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New Limitation On Excess Business Losses

 The new limitation on excess business losses provision is effective for noncorporate taxpayers for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, and it is scheduled to sunset after Dec. 31, 2025. Much attention has been given to the Sec. 199A deduction for qualified business income, the new qualified opportunity zone provisions, and the Sec. 163(j) limitation on business interest expense. But there is another major change that affects individuals and trusts for which little regulatory guidance has been issued: the excess business loss limitation of noncorporate taxpayers under Sec. 461(l).

The TCJA amended Sec. 461 to include a subsection (l), which disallows excess business losses of noncorporate taxpayers if the amount of the loss is in excess of $250,000 ($500,000 in the case of a joint return). These threshold amounts for disallowance will be adjusted for inflation in future years (Sec. 461(l)(3)(B)). The disallowed amount is carried forward as a net operating loss (NOL) to the following tax year under Sec. 461(l)­(2), thus eliminating the need for a separate carryback provision.

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Structuring Divisive Reorganizations

A Type D reorganization involves a transfer of assets between corporations. Immediately after the transfer, the transferor corporation or its shareholders must be in control of the corporation to which the assets are transferred (Sec. 368(a)(1)(D)). For divisive D reorganizations, control means ownership of at least 80% of the total voting stock and at least 80% of the total number of shares of all other classes of stock (Sec. 368(c)). Under Sec. 368(a)(1)(D), stock or securities of the corporation to which the assets are transferred must be distributed to the transferor’s shareholders in a transaction that qualifies under Sec. 354, 355, or 356.

Type D reorganizations can be either acquisitive or divisive. However, the most common uses of D reorganizations involve the splitting of one corporation into two or more corporations in transactions commonly described as split-ups, split-offs, and spinoffs. Such transactions occur because the two businesses are perceived to be worth more individually than together, or because the shareholders want to split, with some owning one business (via owning the stock of one of the corporations) and others owning another (via owning the stock of the other corporation).

Type D divisive reorganizations can take the form of a split-up, a split-off, or a spinoff, whereby a corporation transfers part of its assets to one or more controlled corporations, which then distribute their stock in one of the following ways:

  • In a split-up, assets are transferred from one corporation to two or more controlled corporations. The stock of the controlled corporations is then distributed to the transferor corporation’s shareholders, and the transferor corporation is liquidated. The distribution of the controlled corporations’ stock can be made on a pro rata or non—pro rata basis.
  • In a split-off, certain assets of a corporation are transferred to a newly created corporation in exchange for all of the new corporation’s stock. The transferor corporation then distributes the new corporation’s stock to one (or one group of) shareholder(s), who are required to give up their stock in the transferor corporation in exchange.
  • In a spinoff, certain assets of a corporation are transferred to a newly created corporation in exchange for all of the new corporation’s stock. The transferor corporation then distributes the new corporation’s stock to its shareholders, who are not required to give up any part of their stock in the transferor corporation.

When deciding the form of corporate division to undertake, its purpose should be considered. For example, a spinoff should not be used when there is corporate discord, because it will result in pro rata ownership of the distributing and new corporations by the existing shareholders. In contrast, a split-off does not require a pro rata distribution of stock and, thus, can result in one shareholder owning most or all of the original corporation, and the other shareholder(s) owning most or all of the newly formed company.

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Distribution By Former S Corporation Is Part Dividend

 In Rev. Rul. 2019-13, the IRS ruled that a distribution to the sole shareholder of a C corporation was partly a recovery of the former S corporation’s accumulated adjustments account (AAA) and a taxable dividend for the remaining distribution.

The company involved was originally a C corporation that had accumulated earnings and profits (E&P) of $600x when it converted to an S corporation. (The sole shareholder held all 100 shares of stock in the corporation.) When the corporation terminated its S election, it had an AAA of $800x and continued to have the $600x of C corporation E&P.

During the corporation’s S corporation post-termination transition period, the corporation redeemed 50 of the 100 outstanding shares for $1,000x. The corporation made no other distributions during the post-termination transition period. Pursuant to Sec. 302(d), the redemption is characterized as a distribution subject to Sec. 301. For the tax period that includes the redemption, the corporation had current E&P of $400x.

The IRS ruled that if, during a former S corporation’s post-termination transition period, the corporation distributes cash in redemption of a shareholder’s stock, which is characterized as a distribution subject to Sec. 301, the corporation should reduce its AAA to the extent of the proceeds of the redemption pursuant to Sec. 1368. Consequently, the IRS ruled that $800x of the distribution should first reduce the S corporation’s AAA under Sec. 1368 (which was not taxable) and that the remaining $200x was a taxable dividend under Sec. 301.

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