Trying to set up a “Special Limited Investment Partnership” to reduce taxes, Dow Chemical contributed 73 patents to a partnership with several foreign banks, which licensed the patents back to Dow. Chemtech Royalty Assocs. v. United States, No. 13-30887 (Sept. 10, 2014). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the finding of a “sham partnership,” noting three points: (1) the transaction was structured to ensure the banks a fixed annual return on investment; (2) Dow agreed to bear all material risks arising from the transactions; and (3) the banks did not meaningfully share in any potential upside. The Court dismissed several case citations by Dow as elevating form over substance. The Court concluded by vacating and remanding as to penalty — the district court concluded that that “it could not impose a valuation-misstatement penalty when an entire transaction has been disregarded,” but since that ruling, the Supreme Court suggested that it was as least possible to do so in United States v. Woods, 134 S. Ct. 557 (2013).
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