the parent corporation’s assets to the subsidiary (usually tax-free); and
  • Distribution of the stock in the subsidiary to some of the parent corporation’s shareholders in exchange for their stock in the parent corporation.

A divisive reorganization can be used to divide a single, functionally integrated business (e.g. farming operation) into two separate businesses and will allow surviving shareholders to postpone income recognition that would otherwise occur through corporate liquidation at the death of the first generation shareholders.  Treas. Regs. §§1.355-1(b) & 1.355-3(c), Examples 4 & 5.  See also, Rev. Rul. 75-160, 1975-1 CB 112; Coady v. Com’r., 33 T.C. 771 (1960), acq., 1965-2 C.B. 4, non. acq., 1960-2 C.B. 8 (withdrawn), aff’d., 289 F.2d 490 (6th Cir. 1961); United States v. Marett, 325 F.2d 28 (5th Cir. 1963).

For a divisive reorganization to be tax-free, five tests under IRC §355 must be met:

  • Control test;
  • Active conduct of a business” test;
  • Distribution of “solely stock or securities”;
  • Parent corporation must distribute all of the stock in the subsidiary (or enough for control); and
  • Reorganization must not be used “primarily as a device for distribution of earnings and profits.”

While, technically, these five tests must be satisfied for a divisive reorganization to be tax-free, in reality, only two of the tests generally create issues that could prevent a reorganization from being utilized.  The two problematic requisites/tests are the active conduct of trade or business requirement and the trade or business requirement. 

Active conduct of trade or business.  For purposes of I.R.C. §355, a trade or business must have been actively conducted by the distributing parent corporation throughout the five-year period ending on the date of distribution.  The regulations under I.R.C. §355 expand this requirement and require continued operation of the business or businesses existing before the implementation of the divisive reorganization. Accordingly, a transitory continuation of one of the active businesses would not satisfy the active trade or business test provided by these regulations.  I.R.C. §355(b)(1)(A); Treas. Reg. §1.355-3(a)(1).

Guidance on the active trade or business requirement:

  • The holding of stock and securities for investment purposes will not constitute the active conduct of a trade or business. Also, the ownership and rental of real or personal property (e.g., farm real estate) will not constitute the active conduct of a trade or business unless the owner performs significant services with respect to the operation and management of the property. Treas. Reg. §1.355-3(b)(2)(iv).
  • Rul. 73-234, 1973-1 CB 180 involved a corporate farming operation where the active conduct of a trade or business test was satisfied. The facts involved a livestock share lease with active involvement.  The IRS states, “the fact that a portion of a corporation’s business activities is performed by independent contractors will not preclude the corporation from being engaged in the active conduct of a trade or business if the corporation itself directly performs active and substantial management and operational functions.” 
  • The active conduct of a trade or business test was not met in Rev. Rul. 86-126,1896-2 CB 158. The facts involved a corporation that cash rented farmland.  There was a sharing of expenses.  The tenant planted, raised, harvested and sold the crops using the tenant’s equipment.  The activities of the corporate officers in leasing the land, providing advice and reviewing accounts were determined to not be substantial enough to meet the active trade or business requirement. 

Note.  It does not appear that the use of a farm manager (agent) to perform these services for the corporation necessarily impairs the active conduct of a trade or business requirement.  Webster Corp. v. Comr., 25 T.C. 55 (1955), acq. 1960-2 C.B. 4,.7, aff’d., Comr. v. Webster Corp., 240 F 2d 164 (2d Cir. 1957).  However, the officers and directors must be active in directing the activities of the agent, not mere spectators.

Caution - Tax Planning:  The corporation’s officers and directors’ activities for the pre-distribution (5 yr.) and post-distribution (suggested as 2 years or more) time frames should be well documented before a divisive reorganization is undertaken.  Also, payment of at least nominal officer/director salaries for services performed should be considered.

Trade or business purpose.  Treas. Reg. §1.355-2(b)(2) provides that a corporate business purpose must be a real and substantial non-federal tax purpose germane to the business of the distributing corporation, as well as the controlled corporation.  A shareholder purpose (e.g. accomplishing personal estate planning objectives) by itself, is not a corporate business purpose.  However, the regulations go on to explain that a shareholder purpose may be so nearly co-extensive with a corporate business purpose as to preclude any distinction between them, in which case the transaction meets the corporate business purpose requirement.  A transaction motivated in substantial part by a corporate business purpose will not fail the business purpose requirement merely because it is motivated in part by non-federal tax shareholder purposes.

Note.  According to the Treasury Regulation, the whether the business purpose test has been satisfied is generally readily ascertainable (e.g. shareholder disputes or potential therefore, etc.). 

Examples.  Rev. Rul. 2003-52, 2003-1 C.B. 960 involved a family farming corporation that the parents and their two adult children owned.  The children provided active management.  One child intended to focus on the livestock side of the business while the other child preferred to operate the grain farming operation.  The corporation reorganized into two corporations, with one child receiving the stock of the livestock business and the other child receiving the stock of the grain enterprise.  The IRS approved the reorganization on the basis that it was motivated by a substantial non-tax business purpose even though the reorganization advanced the personal estate planning goals of the parents and promoted family harmony. 

Private Letter Ruling 200323041 (Mar. 11, 2003) involved the separation of a grain farming business between siblings after their father’s death.  The IRS concluded that a corporate split-off that is undertaken to avoid shareholder disputes in a family-owned grain farming corporation (engaged in a single line of business) will constitute a divisive reorganization under I.R.C. §368(a)(1)(D) and the stockholders of the split-off corporation would not recognize gain or loss under I.R.C. §355.  See also Priv. Ltr. Rul. 200425033 (Mar. 4, 2004) and Priv. Ltr. Rul. 200422040 (Feb. 13, 2004)(same).  

Note.  The IRS has ruled that the post-distribution business purpose requirement of I.R.C. Reg. §1.355-2(b) remained satisfied even though the business purpose could not be achieved due to an unexpected change in circumstances following the divisive reorganization. In so ruling, the IRS noted that the “regulations do not require that the corporation in fact succeed in meeting its corporate business purpose, as long as, at the time of the distribution, such a purpose exists and motivates, in whole or substantial part, the distribution.”  Rev. Rul. 2003-55, 2003-1 C.B. 961.

Other considerations.  While I.R.C. §355 requires that the corporation seeking a divisive reorganization be engaged in the active conduct of a trade or business it does not require that all of the assets of the corporation be devoted to or used in an active trade or business.  The corporation may hold non-qualifying assets (generally less than 5% of total) as long as it is engaged in the active conduct of a trade or business. Treas. Reg. §1.355-(3)(a)(ii).

Planning recommendation.  It may be advisable to have all shareholders enter into an agreement providing that any shareholder who violates the post-distribution active trade or business rule agrees to pay all taxes incurred by all shareholders if the divisive reorganization fails to pass IRS scrutiny. 

Note:  In Rev. Proc. 2003-48, 2003-2 C.B. 86, the IRS stated that, for ruling requests after August 8, 2003, it would no longer rule on whether (1) a distribution of stock of a controlled corporation is carried out for business purposes, (2) the transaction is used principally as a device, or (3) a distribution and an acquisition are part of a plan under IRS §355(e).  Rather, taxpayers seeking a ruling under IRS §355 must submit representations on these issues for review and determination by IRS.

Conclusion

Tax issues do arise when an S Corporation is dissolved.  Fortunately, certain planning steps can be taken to avoid the heirs being denied the benefit of a basis increase in the corporate assets to fair market value at death.  A reorganization is one possible tax-efficient planning step that could be utilized.  Other planning options (not discussed in this two-part series) include liquidating the S corporation via a merger, and conversion of the S corporation to a partnership. 

June 29, 2022 in Business Planning, Estate Planning, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 27, 2022

S Corporation Dissolution – Part 1

Overview

The S corporation as an entity choice for the operating part of a farming or ranching business has waned over the years in favor of the general partnership (for larger operations) or the limited liability company (LLC).  While it can provide self-employment tax savings, those savings may also be achieved by using a different entity form.  Also, an S corporation requires a lot of administrative “maintenance” that some might find too cumbersome.  But, an S corporation does avoid the corporate level tax as a “flow-through” entity and is generally easy to switch to a different entity form (depending on the facts). 

While an S corporation might be an acceptable entity choice for professional service businesses such as law firms and accounting firms, it tends not to work as well as the operating entity for a farm or ranch.  The S corporation can also present some tricky issues upon liquidation.

Part one of a two-part series – tax (and income tax basis) issues upon liquidation of an S corporation.  It’s the topic of today’s post. 

For farm businesses large enough to qualify for more than one government farm program payment limit, a partnership will allow qualification.  An S corporation will be limited to a single payment limit. Another drawback of the S corporation is the adverse impact upon death of a shareholder.  That adverse impact is shown in the fact that the heirs of the deceased shareholder do not get the benefit of a step-up in basis in the underlying corporate assets to fair market value as of the date of the shareholder’s death.  Unlike a partnership where the heirs receive a full income tax basis increase for all of the underlying partnership assets, an heir of an S corporation shareholder only receives a basis increase in the corporate stock equal to the fair market value of the S corporation at death. 

Shareholder Death and Corporate Liquidation

Upon the death of an S corporation shareholder, the decedent’s stock ownership interest receives a step-up in basis to fair market value.  This basis adjustment coupled with the basis increase that results from gain recognition inside the corporation upon liquidation of corporate assets (e.g. sale/distribution of assets, real estate, etc.) and the pass-through of the taxation of this gain to the shareholder (on Schedule K-1), results in only one level of taxation being incurred on liquidation, and that is at the shareholder level. 

Since stock basis has been increased by death and pass-through of income, no gain recognition results when cash or property is distributed to the decedent’s estate/heirs (in exchange for stock) to complete the liquidation, since the pass-through gain (Schedule K-1) to the estate/heirs will be offset by a matching loss from liquidation of the stock.

Property Distributions

Distributions of property (other than cash) are treated as though the corporation sold the property to the shareholder for its fair market value, pursuant to I.R.C. §311(b).  The corporation recognizes gain to the extent the property’s fair market value exceeds its adjusted basis.  When appreciated property is distributed to an “S” corporate shareholder in exchange for stock, the gain recognized at the corporate level passes through to all shareholders (via Schedule K-1) based on their percentage ownership in the corporation. 

If the “S” corporation only had one shareholder whose interest is liquidated at death, gain recognition does not cause taxation problems due to a matching loss offset resulting from the stock basis adjustments discussed above.  In other words, when the S corporation recognizes table gain, that gain increases the estate’s basis in the stock in an amount equal to the taxable gain that the S corporation recognizes.  This taxable gain is reported to the estate on the corporation’s final Schedule K-1 (Form 1120S).  The estate’s tax basis in its S corporation stock is increased to the fair market value of the S corporation’s stock upon the shareholder’s death and is further increased as a result of the deemed sale of the S corporation stock upon liquidation.  Simultaneously, the estate recognizes a taxable loss equal to the gain reported to the estate on the corporation’s final Schedule K-1.  The loss on the deemed sale of the S corporation stock in the liquidation is reported on the estate’s or heir’s Schedule D (Form 1040 or Form 1041).  Typically, the S corporation gain on the Schedule K-1 (Form 1120S) reported on Schedule E (Form 1040 or Form 1041) and the loss on the Schedule D will net out with no tax due by the estate or the heirs for the S corporation gain on liquidation. 

Caution.  In some instances, a farming S corporation may have one spouse as a shareholder and own ordinary income assets such as grain and equipment.  Upon the shareholder’s death with the corporate stock passing to the surviving spouse, the sale of those assets by the surviving spouse will trigger ordinary income to the surviving spouse that will be taxed at the highest rate.  If the surviving spouse then liquidates the S corporation, a capital loss will be triggered in a like amount that will be reported at $3,000 per year (or offset against other capital gains). 

Note.  The business will now have a new step-up in basis in all of its asset which the heirs can contribute tax-free to a new partnership. 

However, if the “S” corporation has more than one shareholder, a distribution of property to a single shareholder (deceased or otherwise) in liquidation of their stock interest will result in a taxation event for all corporate shareholders.

Example:  Assume that Farm Corp. has four equal shareholders.  Mary, a shareholder who owns 25 percent of the S corporation’s stock dies.  The corporation distributes farm real estate to Mary’s estate in liquidation of her stock interest.  Mary’s estate would report 25 percent of any gain at distribution and would be able to offset this taxable gain through a matching capital loss created by the liquidation of her stock in Farm Corp.  Unfortunately, the other shareholders would be responsible for paying tax on the remaining 75 percent of any gain.

Note:  An alternative to avoid this taxation problem when there are multiple shareholders in an S corporation is to simply have the remaining shareholders purchase the stock of the deceased shareholder.  Implementing a corporate buy-sell agreement among the shareholders might be advantageous to accomplish the desired result.

A shareholder’s income tax basis in distributed property distributed by the corporation is the property’s fair market value at the date of distribution.  But the distributee shareholder’s holding period begins when the shareholder actually or constructively receives the property, because the distribution is treated as if the property were sold to the shareholder at its fair market value on that date.  Since the shareholder’s basis in the property is its fair market value (rather than a carryover of the corporation’s basis), the corporation’s holding period does not tack on to the shareholder’s holding period.  Thus, the redeeming shareholder would need to hold distributed property for one year after distribution prior to sale to achieve capital gain income tax treatment on a subsequent sale.

Conclusion

In Part Two, I will take a look at some alternatives for avoiding the negative tax consequences associated with liquidating an S corporation.

June 27, 2022 in Business Planning, Estate Planning, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Tax Issues with Customer Loyalty Reward Programs

Overview

Many companies, including agribusiness retailers, utilize customer loyalty programs as a means of attracting and keeping customers.  Under the typical program, each time a customer or “member” buys a product or service, the customer earns “reward points.”  The reward points accumulate and are computed as a percentage of the customer’s purchases.  When accumulated points reach a designated threshold, they can then be used to buy an item from the retailer or can be used as a discount on a subsequent purchase (e.g., cents per gallon of off a fuel purchase).  Some programs make be structured such that a reward card is given to the customer after purchases have reached the threshold amount.  The reward card typically has no cash value and expires within a year of being issued. 

A “loyalty rewards” program is a cost to the retailer and a benefit to the customer, triggering tax issues for both. 

Tax issues associated with customer “loyalty” programs – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Treasury Regulations – Impact on Retailers

When is economic performance?  Treasury Regulation §1.461-4(g)(3) addresses the treatment of rebates and refunds and specifies that economic performance occurs when payment is made to the person to whom the liability is owed.  The IRS position is that a retailer cannot claim a deduction until the points are actually redeemed because the event fixing the retailer’s liability occurs when a member reaches the minimum number of points for redemption and actually redeems the points. Internal Revenue Manual 4.43.1.12.6.5(5); Priv. Ltr. Rul. 200849015 (Dec. 5, 2008).   But, for an accrual basis taxpayer, the taxpayer’s liability becomes fixed (and, hence, a deduction can be claimed) when the customers earn the rewards.  Giant Eagle, Inc. v. Comr., 822 F.3d 666 (3d Cir. 2016), rev’g., T.C. Memo. 2014-146. A deduction is not deferred until the customer redeems the rewards. 

Note:   The IRS does not agree on this point and only follows the Third Circuit’s decision in cases appealable to the Third Circuit that cannot be distinguished.  A.O.D. 2016-03 (Oct. 3, 2016).

Two requirements.  Treasury Regulation §1.451-4 addresses trading stamps and premium coupons that are issued with sales and are redeemable in cash, merchandise or “other property.”  Most retailer customer loyalty programs likely satisfy both tests. The National Office of IRS, in a matter involving an accrual basis supermarket chain that had a rewards program that allowed customers to get a certain amount of gas for free depending on purchases of products, said that the supermarket could take a current deduction for the value of the gas rewards. F.S.A. 20180101F (Nov. 7, 2017).   The IRS reached that result by concluding that the gas rewards were being redeemed for “other property.” Treas. Reg. §1,451-4(a)(1).  Clearly, the rewards were issued on the basis of purchases.

Loyalty reward programs that might not satisfy the “redeemable in cash, merchandise or other property test” might be programs that provide customers with cents-off coupons.  With these programs, the IRS could argue that a customer’s right to redeem the coupon is conditioned on a future purchase and, as a result, the coupon liability should be matched to the later sale when the liability becomes fixed and determinable and economic performance occurs.  I.R.C. §461.

Timing of deduction.  The regulation provides that the estimated redemption costs of premium coupons issued in connection with the sale of merchandise is deductible in the year of the merchandise sale, even though the reserves for future estimated redemption costs are not fixed and determinable and don’t otherwise meet the economic performance rules of the all-events test.  Internal Revenue Manual 4.43.1.12.6.5(4).

Retailers with loyalty programs that satisfy the two tests of Treas. Reg. §1.451-4 may find the use of this method preferential from a tax standpoint.  For retailers that can qualify but are not presently using the Treas. Reg. §1.451-4 approach, a method change is required. The method change is achieved by using the advance consent procedures of Rev. Proc. 97-27. 1997-1 C.B. 680. If a loyalty program does not meet the requirements to use Treas. Reg. §451-4, the redemption liability is treated as a deduction and not as an exclusion from income.  Thus, the redemption liability is taken into account in the tax year in which the liability becomes fixed and determinable and economic performance occurs under I.R.C. §461.  That will, in general, be the year in which the customer redeems the loyalty rewards. 

Tax Issues for Customers – The Anikeev case

A recent Tax Court opinion provides guidance on how a taxpayer, as a user of a rewards program is to report the transactions on the taxpayer’s return, and whether the IRS “rebate rule” is applicable.  In Anikeev, et ux. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2021-23.   the petitioners, husband and wife, spent over $6 million on their credit card between 2013 and 2014. Nearly all of these purchases were for Visa gift cards, money orders or prepaid debit card reloads that the couple later used to pay the credit card bill.  The credit card earned them five percent cash back on certain purchases after they spent $6,500 in a single calendar year. Before purchases were sufficient for them to reach the five percent level, the card earned one percent cash back on certain purchases.

Rewards were issued in the form of “rewards dollars” that could be redeemed for gift cards and statement credits.  In 2013, the petitioners redeemed $36,200 in rewards dollars from the card as statement credits in 2013 and $277,275 in 2014.  The petitioners did not report these amounts as income for either year.  The IRS audited and took the position that the earnings should have been reported as “other income” as an exception to the IRS “rebate rule.”  Under the rule, when a seller makes a payment to a customer, it’s generally seen as a “price adjustment to the basis of the property.”  It’s a purchase incentive that is not treated as income.  Instead, the incentive is treated as a reduction of the purchase price of what is purchased with the rewards or points. Thus, points and cashback earned on spending are viewed as a non-taxable purchase price adjustment.  The petitioners cited this rule, pointing out that the “manner of purchase of something…does not constitute an accession of wealth.  The IRS, however, claimed that the rewards were taxable upon receipt irrespective of how the gift cards were later used. 

The Tax Court noted that the gift cards were a “product.”  Thus, the portion of their reward dollars associated with gift card purchases weren't taxable.  However, the Tax Court held that the petitioners’ direct purchases of money orders and reloads of cash into the debit cards using their credit card was different in that the petitioners were buying “cash equivalents” rather than a rebate on a purchase.  Thus, the transaction did not involve the purchase of a product subject to a price adjustment.  The purchase of a cash equivalent was different than obtaining a product or service.  Because there was no product or service obtained in connection with direct money order purchases and cash reloads, the reward dollars associated with those purchases were for taxable cash infusions. 

The Tax Court also noted that the petitioners’ practice would most often have been ignored if it had not been for the petitioners’ “manipulation” of the rewards program using cash equivalents.  Thus, the longstanding IRS rule of not taxing credit card points did not apply.  Importantly, the Tax Court held that reward points become taxable when massive amounts of cash equivalents are purchased to generate wealth.  The petitioners did this by buying money orders and funding prepaid debit cards with a credit card for cash back, and then immediately paying the credit card bill. 

Note:  The Tax Court stated that it would like to see some reform in this area that provides guidance on the issue of credit card rewards and the profiting from buying cash equivalents with a credit card. 

June 25, 2022 in Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 6, 2022

Wisconsin Seminar and…ERP (not Wyatt) and ELRP

Overview

Next week is the first of two summer ag tax and estate/business planning conferences that Washburn Law School is putting on.  Next week’s event on June 13 and 14 will be at the Chula Vista Resort, near the Wisconsin Dells.  One of the matters addressed on Day 1 will be issues that have arisen concerning the USDA’s Emergency Relief Program (ERP).  I have received numerous questions over the past few weeks concerning the program and we will be addressing them at the conference.

Issues with the ERP – it’s the topic of today’s post.

In General

I won’t go into too much detail about the ERP here because Paul Neiffer and I will do that at the Wisconsin conference.  What follows are comments that Paul and I have been providing to those raising questions of us in recent days.  Paul has also recently blogged on the issue and with today’s post I will largely summarize and reiterate what he has commented on for the readers of this blog.  In addition, there are additional meetings occurring in D.C. this week with IRS which will hopefully result in greater clarification on some presently unclear issues (not covered in this post).  If there are additional clarifications, we will discuss those at next week’s event in Wisconsin. 

The Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 117-43) (Act) was signed into law on September 30, 2021.  The Act includes $10 billion for farmers impacted by weather disasters during calendar years 2020 and 2021.  $750 million is to be directed to provide assistance to livestock producers for losses incurred due to drought or wildfires in calendar year 2021 (the Emergency Livestock Relief Program – (ELRP)).

Livestock provisions. 

To receive a Phase 1 payment, a livestock producer must have suffered grazing losses in a county rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a severe drought) for eight consecutive weeks or at least extreme drought during the 2021 calendar year been approved for the 2021 Livestock Forage Relief Program (LFP). Those who would have normally grazed on federal but couldn’t be due to drought are eligible for a Phase 1 payment if they were approved for a 2021 LFP.  Various FSA Forms will need to be submitted. 

ELRP Payment Calculation – Phase One

Payments are based on livestock inventories and drought-affected forage acreage or restricted animal units and grazing days due to wildfire reported on Form 2021 CCC-853.  A payment will equal the producer’s gross 2021 LFP calculated payment multiplied by 75%, and will be subject to the $125,000 payment limitation. 

Crop insurance (or NAP) requirement.  In late 2021, the USDA provided some guidance to producers impacted by various weather-related events.  The former Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP+) was retooled and renamed as the ERP.  ERP will have two payments – two phases.  Phase 1 is presently underway, and Phase 2 may not happen until 2023.  ERP payments may be made to a producer with a crop eligible for crop insurance or noninsurance crop disaster assistance (NAP) that is subject to a qualifying disaster (which is defined broadly) and received a payment.  Droughts (a type of qualifying disaster) are rated in accordance with the U.S. Drought Monitor, where the qualifying counties can be found.

To reiterate, an ERP payment will not be made to any producer that didn’t receive a crop insurance or NAP payment in 2020 or 2021.  Because of this requirement, crop insurance premiums that an ERP recipient has paid will be reimbursed by recalculating the ERP payment based on the ERP payment rate of 85 percent and then backing out the crop insurance payment based on coverage level.     

In addition, the ERP requires that the producer receiving a payment obtain either NAP or crop insurance for the next crop years.  Also, a producer that received prevented planting payments can qualify for Phase 1 payments based on elected coverage. 

Note:  ERP payments are for damages occurring in 2020 and 2021 – so they are not deferable. 

Computation of payment and limits.  Once a producer submits their data to the FSA, an ERP application will be sent out for the producer to verify.  Applications started going out to producers in late May.  An ERP payment replaces the producer’s elected crop insurance coverage.  It’s based on a percentage with the total indemnity paid using the recalculated ERP percentage with any crop insurance or NAP payment subtracted. 

The ERP payment limit is $125,000 for specialty crops.  For all other crops, its $125,000 combined.  But, for an applicant with average adjusted gross income (AGI) (based on the immediate three prior years but skipping the first year back) that is comprised of more than 75 percent from farming activities, the normally applicable $900,000 AGI limit is dropped, and the payment limit goes to $900,000 for specialty crops and $250,000 for all other crops.  There is separate payment limit for each of 2020 and 2021. 

Note:  If the three-year computation of average AGI shows a loss, the enhanced payment limit is not available even if more than 75 percent of AGI is from farming activities.  In addition, the three-year computation is simply the applicant’s net income from farming compared with all of the applicant’s other sources of income as reported on the tax return. 

Definition of farm income.  Farm income for ERP purposes includes net Schedule F income; pass-through income from farming activities; farm equipment sale gains (if farm income exceeds two-thirds of overall AGI); wages from a farming entity; IC-DISC income from an entity that materially participates in farming (has a majority of gross receipts from farming).  Also counting as farm income for ERP purposes is income from packing, storing, processing, transporting and shedding of farm products. 

Certification.  To get the enhanced payment limit, a CPA or attorney must prepare a letter to be submitted with Form FSA-510 certifying that the applicant’s AGI is over the 75 percent threshold.  The FSA has a Form letter than can be used for this that is contained in its Handbook.  The FSA 6-PL, Apr. 29, 2022, Para. 489 discusses the 75 percent test and pages 8-73 through 8-74 is where the sample letter is located.  The “certification” may allow married farmers to eliminate the off-farm income of a spouse and make it possible to meet the 75 percent test if it otherwise would not be met.

 Conclusion

There are many finer details to the ERP as well as the ELRP that I haven’t covered in this post.  As I noted above, Paul Neiffer and I will be covering all of your questions at the conference next week in Wisconsin.  Also addressed at the conference will be a discussion of what's going on in the economy and U.S. and worldwide markets that are impacting agriculture.   If you haven’t registered, the conference is also broadcast live online and there’s still time to register.  Here’s the registration link:  https://www.washburnlaw.edu/employers/cle/farmandranchtaxjune.html

June 6, 2022 in Business Planning, Income Tax, Regulatory Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 30, 2022

Recent Court Decisions Involving Taxes and Real Estate

The courts are constantly deciding tax issues.  Two recurring themes in numerous cases involve timing of asset sales and recordkeeping/substantiation.  Those two issues are on display in court opinions that I summarize.  On the real estate side of the ledger fence issues loom large (and always have) as do partition actions (don’t leave property at death to your children in co-equal undivided interests – just don’t) and warrantless searches of farmland. 

Recent court opinions involving taxes and real estate – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Recent Tax Cases of Interest

Questions Remain on “Unforeseen Circumstances” Exception Under I.R.C. §121

Webert v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 2022-32

The petitioners, a married couple, bought a home in 2005.  The wife was diagnosed with cancer later that year and underwent costly treatments.  They resided in the home until 2009 and then rented out the home and resided in another home the husband owned.  The sold the first home in 2015.  They filed joint returns for tax years 2010 through 2015.  During those years, they reported income from the lease of the first home on Schedule E.  They reported that they used the home for personal purposes for 14 days in 2010 and zero days in 2011 through 2015. Their depreciation schedules mirrored the number of fair rental days reported for the property on their Schedule E. On their 2015 return, they reported the sale of the first home but excluded the gain from gross income.  The IRS audited and asserted that the income from the sale of the home should have been reported and moved for summary judgment.  The Tax Court granted summary judgment to the IRS on the issue of whether the petitioners used the home as their principal residence for at least two of the last five years immediately preceding the sale as I.R.C. §121 requires.  They did not.  However, the Tax Court determined that issues of material fact remained on whether the wife’s health problems were the primary reason for the sale such that the gain might be excludible because the sale was on account of health or other unforeseen circumstance in accordance with I.R.C. §121(c)(2)((B).  

Jewelry Gift Not Properly Substantiated – Charitable Deduction Denied

Albrecht v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2022-53

 In 2014, the petitioner donated approximately 120 pieces of Native American jewelry to a museum, a qualified charity.  The museum executed a “Deed of Gift” which specified, in part, that “all rights, titles, and interests” in the jewelry were transferred from the donor to the donee upon donation unless otherwise stated in the Gift Agreement.  The petitioner claimed a charitable deduction for the donation on her 2014 return and supported the claimed deduction by submitting the “Deed of Gift” documentation.  The IRS denied the deduction on the basis that the “Deed of Gift” documentation did not meet the substantiation requirements of I.R.C. §170(f)(8)(B) that require a description of the donated item(s), whether the donee provided any form of consideration in exchange for the donation, and a good faith estimate of the value of the donation. The IRS pointed out that the “Deed of Gift” documentation from the museum did not state whether the museum provided any goods or services in return for the donation. In addition, the terms of the “Deed of Gift” documentation with the museum referred to a superseding agreement, “the Gift Agreement,” which left open the question of whether the donor retained some title or rights to the donation, and also indicated that the petitioner’s documentation did not include the entire agreement with the done.  The Tax Court agreed with the IRS and held that the petitioner did not comply with the substantiation requirements of I.R.C. §170(f)(8)(B) and denied the charitable deduction. 

Legal Issues Related to Real Estate

Court Construes State Fence Law 

Yin v. Aguiar, 146 Haw. 254, 463 P.3d 911 (2020)

The plaintiff leased property from a third party for growing sweet potatoes. Under the lease, the plaintiff was responsible for keeping cattle from damaging his crop. The plaintiff filed a complaint against a neighboring cattle owner claiming that the cattle damaged over 13 acres of the plaintiff’s sweet potato crop and the landowner’s fence in the amount of $190,000. The cattle owner claimed he was not liable because the fence between the properties was not a legal fence.  The fence was less than 4 and ½ feet tall and was made from hog wire, which did not meet the state law requirements for a legal fence.  The cattle owner further pointed to the plaintiff’s lease, which stated the plaintiff was responsible for keeping cattle off the leased property. The state Supreme Court determined that that it was inappropriate to interpret state fence law to hold cattle owners solely responsible for properly fenced or entirely unfenced property (including property enclosed with improper fencing) because that did not comport with  the legislative intent of the fence laws.  But, the Supreme Court also concluded that to hold the plaintiff liable for the damage due to a clause in his lease agreement would be against public policy because upholding the clause would be contrary to state fence law that holds livestock owners responsible for escaped livestock in certain situations. The state Supreme Court remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

“Improvements” Valued in Partition Action

Claeys v. Claeys, No. 124,032, 2022 Kan. App. LEXIS 16 (Kan. Ct. App. May 6, 2022)

Two brothers each inherited an undivided one-third interest in farmland, and the wife of a deceased brother owned the other one-third interest via a trust created for her benefit.  She filed a partition action seeking to sever the co-ownership. The brothers counterclaimed, asserting they improved the value of the land and that her share should be offset to account for the improvements. The brothers obtained a water permit, installed an $83,000 ten-tower irrigation system to convert the dry land to irrigation crop farming, and spent over $10,000 on piping and a water meter.  The irrigation system was one brother’s personal property.  The sister in-law did not contribute to the cost of these improvements. Three commissioners were appointed to appraise the land and they valued the dryland at $390,000 and the irrigated land at $2,065,000.  She elected to take the smaller tract that was not worth as much. The commissioners determined that because her tract was less valuable, the brothers owed her $428,333 to account for her one-third interest. The trial court ultimately ordered the brothers to pay her the $428,333 for her one-third interest in the higher-valued land based on a finding that improvements were limited to physical structures and equipment.  $50,000 of the $428,333 was placed in escrow and the brothers filed a counterclaim that the $50,000 represented her one-third interest in the increased value from irrigation and should be credited against what they owed her.  The trial court ruled for the sister-in-law on the counterclaim, finding that the increase in value was attributable solely to the pivot irrigation system.  As personal property of one of the brothers, the irrigation system was not an “improvement.”  The trial court awarded the $50,000 to the sister-in-law.  On appeal, the appellate court held the trial court erred when it found the brothers did not improve the land.  The appellate court determined that Kansas law requires a broader inquiry into possible improvements to the land other than just physical structures and equipment.  The appellate court held that the improvements enhanced the property’s condition by increasing productivity and were not mere repairs or replacements.  Changing the land’s status from dry to irrigated and obtaining a water right improved the value of the land.  Accordingly, the appellate court held that such “improvements” should be considered to offset the sister-in-law’s share in the property and remanded the case to the trial court.

State Law Allowing Warrantless Searches Unconstitutional

Rainwaters, et al. v. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, No. 20-CV-6 (Benton Co. Ten. Dist. Ct. Mar. 22, 2022)

The plaintiffs owned farmland on which they hunted or fished.  They marked fenced portions of their respective tracts where they hunted and posted the tracts as “No Trespassing.”  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) officers entered onto both tracts on several occasions and took photos of the plaintiffs and their guests without permission or a warrant. Tennessee law (Tenn. Code Ann. §70-1-305(1) and (7)) allows TWRA officers to enter onto private property, except buildings, without a warrant “to perform executive duties.”  The TWRA officers installed U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service surveillance cameras on the plaintiffs’ property without first obtaining a warrant to gather information regarding potential violations of state hunting laws.  The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the Tennessee law and sought injunctive and declaratory relief as well as nominal damages. The defendants moved for summary judgment arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that there was no controversy to be adjudicated. The trial court found the Tennessee law to be facially unconstitutional.  The trial court noted that the statute at issue reached to “any property, outside of buildings” which unconstitutionally allowed for warrantless searches of a home’s curtilage.  The trial court also determined that the officers’ information gathering intrusions were unconstitutional searches rather than reasonable regulations and restrictions, and that the statute was comparable to a constitutionally prohibited general warrant.  It was unreasonable for the TWRA officers to enter onto occupied, fenced, private property without first obtaining consent or a search warrant. The trial court also held the plaintiffs had standing to sue because they experienced multiple unauthorized entries onto their private property, and that declaratory relief was an adequate remedy.  The trial court awarded nominal damages of one dollar.  The defendant has appealed, and the case is ongoing.  

Conclusion

The cases summarized in this post point out several important things:  1) for purposes of the gain exclusion rule of I.R.C. §121, usage of the principal residence as a “principal residence” is critical, as is the timing of the sale; 2) the substantiation rules for charitable deductions must be closely followed; 3) fence law statutes tend to be old and can be complex and somewhat difficult and confusing to apply; 4) leaving land at death to children in co-equal undivided interests often creates issues, including partition actions and difficulties in equating each separate tract; and 5) the warrantless search of farmland is a continuing issue in agriculture. 

May 30, 2022 in Income Tax, Real Property | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

When Can Business Deductions First Be Claimed?

Overview

When beginning a business, at what point in time do business-related expenses become deductible?  That’s an interesting question not unlike the “chicken and the egg” dilemma.  Which came first – the business or the expense?  To have deductible business expenses, there must be a business.  When did the business begin?  That’s a key determination in properly deducting business-related expenses. 

Deducting costs associated with starting a business – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Categorization – In General

The Code allows deductions for various expenses that are related to a taxpayer’s investments that don’t amount to a business if the expenses are ordinary and necessary for the production or collection of income or are for the management, conservation or maintenance of property held for the production of income. I.R.C. §212.

Once the business begins, all of the ordinary and necessary expenses of operating the business (on a basis that is regular, continuous and substantial) that are paid or incurred during the tax year are deductible. I.R.C. §162.  But, business start-up costs are handled differently.  I.R.C. §195.

Start-Up Costs

I.R.C. §195(a) generally precludes taxpayers from deducting startup expenditures.  However, by election, a taxpayer can deduct business start-up expenses on the return for the year that the business begins. I.R.C. §195(b).  The election is irrevocable.  Treas. Reg. §1.195-1(b).  The deduction is the lesser of the amount of start-up expenses for the active trade or business, or $5,000 reduced (but not below zero) by the amount by which the start-up expenses exceed $50,000.  I.R.C. §195(b)(1)(A); I.R.C. §195(b)(1)(A)(i).  Once the election is made, the balance of start-up expenses is deducted ratably over 180 months beginning with the month in which the active trade or business begins.   I.R.C. §195(b)(1)(B); Treas. Reg. §1.195-1(a).  This all means that in the tax year in which the taxpayer’s active trade or business begins, the taxpayer can deduct the $5,000 amount (if that’s the lesser of, etc.) and the ratable portion of any excess start-up costs. 

The election is normally made on a timely filed return for the tax year in which the active trade or business begins.  However, if the return that year was timely filed without the election, the election can be made on an amended return that is filed within six months of the due date for the return (excluding extensions).  The amended return should clearly indicate that the election is being made and should state, “Filed pursuant to section 301.9100-2” at the top of the amended return.  Without the election, the start-up costs should be capitalized. 

What are start-up expenses?  Amounts paid or incurred in connection with creating an active trade or business are startup expenditures. I.R.C. §195(c). More specifically, start-up costs are amounts that the taxpayer pays or incurs for: investigating the creation or acquisition of an active trade or business; creating an active trade or business; or activities that the taxpayer engages in for profit and for the production of income before that day on which the active trade or business begins, in anticipation of the activities becoming an active trade or business, and which would be deductible in the year paid or incurred if in connection with an active trade or business.  I.R.C. §§195(c)(1)(A)(i-iii); 195(c)(1)(B).  Common types of start-up expenses include advertising costs; salaries and wages; and expenses related to travel.  See, e.g., IRS Field Service Advice 789 (1993).  But, interest expense, state and local taxes, and research and experimental expenses are not start-up expenses.  I.R.C. §195(c)(1). 

Start-up expenses are limited to expenses that are capital in nature rather than ordinary.  That’s an important point because it means that I.R.C. §195 does not bar the deductibility of ordinary and necessary expenses a taxpayer incurs in an ongoing activity for the production of income under I.R.C. §212.  In addition, it makes no difference that the activity is later transformed into a trade or business activity under I.R.C. §162.  For example, in Toth v. Comr., 128 T.C. 1 (2007), the taxpayer started operating a horse boarding and training facility for profit in 1998.  The activity showed modest profit the first few years, but had really taken off by 2004.  For 1998 and 2001, the taxpayer claimed expenses from the activity on Schedule C as ordinary and necessary business expenses deductible in accordance with I.R.C. §162, but she later determined that the expenses should be deducted in accordance with I.R.C. §212 as miscellaneous itemized deduction on Schedule A (which are presently suspended through 2025).  However, the IRS took the position that the taxpayer anticipated that the horse activity would become an active trade or business and, as such, her expenses had to be capitalized under I.R.C. §195.  The Tax Court agreed with the taxpayer.  Start-up expenses, the Tax Court said, were capital in nature rather than ordinary.  Thus, once her income producing activity began her expense deductions were not barred by I.R.C. §195.  It didn’t matter that the activity later became a trade or business activity under I.R.C. §162. 

When does the business begin?  A taxpayer cannot deduct or amortize startup expenditures if the activities to which the expenditures relate fail to become an “active trade or business.”  See I.R.C. §§195(a), (c).  There are no regulations that help define when a trade or business begins, so the question is answered based on the facts and circumstances of a particular situation.   To be engaged in a trade or business, a taxpayer must: (1) undertake an activity intending to make a profit, (2) be regularly and actively involved in the activity, and (3) actually have commenced business operations.  See, e.g., McManus v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 1987-457, aff’d., 865 F.2d 255 (4th Cir. 1988).  In addition, the courts have held that a taxpayer is not engaged in a trade or business “until such time as the business has begun to function as a going concern and performed those activities for which it was organized.” Richmond Television Corp. v. United States, 345 F.2d 901, 907 (4th Cir. 1965), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 382 U.S. 68 (1965). Likewise, an activity doesn’t have to generate sales or other revenue for the business to be deemed to have begun.  Cabintaxi Corp. v. Commissioner, 63 F.3d 614, 620 (7th Cir. 1995), aff’g., in part, rev’g. in part, and remanding T.C. Memo. 1994-316; Jackson v. Commissioner, 864 F.2d 1521, 1526 (10th Cir. 1989), aff’g., 86 T.C. 492 (1986). However, merely researching or investigating a potential business is not enough.  Dean v. Commissioner, 56 T.C. 895, 902-903 (1971).

Recent Tax Court Cases

Business Had Begun, but Lack of Substantiation Dooms Deductions

Smith v. Comr., T.C. Sum. Op 2019-12

In this case, the Tax Court was convinced that the petitioner had started his vegan food exporting business, noting that the petitioner had been peddling his vegan food products in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Argentina and Columbia.  However, he was having trouble getting shelf space.  Thus, for the tax year at issue, he showed expenses associated with the activity of about $41,000 and gross sales of slightly over $2,000.   The IRS largely disallowed the Schedule C expenses due to lack of documentation and tacked on an accuracy-related penalty.  After issuing the statutory notice of deficiency, the IRS said the expenses were not deductible because they were start-up expenditures.  Because IRS raised the I.R.C. §195 issue at trial, the IRS bore the burden of proof on the issue.  The Tax Court determined that the taxpayer was, based on the facts, engaged in a trade or business.  He had secured products to sell, actively marketed those products, attended food shows and other meetings around the Caribbean and South America and had established a network to find potential customers.  Thus, I.R.C. §195 did not apply to limit the deduction of the expenses – they would be deductible under I.R.C. §162.  Or would they?

To be deductible under I.R.C. §162 as an ordinary and necessary business expense on Schedule C (or Schedule F), the taxpayer must substantiate the expenses.  Here’s where the IRS largely prevailed in Smith.  The Tax Court determined that the taxpayer had not substantiated his expenses.  Thus, the expenses were not deductible beyond (with a small exception) what the IRS allowed.  The Tax Court also upheld the accuracy-related penalty.

Lack of Trade/Business Eliminates Farm-Related Deductions

Costello v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2021-9

Here, the Tax Court addressed the deductibility of start-up costs associated with associated farming activities.  In the case, the petitioners, a married couple, were residents of California but the wife conducted a farming operation in Mexico for which she reported a net loss on Schedule F for every year from 2007 to 2014.  She began raising chickens to sell for meat in 2007, but couldn’t recall selling any of the chickens through 2011 and only had one sale of anything during that timeframe – a $264 loss on the resale of livestock.  She then switched to raising chickens for egg production, but soon determined that the venture wouldn’t be profitable due to an increased cost of feed.  She then sold what eggs had been produced for $1,068 and switched back to selling chickens for meat in 2012.  She didn’t sell any chickens in 2012 or 2013 and her plan to begin selling chickens in 2014 was thwarted when the flock was destroyed by wild dogs. Also, during 2007-2011, she attempted to grow various fruits and vegetables, but the activity was discontinued because the soil was not capable of production due to a nearby salt flat.  As a result, she had no sales revenue, only expenses that she deducted.  She then tried to grow peppers in 2012, but insects destroyed the crop and there was no marketable production.  Later that year, she acquired three cows and three calves in hopes to “make the calves big, sell them, impregnate the mothers…repeat.”  She had to sell the cows in 2013 for $4,800 because there was insufficient forage on the 6,500-acre tract.  The $4,800 was the only farm activity income reported for 2013. In 2012 and 2013, the taxpayers reported deductible business expenses on their Schedules C and Schedule F, later reaching an agreement with the IRS that the Schedule C expenses should have been reported on Schedule F. 

The IRS disallowed the deductions, determining that the wife didn’t conduct a trade or business activity for profit and because the business had not yet started during either 2012 or 2013. The Tax Court agreed with the IRS, concluding that the farming activities never moved beyond experimentation and investigation into an operating business. Although the Tax Court reasoned that some of the wife’s farming activities could have constituted an active trade or business, costs were not segregated by activity. In addition, income from the sale of eggs, the Tax Court noted, was an incidental receipt that was only realized after the wife had abandoned that venture.  Also, the there was no itemization of costs or basis in the cattle activity to allow for an estimation of any deductible loss.  

No Trade or Business Means No Business-Related Deductions 

Antonyan v. Comr., 2021-138 

The petitioner bought 10 acres in the Mojave Desert in 2012/2013, about a mile away from any road.  He intended to develop the property’s natural resources and then rent the parcels to farmers for organic farming.  He devised a business plan under which he would build a barn-like structure; obtain USDA certification that the property complied with organic farming standards; install an irrigation system on the property; and build an access road to the property.  By 2015, the petitioner had partially installed a water tank and rainwater collection system on the property, explored and mapped the property, and experimented with growing certain plants on the property. He also used the property for recreational activities.  The petitioner started the construction of a barn-like structure in 2015.  He purchased building materials, rented a commercial truck and tractor-trailer to transport materials to the property, created an unpaved road to access the property, and hired workers to assist in building the structure. The petitioner accomplished this work on weekends. 

The petitioner was a full-time engineer.  On his 2015 return, the petitioner’s Schedule C reported no gross income and claimed deductions for car and truck expense, travel expense, start-up costs and amortization.  The IRS disallowed the deductions.   The Tax Court agreed with the IRS on the basis that the petitioner was not engaged in a trade or business in 2015 but was merely in the stage of setting up a trade or business and didn’t produce any evidence that he was actively engaging with potential customer to rent the property during 2015.   The Tax Court also denied any deductions for start-up costs and amortization expenses because there was no active trade or business in 2015.  

Conclusion

When a business is in its early phase, it’s important to determine the proper tax treatment of expenses.  It’s also important to determine if and when the business begins.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act makes this determination even more important.  As the recent Tax Court cases indicate, proper documentation and substantiation of expenses is critical to preserve deductibility. 

May 25, 2022 in Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 22, 2022

2021 Bibliography

Overview

In the past, I have posted bibliographies of my articles by year to help readers researching the various ag tax and ag law topics that I write about.  The blog articles are piling up, with more 750 available for you to read and use for your research for clients (and yourself).  The citations contained in the articles are linked so that you can go directly to the source.  I trust that you find that feature helpful to save you time (and money) in representing clients.

Today, I provide you with the bibliography of my 2021 articles (by topic) as well as the links to the prior blogs containing past years.  Many thanks to my research assistant, Kennedy Mayo, for pulling this together for me.

Prior Years

Here are the links to the bibliographies from prior years:

Ag Law and Taxation 2020 Bibliography

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/ag-law-and-taxation-2020-bibliography.html

Ag Law and Taxation – 2019 Bibliography

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/ag-law-and-taxation-2019-bibliography.html

Ag Law and Taxation – 2018 Bibliography

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/ag-law-and-taxation-2018-bibliography.html

Ag Law and Taxation – 2017 Bibliography

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/ag-law-and-taxation-2017-bibliography.html

Ag Law and Taxation – 2016 Bibliography

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/ag-law-and-taxation-2016-bibliography.html

 

2021 Bibliography

Below are the links to my 2021 articles, by category:

BANKRUPTCY

The “Almost Tope Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020.html

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

What’s an “Asset” For Purposes of a Debtor’s Insolvency Computation?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/whats-an-asset-for-purposes-of-a-debtors-insolvency-computation.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

Is a Tax Refund Exempt in Bankruptcy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/is-a-tax-refund-exempt-in-bankruptcy.html

Ag Law and Tax Potpourri

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/ag-law-and-tax-potpourri.html

Montana Conference and Ag Law Summit (Nebraska)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/montana-conference-and-ag-law-summit-nebraska.html

Farm Bankruptcy – “Stripping,” “Claw-Back” and the Tax Collecting Authorities (Update)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/farm-bankruptcy-stripping-claw-back-and-the-tax-collecting-authorities-update.html

BUSINESS PLANNING

For Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

Recent Happenings in Ag Law and Ag Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/recent-happenings-in-ag-law-and-ag-tax.html

C Corporate Tax Planning; Management Fees and Reasonable Compensation – A Roadmap of What Not to Do

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/c-corporate-tax-planning-management-fees-and-reasonable-compensation-a-roadmap-of-what-not-to-do.html

Will the Estate Tax Valuation Regulations Return?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/will-the-estate-tax-valuation-regulations-return.html

June National Farm Tax and Estate/Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/june-national-farm-tax-and-estatebusiness-planning-conference.html

August National Farm Tax and Estate/Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/august-national-farm-tax-and-estatebusiness-planning-conference.html

C Corporation Compensation Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/c-corporation-compensation-issues.html

Planning for Changes to the Federal Estate and Gift Tax System

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/planning-for-changes-to-the-federal-estate-and-gift-tax-system.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

The “Mis” STEP Act – What it Means To Your Estate and Income Tax Plan

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-mis-step-act-what-it-means-to-your-estate-and-income-tax-plan.html

Intergenerational Transfer of Family Businesses with Split-Dollar Life Insurance

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/intergenerational-transfer-of-family-businesses-with-split-dollar-life-insurance.html

Ohio Conference -June 7-8 (Ag Economics) What’s Going On in the Ag Economy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/ohio-conference-june-7-8-ag-economics-whats-going-on-in-the-ag-economy.html

Montana Conference and Ag Law Summit (Nebraska)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/montana-conference-and-ag-law-summit-nebraska.html

Farm Valuation Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/farm-valuation-issues.html

Ag Law Summit

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/ag-law-summit.html

The Illiquidity Problem of Farm and Ranch Estates

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/the-illiquidity-problem-of-farm-and-ranch-estates.html

When Does a Partnership Exist?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/when-does-a-partnership-exist.html

Gifting Assets Pre-Death – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/gifting-assets-pre-death-part-one.html

Gifting Assets Pre-Death (Entity Interests) – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/gifting-assets-pre-death-entity-interests-part-two.html

Gifting Pre-Death (Partnership Interests) – Part Three

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/gifting-pre-death-partnership-interests-part-three.html

The Future of Ag Tax Policy – Where Is It Headed?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/the-future-of-ag-tax-policy-where-is-it-headed.html

Estate Planning to Protect Assets From Creditors – Dancing On the Line Between Legitimacy and Fraud

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/estate-planning-to-protect-assets-from-creditors-dancing-on-the-line-between-legitimacy-and-fraud.html

Fall 2021 Seminars

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/fall-2021-seminars.html

Corporate-Owned Life Insurance – Impact on Corporate Value and Shareholder’s Estate

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/corporate-owned-life-insurance-impact-on-corporate-value-and-shareholders-estate-.html

Caselaw Update

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/caselaw-update.html

S Corporations – Reasonable Compensation; Non-Wage Distributions and a Legislative Proposal

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/s-corporations-reasonable-compensation-non-wage-distributions-and-a-legislative-proposal.html

2022 Summer Conferences – Save the Date

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/2022-summer-conferences-save-the-date.html

CIVIL LIABILITIES

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020.html

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Three

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020-part-three.html

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

The “Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Three

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2020-part-three.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

Prescribed Burning Legal Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/prescribed-burning-legal-issues.html

Damaged and/or Destroyed Trees and Crops – How is the Loss Measured?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/damaged-andor-destroyed-trees-and-crops-how-is-the-loss-measured.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

Mailboxes and Farm Equipment

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/mailboxes-and-farm-equipment.html

Statutory Immunity From Liability Associated With Horse-Related Activities

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/statutory-immunity-from-liability-associated-with-horse-related-activities.html

CONTRACTS

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Three

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020-part-three.html

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

Deed Reformation – Correcting Mistakes After the Fact

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/deed-reformation-correcting-mistakes-after-the-fact.html

Considerations When Buying Farmland

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/considerations-when-buying-farmland.html

Recent Court Decisions of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/recent-court-decisions-of-interest.html

The Potential Peril Associated With Deferred Payment Contracts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/the-potential-peril-associated-with-deferred-payment-contracts.html

COOPERATIVES

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Final Ag/Horticultural Cooperative QBI Regulations Issued

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

CRIMINAL LIABILITIES

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020.html

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

Estate Planning to Protect Assets From Creditors – Dancing On the Line Between Legitimacy and Fraud

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/estate-planning-to-protect-assets-from-creditors-dancing-on-the-line-between-legitimacy-and-fraud.html

Recent Court Decisions of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/recent-court-decisions-of-interest.html

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

Recent Happenings in Ag Law and Ag Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/recent-happenings-in-ag-law-and-ag-tax.html

Court and IRS Happenings in Ag Law and Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/court-happenings-in-ag-law-and-tax.html

Valuing Ag Real Estate With Environmental Concerns

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/federal-estate-tax-value-of-ag-real-estate-with-environmental-concerns.html

Ag Law and Tax Potpourri

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/ag-law-and-tax-potpourri.html

No Expansion of Public Trust Doctrine in Iowa – Big Implications for Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/no-expansion-of-public-trust-doctrine-in-iowa-big-implications-for-agriculture.html

Key “Takings” Decision from SCOTUS Involving Ag Businesses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/key-takings-decision-from-scotus-involving-ag-businesses.html

Montana Conference and Ag Law Summit (Nebraska)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/montana-conference-and-ag-law-summit-nebraska.html

Navigable Waters Protection Rule – What’s Going on with WOTUS?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/navigable-waters-protection-rule-whats-going-on-with-wotus.html

ESTATE PLANNING

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020-part-two.html

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

What Now? – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/what-now-part-two.html

Will the Estate Tax Valuation Regulations Return?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/will-the-estate-tax-valuation-regulations-return.html

June National Farm and Tax and Estate/Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/june-national-farm-tax-and-estatebusiness-planning-conference.html

August National Farm Tax and Estate/Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/august-national-farm-tax-and-estatebusiness-planning-conference.html

Farmland in an Estate – Special Use Valuation and the 25 Percent Test

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/farmland-in-an-estate-special-use-valuation-and-the-25-percent-test.html

The Revocable Living Trust – Is it For You?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/the-revocable-living-trust-is-it-for-you.html

Summer Conferences – NASBA Certification! (and Some Really Big Estate Planning Issues – Including Basis)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/summer-conferences-nasba-certification-and-some-really-big-estate-planning-issues-including-basis.html

Court Developments of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/court-developments-of-interest.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

Planning for Changes to the Federal Estate and Gift Tax System

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/planning-for-changes-to-the-federal-estate-and-gift-tax-system.html

The “Mis” STEP Act – What it Means To Your Estate and Income Tax Plan

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-mis-step-act-what-it-means-to-your-estate-and-income-tax-plan.html

The Revocable Trust – What Happens When the Grantor Dies?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-revocable-trust-what-happens-when-the-grantor-dies.html

Intergenerational Transfer of Family Businesses with Split-Dollar Life Insurance

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/intergenerational-transfer-of-family-businesses-with-split-dollar-life-insurance.html

Ohio Conference –June 7-8 (Ag Economics) What’s Going On in the Ag Economy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/ohio-conference-june-7-8-ag-economics-whats-going-on-in-the-ag-economy.html

Reimbursement Claims in Estates; Drainage District Assessments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/reimbursement-claims-in-estates-drainage-district-assessments.html

Montana Conference and Ag Law Summit (Nebraska)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/montana-conference-and-ag-law-summit-nebraska.html

Farm Valuation Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/farm-valuation-issues.html

Ag Law Summit

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/ag-law-summit.html

The Illiquidity Problem of Farm and Ranch Estates

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/the-illiquidity-problem-of-farm-and-ranch-estates.html

Planning to Avoid Elder Abuse

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/planning-to-avoid-elder-abuse.html

Gifting Assets Pre-Death – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/gifting-assets-pre-death-part-one.html

Gifting Assets Pre-Death (Entity Interests) – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/gifting-assets-pre-death-entity-interests-part-two.html

The Future of Ag Tax Policy – Where Is It Headed?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/the-future-of-ag-tax-policy-where-is-it-headed.html

Estate Planning to Protect Assets From Creditors – Dancing On the Line Between Legitimacy and Fraud

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/estate-planning-to-protect-assets-from-creditors-dancing-on-the-line-between-legitimacy-and-fraud.html

Tax Happenings – Present Status of Proposed Legislation (and What You Might Do About It)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/tax-happenings-present-status-of-proposed-legislation-and-what-you-might-do-about-it.html

Corporate-Owned Life Insurance – Impact on Corporate Value and Shareholder’s Estate

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/corporate-owned-life-insurance-impact-on-corporate-value-and-shareholders-estate-.html

Tax (and Estate Planning) Happenings

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/tax-and-estate-planning-happenings.html

Selected Tax Provisions of House Bill No. 5376 – and Economic Implications

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/selected-tax-provisions-of-house-bill-no-5376-and-economic-implications.html

2022 Summer Conferences – Save the Date

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/2022-summer-conferences-save-the-date.html

INCOME TAX

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020-part-two.html

The “Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020 – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020-part-one.html

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

The “Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Four

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2020-part-four.html

Final Ag/Horticultural Cooperative QBI Regulations Issued

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/final-aghorticultural-cooperative-qbi-regulations-issued.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

Recent Happenings in Ag Law and Ag Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/recent-happenings-in-ag-law-and-ag-tax.html

Deducting Start-Up Costs – When Does the Business Activity Begin?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/deducting-start-up-costs-when-does-the-business-activity-begin.html

What Now? – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/what-now-part-one.html

C Corporate Tax Planning; Management Fees and Reasonable Compensation – A Roadmap of What Not to Do

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/c-corporate-tax-planning-management-fees-and-reasonable-compensation-a-roadmap-of-what-not-to-do.html

Where’s the Line Between Start-Up Expenses, the Conduct of a Trade or Business and Profit Motive?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/wheres-the-line-between-start-up-expenses-the-conduct-of-a-trade-or-business-and-profit-motive.html

June National Farm Tax and Estate/Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/june-national-farm-tax-and-estatebusiness-planning-conference.html

Selling Farm Business Assets – Special Tax Treatment (Part One)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/selling-farm-business-assets-special-tax-treatment-part-one.html

Tax Update Webinar

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/tax-update-webinar.html

Selling Farm Business Assets – Special Tax Treatment (Part Two)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/selling-farm-business-assets-special-tax-treatment-part-two.html

Selling Farm Business Assets – Special Tax Treatment (Part Three)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/selling-farm-business-assets-special-tax-treatment-part-three.html

August National Farm Tax and Estate/Business Planning Conference

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/august-national-farm-tax-and-estatebusiness-planning-conference.html

Court and IRS Happenings in Ag Law and Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/court-happenings-in-ag-law-and-tax.html

C Corporation Compensation Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/c-corporation-compensation-issues.html

Tax Considerations When Leasing Farmland

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/tax-considerations-when-leasing-farmland.html

Federal Farm Programs and the AGI Computation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/federal-farm-programs-and-the-agi-computation.html

Tax Potpourri

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/tax-potpourri.html

What’s an “Asset” For Purposes of a Debtor’s Insolvency Computation?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/whats-an-asset-for-purposes-of-a-debtors-insolvency-computation.html

Summer Conferences – NASBA Certification! (and Some Really Big Estate Planning Issues – Including Basis)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/summer-conferences-nasba-certification-and-some-really-big-estate-planning-issues-including-basis.html

Court Developments of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/court-developments-of-interest.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

The “Mis” STEP Act – What it Means To Your Estate and Income Tax Plan

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-mis-step-act-what-it-means-to-your-estate-and-income-tax-plan.html

The Revocable Trust – What Happens When the Grantor Dies?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-revocable-trust-what-happens-when-the-grantor-dies.html

Ohio Conference -June 7-8 (Ag Economics) What’s Going On in the Ag Economy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/ohio-conference-june-7-8-ag-economics-whats-going-on-in-the-ag-economy.html

What’s the “Beef” With Conservation Easements?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/whats-the-beef-with-conservation-easements.html

Is a Tax Refund Exempt in Bankruptcy?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/is-a-tax-refund-exempt-in-bankruptcy.html

Tax Court Happenings

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/tax-court-happenings.html

IRS Guidance On Farms NOLs

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/irs-guidance-on-farm-nols.html

Montana Conference and Ag Law Summit (Nebraska)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/montana-conference-and-ag-law-summit-nebraska.html

Tax Developments in the Courts – The “Tax Home”; Sale of the Home; and Gambling Deductions

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/tax-developments-in-the-courts-the-tax-home-sale-of-the-home-and-gambling-deductions.html

Recovering Costs in Tax Litigation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/recovering-costs-in-tax-litigation.html

Tax Potpourri

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/tax-potpourri.html

Weather-Related Sales of Livestock

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/weather-related-sales-of-livestock.html

Ag Law Summit

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/ag-law-summit.html

Livestock Confinement Buildings and S.E. Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/livestock-confinement-buildings-and-se-tax.html

When Does a Partnership Exist?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/when-does-a-partnership-exist.html

Recent Tax Developments in the Courts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/recent-tax-developments-in-the-courts.html

Gifting Assets Pre-Death – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/gifting-assets-pre-death-part-one.html

Gifting Pre-Death (Partnership Interests) – Part Three

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/gifting-pre-death-partnership-interests-part-three.html

The Future of Ag Tax Policy – Where Is It Headed?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/the-future-of-ag-tax-policy-where-is-it-headed.html

Tax Happenings – Present Statute of Proposed Legislation (and What You Might Do About It)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/tax-happenings-present-status-of-proposed-legislation-and-what-you-might-do-about-it.html

Fall 2021 Seminars

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/fall-2021-seminars.html

Extended Livestock Replacement Period Applies in Areas of Extended Drought – IRS Updated Drought Areas

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/09/extended-livestock-replacement-period-applies-in-areas-of-extended-drought-irs-updated-drought-areas.html

Farm Bankruptcy – “Stripping,” “Claw-Back” and the Tax Collecting Authorities (Update)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/farm-bankruptcy-stripping-claw-back-and-the-tax-collecting-authorities-update.html

Caselaw Update

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/caselaw-update.html

Tax Issues Associated With Easements

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/tax-issues-associated-with-easements.html

S Corporations – Reasonable Compensation; Non-Wage Distributions and a Legislative Proposal

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/s-corporations-reasonable-compensation-non-wage-distributions-and-a-legislative-proposal.html

Tax Reporting of Sale Transactions By Farmers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/tax-reporting-of-sale-transactions-by-farmers.html

The Tax Rules Involving Prepaid Farm Expenses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/the-tax-rules-involving-prepaid-farm-expenses.html

Self Employment Taxation of CRP Rents – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/self-employment-taxation-of-crp-rents-part-one.html

Self-Employment Taxation of CRP Rents – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/self-employment-taxation-of-crp-rents-part-two.html

Self-Employment Taxation of CRP Rents – Part Three

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/self-employment-taxation-of-crp-rents-part-three.html

Recent IRS Guidance, Tax Legislation and Tax Ethics Seminar/Webinar

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/recent-irs-guidance-tax-legislation-and-tax-ethics-seminarwebinar.html

Tax (and Estate Planning) Happenings

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/tax-and-estate-planning-happenings.html

Selected Tax Provisions of House Bill No. 5376 – and Economic Implications

 https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/selected-tax-provisions-of-house-bill-no-5376-and-economic-implications.html

Recent Court Decisions of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/recent-court-decisions-of-interest.html

The Potential Peril Associated With Deferred Payment Contracts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/the-potential-peril-associated-with-deferred-payment-contracts.html

Inland Hurricane – 2021 Version; Is There Any Tax Benefit to Demolishing Farm Buildings and Structures?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/inland-hurricane-2021-version-is-there-any-tax-benefit-to-demolishing-farm-buildings-and-structures.html

2022 Summer Conferences – Save the Date

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/2022-summer-conferences-save-the-date.html

The Home Sale Exclusion Rule – How Does it Work When Land is Also Sold?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/the-home-sale-exclusion-rule-how-does-it-work-when-land-is-also-sold.html

Gifting Ag Commodities To Children

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/gifting-ag-commodities-to-children.html

Livestock Indemnity Payments – What Are They? What Are the Tax Reporting Options?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/livestock-indemnity-payments-what-are-they-what-are-the-tax-reporting-options.html

Commodity Credit Corporation Loans and Elections

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/commodity-credit-corporation-loans-and-elections.html

INSURANCE

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

REAL PROPERTY

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Three

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020-part-three.html

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

Prescribed Burning Legal Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/prescribed-burning-legal-issues.html

Ag Zoning Potpourri

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/ag-zoning-potpourri.html

Court and IRS Happenings in Ag Law and Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/court-happenings-in-ag-law-and-tax.html

Is That Old Fence Really the Boundary

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/is-that-old-fence-really-the-boundary.html

Court Developments of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/court-developments-of-interest.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

Deed Reformation – Correcting Mistakes After the Fact

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/deed-reformation-correcting-mistakes-after-the-fact.html

Valuing Ag Real Estate With Environmental Concerns

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/federal-estate-tax-value-of-ag-real-estate-with-environmental-concerns.html

Ag Law and Tax Potpourri

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/ag-law-and-tax-potpourri.html

Montana Conference and Ag Law Summit (Nebraska)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/montana-conference-and-ag-law-summit-nebraska.html

Farm Valuation Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/farm-valuation-issues.html

Considerations When Buying Farmland

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/11/considerations-when-buying-farmland.html

The Home Sale Exclusion Rule – How Does it Work When Land is Also Sold?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/the-home-sale-exclusion-rule-how-does-it-work-when-land-is-also-sold.html

REGULATORY LAW

The “Almost Top Ten” Ag Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-almost-top-ten-ag-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020-part-two.html

 The “Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Ag Tax Developments of 2020 – Part One

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-ag-tax-developments-of-2020-part-one.html

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

The “Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Two

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2020-part-two.html

The “Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Four

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2020-part-four.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

Recent Happenings in Ag Law and Ag Tax

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/recent-happenings-in-ag-law-and-ag-tax.html

Prescribed Burning Legal Issues

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/prescribed-burning-legal-issues.html

Packers and Stockyards Act Amended – Additional Protection for Unpaid Cash Sellers of Livestock

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/02/packers-and-stockyards-act-amended-additional-protection-for-unpaid-cash-sellers-of-livestock.html

Federal Farm Programs and the AGI Computation

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/federal-farm-programs-and-the-agi-computation.html

Regulation of Agriculture – Food Products, Slaughterhouse Line Speeds and CAFOS

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/04/regulation-of-agriculture-food-products-slaughterhouse-line-speeds-and-cafos.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

The FLSA and Ag’s Exemption From Paying Overtime Wages

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/the-flsa-and-ags-exemption-from-paying-overtime-wages.html

The “Dormant” Commerce Clause and Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/the-dormant-commerce-clause-and-agriculture.html

Trouble with ARPA

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/trouble-with-arpa.html

No Expansion of Public Trust Doctrine in Iowa – Big Implications for Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/no-expansion-of-public-trust-doctrine-in-iowa-big-implications-for-agriculture.html

Key “Takings Decision from SCOTUS Involving Ag Businesses

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/06/key-takings-decision-from-scotus-involving-ag-businesses.html

Reimbursement Claims in Estates; Drainage District Assessments

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/reimbursement-claims-in-estates-drainage-district-assessments.html

Mailboxes and Farm Equipment

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/mailboxes-and-farm-equipment.html

Montana Conference and Ag Law Summit (Nebraska)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/montana-conference-and-ag-law-summit-nebraska.html

California’s Regulation of U.S. Agriculture

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/californias-regulation-of-us-agriculture.html

Checkoffs and Government Speech – The Merry-Go-Round Revolves Again

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/checkoffs-and-government-speech-the-merry-go-round-revolves-again.html

Is There a Constitutional Way To Protect Animal Ag Facilities

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/08/is-there-a-constitutional-way-to-protect-animal-ag-facilities.html

Caselaw Update

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/10/caselaw-update.html

Recent Court Decisions of Interest

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/recent-court-decisions-of-interest.html

Livestock Indemnity Payments – What Are They? What Are the Tax Reporting Options?

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/livestock-indemnity-payments-what-are-they-what-are-the-tax-reporting-options.html

SECURED TRANSACTIONS

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

Cross-Collateralization Clauses – Tough Lessons For Lenders

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/03/cross-collateralization-clauses-tough-lessons-for-lenders.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

The “EIDL Trap” For Farm Borrowers

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/the-eidl-trap-for-farm-borrowers.html

The Potential Peril Associated With Deferred Payment Contracts

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/12/the-potential-peril-associated-with-deferred-payment-contracts.html

WATER LAW

Continuing Education Events and Summer Conferences

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/continuing-education-events-and-summer-conferences.html

The “Top Ten” Agricultural Law and Tax Developments of 2020 – Part Three

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/the-top-ten-agricultural-law-and-tax-developments-of-2020-part-three.html

Agricultural Law Online!

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/01/agricultural-law-online.html

The Agricultural Law and Tax Report

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/05/the-agricultural-law-and-tax-report.html

Montana Conference and Ag Law Summit (Nebraska)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2021/07/montana-conference-and-ag-law-summit-nebraska.html

May 22, 2022 in Bankruptcy, Business Planning, Civil Liabilities, Contracts, Cooperatives, Criminal Liabilities, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Insurance, Real Property, Regulatory Law, Secured Transactions, Water Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Correcting Depreciation Errors (Including Bonus Elections and Computations)

Overview

One of the common errors made on a tax return involves depreciation.  Depreciation errors can result from, among other things, a math error, a posting error, or an incorrect method.  Depreciation errors are corrected by either filing an amended return or filing a change in accounting method form.

Basic Principle

It is important to note that errors are errors and accounting methods are not errors.  Errors are corrected by amending returns.  Accounting methods are corrected by filing Form 3115.  An amended return can be filed to correct for depreciation method problems (wrong method or life) if the next year’s return has not yet been filed. 

Automatic Consent Procedure

The IRS’s automatic consent procedures for taxpayers who have adopted an impermissible method of accounting for depreciation (or amortization) and have either claimed no allowable depreciation, less depreciation than allowable, or more depreciation than allowable is provided in the guidance at Rev. Proc. 2015-13, 2015-13, 2015-5 IRB 419.

Note:  Rev. Proc. 2019-43, 2019-43, 2019-48 IRB 1107 has the latest list of automatic consent procedures.  While several revenue procedures have been issued that modify or add to that list, Rev. Proc. 2019-43 is the latest of the full listing.

Taxpayers who qualify under the automatic procedure are permitted to change to a method of accounting under which the allowable amount of depreciation is claimed. The unclaimed depreciation from years before the year of change is considered as a net negative adjustment in the year of change and are deducted in full on the return for the year of change.

The 2-year Rule

The use of an incorrect method of depreciation is considered the use of an incorrect accounting method.  Once an incorrect accounting method has been used for two years, Form 3115 is required to change accounting methods back to a correct method, or to begin taking depreciation. 

Note:   If no depreciation had been taken and only one year has passed the return may be corrected via amendment because the incorrect method had only been used for one year.

Amended Returns

A depreciation error that is not subject to the accounting method change filing requirements are to be corrected via an amended return in the following situations:

  • The incorrect amount of depreciation was claimed due to a mathematical error made in any year;
  • The incorrect amount of depreciation was claimed due to a posting error made in any year;
  • An incorrect amount of depreciation was claimed on property placed in service in tax years ending before the statute of limitations expired (but not due to an established accounting method);
  • The amount of expense method depreciation (I.R.C. §179) is being changed;
  • An election is being made to apply the $2,500/$5,000 de minimis safe harbor rules (within its own time period requirements of return due date plus extension); and

Caution:  If the election out for bonus depreciation wasn’t made, the accounting method change provisions apply, and an amended return cannot be filed if two years have gone by. If only one year, the taxpayer has a choice of amending the return or proceeding under the rules governing a change in accounting method. But filing an amended return may not be an option for a partnership.  If the bonus election was made, a change to not make the election may only be made via a superseding return.

Amending returns will only correct depreciation errors that have occurred in the last three years. Errors that have occurred before that cannot be “caught up” on current or amended returns and will only be “caught up” when the asset is sold using a Form 3115 and Code 107. These errors must be from applying impermissible accounting methods. Accounting method issues are fixed by filing Form 3115.

Change in Accounting Method - Form 3115

IRS Form 3115, Change in Accounting Method, is used to correct depreciation if the correction relates to the misapplication of an accounting method. This includes the omission of depreciation.  When depreciation for an asset is inadvertently left off the return, the IRS treats the omission as the adoption of an incorrect method of accounting if the subsequent year’s return has been filed.  Thus, the correction of the omission may only be by the filing of Form 3115.  

Note:  When changing methods of accounting from not taking depreciation (incorrect method) to taking depreciation (correct method) use Code 7 on Form 3115 if the asset is still in use, code 107 if disposed.

Generally, Form 3115 must be attached to the taxpayer’s tax return for the year of change by the due date (including extensions). A copy must also be filed with the IRS no later than when the original Form 3115 is filed with the taxpayer’s return.  Rev. Proc. 2015-13  allows the use of one Form 3115 to correct mistakes on more than one asset.

When Form 3115 is required.  Depreciation changes that constitute a change in accounting method are:

  • Changing from not taking depreciation to taking depreciation. (Because this is a change from an impermissible method to a permissible method, use Code 7 on Form 3115);
  • Corrections in methods or conventions (use Code 7 on Form 3115);
  • Changes from a permissible method to another permissible method (use Code 8 on Form 3115);

Note:  Generally, there is only one permissible recovery period.  If the taxpayer used the wrong recovery period.  If the taxpayer used the wrong recovery period, it is a change from impermissible to permissible.  For a taxpayer with multiple assets that need to be changed the Code is 200.

  • Correcting depreciation on leasehold improvements from using the incorrect life of the lease term to the correct life of the asset (usually 15 or 39 years). (Use Code 199 on Form 3115.)

Note:  Rev. Proc. 2015-13 is also to be used to correct depreciation after an asset has been sold.

Rev. Proc. 2015-13 allows a taxpayer to recover depreciation deductions that have been mistakenly overlooked, for which, under the “allowed or allowable” rule the taxpayer had to reduce basis in the asset, effectively making the “allowed or allowable” penalty disappear. Code 107 on Form 3115 is to be used to “catch up” omitted depreciation on an asset when it is sold.

When Form 3115 is not required.  Depreciation changes that do not require Form 3115 because they are not considered changes in an accounting method include (and which may only be made on an amended return) are as follows:

  • A change in computing depreciation because of a change in the use by the same taxpayer;
  • Changes in placed-in-service dates;
  • A change in useful lives;
  • Making a late depreciation election or revoking a timely valid depreciation election.

Note:   A change from not claiming bonus depreciation to claiming bonus is a revocation of the election and is not an automatic accounting method change. This change requires IRS advance consent to change an election.

Procedural aspects.  Form 3115 is filed to correct the accounting method for depreciation., the total depreciation adjustment, an I.R.C. §481 adjustment, is deducted in full in the year of change if it is negative. If the adjustment is positive, it must be added in ratably over 4 years, except that if the adjustment is positive but less than $50,000 in total, the taxpayer may elect to add it in to income in full in the year of change.

Form 3115 may be filed at any time for any year.  If it is filed for an asset that was sold in a prior year, the taxpayer should use Code 7 on page one of Form 3115 if the taxpayer still owns the asset.  If the asset was sold during the year, the applicable Code is 107. 

Filing requirements.  Rev. Proc. 2015-13 requires that a signed copy of Form 3115 be filed to the IRS office. No advance approval is required to correct the error, as this is an automatic approval change in most cases. There is no user fee.

The original Form 3115 should be filed with the tax return for the year of change. The original must be filed by the due date of the return, plus extension. There is a 6-month automatic extension of the due date if the return was timely filed, and an amended return (with this change) is filed within 6 months.

When filing Form 3115, the additional statements listed below must be attached:

  • A detailed description of the former and new methods of accounting;
  • A statement describing the taxpayer’s business or income-producing activities;
  • A statement of the facts and law supporting the new method of accounting, new classification of the item of property, and new asset class;
  • A statement identifying the year in which the item of property was placed in service.

TCJA and Bonus Depreciation

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) increased the additional first year bonus depreciation deduction from 50 to 100%.  In addition, the property eligible for bonus depreciation was expanded to include certain used depreciable property and certain film, television, or live theatrical productions.  Also, the placed-in-service date was extended to before January 1, 2027, and the date on which a specified plant is planted or grafted by the taxpayer was extended to before January 1, 2027.

The TCJA created three additional first year depreciation deduction elections:

  • A taxpayer can elect not to deduct the additional first year depreciation for all qualified property that is in the same class of property and placed in service by the taxpayer in the same tax year;
  • A taxpayer can elect to deduct 50-percent, instead of 100%, additional first year depreciation for all qualified property acquired after September 27, 2017, and placed in service by the taxpayer during its taxable year that includes September 28, 2017; and
  • A taxpayer can elect to deduct additional first year depreciation for any specified plant that is planted after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2027, or grafted after and before those dates to a plant that has already been planted. If the taxpayer makes this election, the additional first year depreciation deduction is allowable for the specified plant in the taxable year in which that plant is planted or grafted.

Conclusion

Depreciation errors are not uncommon.  Fortunately, there are procedures that can be used to correct many of the mistakes that have been made.

May 19, 2022 in Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 16, 2022

Deducting Soil and Water Conservation Expenses

Overview

The tax Code allows a farmer to deduct expenses that were incurred during the tax year for the purpose of soil or water conservation of farmland, or to prevent the farmland’s erosion of land used in farming.  I.R.C. §175.  Not deducting the expenses constitutes an election not to deduct which is binding in subsequent years.  In that case, the expenditures increase the basis of the property to which they relate.  Also, once a method of reporting such expenses is adopted, it must be followed in subsequent years unless the IRS agrees to a change.

Other issues also arise when dealing with tax issues surrounding the treatment of soil and water conservation expenses in terms of qualified expenses, the procedure for claiming the deduction and potential recapture.

Deducting soil and water conservation expenses – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Deductible Expenditures

Soil and water conservation expenses that qualify under the I.R.C. §175 provision must be paid or incurred for soil or water conservation purposes with respect to land used in farming, or for the prevention of erosion on farmland.  I.R.C. §175(a).  Qualified expenses include various types of earth moving on farmland using in the business of farming.  Expenses for leveling, conditioning, grading, terracing and contour furrowing are all eligible as are costs associated with the control and protection of diversion channels, drainage ditches, irrigation ditches, earthen dams, water courses, outlets and ponds.  Even the cost of eradicating brush and the planting of windbreaks is eligible.  I.R.C. §175(c)(1).  Also included are drainage district assessments (and soil and water conservation district assessments) if such assessments would have been a deductible expense if the taxpayer had paid them directly.  I.R.C. §175 (c)(1)(B).

Deductibility Requirements

Taxpayer engaged in farming.  Several requirements must be met before soil and water conservation expenditures can be deducted.  As noted above, the taxpayer must be engaged in the business of farming.  A farm operator or landowner receiving rental income under a material participation crop share or livestock share lease satisfies the test.  Treas. Reg. §1.175-3.  Under that type of lease, the landlord bears the risk of production and the risk of price change.  A share lease where the landlord’s report the income from it on Form 4835 also satisfies the test.  However, a cash lease doesn’t meet the test.  That’s a rental activity.

Land used in farming.  The expenditures must pertain to land used in farming - to produce crops or sustain livestock.  Specifically, the term “land used in farming” means land “used by the taxpayer or his tenant for the production of crops, fruits, or other agricultural products or for the sustenance of livestock.”  I.R.C. §175(c)(2).

Improvements that are made to land that hasn’t been previously used in farming are not eligible.  But, prior farming activity by a different taxpayer counts as does a different type of agricultural use.  Treas. Reg. §1.175-4(a).  In addition, expenses associated with assets that qualify as deductible as soil and water conservation expenses are not necessarily precluded from being depreciated by a subsequent purchaser of the real estate on which qualifying property has been placed.  For example, in Rudolph Investment Corp. v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 1972-129, the court allowed the taxpayer to depreciate earthen dams and earthen water storage tanks located on ranchland even though the structures qualified for a current deduction under I.R.C. § 175.

NRCS plan and ineligible expenditures.  The expenditures must be consistent with a conservation plan approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or, if there are no NRCS plans for the area, a state (or local) plan.  I.R.C. §175(c)(3).  See also 2021 IRS Pub. 225 (Ch. 5).  On this point, expenditures for draining or filling of wetlands or land preparation for center-pivot irrigation are not deductible as soil and water conservation expenses. I.R.C. §(c)(3)(B).  Similarly, expenses to clear land so that it can be farmed are not eligible and must be added to basis.  IRS Pub. 225, Chapter 5, also points out that ineligible expenditures include those for various structures such as tanks, reservoirs, pipes, culverts, canals, dams, wells, or pumps composed of masonry, concrete, tile (including drainage tile), metal or wood.  The costs associated with these items are recovered through depreciation.  Similarly, costs associated with clearing land to prepare it for farming are not eligible and must be added to basis.  Likewise, expenses that are currently deductible as repairs or are otherwise currently deductible under I.R.C. §162 as an ordinary and necessary business expense are not claimed under I.R.C. §175.  Treas. Reg. §1.175-2(b)(2).

Deduction limit.  The deduction may not exceed 25 percent of the taxpayer's “gross income derived from farming” in any taxable year.  I.R.C. §175(b).  The term “gross income derived from farming” includes gain from the sale of draft, dairy, breeding or sporting purpose livestock, but not gains from the sale of machinery or land.  Excess amounts may be carried over to the succeeding years subject to the same 25 percent limit. 

Note:   It is possible that qualified expenditures could be subject to the 25 percent limitation if the farm taxpayer defers a sufficient amount of grain sales, for example, such that gross farm income is decreased.    

How to Claim the Deduction

Line 12 of the 2021 Schedule F (Form 1040) is where soil and water conservation expenses can be reported.  As noted above, if they are not claimed they are to be added to the land’s basis.  In addition, as noted above, the decision to either currently deduct or capitalize soil and water conservation expenses is made in the first year in which the expenses are incurred and establishes a method of accounting.  To change that method of accounting requires IRS approval.

Recapture 

If a deduction is taken for soil and water conservation expenses on farmland or ranchland and the land is disposed of within ten years of its acquisition, part or all of the deductions taken are recaptured as ordinary income up to the amount of gain on the disposition or the amount deducted multiplied by a percentage (as noted below), whichever is lower.  I.R.C. §1252.  The amount of recapture depends upon how long the land was held before disposition. For land held five years or less, all of the deductions are subject to recapture.  For land held more than five years but less than ten, a sliding scale applies.  A sale or disposition in the sixth year recaptures 80 percent, within the seventh year 60 percent, within the eighth year 40 percent, and within the ninth year 20 percent, of the deductions.  If the land was held for more than nine years, there is no recapture of soil and water conservation deductions. 

To restate, in the event recapture applies, the recaptured amount cannot exceed the amount of gain on the land.  Also, if only a portion of the land is disposed of, the deductions attributable to the entire parcel are allocated to each part in proportion to the fair market value of each at the time of disposition.  If disposition of the land is by gift, tax-free exchange or transfer at death, no gain is recognized from recapture.

Conclusion

The current deduction for soil and water conservation expenses can be a helpful provision for numerous farmers.  When a farmer has qualifying expenses it’s a helpful tool to include in the tax planning arsenal.

May 16, 2022 in Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Tax Court Caselaw Update

Overview

It’s been a while since I did a post on tax developments from the Tax Court.  Today is the day to provide that update on some recent Tax Court decisions that bear on various aspects of taxation that impact tax planning and tax preparation.  I will do this again soon because there have been many important Tax Court decisions recently – too many to summarize in a single post.

An update of recent tax cases – it’s the topic of today’s post.

S Election Must Be Revoked To Be a C Corporation. 

Chan v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2021-136

The petitioners operated a restaurant via their S corporation.  They failed to file tax returns for two years and didn’t report the business income on their personal returns.  The IRS audited, reconstructed their income using the bank deposits method and disallowed all expenses.  The petitioners claimed that they operated the restaurant via a C corporation.  The IRS rejected that claim, noting that the petitioners had not affirmatively revoked the S election.  The Tax Court upheld the IRS position with respect to the petitioners’ type of entity.  However, the Tax Court determined that material facts existed concerning other issues and gave the petitioners a chance to demonstrate the expenses associated with the business. 

Lesson:  Pay attention to the rules for forming as well as changing an entity type.  There are formal elections that must be made or revoked. 

Penalties Imposed on Donated Conservation Easement Transaction. 

Plateau Holdings, LLC, Waterfall Development Manager, LLC, Tax Matters Partner, T.C. Memo. 2021-133

The petitioner donated a conservation easement to a qualified charity and claimed a $25.5 million charitable donation deduction. The IRS challenged the valuation of the easement and its validity in an earlier decision, the Tax Court agreed, disallowed the deduction and imposed a 40 percent penalty for gross overvaluation of the easements.  In an earlier case, the Tax Court determined that the correct value of the easement donation was $2.7 million and imposed a 40 percent penalty for gross valuation misstatement, resulting in an additional tax of $9,103,120.  The Tax Court also disallowed the charitable deduction because the easements were not protected in perpetuity due to a provision in the deeds granting the easements to the charity that reduced the charity’s proportionate share of the sale proceeds by in impermissible carve-out for donor improvements upon a judicial extinguishment of the easements.  In the present case, the IRS sought an additional 20 percent penalty for negligence due to the petitioner’s substantial understatement of tax under I.R.C. §6662(a) and (b)(1)-(2).  The 20 percent penalty would apply to the portion of the underpayment resulting from the Tax Court’s decision in the prior case that the petitioner was not entitled to a charitable deduction.  The Tax Court did not allow the 20 percent accuracy-related penalty because the petitioner had reasonable cause and acted in good faith with respect to the claimed charitable deduction corresponding to the correct valuation of the easements. 

Lesson:  The IRS closely examines conservation easement donation transactions, but must clearly establish the elements for imposing a negligence penalty.  Precise deed drafting and good valuations are essential.    

IRS Properly Denied Installment Agreement

Roberts v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2021-131

The IRS may consider a taxpayer as qualified for an installment agreement to pay an outstanding tax obligation upon the satisfaction of six requirements: 1) the taxpayer files any delinquent returns; 2) if applicable, the taxpayer files any outstanding employment tax returns; 3) if applicable, the taxpayer makes all current payroll tax deposits; 4) the taxpayer completes Form 433-B with the financial information (supported by documentation) needed to negotiate a payment arrangement to satisfy the delinquent taxes; 5) the taxpayer provided the financial information to the IRS agent working the case and requests and installment agreement in writing specifying the amount per month intended to be paid, the date the payments will begin and the tax periods the installment agreement covers; and 6) the taxpayer must comply with IRS deadlines for providing additional documentation or information.  In this case, the IRS denied the petitioner’s request for an installment agreement because the petitioner was not current on her Federal tax filings and didn’t supply financial information on Form 433-A.  The petitioner also didn’t provide the IRS with a specific proposal for the installment payments.  The Tax Court upheld the denial by the IRS.

Lesson:  If you are seeking an installment agreement payment plan with IRS, make sure to have your records in place along with a well-thought-out plan to present to the IRS. 

Company Founder Was Employee

REDI Foundation, Inc. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2022-34

The petitioner was formed in 1980 to serve as a vehicle for one of its officers to conduct seminars on real estate development.  The petitioner was granted I.R.C. §501(c)(3) status.  The officer in question also was a member of the petitioner’s board of directors.  The petitioner was inactive for almost all years from 1980 to 2010 and offered the officer’s seminars only in 1980 and 1990.  In 2010, the petitioner offered an online course to the public.  The office exercised complete control over the petitioner’s online course, often working 60 hours per week with the course and its students.  The petitioner’s sole source of income was derived from tuition associated with the online course, and the officer was paid by the petitioner based on enrollment from the course.  For the petitioner’s 2015 tax year, the petitioner reported total revenue of $255,605 on Form 990 and salaries, other compensation and employee benefits of $91,918.  The petitioner issued the officer a Form 1099-Misc. for the $91,918 and did not file Form 941 for any of the periods at issue.  No employer tax returns reporting payments to the officer as salary or wages were filed.  Upon audit, the IRS sought additional information concerning the treatment of the officer as an independent contractor, and information on whether the petitioner met the requirements for Section 530 employment tax relief.  In response, the petitioner claimed that the officer was never an employee and Section 530 relief was inapplicable.  IRS determined the officer to be an employee for employment tax purposes and that the petitioner was not entitled to Section 530 relief.  The IRS assessed employment tax liabilities and penalties under I.R.C. §6656.  The Tax Court agreed with the IRS, noting that the officer had a hand in every aspect of the petitioner’s business and that, as a result, his work as a corporate officer was more than minor.  In particular, the Tax Court pointed out that the only exception from employee status for a corporate officer is for an officer that performs only minor services and does not and is not entitled to receive remuneration for services.  The Tax Court noted that the officer provided services that constituted the corporation’s entire income and was paid for those services.  As such, the Tax Court concluded, it was a “fair inference” that he did so as an office and as a statutory employee.  The fact that he described what he paid himself as “royalties” did not make them so, and the Form 1099-Misc. that he issued to himself was self-serving.  As a statutory employee, Section 530 relief did not apply.  Penalties were also imposed for failure to file Form 941s and for failure to pay.  

Lesson:  You are an employee if you direct the business of the corporation and the corporation’s sole income comes from the services you provide. 

Value of Airline Tickets Included in Gross Income

Mihalik v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2022-36

The petitioner is a retired airline pilot that participated in United Airline’s Retiree Pass Travel Program (RPTP). In 2016, United, through the RPTP, provided free airline tickets to the petitioner, his wife, daughter, and two adult relatives. The petitioner did not include the value of the free tickets two “enrolled friends” (likely relatives) in income on their 2016 tax return on the basis that it was a de minimis fringe benefit.   United Airlines issued Form 1099-Misc. to the petitioner for the relatives’ ticket values and the IRS determined that the value of the tickets provided to the two adult relatives was required to be included and issued a notice of deficiency containing an adjustment for the omitted income. Total tax due was $2,862.00.  The Tax Court agreed with the IRS’ position and granted summary judgment.  The Tax Court noted that the petitioner failed to allege any facts or legal argument to counter the IRS position.  The Tax Court determined that the value of the relatives’ tickets was not excludible under I.R.C. §132(a)(1) as a “no-additional-cost services” because the relatives were not the petitioner’s dependent children.  The tickets were also not excludible under I.R.C. §132(a)(4) as a “de minimis fringe” because the tickets had a value high enough that accounting for their provision was not unreasonable or administratively impracticable.

Lesson:  Some fringes are excludible (coffee; tea; doughnuts and pastries; soft drinks; local telephone calls; use of employer’s office equipment for occasional personal use, etc.) and some things are not (season tickets; employer-provided automobiles other than very limited use, etc).

Evidentiary Issues Sink Taxpayer 

Kohout v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2022-37

The petitioners, a married couple, operated a medical funding and real estate business through a wholly-owned S corporation. Inc.  The husband was the sole shareholder.  On its 2013 Form 1120S, the S Corporation reported gross receipts of $1,829,524.  For the 2013 tax year, the IRS determined a $923,280 deficiency and accuracy-related penalties, under section I.R.C. §6662(a), in the amount of $184,676. The petitioners claimed that they overstated the S corporation’s gross receipts for the 2013 taxable year by $955,599, and that there was sufficient basis in one of the S corporation’s subsidiaries to deduct pro rata shares of a loss for the 2013 taxable year. None of the agreements related to the S corporation’s operations were presented to the IRS, and the record was void of any evidence of income that the S corporation received from the operations. The petitioner testified that he altered the QuickBooks computer files on multiple occasions after the S corporation returns were prepared, including during the IRS audit, and due to a computer crash, computer files for the S corporation and its subsidiaries were destroyed. However, the evidence did show that the S corporation made and received money transfers to and from its many disregarded subsidiaries, and those transfers—and evidence of the many bank accounts used by the S corporation for the transfers—were at issue.  But, the petitioners, after engaging an accountant to reconstruct the S corporation’s books, believed that the S corporation’s income was overstated when he signed and filed the S corporation’s return and their personal returns. The reconstruction expert prepared and sought to admit summaries of the S corporation’s bank statements, some of which were near 60 pages in length.  The Tax Court held the petitioners liable for $923,000.  They failed to prove they had overreported their income or that they were entitled to a deduction for pass-through losses.  The petitioners did not provide rental statements and invoices that would have corroborated the recalculation of their 2013 gross receipts.  The pass-through loss deduction was denied due to lack of proof of sufficient basis in the S corporation. 

Lesson:  Be careful with summarizing client tax information.  The Tax Court approves of summaries, but only if they comport with Rule 1006.  Under that rule, “[t]he proponent [of evidence] may use a summary, chart, or calculation to prove the content of voluminous writings, recordings, or photographs that cannot be conveniently examined in court.”  To comply with Rule 1006, a summary must be “an accurate compilation of the voluminous records sought to be summarized.”  

May 10, 2022 in Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 6, 2022

Joint Tenancy and Income Tax Basis At Death

Overview

Given the current level of the federal estate and gift tax applicable exclusion amount set at $12.06 million for decedent’s dying in 2022 and gifts made in 2022, the prospect of a taxable estate at death is a concern for very few.  What is much more important for most people, however, is income tax basis planning.  That’s because property that is included in a decedent’s estate at death receives an income tax basis equal to the property’s fair market value as of the date of death.  I.R.C. §1014.  As a result of this rule, much of current estate planning involves techniques to cause inclusion of property in a decedent’s estate at death.  Even though the property will be subjected to federal estate tax, the value will be excluded from tax by virtue of the unified credit that can offset up to $12.06 million of taxable estate.

Joint Tenancy Basics

Joint forms of property holding between husband and wife have been widely used among farm families because of certain supposed advantages, one of which is the simplicity of transferring property upon death.  A distinguishing characteristic of joint tenancy is the right of survivorship.  That means that the surviving joint tenant or tenants become the full owner(s) of the jointly held property upon the death of a fellow joint tenant regardless of the terms of the deceased joint tenant’s will. 

Upon a conveyance of real property to two or more persons, a tenancy-in-common is generally creates a tenancy in common unless it is clear in the deed or other conveyancing document that a joint tenancy is intended. 

Example:  Alec Trician conveys Blackacre is conveyed to “Michael and Kelsey, husband and wife.” Michael and Kelsey own Blackacre as tenants-in-common.  To own Blackacre as joint tenants, Blackacre needed to be conveyed to them as required by state law.  The typical language for creating a joint tenancy is to “Michael and Kelsey, husband and wife, as joint tenants with right of survivorship and not as tenants in common.”

Estate Tax Treatment of Joint Tenancy Property  

Non-spousal rule.  For joint tenancies involving persons other than husbands and wives, property is taxed in the estate of the first to die except to the extent the surviving owner(s) prove contribution for its acquisition. I.R.C. § 2040(a).  This is the “consideration furnished” rule.  As a result, property could be taxed fully at the death of the first joint tenant to die (if that person provided funds for acquisition) and again at the death of the survivor.  Whatever portion is taxed in the estate of the first to die also receives a new income tax basis based on the fair market value of that portion at the date of death.

Example:  Bob and Bessie Black, brother and sister, purchased a 1,000-acre Montana ranch in 1970 for $1,000,000.  Bob provided $750,000 of the purchase price and Bessie the remaining $250,000.  At all times since 1970, they have owned the ranch in joint tenancy with right of survivorship.  Bob died in 2022 when the ranch had a fair market value of $2,500,000.  Seventy-five percent of the date of death value, $1,875,000 will be included in Bob’s estate.

Bessie, as the surviving joint tenant will now own the entire ranch.  Her income tax basis in the ranch upon Bob’s death is computed as follows:

       $1,875,000 (Value included in Bob’s estate)

        + 250,000  (Bessie’s contribution toward purchase price)

       $2,125,000

Thus, if Bessie were to sell the ranch soon after Bob’s death for $2,500,000, she would incur a federal capital gain tax of $75,000, computed as follows:

       $2,500,000 (Sale price)

       - 2,125,000 (Bessie’s income tax basis)

          $375,000   Taxable gain

                    x.20    (Capital gain tax rate)

            $75,000  (Tax due)

Note:  While property held in joint tenancy is not be included in the “probate estate” for probate purposes, the value of the decedent’s interest in jointly held property is potentially subjected to federal estate tax and state inheritance or state estate tax to the extent the decedent provided the consideration for its acquisition. 

Martial joint tenancies.  For joint tenancies involving only a husband and wife, the property is treated at the first spouse’s death as belonging 50 percent to each spouse for federal estate tax purposes. I.R.C. § 2040(b).  This is known as the “fractional share” rule.  Thus, only one-half of the value is taxed at the death of the first spouse to die.  Although no federal estate tax is incurred on the property passing to the surviving spouse, only one-half receives a new income tax basis equal to fair market value at the death of the deceased spouse in the hands of the surviving spouse. It does not matter which spouse provided the consideration for the spousal joint property.  I.R.C. §1014.

Observation:  An estate planner should carefully analyze the effect of joint property holding on basis adjustment at the death of one of the joint owners.  Generally, only a one-half interest in qualified joint interests will receive a step-up in basis.  However, if the first spouse to die had owned all the property, a full step-up would have been obtained. 

If inception of the tenancy involved a gift by the decedent to the surviving spouse, the survivor’s basis in the property will equal the original transferred basis.  As a result, the sale of the property by the surviving spouse could result in a capital gain. 

Special rule.  In 1992, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals applied the consideration furnished rule to a husband-wife joint tenancy in farmland with the result that the entire value of the jointly held property was included in the gross estate of the husband, the first spouse to die. Gallenstein v. United States, 975 F.2d 286 (6th Cir. 1992).     The full value was subject to federal estate tax but was covered by the 100 percent federal estate tax marital deduction, eliminating federal estate tax.  In addition, the entire property received a new income tax basis which was the objective of the surviving spouse.  The court reached this result because of statutory changes to the applicable Internal Revenue Code sections that were made in the late 1970s.  To take advantage of those changes, the court determined, it was critical that the jointly held property at issue was acquired before 1977. 

Under the facts of the case, the farmland was purchased in 1955 for $38,500 exclusively with the husband’s funds.  The surviving wife sold the farmland in 1988 for $3,663,650 after her husband’s death in late 1987.  Under the pre-Tax Reform Act of 1976 rules on joint tenancy contribution, a decedent’s gross estate included all of the value of property held in joint tenancy with another expect the portion of that value contributed by the other person, instead of arbitrarily including one-half of the value of the joint tenancy property.  The surviving wife argued that there was nothing in any legislation that applied the 50 percent inclusion rule to pre-1977 joint interests, but that such interests were still subject to the full marital deduction under the 1981 Act.   

The Gallenstein court reasoned that the 1976 Act applied only to joint interests created after December 31, 1976, and that the 1981 amendments which resulted in the one-half taxability expressly applied to decedents dying after December 31, 1981.  The 1981 amendments did not repeal the January 1, 1977, effective date of the 1976 amendments, which did not apply to joint interests created before 1977.  Because the surviving spouse as joint tenant had made no contribution to the property, she was entitled to a full step-up in basis.  The result was that the entire gain on sale was eliminated because of the full basis step-up. 

In 1996 and 1997, the federal district court for Maryland reached a similar conclusion. Anderson v. United States, 96-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) ¶60,235 (D. Md. 1996); Wilburn v. United States, 97-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) ¶50,881 (D. Md. 1997).  Also, in 1997, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals followed Gallenstein as did a federal district court in Florida.  Patten v. United States, 116 F.3d 1029 (4th Cir. 1997), aff’g, 96-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) ¶ 60,231 (W.D. Va. 1996); Baszto v. United States, 98-1 U.S.Tax Cas. (CCH) ¶60,305 (M.D. Fla. 1997). 

In 1998, the Tax Court agreed with the prior federal court opinions.  Under the Tax Court’s reasoning, the fractional share rule cannot be applied to joint interests created before 1977.  Hahn v. Comm’r, 110 T.C. 140 (1998).  This is a key point.  If the jointly held assets had declined in value, such that death of the first spouse would result in a lower basis, the fractional share rule would result in a more advantageous result for the survivor in the event of sale if the survivor could not prove contribution at the death of the first to die. In late 2001, the IRS acquiesced in the Tax Court’s opinion.  Acq, 2001-42, I.R.B. 319.

Conclusion

While there are estate planning drawbacks for owing property in joint tenancy at death, particularly in estates with values greater than the unified credit exemption equivalent.  It also presents challenges where qualification for certain post-mortem estate planning techniques is critical, and because of it is an inflexible ownership structure.  However, as the unified credit exemption equivalent has increased dramatically since 2017, joint tenancy has gained popularity.  Also, for pre-1977 marital joint tenancies where one spouse provided all of the funds to acquire the property and that spouse dies, the full value of the property will be included in the decedent’s gross estate.  But, in many of these estates, the full value will be excluded from federal estate tax.    More importantly, the surviving spouse will receive an income tax basis equal to the value of the property at the time of the first spouse’s death.   In agricultural, many pre-1977 marital joint tenancies involving farmland exist. 

May 6, 2022 in Estate Planning, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Summer 2022 Farm Income Tax/Estate and Business Planning Conferences

Overview

The Washburn Law School Summer 2022 national conferences on ag income tax and ag estate and business planning are approaching.  The first one will be June 13-14 at the Chula Vista Resort near the Wisconsin Dells.  The second conference will be in Durango, Colorado, at Fort Lewis College on August 1-2.

Registration is now open for both the Wisconsin event in mid-June and the Colorado event in early August. 

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Here’s the link to the online brochure and registration for the event at the Chula Vista Resort on June 13-14:  https://www.washburnlaw.edu/employers/cle/farmandranchtaxjune.html

A block of rooms is available for this seminar at a rate of $139.00 per night plus taxes and fees. To make a reservation call (855) 529-7630 and reference booking ID "#i60172 Washburn Law School." Rooms can be reserved at the group rate through May 15, 2022. Reservations requested after May 15 are subject to availability at the time of reservation.

An hour of ethics is provided at the end of Day 2.

The conference will also be broadcast live online for those that cannot attend in person.  Online attendees will be able to interact with the presenters, if desired. 

Here’s a rundown of the topics by day, for more detail see the registration at the link provided above:

Day 1 (at both Wisconsin and Durango)

  • Tax Update: Key Rulings and Cases
  • Reporting of WHIP and Other Government Payments
  • Fixing Bonus Elections and Computations
  • Research and Development Credits
  • Farm NOLs
  • The Taxability of Retailer Reward Programs; Tax Rules Associated with Demolishing Farm Structures
  • IRS-CI: Emerging Cyber Crimes and Crypto Tax Compliance
  • Reporting of machinery trade transactions
  • Inventory accounting issues
  • Early termination of CRP contracts;
  • Partnership reporting;
  • Weather-related livestock sales; and
  • Contribution margin analysis

Day 2 (Wisconsin)

  • Estate and Business Planning Caselaw and Ruling Update
  • The Use of IDGTs (and other strategies) For Succession Planning
  • Anticompetitive Conduct in Agriculture
  • Post-Death Dissolution of S Corporation Stock and Stepped-Up Basis; Last Year of Farming; Deferred Tax liability and Conversion to Form 4835
  • Agricultural Finance and Land Situation
  • Post-Death Basis Increase: Is GallensteinStill in Play?; Using an LLC to Make an S Election
  • Getting Clients Engaged in the Estate/Business Planning Process
  • Ethical Problems in Estate and Income Tax Planning 

Day 2 (Durango)

  • Estate and Business Planning Caselaw and Ruling Update 
  • The Use of IDGTs (and other strategies) For Succession Planning 
  • Estate Planning to Minimize Income Taxation: From the Mundane to the Arcane
  • Oil and Gas Royalties and Working Interest Payments: Taxation, Planning and Oversight
  • Economic Evaluation of a Farm Business 
  • Appropriation Water Rights - Tax and Estate Planning Issues
  • Ethically Negotiating End of Life Family Issues 

Here’s the link to the online brochure and registration for the event in Durango at Fort Lewis College on August 1-2:  https://www.washburnlaw.edu/employers/cle/farmandranchtaxaugust.html

Online Attendance

Both the Wisconsin and Colorado conferences will also be broadcast live online for those that cannot attend in person.  Online attendees will be able to interact with the presenters, if desired. For those attending online, please indicate on your registration whether you would like to have a hardcopy of the conference materials sent to you.

Other Points

There are many other important details about the conferences that you can find by reviewing the online brochures. 

Looking forward to seeing you there or having you participate online.  If you do tax, estate planning or business succession planning work for clients or are involved in production agriculture in any way, this conference is for you.  Each event will also have a presentation involving the farm economy that you won’t want to miss.  Also, if you aren’t needing to claim continuing education credits, you qualify for a lower registration rate.

I am looking forward to seeing you there. 

May 1, 2022 in Business Planning, Estate Planning, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 22, 2022

Missed Tax Deadline & Equitable Tolling

Overview

Sometimes procedural requirements in tax law are not jurisdictional.  What that means is that the requirements just tell a taxpayer to take certain procedural steps at particular times.  The requirements don’t condition a court’s authority to hear the case on the taxpayer complying with those steps.  One of those procedural requirements is the 30-day timeframe to file a petition with the Tax Court that asks the Tax Court to review an IRS collection due process (CDP) determination.  Is that requirement one that must be satisfied to confer jurisdiction on the Tax Court or not. If not, the doctrine of “equitable tolling” will apply and the Tax Court may be able to hear the case even though the deadline wasn’t technically satisfied.  This issue reached the Supreme Court, and the Court has now decided the matter in a case involving a small law firm in North Dakota.

IRS CDP challenges and Tax Court review and the issue of equitable tolling – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Background

In 2015, the IRS notified the plaintiff (a law firm) about the failure to file employee tax withholding forms.  The plaintiff didn’t respond, and the IRS imposed a 10 percent intentional disregard penalty of $19,250.  The plaintiff challenged the penalty in a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing, which resulted in the penalty being imposed, with interest.  On July 28, 2017, the IRS Office of Appeals mailed its CDP hearing determination to sustain the proposed levy on the plaintiff’s property to collect the penalty plus interest.  That plaintiff received the notice on July 31, 2017, which informed the plaintiff that the deadline for submitting a petition for another CDP hearing was 30 days from the date of determination – August 28, 2017.  As an alternative, the plaintiff could petition the Tax Court to review the determination of the IRS Office of Appeals.  But, again, the statutory time frame for seeking Tax Court review involved filing a petition with the Tax Court within 30 days of the determination.  I.R.C. §6330(d)(1).  The plaintiff filed its petition with the Tax Court on August 29, 2017 – one day late.  Accordingly, the IRS moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s petition on the grounds that the Tax Court lacked jurisdiction.  The plaintiff, however, claimed that the statute was not jurisdictional (even though the statute says “(and the Tax Court shall have jurisdiction with respect to such matter).”  Instead, the plaintiff claimed that the filing deadline was subject to “equitable tolling” and that the 30-day deadline should be computed from the date the notice was received.  The Tax Court disagreed with the plaintiff and issued an order dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction on the basis that I.R.C. §6330(d)(1) was jurisdictional.  Boechler, P.C. v. Comr., No. 18578-17 L (U.S. Tax Ct. Feb. 15, 2019).

Note:  When equitable tolling is applied, a court has the discretion to ignore a statute of limitations and allow a claim if the plaintiff did not or could not discover the “injury” until after the expiration of the limitations period, despite due diligence on the plaintiff’s part.  

Appellate Decision

The plaintiff appealed.  The appellate court pointed out that a statutory time limit is generally jurisdictional when the Congress clearly states that it is and noted that the Ninth Circuit had recently held that the statute was jurisdictional.  Duggan v. Comr., 879 F.3d 1029 (9th Cir. 2018).  The appellate court went on to state that the “statutory text of §6330(d)(1) is a rare instance where Congress clearly expressed its intent to make the filing deadline jurisdictional.”   On the plaintiff’s claim that pegging the 30-day timeframe to the date of determination was a Due Process or Equal Protection violation, the appellate court disagreed.  The appellate court, on this issue, noted that the plaintiff bore the burden to establish that the filing deadline is arbitrary and irrational.  Ultimately, the appellate court determined that the IRS had a rational basis for starting the clock on the 30-day timeframe from the date of determination because it streamlines and simplifies enforcement of the tax code.  Measuring the 30 days from the date of receipt, the appellate court pointed out, would cause the IRS to be unable to levy at the statutory uniform time and, using the determination date as the measuring stick safeguards against a taxpayer refusing to accept delivery of the notice as well as supports efficient tax enforcement.   Boechler, P.C. v. Comr., 967 F.3d 760 (8th Cir. 2020).

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court, on September 30, 2021, agreed to hear the case. Boechler, P.C. v. Comr., cert. granted, 142 S. Ct. 55 (2021).  Both the plaintiff and the IRS focused on the test for equitable tolling set forth in United States v. Kwai Fun Wong, 575 U.S. 402 (2015).  That case involved 28 U.S.C. §2401(b), a statute that establishes the timeframe for bring a tort claim against the United States.  There a slim 5-4 majority held that a rebuttable presumption of equitable tolling applied.  The presumption can be rebutted if the statute shows that the Congress “plainly” gave the time limits “jurisdictional consequences.”  In that instance, time limits would be jurisdictional and not subject to equitable tolling.  

The beef came down to how to read the statute.  The statute at issue, I.R.C. §6330(d)(1) states in full:

“(1) PETITION FOR REVIEW BY TAX COURT

The person may, within 30 days of a determination under this section, petition the Tax Court for review of such determination (and the Tax Court shall have jurisdiction with respect to such matter).”

The IRS asserted that “such matter” refers to the petition that has been filed with the Tax Court that meets the 30-day deadline.  This is the view that the appellate court adopted as did the Ninth Circuit in Duggan.  However, the plaintiff claims that “such matter” refers to “such determination” and, in turn, “determination under this section” with no additional jurisdictional requirement involving timely filing.  According to this view, the Tax Court’s jurisdiction is not limited to IRS determinations for which a petition is filed with the Tax Court within 30 days.  As such, equitable tolling can apply.  Indeed, this is the view that the D.C. Circuit utilized in Myers v. Commissioner, 928 F.3d 1025 (D.C. Cir. 2019) in a case involving a whistleblower tax statute that is similarly worded. 

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, agreed with the plaintiff’s interpretation of the statute.  Boechler v. Comr., No. 20-1472 (U.S. Sup. Ct. Apr. 21, 2022).  The Court expressed its disdain for the way the Congress crafted the statutory language, noting that “such matter” over which the Tax Court had jurisdiction has an unclear antecedent and that the statute, as a result, “does not clearly mandate the jurisdictional reading.”  The Court noted that the plaintiff’s reading had an “edge” under the last-antecedent rule – the correct antecedent is usually the closest reasonable one.  But the Court noted there were also other plausible ways to read “such matter.”  It could refer to “such determination” or it could refer to the list of matters that may be considered during the CDP hearing under I.R.C. §6330(c).  Neither of those readings ties the Tax Court’s jurisdiction to the filing deadline.  In addition, the Court found the IRS interpretation to be less than clear, and that the jurisdictional clarity in I.R.C. §6330(e)(1) pointed out the lack of jurisdictional clarity in I.R.C. §6330(d)(1).  There were also other tax provisions enacted about the same time as I.R.C. §6330(d)(1) that more clearly linked jurisdiction to a filing deadline.  See, e.g., I.R.C. §§6404(g)(1) and 6015(e)(1)(A).

According to the Court, because I.R.C. §6330(d)(1) was not jurisdictional, it was presumptively subject to equitable tolling.  See Irwin v. Department of Veterans Affairs, 498 U.S. 89 (1990).  The Court stated, “equitable tolling is a traditional feature of American jurisprudence and a background principle against which Congress drafts limitations periods…[even] outside the realm of Article III courts.” 

Conclusion

It's always a good idea to meet a tax deadline.  There's no questioning that.  Here, the plaintiff didn’t respond to the IRS notice, missed the filing deadline and then came up with a creative (but correct) argument to get itself out of a bad result.  There was no confusion about the deadline.  On the other hand, it’s nice to see the Supreme Court hold Congress’ feet to the fire.  A statute conferring jurisdiction must clearly do so, and the drafters didn’t do that in this case by creating an unclear antecedent.  Maybe that’s not as bad as a dangling participle, but the poor drafting landed a case in the Supreme Court’s lap and ultimately bailed out a small law firm in North Dakota.  Certainly, the IRS will continue to try to get late-filed Tax Court petitions dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, but Boechler provides another weapon for claiming that equitable tolling applies. 

Note:  The Supreme Court didn’t determine whether the plaintiff was entitled to equitable tolling.  That will be the issue on remand and will be determined based on the facts. 

April 22, 2022 in Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2022

IRS Audit Issue – S Corporation Reasonable Compensation

Overview

One of the areas of “low-hanging fruit” for IRS auditors in recent years involves the issue of reasonable compensation in the S corporation context.  But what does “reasonable compensation” mean?  The instructions to Form 1120S, the return for an S corporation, says, “Distributions and other payments by an S corporation to a corporate officer must be treated as wages to the extent the amounts are reasonable compensation for services rendered to the corporation.”  But that still doesn’t answer the question of what “reasonable compensation” is.  The question is important because setting compensation properly avoids IRS assessing tax, penalties, and interest. 

What is “reasonable compensation” and how is it determined?  Reasonable compensation for an S corporation shareholder-employee – it’s the topic of today’s post.

In General 

An S corporation shareholder must include in income the shareholder’s pro rata share of the S corporation earnings for the year.  The pro rata share can be split between compensation for services and a deemed or actual distribution of S corporate income.  The distinction matters because employment-related taxes apply to compensation paid for the shareholder’s services, but do not apply to deemed or actual distributions of S corporate income.  I.R.C. §1373; Rev. Rul. 59-221. 1959-1 C.B. 225.  Thus, compensation that is “too low” in relation to the services rendered to the S corporation results in the avoidance of payroll taxes. i.e., the employer and employee portions of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes and the employer Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax.  S corporation flow-through income is taxed at the individual level and is (normally) not subject to self-employment tax.  Also, in addition to avoiding FICA and FUTA tax via S corporation distributions, the 0.9% Medicare tax imposed by I.R.C. §3101(b)(2) for high-wage earners (but not on employers) is also avoided by taking income from an S corporation in the form of distributions. 

Note:  The different tax treatment of employment-related wages and compensation for services rendered to the S corporation provide an incentive for S corporation shareholder-employees to take less salary relative to distributions from the corporation.  With the Social Security wage base set at $147,000 for 2022, setting a shareholder-employee’s compensation beneath that amount with the balance of compensation consisting of dividends can produce significant tax savings. 

IRS Examination of “Employee” Status

What is an “employee”?  Many S corporations, particularly those that involve agricultural businesses, have shareholders that perform substantial services for the corporation as officers and otherwise.  In fact, the services don’t have to be substantial.  Indeed, under a Treasury Regulation, the provision of more than minor services for remuneration makes the shareholder an “employee.”  Treas. Reg. §31.3121(d)-1(b).  Once, “employee” status is achieved, the IRS views either a low or non-existent salary to a shareholder who is also an officer/employee as an attempt to evade payroll taxes and, if a court determines that the IRS is correct, the penalty is 100 percent of the taxes owed.   “Wages” for federal employment tax purposes means all remuneration for employment. I.R.C. §3121(a); 3306(b).  The Regulations point out that the form in which payment is made doesn’t matter.  The real question is whether compensation was made for employment.  Treas.  Reg. §§31.3121(a)-1(b) and 31.3306(b)-1(b).  If it was, employment taxes apply to both the employee and the S corporation.  See, e.g., Veterinary Surgical Consultants, P.C. v. Comr., 117 T.C. 141 (2001), aff’d. sub. nom., Yeagle Drywall Co., 54 Fed. Appx. 100 (3d Cir. 2002). 

Definition of “wages.”  For employment tax purposes, “wages” means remuneration for employment, including the cash value of all remuneration (including benefits) paid in any medium other than cash.  I.R.C. §§3121(a); 3306(b); 3401(a).  The remuneration must be paid for services of any nature performed by an employee.  I.R.C. §3121(b).  It is immaterial how an employer characterizes the payment, and the form of the payment also does not matter.  Treas. Regs. §§31.3121(a)-1; (c) and (e); 31.3401(a)-1 – (a)(2) and (a)(4).  In addition, an employee cannot waive the right to receive wages and characterize payments received as something other than wages. 

Audit focus.  An IRS audit on the issue tends to focus on the amount of compensation, whether it is reasonable based on the facts and whether the proper amount of employment-related taxes have been paid.  The burden is on the corporation to establish that the salary amount under question is reasonable.  Likewise, IRS is likely to not distinguish between payments an S corporation makes to a shareholder that are allegedly attributable to the shareholder’s status as an officer and shareholder rather than as an employee.  The courts have supported the IRS on this point, and repeatedly point out that employee status is achieved once anything more than minor services are provided to the corporation.  Id.; I.R.C. §3121(d)(1). 

The IRS also has the authority to reclassify “distributions” made to an S corporation shareholder as payment for wages.  I.R.C. §7436; Rev. Rul. 74-44, 1974-1 C.B. 287.  The reclassification issue can be a critical issue when a shareholder’s family member provides capital or services to the corporation.  In that situation the IRS has the power to make any adjustments necessary to reflect the reasonable value of the capital or services provided based on the particular facts.  Key to any IRS adjustment would be what the corporation would have had to pay for the capital or services had it not been provided by a family member who was also not a shareholder in the S corporation.  Likewise (and a big issue in some farming operations), if a shareholder’s family member has an interest in another pass-through entity and that entity provides services or capital to the S corporation, the IRS can make appropriate adjustments to reflect the value of the services and/or capital provided. 

Note:  A “family member” of an S corporation shareholder includes only the shareholder’s spouse, ancestors, lineal descendants and any trust for the primary benefit of any of these individuals.  Treas. Reg. §1.1366-3.

Determining Reasonableness

What’s the source of gross receipts?  A key question in determining reasonableness of compensation is the source of S corporation gross receipts and the shareholder’s activity (if any) in generating those receipts.  What did the shareholder/employee do for the S corporation?  Or, alternatively, did the S corporation’s gross receipts derive from the personal services of non-shareholder employees or shareholders?  If the gross receipts derived from non-shareholder personal services (as well as capital and equipment) payments in return are nonwage distributions – hence, not subject to employment taxes.  If the source of the S corporation’s gross receipts is from shareholder personal services, payments for those services are wages even if those personal services did not directly produce the gross receipts. 

Note:  If S corporate gross receipts derive from the services of non-shareholder employees, or capital and equipment, then they should not be associated with the shareholder/employee’s personal services, and it is reasonable that the shareholder would receive distributions as well as compensation.  Alternatively, if most of the gross receipts and profits are associated with the shareholder’s personal services, then most of the profit distribution should be classified as compensation.

In addition to the shareholder/employee’s direct generation of gross receipts, the shareholder/employee should also be compensated for administrative work performed for the other income-producing employees or assets.  As applied in the ag context, for example, this means that reasonable compensation for a shareholder/employee in a crop farming operation could differ from that of a shareholder-employee in a livestock operation.

IRS factors.  The IRS examines numerous factors to determine if reasonable compensation has been paid.  The following is a list of some of the primary ones:

  • The employee’s qualifications;
  • Training and experience;
  • The nature, extent, and scope of the employee’s work;
  • The amount of time and effort devoted to the S corporation’s business activities;
  • The S corporation’s dividend history;
  • The size and complexities of the business; a comparison of salaries paid;
  • The prevailing general economic conditions;
  • Comparison of salaries with distributions to shareholders;
  • The prevailing rates of compensation paid in similar businesses;
  • Whether payments are made to non-shareholder employees;
  • The timing and manner of paying bonuses to key people in the S corporation;
  • The presence of any compensation agreements;
  • The taxpayer’s salary policy for all employees (are any formulas used for determining compensation?);
  • What is the amount paid out as salary as compared to amounts distributed as profit: and
  • In the case of small corporations with a limited number of officers, the amount of compensation paid to the particular employee in previous years.

Court Cases on Reasonable Compensation

Before 2005, the court cases involved S corporation owners who received all of their compensation in form of dividends.  Most of the pre-2005 cases involved reclassifications on an all-or-nothing basis.  In 2005, the IRS issued a study entitled, “S Corporation Reporting Compliance.”  Now the courts’ focus is on the reasonableness of the compensation in relation to the services provided to the S corporation.  That means each situation is fact-dependent and is based on the type of business the S corporation is engaged in and the amount and value of the services rendered. 

Recent cases.  For those interested in digging into the issue further, the following cases are instructive:

  • Watson v. Comr., 668 F.3d 1008 (8th Cir. 2012);
  • Sean McAlary Ltd., Inc. v. Comr., T.C. Sum. Op. 2013-62;
  • Clary Hood, Inc. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2022-15;
  • Glass Blocks Unlimited v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2013-180; and
  • Scott Singer Installations, Inc. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2016-161; A.O.D. 2017-04 (Apr. 10, 2017) (in result only).

Each of these cases provides insight into the common issues associated with the reasonable compensation issue.  The last two also address distributions and loan repayments in the context of reasonable compensation of unprofitable S corporations with one case being a taxpayer victory and the other a taxpayer loss. 

Reasonable compensation for an ag producer.  Based on the above analysis and commentary, what would “reasonable compensation be for a farmer or rancher as a shareholder of an S corporation?  The answer is that “it depends.”  Certainly, there is no need to set compensation at the Social Security wage base - $147,000 for 2022.  An acceptable compensation rate (in the eyes of the IRS) will depend on numerous factors, including whether the business involves livestock.  Wage rates for ag labor can be obtained from many Land Grant Universities.  For an owner/manager, an additional amount of compensation should be added to the labor rate to reflect managerial and administrative duties.  An acceptable range is likely somewhere in the $40,000-$70,000 range.  But, that is merely a suggested range.  Each S corporation will need to carefully determine what it believes is a reasonable rate based on the circumstances and document in corporate records how that rate was determined.  A commitment should then be made to revisit compensation levels on a periodic basis.

Note:  As a rule-of-thumb, when considering whether or not to utilize the S corporation structure is achieving tax savings of at least $10,000 annually.  With an S election comes additional bookkeeping, payroll and unemployment tax filings and other administrative duties. 

Return Preparation

It is critical that workpapers associated with the preparation of an S corporation’s return include sufficient documentation supporting the level of compensation to a shareholder-employee.  That documentation should evidence, at a minimum, the type of work the shareholder performed for the corporation, the hours of work spent on corporate business, and how the compensation level was determined. 

Other Issues

Qualified Business Income.  S corporate reasonable compensation also bears on the shareholder’s qualified business income (QBI) deduction (I.R.C. §199A) computation.  An S corporation shareholder is allocated a pro rata share of the S corporation’s QBI.  As part of that computation, the S corporation deducts W-2 wages (including reasonable compensation paid to shareholders) as an expense allocable to the corporation’s trade or business when the corporation calculates its QBI deduction.  Treas. Reg. §1.199A-2(b).  But the shareholder cannot increase the shareholder’s QBI by the amount of reasonable compensation the S corporation pays.  Treas. Reg. §1.199A-3(b)(2)(ii)(H).

Note:  There are numerous factors that determine whether a particular type of entity will generate a relatively larger QBI deduction.  One of those factors, in the S corporation context, is the level of “reasonable compensation” paid to shareholder-employees.  

Shareholder advances.  In small, closely-held S corporations in which a family farming (or other) business is operated, there sometimes is a tendency to use the S corporation to pay personal expenses on a shareholder’s behalf.  The question that arises in this situation is whether the payment constitutes wages as compensation for services rendered to the corporation that are subject to federal employment taxes.  Key to answering this question is determining whether a bona fide debtor-creditor relationship exists.  A genuine intent to create a debt coupled with a reasonable expectation of repayment that comports with economic reality is critical in establishing that the payment should not be characterized as wages.  If the corporation reports the amounts advanced on its general ledger and corporate returns as loans, and actual payments on the advanced funds are made, the argument is strengthened that the amounts advanced are not wages.  Clearly, the use of interest-bearing secured promissory notes also bolsters the argument that advances are not wages.  But, if the advances are merely a paper transaction where the outstanding “loan” balance is credited against undistributed income and any rental payments the corporation owes to a shareholder, the “loan” constitutes wages for FICA and FUTA purposes.  See, e.g., Gale W. Greenlee, Inc. v. United States, 661 F. Supp. 642 (D. Colo. 1985). 

Conclusion

The bottom line is that “reasonable compensation” means that is must be reasonable for all of the services the S corporation owner performs for the corporation.  Because there is no safe harbor for reasonable compensation, the best strategy is to research and document reasonable compensation every year.  That will provide a defensible position if the IRS raises questions on audit. 

April 18, 2022 in Business Planning, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Farm Economic Issues and Implications

Overview

A firm understanding of the economic context within which the farmers and ranchers operate is necessary for both tax planning and financial planning.  The creation and dissolution of legal entities, the restructuring of debt, and the use of various legal devices for the protection of assets from creditors and preserving inheritances cannot successfully be accomplished without knowledge of agriculture that transcends the applicable legal rules. 

Crop production, energy issues, monetary policy, issues in the meat sector and unanticipated outside shocks have farm-level impacts that professional advisors and counselors need to account for when representing farm and ranch clients.

Current economic issues impacting ag – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Projected Plantings (and Implications)

On March 31, the USDA released its “prospective plantings” report for the 2022 crops. https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Todays_Reports/reports/pspl0322.pdf  The report projects farmers planting 91 million acres of soybeans and 89.5 million acres of corn.  The corn planting number is down 4 percent from last year, and is the lowest acreage estimate over the last five years.  The soybean projection is up four percent from 2021.  Total planted acres are projected to remain about the same as 2021.

Note:  The shift from corn acres to soybean acres was very predictable.  Farmers have calculators and can run the numbers with higher input costs (such as fertilizer).  Corn, as compared to soybeans, requires a greater amount of inputs which have risen in price substantially. 

Projected wheat planted acres is up one percent from 2021, but still is projected to be the fifth lowest total wheat planted acres since 1919.  Grain sorghum is projected to be down 15 percent (1.4 million acres) from 2021, with significant declines projected in Kansas and Texas.  Conversely, barley and sunflower planted acres is projected to increase 11 percent and 10 percent respectively from 2021.  With respect to sunflowers, however, the 2022 projection is still the fifth lowest planted area on record.  Cotton acreage is projected to be up about 800,000 acres.

Implication:  The projected planting numbers indicate that higher protein prices can be expected in the future.

Global Crops

The Russian war with Ukraine will have impacts on global grain trade and create additional issues for U.S. farmers and ranchers.  Russia and Ukraine are leading exporters of food grains.  But, Ukraine ports are closed and Russian imports are being avoided causing rising food prices. In the U.S., the rise is in addition to existing inflationary price increases for most good products.  Russia and Ukraine produce 19 percent of the world’s barley; 14 percent of the world’s wheat; and four percent of the world’s maize.  They also produce 29 percent of total world wheat exports and 19 percent of total world corn exports.  Those numbers are particularly important to countries that depend on imported grain from Russia and Ukraine, with a major issue being the loss of corn exports from Ukraine. 

Note:  U.S. corn exports are projected to rise, but U.S. wheat exports are not.

If the war triggers a global food crisis, the least developed countries that are also likely to be low-income or food-deficit countries are the most vulnerable to food shortages.  This would create a surge in malnutrition in these countries.  Presently, 50 countries rely on Russia and Ukraine for 30 percent of their wheat supply (combined), and 26 countries source at least 50 percent of their wheat needs from Russia/Ukraine.  Egypt and Turkey get over 70 percent of their wheat from Russia/Ukraine.  Russia supplies 90 percent of Lebanon’s wheat and cooking oil.  Grain shortages will hit the poorer African countries particularly hard.  These countries rely on imported bread to feed their expanding populations.  As a whole, in 2020, the  continent of Africa imported $4 billion worth of ag products from Russia (which supplied the majority of the continent’s wheat consumption. 

This combined data indicates an escalation of global food insecurity.  One estimate is that worldwide food and feed prices could rise by 22 percent which could, in turn, cause a surge in malnutrition in developing nations.  Since the war started, total world food output has decreased, resulting in a sharp drop in food exports from exporting countries.  Other food exporting countries have announced new limitations on food exports (or are exploring bans) to preserve domestic supplies.  This will have an impact on international grain markets and will likely have serious implications for the world’s wheat supply.  The extent of such disruptions is unknown at the present time. 

Note:  Russia is also a major fertilizer exporter, supplying 21 percent of world anhydrous exports, 16 percent of world urea exports and 19 percent of world potash exports.  Combined, Russia and Belarus provide 40 percent or world potash exports.  The Russia/Ukraine war will likely have long term impacts on fertilizer prices in the U.S. and elsewhere.  This will have impact crop planting decisions by farmers. 

Energy Policy

Incomprehensible energy policy in the U.S. since late January of 2021 and in Europe have been a financial boon to Russia.  The policy, largely couched in terms of ameliorating “climate change,” has resulted in the U.S. from being energy independent to begging foreign countries to produce more.  The restriction in U.S. production and distribution of oil has occurred at a time of increasing demand coming out of state government mandated shutdowns as a result of the China-originated virus.  The resulting higher energy prices have caused the prices of many products and commodities to increase. 

Monetary Policy

The U.S. economy is incurring the highest inflation in 40 years.  While the employment numbers are improving coming out of virus-related shutdowns, the labor force participation rate is not.  A higher rate of employment coupled with a decrease in the labor force participation rate may mean that workers are taking on multiple (lower paying) jobs in an attempt to stay even with inflation. 

The last time the government attempted to dig itself out of a severe inflationary situation the Federal Reserve raised interest rates substantially to “wring inflation out of the economy.”  The result for agriculture was traumatic, bringing on the farm debt crisis of the 1980s.  The current situation is similar with the Federal Reserve having backed itself into a corner with prolonged, historic low interest rates coupled with an outrageous increase in the money supply caused by massive government spending.  If the Federal Reserve attempts to get out of the corner by just raising interest rates, the end result will likely not be good.  The money supply must be reduced, or worker productivity gains must be substantial.  Higher interest rates are a means to reducing the money supply. 

Meat Sector

In the meat sector, the demand for beef remains strong.  Beef exports are steadily growing.  The current major issue in the sector is the disconnect between beef demand and the beef producer.  Currently, the large meat packers are enjoying record-wide margins.  Cattle producers are being signaled to decrease herd sizes because of the disconnect.  Legislation is being considered in the Congress with the intent of providing more robust and transparent marketing of live cattle.

On the pork side, demand is not as impressive but is improving.

For poultry, demand remains strong and flock sizes are decreasing largely because of the presence of Avian Flu. 

Some states have enacted labeling laws designed to protect meat consumers from deceptive and misleading advertising of “fake meat” products.  The Louisiana law has been held unconstitutional on free speech grounds. Turtle Island Foods SPC v. Strain, No. 20-00674-BAJ-EWD, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56208 (M.D. La. Mar. 28, 2022).  Much of the advertising of “fake meat” products is couched not in terms of health benefits, but on reducing/eliminating “climate change.”  Government mandates have been imposed for the sake of “climate change” – a certain amount of ethanol blend in fuel; a certain amount of “renewable” energy to generate electricity, etc.). Could that also happen to the meat industry, but in a negative way?  A concern for the meat industry is whether the government will try to mandate that a certain percentage of meat cuts in a meat case consist of “fake meat” products based on a claim that doing so would further the “save the planet” effort. 

Water Issues

West of the Sixth Principal Meridian, access to water is critical for the success of many farming and ranching operations.  A dispute is brewing between Colorado and Nebraska over water in northeast Colorado that Nebraska lays claim to under a Compact entered into almost 100 years ago.  In the fertile Northeastern Colorado area, the State Engineer has shut-in almost 4,000 wells over the past two decades to maintain streamflow and satisfy downstream priority claims.  A similar number of wells have had their pumping rights limited in some way.  While this is a very diverse agricultural-rich area, water is essential to maintain production.  Given the rapid urban development in this area, the need for water for new subdivisions along the front range will trigger major political ramifications if there are any further reductions in agriculture’s water usage. 

The economic impact of water issues in Northeastern Colorado is already being felt.   The Colorado-Big Thompson Project collects, stores and delivers more than 200,000 acre-feet of supplemental water annually. Melting snowpack in the Colorado River headwaters on the West Slope is diverted through a tunnel beneath the Continental Divide to approximately 1,021,000 million residents and 615,000 acres of irrigated farmland in Northeastern Colorado. A unit (acre-foot) of Colorado Big Thompson water storage is presently selling for approximately $65,000.  Fifteen years ago, it was priced in the $6,000 range.  All other water shares are priced accordingly.  This dramatic increase in price has implications for the structure of farming operations, succession planning and estate valuation. 

Water access and availability will continue to be key to profitability of farms and ranches in the Plains and the West.

Tax Policy

In late March, the White House release its proposed 2023 fiscal year budget (October 1, 2022 – September 30, 2023).  At the same time, the Treasury release its “Greenbook” explanation of the tax provisions contained in the budget proposal.  Many of the proposals are the same as or similar to those included in bills in 2021 that failed to become law. 

Here’s a brief list of some of the proposals:

  • Top individual rate to 39.6 percent on income over $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples;
  • Corporate rate goes to 28 percent (87 percent increase on many farm corporations);
  • Raise capital gain rate to 39.6 percent on income over $1 million;
  • Capital gain tax on any transfer of appreciated property either during life or at death;
  • Partial elimination of stepped-up basis – if to spouse, then carryover; transfer of appreciated property to CRAT would be taxable;
  • Trust assets must be “marked-to-market” every 90 years beginning with any new trust after 1940. The rule would be the same for partnerships or any other non-corporate owned entity.  In addition, no valuation discount for partial interests, and a transfer from a trust would be a taxable event.  Exclusion of $1 million/person would apply.  Any tax on illiquid assets could be paid over 15 years or the taxpayer could elect to pay the tax when the property is sold or is no longer used as a farm (in that event, there would be no 15-year option);
  • All farm income (including self-rents) would be subject to the net investment income tax of 3.8 percent;
  • A minimum tax would apply to those with a net worth over $100 million;
  • Grantor-Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) must have minimum term of 10 years. This would essentially eliminate the use of a “zeroed-out” GRAT;
  • Any sale to a grantor trust is taxable and any payment of tax of the trust is a taxable gift;
  • Limitation on valuation discounts (related party rules);
  • R.C. §2032A maximum reduction would increase to $11.7 million
  • Trust reporting of assets would be required if the trust corpus is over $300,000 (or $10,000 of income);
  • Elimination of dynasty trusts;
  • Carried interest income would become ordinary income;
  • R.C. §1031 exchange tax deferral would be limited to $1 million;
  • Depreciation recapture would be triggered on the sale of real estate, which would eliminate the maximum 25% rate.

Note:  The provisions have little to no chance of becoming law, but if some or all were to become law, there would be significant implications for farm and ranch businesses.  Many of those implications would be negative for farming and ranching operations.

Conclusion

Farmland values remain strong.  Indeed, input, machinery costs and land values are outpacing inflation.  For those farmers that were able to pre-pay input expenses in 2021 for 2022 crops, the perhaps much of the price increase of inputs will be blunted until another round of inputs are needed in late 2022 for the 2023 crop.  Also, short-term loans were locked in before interest rates began rising.  That story will also likely be different in early 2023 when those loans are redone. 

The biggest risks to agriculture will continue to be from outside the sector.  Unexpected catastrophic events such as the Russian war with Ukraine, whether (or when) China will invade Taiwan, domestic monetary and fiscal policy, political developments at home and abroad, and regulation of agricultural activities remain the biggest unknown variables to the profitability of farming and ranching operations and agribusinesses. 

An awareness of the economic atmosphere in which farmers and ranchers operate is important to understand for practitioners to provide fully competent advice and counsel with respect to income tax, estate, business and succession planning for farmers and ranchers.

April 9, 2022 in Business Planning, Environmental Law, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Regulatory Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Pork Production Regulations; Fake Meat; and Tax Proposals on the Road to Nowhere

Overview

Last week, there were two court major court developments of importance to agriculture.  In one, the U.S. Supreme court agreed to hear a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit involving California’s Proposition 12.  That law sets rules for pork production that must be satisfied for the resulting pork products to be sold in California.  In another development, a federal court in Louisiana held that state’s law designed to protect consumers from misleading and false advertising concerning meat products. 

The Supreme Court and Pork Production Regulations

National Pork Producers Council, et al. v. Ross, 6 F.4th 1021 (9th Cir. 2021), cert. granted, No. 21-468, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 1742 (U.S. Mar. 28, 2022) 

Background.  California voters approved Proposition 12 in 2018.  The new law took effect on January 1, 2022.  Proposition 12 bans the sale of whole pork meat (no matter where produced) from animals confined in a manner inconsistent with California’s regulatory standards (largely remaining to be established).  It also establishes minimum requirements on farmers to provide more space for egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal. Specifically, the law requires that covered animals be housed in confinement systems that comply with specific standards for freedom of movement, cage-free design and minimum floor space. The law identifies covered animals to include veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens.

The implementing regulations are to prohibit a farm owner or operator from knowingly causing any covered animal to be confined in a cruel manner, as specified, and prohibits a business owner or operator from knowingly engaging in the sale within the state of shell eggs, liquid eggs, whole pork meat or whole veal meat, as defined, from animals housed in a “cruel manner.”  In addition to general requirements that prohibit animals from being confined in a manner that prevents lying down, standing up, fully extending limbs or turning around freely, the measure added detailed confinement space standards for farms subject to the law. The alleged reason for the law was to protect the health and safety of California consumers and decrease the risk of foodborne illness and the negative fiscal impact on California.  Apparently, California believes that existing state and federal law regulating food products for health and safety purposes was inadequate (or the alleged reason for the law is false). 

Trial court.  In late 2019, several national farm organizations challenged Proposition 12 and sought a declaratory judgment that the law was unconstitutional under the Dormant Commerce Clause. 

Note:   The Dormant Commerce Clause bars states from passing legislation that discriminates against or excessively burdens interstate commerce.  It prevents protectionist state policies that favor state citizens or businesses at the expense of non-citizens conducting business within that state.  The clause is dormant because it is not state outright, but rather implied in the Constitution’s Commerce Clause of Article I, Section 8, Clause 3.

The plaintiffs also sought a permanent injunction preventing Proposition 12 from taking effect.  The plaintiffs claimed that Proposition 12 impermissibly regulated out-of-state conduct by compelling non-California producers to change their operations to meet California’s standards.  The plaintiffs also alleged that Proposition 12 imposed excessive burdens on interstate commerce without advancing any legitimate local interest by significantly increasing operation costs without any connection to human health or foodborne illness.  The trial court dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint.  

Appellate court decision.  On appeal, the plaintiffs focused their argument on the allegation that Proposition 12 has an impermissible extraterritorial effect of regulating prices in other states and, as such, is per se unconstitutional.  This was a tactical mistake for the plaintiffs.  The appellate court noted that existing Supreme Court precedent on the extraterritorial principle applied only to state laws that are “price control or price affirmation statutes.”   Thus, the extraterritorial principle does not apply to a state law that does not dictate the price of a product and does not tie the price of its in-state products to out-of-state prices.  Because Proposition 12 was neither a price control nor a price-affirmation statute (it didn’t dictate the price of pork products or tie the price of pork products sold in California to out-of-state prices) the law didn’t have the extraterritorial effect of regulating prices in other states.  The appellate court likewise rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that Proposition 12 has an impermissible indirect “practical effect” on how pork is produced and sold outside California.  Upstream effects (e.g., higher production costs in other states) the appellate court concluded, do not violate the dormant Commerce Clause.   The appellate court pointed out that a state law is not impermissibly extraterritorial unless it regulates conduct that is wholly out of state.  Because Proposition 12 applied to California and non-California pork production the higher cost of production was not an impermissible effect on interstate commerce.  The appellate court also concluded that inconsistent regulation from state-to-state was permissible because the plaintiffs had failed to show a compelling need for national uniformity in regulation at the state level.  In addition, the appellate court noted that the plaintiffs had not alleged that Proposition 12 had a discriminatory effect on interstate commerce and, as such, had failed to plead a Dormant Commerce Clause violation. 

Supreme Court grants certiorari.  On March 28, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.  The issues before the Court are: (1) whether allegations that a state law has dramatic economic effects largely outside of the state and requires pervasive changes to an integrated nationwide industry state a violation of the Dormant Commerce clause, or whether the extraterritoriality principle is now a dead letter; and (2) whether the allegations, concerning a law that is based solely on preferences regarding out-of-state housing of farm animals, state a claim in accordance with Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., 347 U.S. 132 (1970). In Pike, the Court said a state law that regulates fairly to effectuate a legitimate public interest will be upheld unless the burden on commerce is clearly excessive in relation to commonly accepted local benefits. 

In the current case, while California accounts for about 13 percent of U.S. pork consumption, essentially no pigs are raised there.  Thus, the costs of compliance with Proposition 12 fall almost exclusively on out-of-state hog farmers.  In addition, because a hog is processed into cuts that are sold nationwide in response to demand, those costs will be passed on to consumers everywhere, in transactions that have nothing to do with California. 

Meat Labeling Law Unconstitutional 

Turtle Island Foods SPC v. Strain, No. 20-00674-BAJ-EWD, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56208 (M.D. La. Mar. 28, 2022)

Background.  In 2019, Louisiana enacted the Truth in Labeling of Food Products Act (“Act”), with the Act taking effect October 1, 2020.  Among other things, the Act prohibits the intentional misbranding or misrepresenting of any food product as an agricultural product via a false or misleading label; selling a product under the name of an ag product; representing food product as an meat or a meat product when the food product is not derived from a harvested beef, port, poultry, alligator, farm-raised deer, turtle, domestic rabbit, crawfish, or shrimp carcass. 

The LA Dept. of Ag and Forestry (LDAF) developed rules and regulations to enforce the Act with fines of up to $500 per violation per day but had not received any complaints nor brought any enforcement actions against anyone. Indeed, the LDAF determined that plaintiff’s product labels complied with the law. 

The plaintiff produces and packages plant-based meat products that are marketed and sold in LA and nationwide.  Plaintiff’s labels and marketing materials clearly state that its products are plant-based, meatless, vegetarian or vegan, and accurately list the products ingredients.  After the Act passed, the plaintiff refrained from using certain words and images on marketing materials and packages and removed videos from its website and social media to avoid prosecution under the Act. 

Trial court decision.  The plaintiff sued, challenging the constitutionality of the Act on the grounds that the Act violated its freedom of commercial speech.  The plaintiff claimed it would be very expensive to change its labeling and marketing nationwide.  The trial court determined that the plaintiff had standing because “chilled speech” or “self-censorship” is an injury sufficient to confer standing, and that the plaintiff had demonstrated a “serious intent” to engage in proscribed conduct and that the threat of future enforcement was substantial. 

On the merits, as noted, the plaintiff asserted that its conduct was protected commercial speech (both current and future intended) that the Act prohibited.  The trial court noted that commercial speech is not as protected as is other forms of speech.  To be constitutional, the government speech (the Act) must be a substantial governmental interest, advance the government’s asserted interest and not be any more excessive than what is necessary to further the government’s interest.  The trial court determined that the Act was more extensive than necessary to further the state’s interest.  While the interest in protecting consumers from misleading and false labeling is substantial, the defendant failed to establish that consumers were confused by the plaintiff’s labeling.  Thus, the Act failed to directly advance the State’s interest and was more extensive than necessary to further that interest.    The trial court also determined that the defendant failed to show why alternative, less-restrictive means, such as a disclaimer would not accomplish the same goal of avoiding consumer deception/confusion.  The trial court held the Act unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. 

“Greenbook” Released

On March 28, the White House released the details of its $6 trillion budget for the 2023 fiscal year (October 1, 2022 – September 30, 2023).  That same day, the Treasury released the Greenbook, its explanations of the revenue proposals.  Many of the provisions are those that were proposed in 2021, but did not become law.  Here’s a brief rundown of the provisions of most significance to farmers and ranchers:

  • Top individual rate to 39.6 percent on income over $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples;
  • Corporate rate goes to 28 percent (87 percent increase on many farm corporations);
  • Raise capital gain rate to 39.6 percent on income over $1 million;
  • Capital gain tax on any transfer of appreciated property either during life or at death;
  • Partial elimination of stepped-up basis – if to spouse, then carryover; transfer of appreciated property to CRAT would be taxable;
  • Transfers of property by gift or at death would be a realization event (eliminates the fair market value at death rule);
  • Trust assets must be “marked-to-market” every 90 years beginning with any new trust after 1940. The rule would be the same for partnerships or any other non-corporate owned entity.  In addition, no valuation discount for partial interests, and a transfer from a trust would be a taxable event.  Exclusion of $1 million/person would apply.  Any tax on illiquid assets could be paid over 15 years or the taxpayer could elect to pay the tax when the property is sold or is no longer used as a farm (in that event, there would be no 15-year option);
  • All farm income (including self-rents) would be subject to the net investment income tax of 3.8 percent;
  • A minimum tax would apply to those with a net worth over $100 million;
  • Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends taxed at ordinary income rates for taxpayers with taxable income exceeding $1 million;
  • Grantor-Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) must have minimum term of 10 years. This would eliminate the use of a “zeroed-out” GRAT; also, the remained interest in a GRAT at the time of creation must have a minimum value for gift tax purposes equal to the greater of 25 percent of the value of assets transferred to the GRAT or $500,000.  In addition, there would be limited ability to use a donor-advised fund to avoid the payout limitation of a private foundation;
  • Any sale to a grantor trust is taxable and any payment of tax of the trust is a taxable gift;
  • Limitation on valuation discounts (related party rules);
  • R.C. §2032A maximum reduction would increase to $11.7 million (from current level of $1.23 million);
  • Trust reporting of assets would be required if the trust corpus is over $300,000 (or $10,000 of income);
  • Elimination of dynasty trusts;
  • Carried interest income would become ordinary income;
  • No basis-shifting by related parties via partnerships;
  • Limitation of a partner’s deduction in certain syndicated conservation easement transactions;
  • R.C. §1031 exchange deferral would be limited to $1 million;
  • Depreciation recapture would be triggered on the sale of real estate, which would eliminate the maximum 25% rate;
  • Elimination of credit for oil and gas produced from marginal wells;
  • Repeal of expensing of intangible drilling costs;
  • Repeal of enhanced oil recovery credit;
  • Adoption credit refundable, and some guardianship arrangements qualify; and
  • Expand the definition of “executor” to apply for all tax matters.

The provisions have little to no chance of becoming law, but they are worth paying attention to. 

Conclusion

There’s never a dull moment in agricultural law and tax. 

April 5, 2022 in Business Planning, Estate Planning, Income Tax, Regulatory Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 1, 2022

Captive Insurance – Part Three

Overview

This week, I have been discussing captive insurance.  Part One set forth the definition of captive insurance and how a captive insurance company is treated for income tax purposes as well as how it might be used for estate planning and business succession.  Part Two examined IRS concerns with captive insurance and the results of litigation involving the concept.  Today, in Part Three, I take a look at some recent IRS administrative issues concerning captive insurance and the attempts of the IRS to “crack-down” on the use of the concept to achieve income tax savings and estate planning benefits.  On this point, the most recent developments have not gone well for the IRS.

Captive insurance and recent administrative/regulatory issues – it’s the topic of today’s post.

Administrative Issues

2015 IRS Notice.  Abusive micro-captives have been a concern to the IRS for several years. IRS initiated forensic audits of large captive insurance providers at least a decade ago which resulted in certain transactions making the “Dirty Dozen” tax scam list starting in 2014.  In 2015, the IRS issued a news release that notified taxpayers that it would be taking action against micro-captive insurance arrangements it believes are being used to evade taxes.  IR 2015-16 (Feb. 3, 2015).  Since that time, the IRS has been litigating the micro-captive insurance issue aggressively. 

2016 IRS Notice.  In 2016, the IRS issued a Notice which identified certain micro-captive transactions as having the potential for tax avoidance and evasion.  Notice 2016-66, 2016-47 IRB 745.  In the Notice, the IRS indicated that micro-captive insurance transactions that are the same as, or substantially similar to, the transactions described in the Notice would be considered “transactions of interest.”  Under the Notice, these transactions require information reporting as “reportable transactions” under Treas. Reg. §1.6011 and I.R.C. §§6011 and 6012 for taxpayers engaging in the transactions and their “material advisers.”  Thus, persons entering into micro-captive transactions were required to disclose such transactions to the IRS via Form 8886 and “material advisors” also had disclosure and maintenance obligations under I.R.C. §§6111-6112 and the associated regulations.  In addition, a “material advisor” had to file a disclosure statement (Form 8918) with the IRS Office of Tax Shelter Analysis by January 30, 2017, with respect to such transactions entered into on or after November 2, 2006.  Failure to make the required disclosures came with possible civil and/or criminal penalties.  On December 30, 2016, the IRS extended the disclosure deadline for micro-captive transactions to May 1, 2017.  Notice 2017-08.

Note:  After the issuance of the Notice, the IRS audits of micro-captive arrangements and litigation ramped up substantially.

A manger of captive insurance companies subject to the disclosure requirements challenged Notice 2016-66 in early 2017.  The Notice would have forced the manager to incur substantial compliance costs.  The manager claimed that the Notice constituted a legislative-type rule and, as such, was subject to the mandatory notice-and-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).  5 U.S.C. §553, et seq.  The manager also claimed that the Notice was invalid as being arbitrary and capricious, and that the IRS failed to submit the rule contained in the Notice to Congress and the Comptroller General as the Congressional Review of Agency Rule-Making Act required.  5 U.S.C. §801.  The manager sought a declaration under the Declaratory Judgment Act (28 U.S.C. §2201) that the Notice was invalid and that an injunction barring the IRS from enforcing the disclosure requirements of the Notice should be issued. 

Note:  Since 2019, the IRS has offered a settlement framework for taxpayers under audit on micro-captive insurance arrangements.  IR 2019-157 (Sept. 16, 2019).  In 2020, the IRS made the settlement framework more restrictive and increased the number of examinations.  IR 2020-26 (Jan. 31, 2021) and IR 2020-241 (Oct. 22, 2020).  Under the 2020 framework, taxpayers are offered reduced accuracy-related penalties of 5, 10 or 15 percent (instead of 20 or 40 percent).  In exchange, a taxpayer must agree to have 90 percent of the premium deductions disallowed for all open tax years, as well as any captive-related expenses such as management fees.  The captive insurance company must also be liquidated, or else there will be a deemed distribution to the owners for the amount of premiums paid to the captive during all years. 

The trial court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, reasoning that the plaintiffs were not likely to succeed on the merits because the claims were likely barred by the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA).  26 U.S.C. §7421. 

Note:  The AIA provides that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court.”  Instead, a tax can be challenged in court only after the plaintiff pays the disputed tax and files a claim for refund.

The IRS moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims.  The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  CIC Services, LLC v. Internal Revenue Service, No. 3:17-cv-110, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181482 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 2, 2017).  The appellate court affirmed.  CIC Services, LLC v. Internal Revenue Service, 925 F.3d 247 (6th Cir. 2019).  On further review, however, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed, vacated the appellate court’s decision, and remanded the case to the trial court.    CIC Services, LLC v. Internal Revenue Service, 141 S. Ct. 1582 (2021).  The Court unanimously held that the AIA did not bar pre-enforcement judicial review of the Notice.  The Court pointed out that while the Notice was “backed by” tax penalties, the plaintiffs’ suit challenged the Notice’s “reporting mandate separate from any tax.” On remand, the trial court set aside the Notice and ordered the IRS to return all documents that it had collected under the Notice.  The trial court stated, “While the IRS may ultimately be correct that micro-captive insurance arrangements have the potential for tax avoidance or evasion and should be classified as transactions of interest, the APA requires that the IRS examine relevant facts and data supporting that conclusion.”  CIC Services, LLC v. Internal Revenue Service, No. 3:17-cv-00110 (E.D. Tenn. Mar. 21, 2022). 

Shortly before the trial court’s remand decision in CIC Services, LLC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit voided IRS Notice 2007-83, 2007-2 CB 960 that established reporting requirements for potentially abusive benefit trust arrangements or face the imposition of civil and/or criminal penalties for engaging in such a “listed transaction.”  Mann Construction, Inc. v. United States, No. 21-1500, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 5668 (6th Cir. Mar. 3, 2022), rev’g., 539 F.Supp. 3d 745 (E.D. Mich. 2021).  With Notice 2007-83, the appellate court concluded that the IRS had developed a legislative rule without going through the APA’s required notice and comment procedures.  The Congress had not created any exemption for the IRS from this rulemaking requirement.  Indeed, the appellate court pointed out in Mann Construction, Inc. that the U.S. Supreme Court had rejected the notion that tax law deserves a special “carve-out” from the APA’s notice and comment requirement.  Mayo Foundation for Medial Education & Research v. United States, 562 U.S. 44 (2011). 

Note:  Before getting pushed back by the Courts for rulemaking without following the APA’s rulemaking requirements, the IRS gave some indication that it was also looking at captive insurance company variations.  See IR-2020-226 (Oct. 1, 2020); FAA 20211701F (Feb. 5, 2021).

Filing Obligations

In the summer of 2020, the IRS issued I.R.C. §6112 letters to persons it believed to be a “material advisor” that had failed to report themselves for engaging in an “abusive” transaction.  Since the courts have now voided Notice 2016-66, the filing of Form 8918 and the associated penalties are currently not in play.  But the I.R.C. §6694 preparer penalties are still applicable for taking an unreasonable position on the return.  Also, the IRS could follow the APA’s notice-and-comment procedures and properly adopt its position taken in Notice 2016-66 in the future.  If IRS does, it appears to have attorneys trained to review captive insurance company issues.  Thus, tax practitioners would be well-advised to proceed with caution when engaging with clients interested in captive insurance and examine client files where captive insurance companies have already been established. 

Conclusion

The recent developments surrounding micro-captive arrangements have forestalled the IRS from treating them as “listed transactions” at least until the IRS complies with the APA’s notice and comment requirements.  That’s a big development on the penalty issue, but it doesn’t mean reporting requirements necessary to avoid penalties won’t come back in the future. 

In addition, the caselaw over the past few years provides helpful guidance concerning the proper structuring of captive/micro-captive insurance corporations to provide a more economical means of risk management to business such as farms and ranches.  Also, if structured properly, a micro-captive arrangement can be used to accomplish specific income tax as well as estate and business planning objectives of the owner(s). 

April 1, 2022 in Business Planning, Estate Planning, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Captive Insurance – Part Two

Introduction

In Part One earlier this week, I introduced the concept of a captive insurance company. Part One can be found here: https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2022/03/captive-insurance-part-one.html  In Part One, I looked at the income tax, estate and gift tax implications of captive companies and how they might be used as part of an overall income tax planning, estate planning and succession planning vehicle to minimize unique risks of the business.      

In Part Two today, I look at the IRS audit issues associated with captive insurance companies and how the courts have addressed the issues. 

Captive insurance companies, IRS audit issues and litigation. It’s the topic of today’s post.

IRS Scrutiny, Litigation and Other Developments

The IRS focus.  Abusive micro-captive corporations have been a concern to the IRS for several years.  The basic issue is where the line is between deductible captive insurance and non-deductible self-insurance.

Note:  The IRS focus centers on the fact that with an I.R.C. §831(b) election premiums can be deducted at ordinary income rates and can then be distributed to owners at capital gain rates.  To the extent claims are not paid, the premiums can be distributed from the captive in a manner that escapes transfer taxes.  Both of these issues, in turn, are centered on whether the captive company is insuring legitimate business risks and that “insurance” is actually involved. 

IRS audits.  IRS initiated forensic audits of large captive insurance providers at least a decade ago, and the IRS activity resulted in certain transactions making the “Dirty Dozen” tax scam list starting in 2014.  In 2015, the IRS put out a news release that notified taxpayers that it would be taking action against micro-captive insurance arrangement that it believes are being used to evade taxes.  IR 2015-16 (Feb. 3, 2015).  In 2016, the IRS issued a Notice which identified certain micro-captive transactions as having the potential for tax avoidance and evasion.  Notice 2016-66, 2016-47 IRB 745.  Since that time, the IRS has been litigating the micro-captive insurance issue aggressively. 

Court cases.  Taxpayers have won court cases involving IRS challenges to the tax treatment of and deductions associated with captive insurance companies.  The wins involved large captive insurance companies.  For instance, in Rent-A-Center v. Comr., 142 T.C. 1 (2014), the Tax Court determined that payments that a subsidiary corporation made to a captive insurance company were insurance expenses deductible under I.R.C. §162.  Likewise, in Securitas Holdings, Inc. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2014-225, the Tax Court determined that premiums paid to a brother-sister captive insurance company were deductible.  Also, in R.V.I. Guaranty Co. Ltd. and Subs v. Comr., 145 T.C. 209 (2015), the Tax Court held that insuring against losses in the residual value of an asset leased to third parties was insurance for federal income tax purposes. 

Note:  Importantly, in each of the cases involving taxpayer wins, the Tax Court determined that actual “insurance” was involved. 

But the IRS has won several prominent cases since ramping up its scrutiny.  In Avrahami v. Comr., 149 T.C. 144 (2017), the petitioners (a married couple) owned three shopping centers and several jewelry stores in Arizona.  Via these businesses, they deducted about $150,000 in insurance expenses in 2006.  The petitioners then formed a captive insurance company under the law of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis (the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton).  After the captive insurance company was formed their deductible insurance expenses for the companies increased to over $1.1 million annually, and included coverage for terrorism risks and tax liabilities from an IRS audit. 

The Tax Court upheld the IRS determination that the expenses were non-deductible and that the elections the micro-captive company had made under I.R.C. §953(d) and 831(b) were invalid because the micro-captive company did not qualify as a legitimate insurance business.  The Tax Court noted that proper policy language, actuarial standards, and payment and processing of claims are required to operate as an insurance company. These features were lacking.  In addition, the Tax Court determined that there was inadequate risk distribution, and the actuary did not have any coherent explanation of how he priced the insurance policies.  Also, there had been no claims filed until two months after the IRS initiated an audit.  In addition, a majority of the investments of the micro-captive were in long-term illiquid and partially unsecured loans to related parties – the petitioners’ other entities.  This left little liquid fund from which to pay claims.  All of these facts indicated to the Tax Court that the captive was not a legitimate insurance company. 

Note:  It is important to establish that the captive insurance company was established to reduce or insure against risks, and not just to achieve tax benefits.  In additions, policies must be appropriately priced relative to commercial insurance.  The payment of excess premiums annually for a number of years while few or no claims are made inures against a finding of a legitimate business purpose for creating the captive. 

The next year, the Tax Court in Reserve Mechanical Corp. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2018-86, disallowed deductions for insurance premiums based largely on the same reasoning utilized in Avrahami.  The case involved an Idaho company engaged in manufacturing and distributing heavy machinery used for underground mining.  Its business activities were heavily regulated and subject to potential liability risk under various state and federal environmental laws.  To minimize the risk from its business operations in a more cost-effective manner, the owner(s) formed a captive insurance company under the laws of Anguilla, British West Indies to provide itself with an excess pollution policy.  The captive company also provided other policies covering business cyber risk. 

The Tax Court held that the micro-captive company was not a legitimate insurance company because its transactions were not “insurance transactions.”  The Tax Court also determined that the micro-captive didn’t qualify as a domestic corporation.  The Tax Court upheld the IRS’ determination that the company was subject to a 30 percent tax under I.R.C. §881(a) on fixed or determinable annual or periodical (FDAP) income the company received from U.S. sources.  The Tax Court determined that the income was not effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. trade or business. 

In Syzygy Insurance Co. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2019-34, the petitioners had a family business that manufactured steel tanks.  Annual revenue averaged about $55 million.  The business obtained policies from a captive insurance company, but the arrangement, the Tax Court determined, did not resemble insurance transactions.  As it had in the 2018 case, the Tax Court noted that for a company to make a valid I.R.C. §831(b) election, it must transact in insurance.  As noted above, if insurance is actually involved, premiums paid are deductible. The Tax Court analyzed the policies and concluded that there was no risk distribution, the arrangement was not “insurance” in the commonly accepted sense of the term.  Thus, the premium payments were not deductible. They were neither fees or payments for insurance. The Tax Court also noted that the president of the family business had sent an email stating that one of the reasons for leaving the previous insurance arrangement was the decrease in premiums. Judge Ruwe wrote, “It is fair to assume that a purchaser of insurance would want the most coverage for the lowest premiums… The fact that [the president] sought higher premiums leads us to believe that the contracts were not arm’s-length contracts but were aimed at increasing deductions.”

Note:  To reiterate, business deductions must have a business purpose, and not be solely for the purpose of lowering income tax liability.

In early 2021, the Tax Court decided Caylor Land Development v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2021-30.  In Caylor, the petitioner was a construction company.  The petitioner’s $60,000 annual insurance cost was deemed to be too high.  Beginning in late 2007 the company took out policies from a related micro-captive company formed under the laws of Anguilla.  Doing so caused the petitioner’s insurance bill to increase to about $1.2 million.  The petitioner paid $1.2 million to the captive insurance company on the day of formation and deducted that amount on its 2007 return.   Each year thereafter, the deducted consulting payments (legal, accounting and management fees) were about $1.2 million.  The micro-captive company did not include the $1.2 million in income.  The Tax Court held that the arrangement did not qualify as insurance for tax purposes because the micro-captive company did not provide insurance (because there was no risk distribution).  IN addition, the Tax Court concluded that the arrangement did not resemble any type of commonly accepted notion of insurance.  The Tax Court also upheld 20 percent accuracy related penalties for substantial understatement of tax and for negligence. 

Taxpayer victory – sort of.  In late 2021, the Tax Court entered an order in Puglisi et al. v. Comr, No. 13489 (Nov. 5, 2021). The IRS conceded the case before trial to avoid an adverse ruling on the merits.  The petitioners owned an egg farm in Delaware with more than 1.2 million egg-producing hens.  The farm owned a liability insurance policy but wasn’t able to buy insurance to insure against the Avian flu. 

Note:  In early 2022, reports of Avian influenza surfaced in flocks of chickens in Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and elsewhere.  The presence of this influenza results in the destruction of the flock at great cost to the owner(s). 

As a result, the petitioners formed a captive insurance company to provide that additional coverage.  The captive company was a Delaware corporation operaitng as a reinsurance company.  The egg farm bought insurance from a fronting company.  The fronting company then entered into a reinsurance arrangement with the captive company.  Under the reinsurance arrangement the captive insurance company reinsured 20 percent of all approved claims of the egg farm, and 80 percent of all approved claims of unrelated entities that the fronting company insured. The egg farm was organized as an LLC which resulted in deductions flowing through to the petitioners’ personal returns.  Before the IRS initiated an audit, the egg farm had submitted a total of five claims to the fronting company. 

The IRS audited and issued statutory notices of deficiency (taxes and penalties) exceeding $2.7 million (total) for 2015, 2016 and 2018.  Ultimately, the IRS conceded the deductions and sought an order from the Tax Court that the deficiency was a mere $18,587 for 2015.  The petitioners objected, wanting the Tax Court to rule on whether the fronting company was an insurance company for income tax purposes because the issue of the deductibility of premiums paid to the fronting company would be an issue that would continue to arise annually. and they wanted the issue resolved.  In addition, many other businesses paid insurance premiums to the fronting company that were reinsured, at least in part, by the petitioner’s captive insurance company.  The Tax Court refused to rule on the matter and entered a decision in line with the IRS’ concession.  Presently, it remains to be seen whether the IRS will challenge the petitioners’ captive insurance company in the future. 

Note:  It’s important to note that the IRS continued to maintain that the fronting company was not an insurance company for tax purposes, even though it conceded the tax deficiency issue. 

Conclusion

Captive insurance certainly has come under IRS scrutiny in recent years.  But, if it truly involves insurance and is providing risk-management for unique risks of the business with premiums set at reasonable rates, it is a legitimate concept.  The court cases illustrate those points and show the boundaries of what is an appropriate use of a captive insurance company and what is not.

In Part Three, I will turn my attention to IRS administrative attempts to tighten the screws on captive insurance transactions without following procedural law and the courts pushing the IRS back.  These developments have filing/disclosure implications for tax practitioners and “material advisors.”

March 30, 2022 in Business Planning, Estate Planning, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 28, 2022

Captive Insurance – Part One

Overview

Many businesses, including farming and ranching businesses, face rising insurance costs and higher self-insured risks for hazards that were not an issue in the past.  This is particularly true for many ag businesses that face ever-increasing environmental rules and regulations that can impair operational profitability, heightened cyber threats, as well as supply chain and labor issues.  As a result, some of these businesses have begun to investigate and utilize captive (and micro-captive) insurance. 

What is captive insurance and what are the benefits of it?  Where does it fit in the overall income tax and estate/business plan for a business, including farming and ranching operations?  What concerns might the IRS have with captive insurance, and what do those concerns mean for practitioners?

Utilizing captive insurance as part of an income tax and estate/business plan that also is designed to minimize business risk - it’s the topic of today’s post.  Part One of a three-part series. 

Captive Insurance Defined

A captive insurance company is an insurer that is a wholly owned subsidiary that providing risk-mitigation services for its parent company or a group of related companies.  A key to being a true captive insurance company is the provision of risk-mitigation.  Often, the reason for forming a captive insurance company is when a business (the parent company) is unable to find standard commercial insurance to cover risks that are unique to the business.  Without the creation of a captive insurance company, the business is left to self-insure against risks for which it is unable to acquire commercial insurance.  In this situation, a captive insurance company provides the ability to shift self-insured risks to the captive company with policies tailored to fit the unique parent’s unique needs.  The owners of the parent can retain control of the captive’s investments, and may also be able to achieve tax savings and wealth transfer benefits

Note:  Since 2000, the potential risks to a business from contract non-performance (business interruption), a loss of key suppliers and input supplies, cyber-attacks, labor shortages, and administrative and/or regulatory actions have increased substantially.  This is causing businesses (including farming and ranching operations) to search for cost-effective and tax efficient ways to manage these unique risks.   A captive insurance company is viewed as one approach that can satisfy an overall risk-mitigation strategy.  See, e.g., “Once Scrutinized, an Insurance Product Becomes a Crisis Lifeline,” The New York Times (Mar. 20, 2020). 

Income Tax Aspects

Insurance is a transaction that involves an actual insurance risk and involves risk-shifting and risk-distributing.  Helvering v. Le Gierse, 312 U.S. 521 (1941).  Insurance premiums are deductible as an ordinary and necessary business expense under I.R.C. §162(a) if paid or incurred in connection with the taxpayer’s trade or business.  Treas. Reg. §1.162-1(a).  However, amounts set aside in a loss reserve as a form of self-insurance are not deductible.  See, e.g., Harper Group v. Comr., 96 T.C. 45 (1991), aff’d., 979 F.2d 1341 (9th Cir. 1992).  As Judge Holmes stated in Caylor Land & Development, Inc. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2021-30, “the line between nondeductible self-insurance and deductible insurance is blurry, and we try to clarify it by looking to four nonexclusive but rarely supplemented criteria:

  • risk-shifting;
  • risk-distribution;
  • insurance risk; and
  • whether an arrangement looks like commonly accepted notions of insurance.”

On the other side of the equation, an insurance company includes premiums that it receives in income, and the company is generally taxed on its income just like any other corporation.  I.R.C. §831(a).  But an insurance company that receives premiums under a certain amount during a tax year can elect to be taxed only on investment income.  I.R.C. §831(b)(1)-(2). 

Note:  For premiums paid to be deductible, the captive must be respected as an insurance company for federal income tax purposes.  Otherwise, what is involved non-deductible self-insurance.  This means that qualified underwriting services must be used to determine the actual cost of similar coverage in the market or via an underwriting evaluation so that the policies are properly designed and the premiums are appropriate.  This is key to getting the desired tax treatment and withstanding an IRS attack.  Setting premiums too high coupled with claims that are less than anticipated will cause the captive’s stock value to rise. That value can be returned to shareholders in a tax-favorable manner as qualified dividends taxed at favorable capital gain rates.  Hence, the importance of the proper structuring of the captive to avoid an IRS attack and the imposition of severe penalties (explained further below).

Estate and Business Planning Aspects

Before the Congress modified I.R.C. §831, the captive or micro-captive corporation could fit rather easily into an estate or succession plan, and could be held in various types of entities depending upon the overall estate and business plan of the owner(s).  A straightforward approach, for example, was to have a parent (or parents) form a captive insurance company and name the children as the shareholders.  As the parents paid the premiums, they achieved insurance coverage for their unique need(s) and transferred wealth to the children.  Establishing the captive, however, must be justified by a legitimate business purpose of insuring risks of the business other than simply transferring wealth in a tax-efficient manner to the children.

Trust ownership.  A trust could be established to own the captive insurance company.  If the trust’s beneficiaries are the grantor’s children and/or grandchildren, it is possible to structure the trust such that the assets of the captive insurance corporation will not be included in the owner’s estate at death. 

LLC/FLP ownership.  Similarly, the captive corporation could be placed in a limited liability company (LLC) or a family limited partnership (FLP).  The ownership structure of the LLC or FLP could involve various classes of ownership held by various members of the owner(s) family.  This structure may be especially beneficial in the context of a small businesses such as a farm or ranch where the senior generation wants to maintain control over the business, investments, and distributions of the captive insurance corporation while simultaneously setting up valuation discounts for minority interest and/or lack of marketability.

Gift tax.  From a federal gift tax standpoint, income tax deductible premiums made for adequate and full consideration are not a gift from the owners of the insured to the owners of the captive insurance company.  Treas. Reg. §§25.2512-1(g)(1); 25-2512-8.  The “full and adequate consideration” test of I.R.C. §2512 applies in the estate tax context such that the premium payments are not pulled back into the decedent/transferor’s estate at death for federal estate tax purposes under I.R.C. §2036 or I.R.C. §2038.  This also means that the generation-skipping transfer tax (GSTT) would not apply.

Statutory modifications.  In late 2015, the Congress passed “extender” legislation that included new rules impacting certain captive insurance companies.  Under the new rules, effective for tax years beginning after 2016, the maximum amount of annual premiums that a captive insurance company may receive became capped (subject to an inflation adjustment).  The cap is $2.45 million for 2022.  In addition, a captive insurance company must satisfy one of two “diversification” tests that bear directly on the ability to transfer wealth to the next generation without transfer tax.  Under this requirement, the ownership of the underlying business of the captive must be within two percent of the ownership of the captive.  The new rule applies to all I.R.C. §831(b) captive insurance companies regardless of when formed. 

Under revised I.R.C. §831(b), a captive that makes an I.R.C. §831(b) election must satisfy one of the following two requirements designed to prevent it from being used as a wealth transfer tool (notice the second requirement is written in the negative – the captive must not satisfy it):

  • No more than 20 percent of the net written premiums (or, if greater, direct written premiums) of the company for the tax year is attributable to any one policyholder;

Note:  I.R.C. §831(b) was retroactively amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (CAA) such that “policyholder” means “each policyholder of the underlying direct written insurance with respect to such reinsurance or arrangement.”  Thus, a risk management pool itself is not considered to be the policyholder.  Instead, each insured paying premiums into the pool is considered a policy holder.  As long as none of those insureds accounts for more than 20 percent of the total premiums paid to the captive, the 20 percent test is satisfied.  I.R.C. §831(b)(2)(D)

  • The captive company does not meet the 20 percent requirement and no person who holds (directly or indirectly) an interest in the company is a spouse or lineal descendant of a person who holds an interest (directly or indirectly) in the parent company who holds (directly or indirectly) aggregate interests in the company which constitute a percentage of the entire interests in the company which is more than a 2 percent percentage higher than the percentage interests in the parent company with respect to the captive held (directly or indirectly) by the spouse or lineal descendant.

Note:  Essentially, the second requirement means that if the spouse or lineal descendants’ ownership of the captive company is greater than 2 percent of their ownership of the parent company, the second requirement is not satisfied.

The CAA modified the second test (the ownership test) to eliminate spouses from the definition of “specified holder” unless the spouse is not a U.S. citizen.  Thus, the ownership test only applies to lineal descendants of either spouse, spouses that are not U.S. citizens, and spouses of lineal descendants.  I.R.C. §831(2)(B)(iii).  The CAA also added a new aggregation rule to apply to certain spousal interests such that any interest held, directly or indirectly, by the spouse of a specified holder is deemed to be held by the specified holder.  In addition, the CAA modified the ownership test to look at the aggregate amount of an interest in the trade, business, rights or assets insured by the captive, held by a specified holder, spouse or “specified relation.”  I.R.C. §831(b)(2)(B)(iv)(I).  The rule excludes assets that have been transferred to a spouse or other related person by bequest, devise or inheritance from a decedent during the taxable year of the insurance company or the preceding tax year.  Id.

Thus, in the estate planning/succession planning context if a parent (i.e., father or mother) or parents is (are) the sole owner of the parent company and the captive company, the captive company can make the I.R.C. §831 election.  That’s because no lineal descendant has any ownership in the captive company.  But, if a parent(s) is (are) the sole owner of the parent company and the and children own the captive company, the captive cannot make the I.R.C. §831 election (100 percent is more than 2 percent greater than zero percent).  The result is the same if the captive is held (indirectly) in a trust with the children as the beneficiaries.  But, for example, if the parent owns half of the parent company and half of the captive company with the children owning the other half of each entity, the captive company can make the I.R.C. §831 election. 

Note:  If the children meaningfully own the parent company, they can own the captive company.  The converse is also true. 

Given the modifications to I.R.C. §831(b) it remains possible to use a captive insurance company as part of an estate/business succession plan if the ownership of the parent and the captive is structured properly with the appropriate ownership percentages in both the parent and captive business entities.  For example, a captive company could be capitalized with cash from an intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) that has been established for the benefit of a child.  I recently posted an article on the use of an IDGT in estate planning.  You may read that article here:

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/agriculturallaw/2022/03/should-an-idgt-be-part-of-your-estate-plan.html

The gift of funds to the IDGT is a completed gift for federal gift tax purposes and removes that value from the grantor’s estate at death.  The income the IDGT receives from the captive is taxed to the grantor, and the grantor deducts the premiums paid to the captive company and reports the net profits from the captive as a qualified dividend.  That is the case even though the cash flows from the parent company (the family business) to the captive insurance company and then to the IDGT and then on to the grantor’s child/children.  But, again, the ownership percentages of the parent and the captive insurance company must be carefully structured to stay within the borders of I.R.C. §831. 

As an alternative, as noted above, the captive insurance company could be held in an FLP and the parents could gift FLP interests to the children annually consistent with the present interest annual exclusion (presently $16,000 per donee per year (and, spouses can elect “split-gift” treatment)).  Each FLP interest entitles the owner a share of the captive company’s profits.  It may also be possible for the parents to claim valuation discounts on the gifts of interests in the FLP.  But, of course, the percentage ownerships of the parent company and the captive must stay within the “guardrails” of I.R.C. §831.

Conclusion

In Part Two I will examine the issues that give the IRS concern about captive insurance companies and discuss various court cases construing the IRS position.

March 28, 2022 in Business Planning, Estate Planning, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 25, 2022

Registration Open for Summer 2022 Farm Income Tax/Estate and Business Planning Conferences

Overview

Last December, I posted a “hold-the-date” announcement for the 2022 summer national farm income tax/estate and business planning conferences that Washburn Law School will be conducting this summer. Earlier this month I devoted a blog article to the itinerary.

Registration is now open for both the Wisconsin event in mid-June and the Colorado event in early August. 

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Here’s the link to the online brochure and registration for the event at the Chula Vista Resort on June 13-14:  https://www.washburnlaw.edu/employers/cle/farmandranchtaxjune.html

A block of rooms is available for this seminar at a rate of $139.00 per night plus taxes and fees. To make a reservation call (855) 529-7630 and reference booking ID "#i60172 Washburn Law School." Rooms can be reserved at the group rate through May 15, 2022. Reservations requested after May 15 are subject to availability at the time of reservation.

An hour of ethics is provided at the end of Day 2.

The conference will also be broadcast live online for those that cannot attend in person.  Online attendees will be able to interact with the presenters, if desired. 

Durango, Colorado

Here’s the link to the online brochure and registration for the event at Fort Lewis College on August 1-2:  https://www.washburnlaw.edu/employers/cle/farmandranchtaxaugust.html

An hour of ethics is also provided at the end of Day 2 at this conference.

Just like the Wisconsin conference, this conference will also be broadcast live online for those that cannot attend in person.  Online attendees will be able to interact with the presenters, if desired. 

Other Points

There are many other important details about the conferences that you can find by reviewing the online brochures. 

Looking forward to seeing you there or having you participate online.  If you do tax, estate planning or business succession planning work for clients or are involved in production agriculture in any way, this conference is for you.  Each event will also have a presentation involving the farm economy that you won’t want to miss.  Also, if you aren’t needing to claim continuing education credits, you qualify for a lower registration rate.

See you there. 

March 25, 2022 in Business Planning, Estate Planning, Income Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)