New Rules for Investors in Foreign Insurers Proposed by IRS


IRS Issues New Guidance on Passive Foreign Investment Companies

The IRS recently released rules for investors in foreign insurance companies under tax code section 1297.

The document linked to below contains proposed regulations under sections 1291, 1297, and 1298 of the Internal Revenue Code regarding the determination of ownership in a passive foreign investment company within the meaning of section 1297(a) (“PFIC”) and the treatment of certain income received or accrued by a foreign corporation and assets held by a foreign corporation for purposes of section 1297.

The regulations provide guidance regarding when a foreign corporation is a qualifying insurance corporation (“QIC”) under section 1297(f) of the Code and the amounts of income and assets that a QIC excludes from passive income and assets pursuant to section 1297(b)(2)(B) (“PFIC insurance exception”) for purposes of section 1297(a).

The regulations also clarify the application and scope of certain rules that determine whether a United States person that directly or indirectly holds stock in a PFIC is treated as a shareholder of the PFIC, and whether a foreign corporation is a PFIC.

The regulations affect United States persons with direct or indirect ownership interests in certain foreign corporations.

Overview of Proposed Regulations

These regulations provide guidance with respect to a number of issues that are not specifically addressed in the current regulations and resolve some of the complexities that arise in the determination of the ownership of a PFIC and in the application of the Income Test and Asset Test in cases in which the look-through rule of section 1297(c) applies to a Tested Foreign Corporation.

Specifically, these regulations provide guidance on the application of the corporate attribution rules when a partnership indirectly holds a Tested Foreign Corporation through a corporation that is not a PFIC.

These regulations also clarify the scope of the section 1297(b)(1) cross-reference to section 954(c) for purposes of defining passive income, and they set forth rules that address certain computational and characterization issues that arise in applying the Asset Test.

In addition, these regulations provide rules concerning the treatment of income and assets of a 25- percent-owned subsidiary under section 1297(c).

These regulations provide guidance on the application of the section 1298(b)(3) change of business exception and also propose a new rule analogous to the section 1298(b)(3) change of business  exception that takes into consideration the assets of the Tested Foreign Corporation. Finally, these regulations provide guidance on the application of the section 1298(b)(7) qualified stock exception and provide a rule for waiving treaty benefits that would exempt a Tested Foreign Corporation from the accumulated earnings tax.

You can see the proposed regulations in their entirety here