Fill ’em up Saturday. Iowa’s Governor Branstad signed a 10-cent per gallon gas tax boost into law yesterday. It takes effect Sunday.
Somewhat related: Replacing the Gas Tax with a Mileage-Based Tax (Kyle Pomerleau, Tax Policy Blog).
Taxpayer wins $20 million bet. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation had an offer to sell securities for $20 million. It had a $98.6 million cost in the securities, so it wasn’t a great return, but $20 million is still better than nothing. Well, maybe not.
The taxpayer determined to abandon the securities in the belief that the result would be a $98.6 million ordinary loss — generating a tax savings of around $34.5 million. That seemed like a better deal than taking the cash, because the $78.6 million loss would then be a corporate capital loss — deductible only against capital gains, and expiring after five years.
In December 2012 the Tax Court said that Pilgrims Pride made a losing bet, ruling that Section 1234A made the loss a capital loss. Now the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the taxpayer made the right bet, reversing the Tax Court:
The primary question in this case is whether § 1234A(1) applies to a taxpayer’s abandonment of a capital asset. The answer is no. By its plain terms, § 1234A(1) applies to the termination of rights or obligations with respect to capital assets (e.g. derivative or contractual rights to buy or sell capital assets). It does not apply to the termination of ownership of the capital asset itself. Applied to the facts of this case, Pilgrim’s Pride abandoned the Securities, not a “right or obligation . . . with respect to” the Securities.
Taxpayers outside the Fifth Circuit still need to be aware that the Tax Court says abandonment doesn’t turn capital losses into ordinary income, but in the right circumstances, it may still be worth a try. In the Fifth Circuit, abandon with, well, abandon.
I find this from the Fifth Circuit opinion interesting, if not necessarily true:
Congress does not legislate in logic puzzles, and we do not “tag Congress with an extravagant preference for the opaque when the use of a clear adjective or noun would have worked nicely.”
Logic puzzles seem to be pretty common in the tax law. Look at the ACA, which provides a $100 per-day, per-employee penalty for Section 105 plans, while Section 105 itself still rewards employees who participate in these plans with a tax benefit. That puzzles me. But I digress.
When the Tax Court first ruled in this case, I wrote:
Presumably the Gold Kist [a company that ended up owning Pilgrim’s Pride] board didn’t decide to go for the ordinary loss on its own. Somewhere along the way a tax advisor told them that this would work. That person can’t be very happy today for advising the client to walk away from $20 million in cash.
That’s one tax advisor who had an excellent day yesterday.
Other coverage: Fifth Circuit Reverses Tax Court, Allows $98 Million Deduction To Pilgrim’s Pride (Tony Nitti)
Jason Dinesen ponders What to Do with a K-1 with a Fiscal Year End
Russ Fox, Taxes Impacting the Giants. “There’s an obvious implication here: the big spending Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees have inflated their salaries to cover high state taxes.”
Peter Reilly, IRS Denies 501(c)(3) Exemption To Booster Club Due To Inurement. Quoting the IRS denial letter:
However, the money that they make in your name does not go into your general budget. Rather, you keep an accounting of how much revenue each member brings in and permit each member to apply that revenue to the cost of athletic competitions for their children.
Peter explains why that doesn’t work.
TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 658. Today’s big story is the $129,000 on bonuses paid to Lois Lerner while Tea Party applications for exemption languished. I’m sure there’s no connection.
Alan Cole, Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together on Corporate Integration (Tax Policy Blog):
The reason that the traditional American C corporation is in decline is that it has faces multi-part tax, with two successive rounds of taxation for the owners. In contrast, the pass-through structure faces only one. That is why American businesses, when possible, are choosing this tax structure. It is now the dominant legal structure for businesses in America. In that structure, the owners of the corporation simply pay ordinary income tax on all the corporation’s income.
The path ahead to fundamental tax reform almost necessarily must lead through corporate integration. Fortunately, my colleague Kyle Pomerleau has done the research that ties this all together. He has found out how some other countries – like Australia and Estonia – have gone about tying together their corporate taxes and their shareholder taxes into one neat single layer.
So simple it just might work!
Matt Gardner asks whether Goldman Sachs is Too Big to Pay Its Fair Share of Taxes? (Tax Justice Blog).
Cara Griffith, The Pinnacle of Secret Law (Tax Analysts Blog). ” That the Colorado Court of Appeals would seek to shield from public view most of the opinions it issues is appalling.”
Richard Auxier, GOP Governors Flirt with Tax Hikes but Still Wedded to Income Tax Cuts (TaxVox). Governor Branstad went boldly beyond flirting yesterday. Does signing the gas tax boost make Governor Branstad an unfaithful husband?
Caleb Newquist, Supreme Court Unhooks Fisherman From Conviction Under SOX Anti-Shredding Provision (Going Concern). “Please practice catch and release.”