Taxes today, taxes yesterday

Pursuant to section 965 of the Internal Revenue Code, BMC Software repatriated to the United States several hundred million dollars of income earned by a foreign subsidiary.  It earned a substantial tax deduction for the year, as this provision is intended to incentivise the fresh investment of foreign cash into the U.S. by companies with international operations.  BMC Software v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 13-60684 (March 13, 2015).  Some time later, BMC settled a dispute about the tax treatment of royalties paid to it by the same subsidiary.  The IRS then took the position that BMC’s accounting for that dispute amounted to a loan, which would lead to the disallowal of some of the section 965 deduction (loaning money to a subsidiary who then returns it to the US would not be fresh investment).  The Fifth Circuit rejected that position and reversed the Tax Court, finding no support for it in either the statute or the settlement document.  Because the accounts receivable created as a result of the settlement were not created until after the applicable tax year, the statutory exception for loaned funds could not apply.

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