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Fact Sheet: Treasury Issues Final Earnings Stripping Regulations

October 17, 2016 / Source: Treasury

10/13/2016

On April 4, Treasury issued proposed regulations to address earnings stripping by strengthening the tax rules distinguishing between debt and equity.  After extensive engagement with businesses, tax experts, the public, and lawmakers, today we are announcing the final regulations.  

After a corporate inversion, multinational corporations often use a technique called earnings stripping to minimize U.S. taxes by paying deductible interest to the new foreign parent or one of its foreign affiliates in a low-tax country.  This commonly-used technique can generate large interest deductions without requiring a company to finance new investment in the United States. The new regulations restrict the ability of corporations to engage in earnings stripping by treating financial instruments that taxpayers purport to be debt as equity in certain circumstances. They also require that corporations claiming interest deductions on related-party loans provide documentation for the loans, similar to the common practice for third-party loans.  The ability to minimize income tax liabilities through the issuance of related-party financial instruments is not, however, limited to the cross-border context, so these rules also apply to related U.S. affiliates of a corporate group.

Coupled with our previous actions to address corporate inversions, today’s final regulations balance the operational needs of companies while preventing the erosion of our U.S. corporate tax base. Specifically, today’s final regulations narrowly target problematic earnings stripping transactions by – transactions that generate deductions for interest payments on related-party debt that does not finance new investment in the United States – while minimizing unintended consequences for regular business activities in the following ways:

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