Overview of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

On December 27th, 2017 President Trump signed into law what is the most consequential tax reform in thirty years, by signing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Act”). Most business changes took effect after December 31, 2017, some changes were effective immediately and others, like expensing of capital expenditures, had specialized retroactive effective dates. The following is an overview of the Act:

Individual Income and Transfer Taxes

For individuals, the new law reduces tax brackets, curbs the effect of the Alternative Minimum Tax, alters some tax credits, simplifies many returns by increasing the standard deduction, and increases the amount of property that can pass free of the estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax. One area untouched by the new law is the adjustment to tax basis for capital assets upon death, allowing for “step-up” or “step-down” depending upon the cost basis vs. the value at date of death. Please see the following summary explanations:

  • Rates. Beginning in 2018, the highest individual income tax rate was reduced from 39.6% to 37%. Other rate adjustments are illustrated in this table:

Rate

Unmarried Individuals, Taxable Income Over

Married Individuals Filing Jointly, Taxable Income Over

Heads of Households, Taxable Income Over

10%

$0

$0

$0

12%

$9,525

$19,050

$13,600

22%

$38,700

$77,400

$51,800

24%

$82,500

$165,000

$82,500

32%

$157,500

$315,000

$157,500

35%

$200,000

$400,000

$200,000

37%

$500,000

$600,000

$500,000

  • Standard Deduction and Personal Exemptions. Beginning in 2018, the doubling of the standard deduction and curtailment of state and local taxes and mortgage interest deductions have the effect of simplifying many returns by eliminating the complexity associated with the preparation of Schedule A. Elimination of personal exemptions and limits on deductions for those who itemize will dramatically change the benefit to individuals of the deductions for mortgage interest, state income and property taxes and charitable contributions.

  • Credits. The new legislation creates a patch-work quilt of how many tax credits are treated. For example, the American Opportunities Tax Credit for education remained untouched, but other credits were modified.

  • Alternative Minimum Tax. Fewer individual taxpayers will be subject to this tax as a result of the increase of the exemption to just over $109,000 (indexed).

  • Estate, Gift and Generation Skipping Tax Exemptions. Beginning in 2018 and through 2025, these exemptions have been doubled to $11.2 million per person, and indexed to inflation.

Basis Adjustment at Death. This adjustment, often mistakenly referred to as “step-up basis”, remains unchanged. Property owned at death will be afforded a new basis equal to the value of such property at date of death. Adjusting the basis at date of death may mean the basis is increased, but can also result in a decrease in basis as happened for some deaths occurring during our last recession.

Provisions of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Affecting Businesses

In addition to the changes impacting individual taxpayers, the Act included a substantial revision to the tax laws governing businesses. These changes begin with a reduction of the corporate tax rate to a flat 21% (down from a maximum of 35%) and permit unlimited expensing of capital expenditures, repeal the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax and change the deductions available to businesses. A substantial difference between the individual and business tax law changes is that some of the business changes are permanent (i.e. corporate tax rate), while others are temporary (immediate expense treatment for capital expenditures).

  • Tax Rate. The new law creates a flat 21% income tax rate for C Corporations to replace the marginal rate bracket system which had imposed tax rates between 15% and 35%.

  • Corporate Dividends. The dividends received deduction which allowed a C corporation to deduct 70 or 80 percent of dividends received from another C corporation has been reduced to a deduction of either 50 or 65 percent (the higher rate is available where the stock of the dividend paying corporation is owned at least 20% by the corporation receiving the dividend).

  • AMT. The corporate Alternative Minimum Tax has been repealed for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017.

  • Section 179 Expensing Business Capital Assets. Internal Revenue Code Section 179 allows a business to deduct the cost of certain “qualifying property” in the year of purchase in lieu of depreciating the expense over time. The Act allows a year of purchase deduction of up to an inflation indexed $1 million (increased from $500,000) with a total capital investment limitation of $2.5 million. While these changes provide businesses with increased deductions, they have little meaning given the new 100% year of purchase deduction for capital expenditures available under amended Code Section 168(k).

  • Section 168(k) Accelerated Depreciation. The Act allows a 100% deduction of the basis of “qualifying property” acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017 and before January 1, 2023. Qualifying property generally includes depreciable tangible property with a cost recovery period of 20 years or less, computer software not acquired upon purchase of a business and nonresidential leasehold improvements.

    The bonus depreciation deduction is then reduced to 80% in 2023 and drops by an additional 20% after each subsequent two year period until disappearing entirely for periods beginning January 1, 2027. The allowed deduction percentages are applied on a slightly extended time frame for certain property with longer production periods. In addition to increasing the available deduction, the Act also allows used property to qualify for the deduction. After a phase-out beginning in 2023, this provision lapses after December 31, 2026.

  • Business Interest. Net business interest will not be deductible in excess of 30% of the “adjusted taxable income” of a business. For 2018 through 2021, adjusted taxable income will be determined without consideration of depreciation, amortization, depletion or the 20% qualified business income deductions. In 2022 and thereafter, the 30% limit will be applied to taxable income after deductions for depreciation and amortization. An exemption from the 30% limitation exists for taxpayers with annual gross receipts (determined by reference to the three preceding years) of $25 million or less. Disallowed business interest can be carried forward indefinitely. If a taxpayer’s full 30% adjusted taxable income limit is not met with respect to one business, the unused limitation amount can be applied to another business of the taxpayer which otherwise would have excess interest that is nondeductible after application of the 30% adjusted taxable income limit to that business.

  • Net Operating Losses. Generally, the two year NOL carryback has been repealed. While the losses can be carried forward indefinitely, the deduction will generally be limited to 80% of taxable income.

  • Other.

    • Domestic Production Activities Deduction has been repealed.

    • Like Kind Exchanges are limited to real property.

    • Fringe Benefits. Entertainment expenses and transportation fringe benefits (including parking) are no longer deductible. The 50% meals expense deduction is expanded to include on premises cafeterias of employers.

    • Penalties and Fines. Certain specifically identified restitution payments may be deductible.

    • Sexual Harassment Payments. No deduction will be allowed for amounts paid for or in connection with settlement of sexual harassment or abuse claims if such payments are subject to nondisclosure agreements.

Provisions of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Affecting Pass-Through Entities and Sole Proprietorships

Before the Act passed, the pass-through of business income from a partnership or S corporation meant a lower overall tax rate would be paid on company income (compared to C corporations) as such income was not subject to double taxation and a lower overall income tax rate generally applied. However, with the reduction of the corporate income tax rate to a flat 21%, and individual rates that reach up to 37%, pass-through entities and sole proprietorships could face a higher tax burden than their C corporation counterparts.

To address the disparate effects of the flat 21% C corporation income tax rate, the Act allows owners of pass-through entities and sole proprietorships a deduction equal to 20% of their “qualified business income” subject to certain limitations. The calculation of what constitutes the qualified business income deduction amount is complex as are the applicable limitations. For example, upon sale of substantially all of the assets of a business, it is likely the 20% qualified business deduction will be significantly limited. Going forward, an analysis of the comparative tax savings as a C corporation or a pass-through entity will be appropriate for all businesses looking to maximize tax savings.

One further complication of the 20% qualified business deduction is that it is currently not applicable in calculating the state tax liability of most businesses. For example, the 20% deduction is currently inapplicable to the state income tax liabilities of Wisconsin businesses.

Family Owned Businesses

With the higher estate and gift tax exemptions and retention of the basis adjustment at death provisions of the tax law, the transfer of family owned businesses will need to re-focus, as follows:

  • Entrepreneurial families may prioritize family governance issues over estate tax issues for many businesses in transition. The changes to the valuation rules from August of 2016 have now been neutralized, and higher exemptions allow more effective estate tax freeze types of transactions.

  • Changes to how pass-through entities are taxed will re-position family businesses to place more emphasis on leasing entities, intellectual property licensing and real estate rental arrangements.

  • With corporate income tax rates reduced, the resurgence of a “management company” or “family office” may take center stage to house key employees who desire different classes of equity and debt ownership, unique compensation arrangements and generous employee benefits. However, IRS rules regarding how management agreements are negotiated and operate will need to be addressed before venturing into this area.

Buying and Selling Businesses

For those clients engaged in buying or selling businesses, the most powerful aspects of the bill have to do with changes to how capital expenditures are taxed, the loss of state and local tax deductions (individuals) and the lower corporate tax rates. We are making the following general observations on the effect of the new law on business sale transactions:

  • Even after the so-called “double tax” stigma associated with the regular corporate tax regime, when all aspects are considered, pass through entities are less attractive for many buyers and sellers. For example, a C corporation can deduct state and local taxes, while shareholders of S corporations, non-corporate owners of LLCs and individual sole proprietors cannot. This negative consequence is amplified by the fact that the 20% qualified business income deduction will not be available for state income tax purposes in most states, including Wisconsin.

  • Because many business valuations are based on income streams that do not consider taxes, those valuations do not reflect the effect of the now lower income tax rates for those businesses. However, lower tax rates should result in more cash flow to the buyers of those businesses, thereby increasing their internal rate of return on invested capital. The result will be that higher valuations will apply in the future because of the tax benefits of the new tax law.

  • Under the new law, buyers of tangible business assets, certain software and leasehold improvements can deduct their cost, in full, in the year of purchase. This means capital intensive businesses will enjoy significantly reduced effective tax rates and, therefore, higher values than previously applicable. More important, however, is that the buyer of a business can fully deduct the cost of all tangible assets in the year of purchase. The result will be that buyers of substantially all of the assets of a business will likely have little taxable income (and therefore less tax liability) for several years after the purchase of the business.

  • As a result of the 100% deduction of tangible assets purchased on the sale of a business and the lack of any changes to the capital gain and qualifying dividend tax rates, we believe that asset purchases will become more beneficial than stock purchases to buyers who seek to minimize transactional taxes, while stock sales will be more beneficial to sellers.

  • The new tax law limits the deductibility of business interest to 30% of adjusted taxable income. This means buyers using debt financing may not be able to fully deduct interest on the debt used to purchase a business. As a rule of thumb, the interest limitation will become applicable whenever the debt to cash flow ratio is higher than the ratio of the effective interest rate to 30%. Note that starting in 2022, the 30% limitation is applied to adjusted taxable income after deducting depreciation and amortization. Therefore, if you are going to buy a business, the time to do it is before the 30% limit becomes more stringent in 2022.

Compensation and Benefits Changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

  • Section 162(m). Internal Revenue Code Section 162(m) imposes a $1 million cap on the deduction for compensation paid to certain officers of public companies. Before the Act, there was an exception to the deduction limit for compensation that was “performance-based” if certain conditions were met. The Act eliminates the exception for performance-based compensation. Performance-based compensation paid pursuant to a written binding contract in effect on November 2, 2017 will continue to be outside of the $1 million deductibility cap, if the contract is not materially modified on or after that date.

  • Excise Tax on Excess Compensation for Executives of Tax-Exempt Organizations. The Act imposes a new excise tax on “excessive” compensation paid to certain employees of certain tax-exempt organizations. The excise tax is 21% of the sum of:

    • any excess parachute payment paid to a covered employee; and

    • remuneration (other than an excess parachute payment) in excess of $1 million paid to a covered employee for a taxable year (remuneration is treated as paid when there is no longer a substantial risk of forfeiture).

Covered employees are the five highest compensated employees for the year, and any other person who was a covered employee for any prior tax year beginning after 2016. Certain payments to licensed nurses, doctors and veterinarians are excluded.

A “parachute payment” is a payment that is contingent on the employee’s separation from service, the present value of which is at least three times the “base amount” (i.e., average annual compensation includible in the employee’s gross income for five years ending before the employee’s separation from employment). If a parachute payment is paid, the excise tax applies to the amount of the payment that exceeds the base amount.

  • Extended Rollover Deadline for “Qualified Plan Loan Offsets.” Prior to the Act, a participant in a qualified retirement plan who wanted to roll over a “plan loan offset” (an offset to his or her plan account due to a default on a loan taken from the account) to another plan or IRA had only 60 days to do so. The Act gives a longer period of time to roll over a “qualified plan loan offset,” which is a plan loan offset that occurs solely because of the termination of the plan or failure to make payments due to severance from employment. Participants will have until the due date of the tax return for the year in which the qualified plan loan offset occurs.

  • Reduction of Individual Mandate Penalty. The Affordable Care Act generally imposes a penalty (the “individual shared responsibility payment”) on all individuals who can afford health insurance but who do not have coverage. The Act reduces the amount of the individual shared responsibility payment to $0, effective January 1, 2019.

  • Section 83(i) – Taxation of Qualified Stock. The Act adds a new Section 83(i) to allow certain employees of non-publicly traded companies to defer the tax that would otherwise apply with respect to “qualified stock.” Qualified stock is stock issued in connection with the exercise of an option or in settlement of a Restricted Stock Unit (“RSU”), if the options or RSUs were granted during a calendar year in which the corporation was an “eligible corporation.” An eligible corporation is a non-publicly traded company with a written plan under which at least 80% of its U.S. employees are granted options or RSUs with the same rights and privileges. Certain employees, including any current or former CEO or CFO, and anyone who is (or was in the prior 10 years) a 1% owner or one of the four highest paid officers of the company, are excluded from the ability to elect a Section 83(i) deferral.

©2018 von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

Impact of final Tax Reform Legislation on the Historic Tax Credit, New Markets Tax Credit, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and Renewable Energy Tax Credits

On Dec. 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law “An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018” – widely referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or simply, the Tax Reform Legislation. As has been widely reported, the Tax Reform Legislation makes sweeping and extensive changes to federal tax law on a scale not seen since 1986. Here, we will focus on the impact of the Tax Reform Legislation on certain federal project-based income tax credits, including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), and the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for renewable energy projects.

Unlike the tax reform bill passed by the House of Representatives, which would have significantly altered many of these project-based tax credits, the final Tax Reform Legislation generally leaves the credits in place, although with some modifications.

The HTC endured the most adjustment under the Tax Reform Legislation. Prior to the enactment of that legislation, the HTC provided a taxpayer who rehabilitated a historic structure with a tax credit equal to 20% of the taxpayer’s “qualified rehabilitation expenditures” if the structure was listed on the National Register or was otherwise certified by the Secretary of the Interior as being historically significant, or 10% of the taxpayer’s qualified rehabilitation expenditures if the structure did not meet those criteria but was originally placed in service prior to 1936; the tax credit was claimed in its entirety in the year the building was placed in service, subject to a five-year recapture period. The newly revised law eliminates the 10% credit for pre-1936 buildings not listed on the National Register or otherwise certified by the Secretary of the Interior and restructures the 20% credit so that it is claimed ratably over a five-year period beginning in the year the building is placed in service. (A transition rule allows taxpayers who own historic buildings as of Dec. 31, 2017, to take advantage of the pre-amendment version of the HTC for a period of time.)

While the other project-based tax credits were left in place unchanged, the shift, under the Tax Reform Legislation, in how multi-national corporations are taxed will likely impact their relative value. These credits are rarely of value to the developers of the projects to which they apply, as those developers typically do not have sufficient tax liability to fully utilize the credits. Instead, developers will typically shift the benefit of these tax credits to investors, in exchange for cash infusions into the underlying projects. Historically, these investors have been banks and other large corporations with significant tax liability; in many cases, these investors have significant overseas operations. One of the more significant changes the Tax Reform Legislation makes to the taxation of corporations is the imposition of a Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT), which is designed to counteract efforts by multi-national corporations to shift income from the United States to lower-tax jurisdictions. In calculating their BEAT liability, corporations may claim none of their HTCs and NMTCs, and only 80% of their LIHTCs and PTCs and ITCs for renewable energy projects, reducing the value of those credits to those corporations and presumably reducing the amount investors will be willing to contribute to projects in exchange for them (either due to investors’ BEAT liability, or due to the decreased demand for the credits among investors). Moreover, beginning in 2026, LIHTCs and PTCs and ITCs for renewable energy projects will be treated like HTCs and NMTCs, and corporations will not be able to use any portion of these credits against their BEAT liability, effectively eliminating the value of those credits to investors subject to the BEAT.

Similarly, the change to the HTC – which is also generally shifted from developers of historic projects to investors in them – from a credit claimed all at once to a credit claimed ratably over five years will likely reduce the value of that credit to investors and/or impact the timing of investors’ cash infusions into the underlying projects, potentially amplifying the need for bridge financing and increasing developers’ borrowing costs.

Further, the reduction, under the Tax Reform Legislation, in the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% will reduce the value of depreciation deductions that are sometimes allocated to investors in low-income, historic and renewable energy projects, further reducing the tax benefits available to investors in those projects and likely further reducing the amount that investors are willing to deploy into those projects in exchange for those tax benefits.

While the actual impact of the Tax Reform Legislation on the market for these project-based tax credits will only become clear over time, it is safe to assume that the Tax Reform Legislation will negatively impact the sources of funds available to developers of low-income housing, historic rehabilitation and renewable energy projects, and projects located in disadvantaged areas eligible for the NMTC.

 

Copyright © 2018 Godfrey & Kahn S.C.
This post was written by Jed A. Roher of Godfrey & Kahn S.C.
Read more Tax News on the National Law Review.

Tax Bill Causes Alarm for Some Charities and Tax-Exempt Organizations

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has been renamed the Amendment of 1986 Code, was signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017. Many are calling it the most sweeping overhaul to the United States tax system in decades. The Act positively impacts many sectors, including corporations with the significant reduction in corporate rates. In the case of tax-exempt organizations, however, the Act may have a significant negative impact.

Impact on Charitable Giving

An increase in the standard deduction amount for individual filers and the increase in the estate tax exclusion are predicted to cause a meaningful decrease in overall charitable giving. A higher standard deduction means fewer taxpayers will itemize deductions, reducing their incentive to make charitable donations. Only taxpayers who itemize their deductions receive a tax benefit from charitable contributions. The Tax Policy Center has estimated that before the Act, more than 46 million tax filers would itemize their 2018 returns, but with the passage of the Act, this number could drop to less than 20 million. In the short-term, donors are advised to consider making additional charitable contributions in 2017 since it is uncertain whether their charitable gifts will create a tax benefit in future years. Similarly, the doubling of the estate tax exclusion will reduce the incentive to make testamentary gifts to charities.

New Excise Tax on Executive Compensation Paid by Certain Tax-Exempt Organization; Medical Services Excluded

The Act imposes a 21 percent excise tax on most tax-exempt organizations (defined as “applicable tax-exempt organizations”) on the sum of compensation paid to certain employees in excess of $1 million plus any excess parachute payments paid to that employee (defined as a “covered employee”).

An applicable tax-exempt organization means any organization that:

  • is exempt from tax under Section 501(a) (such as Section 501(c)(3) charitable organizations),
  • is a Section 521(b)(1) farmers’ cooperative organization,
  • has income excluded from tax under Section 115(1) (this includes certain governmental entities), or
  • is a political organization described in Section 527(e)(1) for the taxable year.

A “covered employee,” is any current or former employee who:

  • is one of the tax-exempt organization’s five highest compensated employees for the current taxable or
  • was a covered employee of the organization (or any predecessor) for any preceding tax year beginning after December 31, 2016.

Compensation is referred to as “remuneration” under the new provision and is defined as “wages” for federal income tax withholding purposes. It also includes remuneration paid by related organizations of the applicable tax-exempt organization.

There are certain exceptions to the inclusion in remuneration under the definition including compensation attributable to medical services of certain qualified medical professionals and any designated Roth contribution.

The new Section 4960 is effective for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017. Year-end compensation planning, such as accelerating incentive compensation, should be considered to help avoid or reduce the 2018 excise tax. Calendar year taxpayers have only a few days to engage in this planning while fiscal year-end taxpayers may have a few more months to plan.

Separate Computation of UBTI for Each Trade or Business Activity

Certain tax-exempt organizations are subject to income tax on their unrelated business taxable income (“UBTI”). Under the current unrelated business income (“UBI”) rules, an organization that operates multiple UBI activities computes taxable income on an aggregate basis. As a result, the organization may use losses from one UBI activity to offset income from another, thus reducing total UBI. The Act requires tax-exempt organizations with two or more UBI activities to compute UBI separately for each activity. Accordingly, the losses generated by UBI activities computed on a separate basis may not be used to offset the income of other UBI activities. Under the new provision, a net operating loss deduction will be effectively allowed only with respect to the activity from which the loss arose. The inability to offset losses from one UBI activity against income from another may increase an organization’s overall UBI, but the lower corporate tax rate may otherwise reduce the amount of tax paid.

Provisions Affecting Tax-Exempt Bonds

The Act provides some welcome certainty for many tax-exempt organizations relative to tax-exempt bond financing. The House version of the Act had proposed an elimination of the ability of entities to issue “private activity bonds” Section 501(c)(3) bonds that are issued for the benefit of many tax-exempt Section 501(c)(3) organizations. This proposed elimination did not make it into the final bill. The Act does, however, adversely affect many tax-exempt organizations by eliminating their ability to undertake “advance refunding” transactions, where new tax-exempt bonds are issued to refinance existing tax-exempt bonds more than 90 days in advance of the redemption date or maturity date of such existing tax-exempt bonds.Under current law, tax-exempt Section 501(c)(3) organizations could undertake one “advance refunding” transaction, but the Act eliminates all “advance refundings” after Dec. 31, 2017.

Other Noteworthy Provisions

  • The Act imposes a new 1.4 percent excise tax on the investment income of private colleges and universities and their related organizations with at least 500 students and which have investment assets, including those of related entities, of at least $500,000 per student.
  • The existing income tax deduction for donations made in exchange for college athletic event seating rights will be repealed.
  • The charitable contribution deduction of an electing small business trust will be determined by the rules applicable to individuals, rather than those applicable to trusts.
  • The Act modifies the partnership rules to clarify that a partner’s distributive share of loss takes into account the partner’s distributive share of charitable contributions for purposes of the basis limitation on partner losses.
  • The top corporate tax rate for UBI is reduced to 21 percent.
  • The Act increases the annual limit on cash contributions to most public charities from 50 percent to 60 percent.
  • UBI will be increased by the amount of certain qualified transportation fringe benefit expenses for which a deduction is disallowed.
  • The Act repeals the deduction for local lobbying expenses which could impact Section 501(c)(6) rules.
  • The contribution limitation as to ABLE accounts is increased under certain circumstances.
  • The Act now allows for rollovers between qualified tuition programs and qualified ABLE programs.

The Act could have a significant impact on your tax-exempt organization.

© Polsinelli PC, Polsinelli LLP in California
For more Breaking Legal News go to the National Law Review.

BREAKING NEWS: Congress Sends Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to President Trump’s Desk for Signing

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has been passed by both houses of Congress and is now set to be signed into law by President Trump. The vote was 224-201 in the House with all the Democrats joined by twelve Republicans voting “no” and 51-48 in the Senate along party lines. Although the TCJA isn’t exactly great news for the renewable energy industry, it is far better than what was originally proposed in the House and Senate bills. Here are the main takeaways:

  • PTC Inflation Adjustment – The TCJA preserves the current 2.4¢/kWh PTC amount for wind with an annual inflation adjustment. The House bill would have reduced the PTC to 1.5¢/kWh with no annual inflation adjustment.

  • ITC Phase-out Schedule – The TCJA does not eliminate the permanent 10% solar ITC beginning 2023.

  • Continuous Construction Requirement – The TCJA does not include the statutory continuous construction requirement that was included in the House bill. Despite clarification from the House there was some concern as to whether the House bill would eliminate the four-year safe harbor that wind developers rely on under IRS guidance.

  • Orphaned Technologies – The TCJA does not include the ITC extension for orphaned technologies (e.g., fuel cell, small wind, micro turbine, CHP, and thermal energy) that were left out of the 2015 PATH Act. However, the Senate Finance Committee is proposing to include an extension for these technologies in its tax extenders package.

  • 100% Bonus Depreciation – The TCJA provides 100% bonus depreciation through 2022 for both new and used property. 100% bonus applies to property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017 with a transition rule permitting taxpayers to elect 50% bonus instead during the taxpayer’s first taxable year ending after September 27, 2017. This provides a big incentive to place projects in service this year in order to take advantage of depreciation deductions at the current 35% corporate tax rate.

  • BEAT Provision – The TCJA provides a Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) whereby a bank that makes 2% (or 3% for companies) of its deductible payments to a foreign affiliate is subject to the BEAT when those payments reduce its U.S. tax liability to less than 10% (12.5% beginning in 2025). The good news is that the TCJA provides that tax equity investors can use the PTC and ITC to off-set up to 80% of their tax liability under the BEAT. The bad news is that the 80% offset expires in 2025, so tax-equity investors in wind projects that generate PTCs over a 10-year time horizon could potentially have all of their credits clawed-back in the future.

  • Interest Deductibility – The TCJA generally limits the amount of interest that can be deducted to 30% of the business’s adjusted taxable income. In the case of partnerships, this limitation would apply at the entity level. Deductions that are disallowed are carried forward and used as a deduction in subsequent years. As we discussed in our blog post here on the House bill, this limitation could have an adverse impact on back leveraged transactions, which developers utilize to reduce their cost of capital and free up cash to invest in new projects.

  •  Corporate Tax Rate/AMT – The TCJA slashes the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, effective for tax years beginning after 2017, with no sunset. The TCJA does not include the corporate AMT that was in the Senate bill and which would have had a negative impact on projects generating PTCs after four years in operation. It remains to be seen whether the lower corporate rate will reduce demand for renewable energy credits among tax-equity investors in the market, which now have less tax liability to offset with credits.

© 2017 Foley & Lardner LLP
For more on Tax, go to the Tax Practice Group page.

Hurricane Harvey Client Alert: Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines Extended for Victims

Victims of Hurricane Harvey in some designated areas now have until January 31, 2018 to file certain federal tax returns and make payments.

On August 28, 2017, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced in a news release that it would postpone various individual and business federal tax return filing and payment deadlines that were to occur on or after August 23, 2017 until January 31, 2018 for certain persons affected by Hurricane Harvey. Specifically, this extension applies to taxpayers located in areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual assistance.[1] Any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located within these designated areas will automatically receive the extension. Taxpayers in areas that are later added as qualifying for individual assistance by FEMA will automatically receive the extension as well. Additionally, taxpayers who are outside of the designated area but have necessary records needed to meet deadlines located in a designated area may qualify for the extension, but must contact the IRS to determine eligibility for relief.

As noted above, the specific relief announced by the IRS extends federal tax return filing and payment deadlines for individuals and businesses with original deadlines that would have occurred starting on August 23, 2017 to January 31, 2018. In other words, individuals and businesses will have until January 31, 2018 to file federal tax returns and make federal tax payments that have either an original or extended due date during this period. For individuals, the extension covers 2016 income tax returns that received “automatic” filing extensions until October 16, 2017; however, tax payments associated with these returns are not eligible for the extension because the payments were originally due on April 18, 2017. Additionally, the extension applies to the September 15, 2017 and January 16, 2018 deadlines for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For businesses, the extension covers the October 31, 2017 deadline for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. Notably, the IRS announcement also states that the IRS will waive late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits that are normally due on or after August 23, 2017 and prior to September 7, 2017, as long as the deposits are made by September 7, 2017.


[1] When the IRS news release was originally issued on August 28, there were 18 counties in areas designated by FEMA as qualifying for individual assistance. By August 30 (and as of August 31), FEMA had designated another 11 counties, bringing the total counties eligible for this relief up to 29.

This post was written by Donald-Bruce Abrams, Casey S. AugustJennifer Breen and William P. Zimmerman of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2017
For more legal analysis go to The National Law Review 

The Malta Pension Plan – A Supercharged, Cross-Border Roth IRA

Relevant US Tax Principles

In the cross border setting, two of the principal goals in international tax planning are (i) deferral of income earned offshore and (ii) the tax efficient repatriation of foreign profits at low or zero tax rates in the United States. For U.S. taxpayers investing through foreign corporations, planning around the controlled foreign corporation (CFC) rules typically achieves the first goal of deferral, and utilizing holding companies resident in treaty jurisdictions generally accomplishes the second goal of minimizing U.S. federal income tax on the eventual repatriation of profits (for U.S. corporate taxpayers, the use of foreign tax credits may be used to achieve this latter goal).

In a purely domestic setting, limited opportunities exist to defer paying U.S. federal income tax on income or gain realized through any type of entity, and fewer opportunities, if any, exist for the beneficial owners of such entities to receive tax-free distributions of the accumulated profits earned by these entities. A Roth IRA may be the best vehicle available to achieve these goals.

Roth IRA (hereafter, “Roth”) is a type of tax-favored retirement account, under which contributions to the Roth are not tax deductible (like contributions to a traditional IRA would be), but all earnings of the Roth accumulate free of U.S. tax. In addition, qualified distributions from a Roth are not subject to U.S. federal income tax. In other words, once after-tax funds are placed in a Roth, those funds generally are not taxed again. As with traditional IRAs, however, the tax benefits of Roth IRAs are restricted to certain taxpayers who fall below certain modified adjusted gross income thresholds, and even then, such persons are limited in the amounts that can be contributed each year. Additionally, those who are eligible to contribute to such Roth accounts are limited to a maximum contribution of $5,500 per year ($6,500 for taxpayers age 50+). Any “excess contributions” beyond the stated limitations trigger an annual 6 percent excise tax until the excess contributions are eliminated. Finally, because of the “prohibited transaction” provisions, it is not possible for U.S. taxpayers to transfer property (whether appreciated or not) to a Roth without triggering certain taxes (i.e., excise tax as well as income tax on any built-in gain). Therefore, while the benefits of Roths are significant, they are not widely available, particularly to high-income taxpayers.

Relevant Maltese Principles Relating to Malta Pensions

Since 2002, Maltese legislation has been in existence which allows for the creation of cross-border pension funds (although these pension funds have become more relevant to U.S. taxpayers since the effective date of the U.S.-Malta income tax treaty (the “Treaty”) in November of 2010). In contrast to the stringent limitations imposed on contributions to Roths under U.S. law, unlimited contributions may be made to a Malta pension plan. This is true also for U.S. citizens and tax residents, regardless of whether such persons are resident in or have any connection at all to Malta (though no U.S. deduction is permitted for contributions to such Maltese plans). A Maltese pension plan generally is classified as a foreign grantor trust from a U.S. federal income tax perspective because of the retained interest of the grantor/member in the pension fund. Thus, contributions to such a pension fund (including contributions of appreciated property) generally are ignored from the U.S. income tax perspective and should not trigger any adverse U.S. tax consequences.[1]

There also appears to be almost no limitation on what types of assets can be contributed tax-free to a Malta pension, including, for example, stock in private or publicly-traded companies (including PFICs), partnership and LLC interests (including so-called “carried interests”), and interests in U.S. or non-U.S. real estate. While the specific terms of each pension plan vary, Malta law generally permits distributions to be made from such plans beginning at age 50.

The relevant Maltese pension rules allow an initial lump sum payment of up to 30% of the value of the member’s pension fund to be made free of Maltese tax. This initial payment must be made within the first year of the retirement date chosen by that member. Additional periodic payments generally must then be made from the pension at least annually thereafter, and while such payments may be taxable to the recipient, they are usually significantly limited in amount (generally being tied to applicable minimum wage standards in the recipient’s home jurisdiction). Beyond those minimum wage amounts, excess lump sum distributions of up to 50 percent of the balance of the plan generally can be made free of Malta tax.

U.S.-Malta Income Tax Treaty Provisions

As noted above, when the Treaty became effective in late 2010, Maltese pension plans became more attractive to U.S. taxpayers. The Treaty contains very favorable provisions that can result in significant tax benefits to U.S. members of a Maltese pension. In order for such U.S. members to take advantage of these benefits, the pension must qualify as a resident of Malta under the Treaty and also satisfy the limitation on benefits (LOB) article of the Treaty.

Article 4, paragraph 2 of the Treaty provides that a pension fund established in either the United States or Malta is a “resident” for purposes of the Treaty, despite that all or part of the income or gains of such a pension may be exempt from tax under the domestic laws of the relevant country. Under Article 22(2)(e) of the Treaty, a pension plan that is resident in one of the treaty countries satisfies the LOB provision as long as more than 75% of the beneficiaries, members, or participants of the pension fund are individuals who are residents of either the Unites States or Malta.[2]

Thus, as long as a Maltese pension is formed pursuant to relevant Maltese law and more than 75% of its members are U.S. and/or Maltese residents, the pension plan should be eligible for Treaty benefits.

Pursuant to Article 18 of the Treaty, income earned by a Maltese pension fund cannot be taxed by the United States until a distribution is made from that fund to a U.S. resident. This article of the Treaty contains no restrictions on the types of income that are covered, and thus is generally believed to apply broadly to all income (including, for example, income arising in connection with interests in U.S. real estate, PFIC stock, and assets connected to a U.S. trade or business).[3]

Article 17(1)(b) of the Treaty further provides that distributions from a pension arising in one country, and which would be exempt from tax in that country if paid to a resident of that country, must also be exempt from tax in the other country when paid to a  resident of the latter country.  The U.S. Treasury’s Technical Explanation to the Treaty further clarifies that, for example, “a distribution from a U.S. Roth IRA to a resident of Malta would be exempt from tax in Malta to the same extent the distribution would be exempt from tax in the United States if it were distributed to a U.S. resident.”[4]

As mentioned above, pursuant to Maltese law, the initial lump sum payment from a Maltese pension (up to 30% of the value of the relevant pension fund) generally is not taxable in Malta. Thus, based on Article 17(1)(b) of the Treaty, such amounts likewise must not be taxed in the United States when made to a U.S. resident beneficiary. Additionally, this same Maltese exemption generally applies to further lump sum payments received by Maltese resident beneficiaries in certain subsequent years (generally, such distributions may be made tax-free beginning three years after the initial lump sum distribution is received). Notably, any required annual (or more frequent) periodic payments would be taxable in Malta if made to a Maltese resident, and therefore also are taxable in the United States under Section 72 when received by a U.S. resident member of the pension fund.[5]

Finally, while under the so-called “savings clause” the United States generally reserves the right under its income tax treaties to tax its citizens and “residents” as though the treaty did not exist, this savings clause contains certain exceptions. Under the Treaty, Article 1(5) provides that Articles 17(1)(b) and 18 are excepted from the savings clause (found at Article 1(4)). Consequently, the savings clause of the Treaty should not prevent a U.S. citizen or resident member of a Maltese pension from qualifying for Treaty benefits under relevant provisions of Articles 17 and 18.

Example

Assume a U.S. resident individual 49-years of age owns both highly-appreciated U.S. real estate and founders’ shares of a technology start-up that is about to go public. In combination, the interests are worth approximately $100 million, and the aggregate tax basis of the assets is $10 million. As part of her retirement planning, this U.S. individual decides to contribute these assets to a Maltese pension fund.[6] During this same tax year, the real estate is sold for fair market value and the technology company goes public, though she is required to hold the shares for at least six months before disposing of them.  During the following tax year, after her lockup period expires, she sells her shares for fair market value, leaving her portion of the pension plan holding proceeds of $100 million. Since at this time she is at least 50 years of age, assuming the terms of the pension plan permit her to begin withdrawing assets at age 50, the U.S. individual can cause the pension plan to distribute to her during that tax year $30 million of the pension plan funds without the imposition of any tax, either in Malta or the United States.

At this point, the pensioner would need to wait until year 4 to be able to extract additional profits tax-free (pursuant to Maltese law, three years must pass after the initial lump sum distribution before additional lump sum distributions could be made to a resident of Malta tax-free). Thus, in year 4, additional assets can be distributed to the member without triggering tax liability. To calculate how much can be distributed free of tax, it is necessary to first determine the pension holds “sufficient retirement income.” This amount in turn is based, pursuant to Maltese law, on the “annual national minimum wage” in the jurisdiction where the member is resident. To the extent the pension plan balance exceeds the member’s “sufficient retirement income” (on a lifetime basis), 50% of the excess can be withdrawn tax-free each year. Assuming the $70 million remaining assets (after accounting for the initial lump sum distribution) had increased in value to $85 million by year 4, and further assuming it was determined that the individual needed $1 million as her sufficient retirement income, 50% of the $84 million excess, or $42 million, could be distributed to her that year free of tax. Such calculations could likewise be performed in each succeeding tax year, with 50% of the excess being available for tax-free receipt by the beneficiary each year. Consequently, while it is not possible to distribute 100% of the proceeds of such a pension tax-free, a substantial portion of any income generated in the pension (including gains realized with respect to appreciation accrued prior to contribution of assets to the pension fund) may be distributed without any Maltese or U.S. tax liability.

Conclusion

Some commentators have suggested that the purported benefits of Maltese pensions in this context were not intended by Treasury in negotiating the Treaty and that therefore the use of such pensions in this manner is “too good to be true.” The underlying legal principles, however, are not so different from those that apply to Roths in the United States. Like participants in Roths, participants in Maltese pensions can contribute after-tax dollars to the plan and never pay future tax on profits realized with respect to assets held in the plan. Admittedly, the biggest differences relate to the unlimited amounts that may be contributed to Maltese pensions and the fact that prior appreciation in assets that are contributed to the plan also may avoid being subjected to any U.S. tax. Regardless, these distinctions result from features of domestic Maltese law (not U.S. law), and make the use of such pension plans by U.S. residents so potentially attractive.

[1] Note, however, that U.S. information filing obligations may be triggered to the U.S. transferor member pursuant to Section 6048. Unless otherwise noted, all Section references are to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), and the Treasury regulations promulgated under the Code.

[2] For this purpose, the term resident includes a U.S. citizen.  Article 4(1) of the Treaty.

[3] It should be noted that the FIRPTA provisions of Section 897 and Section 1445 should not be applicable because the pension plan is treated as a foreign grantor trust for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

[4] Treasury Technical Explanation of the U.S.-Malta Income Tax Treaty, signed 8/8/2008, Article 17, paragraph 1.

[5] Under Section 72, a portion of each payment represents tax-free return of basis.

[6] Note that, as discussed above, there should be no U.S. tax implications on contribution of the assets (for example, under Section 684), as the pension plan should be classified as a grantor trust for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

This post was written by  Jeffrey L. Rubinger and Summer Ayers LePree of  Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP.
Read more on the National Law Review.

Better Care Reconciliation Act – Key Takeaways for Employers and Plan Sponsors

On June 22, 2017, the Senate released its much anticipated health care reform legislation – the Better Care Reconciliation Act (“BCRA”) (linked to amended version released June 26, 2017). In many respects the BCRA is similar to the House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act (which was described in our March 9, 2017 and May 4, 2017 blog entries). However, the BCRA differs from the AHCA in several important respects.

As of the date of this blog entry, the BCRA does not have sufficient support to pass a vote in the Senate and House GOP members have indicated that they would reject the bill. Therefore, Senate leadership has delayed a vote on the BCRA until after the July 4th holiday recess.  Nevertheless, as we provided for the AHCA, below are key takeaways for employers and plan sponsors and a few comparisons between the AHCA and BCRA.  A more detailed comparison between key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), the AHCA, and the BCRA is provided at the end of this blog.

1. Individual and Employer Mandates. Like the AHCA, the BCRA would essentially repeal the ACA’s individual and employer mandates effective after December 31, 2015. Both bills do this by “zeroing-out” the penalties for not having minimum essential coverage (individual mandate) or for not offering adequate minimum essential coverage to full-time employees (employer mandate). Outside of the effective repeal of the employer mandate, the AHCA’s and BCRA’s impact on group health plans appears to be minimal. However, if either the AHCA’s 30% surcharge or the BCRA’s 6-month waiting period becomes law, it is likely that plan sponsors will be required to provide notices similar to the certificates of creditable coverage required in the pre-ACA era

In the absence of an individual mandate, the AHCA and BCRA have different methods of incentivizing individuals to maintain continuous health coverage. Under the AHCA method, insurance carriers would be required to charge a 30% premium surcharge to those who fail to have continuous coverage (i.e., a break in coverage of 63 days or more would trigger the surcharge). The BCRA would require insurance carriers to apply a 6-month blanket coverage waiting period to any individual with a 63-day or more break in continuous coverage during the prior 12 months.

Outside of the effective repeal of the employer mandate, the AHCA’s and BCRA’s impact on group health plans appears to be minimal. However, if either the AHCA’s 30% surcharge or the BCRA’s 6-month waiting period becomes law, it is likely that plan sponsors will be required to provide notices similar to the certificates of creditable coverage required in the pre-ACA era.

2. BCRA Retains ACA’s Subsidy and Tax Credit Program. The Senate appears to have rejected AHCA’s elimination of cost-sharing subsidies and premium tax credits available only for coverage purchased on the Marketplace. The AHCA would have replaced the ACA’s program with an advance tax credit program available to individuals purchasing individual market insurance (not just Marketplace coverage) or enrolled in unsubsidized COBRA coverage. Under the AHCA, the amount of the tax credit would be based on age and would be available only to individuals with income less than $75,000 (individual) or $150,000 (jointly with a spouse).

The BCRA, however, maintains the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies and premium tax credit program, albeit with some modifications. Under the BCRA, cost-sharing subsidies and premium assistance would be determined based on age, with younger individuals getting more assistance than older individuals, and income. Household income in excess of 350% of the federal poverty line would disqualify an individual from cost-sharing subsidies and premium assistance, in contrast to the ACA’s 400% threshold. Additionally, under the BCRA, the premium tax credit would be based on a benchmark plan that pays 58% of the cost of covered services (in contrast to the ACA’s use of the second-lowest cost silver (70%) plan). This lower value of coverage effectively reduces the amount of premium assistance an individual can get.

3. Employer Reporting Obligations to Continue. Although the individual and employer mandates would be repealed, it is likely that the ACA reporting obligations (Forms 1094-B/C and 1095-B/C) would remain in place, at least in some forms. As noted above, the BCRA retains the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies and premium assistance, the availability of which is conditioned on an individual not being enrolled in employer-sponsored coverage. Therefore, the IRS would likely still need to obtain coverage information from employers.

4. Cadillac Tax Repealed Subject to Reinstatement. Like the AHCA, the BCRA effectively delays the so-called Cadillac Tax until 2025. The Cadillac Tax was originally slated to be effective in 2018, but it was delayed until 2020 in prior budget legislation.

5. Most ACA-Related Taxes Repealed. The BCRA would also repeal most of the tax reforms established under the ACA. Most relevant to employers and plan sponsors would be the elimination of the contribution limit on health flexible spending accounts (HFSAs), the ability reimburse over-the-counter costs under HFSAs and health savings accounts (HSAs), the increase in HSA contribution limits, and elimination of the Medicare surcharge applied to high-earners.

6. Popular ACA Reforms Remain. As was the case under the AHCA, the BCRA would keep many popular ACA market reforms and patient protections in place. These include:

• The requirement to cover dependent children until age 26;

• The prohibition on waiting periods in excess of 90 days;

• The requirement for individual and small group plans to cover essential health benefits;

• The prohibition against lifetime or annual dollar limits on essential health benefits;

• The annual cap on out-of-pocket expenditures on essential health benefits;

• Uniform coverage of emergency room services for in-network and out-of-network visits;

• Required first-dollar coverage of preventive health services;

• The prohibition of preexisting condition exclusions;

• Enhanced claims and appeals provisions; and

• Provider nondiscrimination.

7. ERISA Preemption for “Small Business Health Plans.” The BCRA would add a new Part 8 to ERISA for “small business health plans.” Currently, some states have enacted insurance laws that prohibit small employers from risk-pooling their employees in a single, large group insurance plan. New Part 8 of ERISA would preempt these state laws and allow the formation of “small business health plans,” which, generally, are plans sponsored by an association on behalf of its employer members. Small business health plans must meet certain organizational and financial control requirements and apply to the Department of Labor for certification.

8. Employee Tax Exclusion Remains Intact. Like the AHCA, the BCRA does not currently include a limitation on the employee tax exclusion that would result in imputed taxes to employees if the value of health coverage exceeds a certain amount. This absence, however, does not necessarily mean that such a limit will not eventually be imposed. It is possible that Congress will consider limiting tax incentives for both retirement and health and welfare plans when broader tax reform is considered.

9. HFSA/HSA Expansion. As mentioned above, the BCRA includes the same modifications to the HFSA and HSA rules as the AHCA. The BCRA would remove the annual contribution cap on HFSAs. Additionally, HFSAs and HSAs would now be able to reimburse on a non-taxable basis over-the-counter medication without a prescription. The annual contribution limit to HSAs would be equal to the out-of-pocket statutory maximum for high-deductible health plans. Spouses would both be able to make catch-up contributions to the same HSA.

It is still too early to tell whether the BCRA will fare better than the AHCA. In any event, we will continue to monitor legislative efforts and will provide updates as substantive developments occur.

Health Care Reform Legislation Comparison

Shared Responsibility ACA AHCA

BCRA

Employer Mandate Applicable large employers (those with 50 or more full-time employees and equivalents) face penalties if minimum essential coverage not offered to 95% of full-time employees (and dependents) or if coverage is not minimum value or affordable. No penalties for failing to provide adequate coverage. No penalties for failing to provide adequate coverage.
Individual Mandate Individuals subject to tax if not enrolled in minimum essential coverage unless exception applies. No tax for failing to enroll in minimum essential coverage. However, effective for plan years beginning in 2019, a 30% premium surcharge would be charged by insurance carriers to an individual who purchases insurance coverage following a lapse in coverage of 63 days or more. No tax for failing to enroll in minimum essential coverage. However, individuals who have a lapse in coverage of 63 or more days in the prior 12-month period will be subject to a 6-month coverage waiting period.
Reporting IRC §§ 6055 and 6056 require reporting from issuers of minimum essential coverage and applicable large employers. No change to ACA reporting requirements under IRC §§ 6055 and 6056. Additional Form W-2 reporting required. No change to ACA reporting requirements under IRC §§ 6055 and 6056.

Market Reforms

ACA AHCA

BCRA

Dependent Coverage If dependent children covered, coverage must continue until age 26. No change. No change.
Essential Health Benefits Small group and individual market plans must cover 10 essential health benefit categories, as defined by benchmark plan established by state. No change, but states can apply for waiver to establish separate definition of essential health benefit. No change, subject to relaxed waiver rights under ACA § 1332 (State Innovation Waivers).
Annual/Lifetime Dollar Limits No annual or lifetime dollar limits can be applied to essential health benefits. No change, but states can apply for waiver to establish separate definition of essential health benefit. No change, subject to relaxed waiver rights under ACA § 1332 (State Innovation Waivers).
Out-of-Pocket Maximums Out-of-pocket maximum applied to essential health benefits. No change, but states can apply for waiver to establish separate definition of essential health benefit. No change, subject to relaxed waiver rights under ACA § 1332 (State Innovation Waivers).
Preexisting Condition Exclusions Preexisting condition exclusions prohibited. No change, but insurance providers must apply a 30% premium surcharge if individual has a gap in coverage of 63 days or more. No change, but 6-month waiting period applied if individual has a gap in coverage of 63 days or more.
Preventive Care Preventive care covered without cost-sharing. No change. No change.
Emergency Coverage Emergency room visit at an out-of-network hospital must be covered at in-network rate. No change. No change.
Rescissions Coverage cannot be retroactively terminated except in cases of fraud or misrepresentation or for premium nonpayment. No change. No change.
Summaries of Benefits and Coverage Short (8-page) disclosure of plan terms and glossary distributed on an annual basis. No change. No change.
Enhanced Claims Procedures Claims procedures now require additional claims procedures and voluntary external review. No change. No change.
Provider Nondiscrimination Cannot discriminate against a health care provider acting pursuant to state license. No change. No change.
Section 105(h) Nondiscrimination Fully-insured employer-sponsored health plans cannot discriminate in favor of highly compensated individuals (not yet effective). No change. No change.
Medical Loss Ratio Individual and small group plans must spend 80% of premium income on claims and quality improvement. Large group insurance plans must spend 85% of premium income on claims and quality improvement. No change. Applicable ratio determined by the state (effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2019).

Tax Reforms

ACA AHCA

BCRA

Cadillac Tax 40% excise tax applied to cost of group health coverage exceeding threshold (effective January 1, 2020). Delayed until January 1, 2025. Repealed effective December 31, 2019, but to be reinstated effective January 1, 2025,
Small Business Tax Credit Tax credit for premiums paid toward group health coverage available to small businesses. Not available for plans that cover abortion for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017; repealed for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2020. Same as AHCA.
Health FSA Limit Maximum contribution to health FSA set at $2,500 (subject to annual increases for inflation). Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Repealed effective January 1, 2018.
HSA Distribution Penalty Penalty for HSA distributions used for non-qualifying medical expenses increased to 20%. Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Penalty would go back to 10% for HSAs and 15% for Archer MSAs. Same as AHCA.
HSA Contribution Limits No change. Increased to match statutory out-of-pocket maximum for high-deductible health plans (effective January 1, 2018). Same as AHCA.
FSA/HSA Over-the-Counter Health FSAs and HSAs cannot reimburse over-the-counter products without a prescription (excluding purchase of insulin). Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Same as AHCA.
Medical Expense Deduction Itemized deduction under IRC § 223 available for medical expenses in excess of 10% of adjusted gross income. Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Threshold would return to 7.5% adjusted gross income. Same as AHCA.
Medicare Surcharge Additional 0.9% hospital insurance (Medicare) tax applied to high-earners. Repealed effective January 1, 2023. Same as AHCA.
Medicare Investment Income Tax Medicare tax of 3.8% applied to unearned income. Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Same as AHCA.
Health Insurance Tax Tax applied to insurance carriers based on premiums collected. Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Repealed effective January 1, 2018.
Health Insurer Compensation Deduction No compensation deduction available to certain health insurance providers for compensation in excess of $500,000 paid to applicable individuals. Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Same as AHCA.
Medical Device Tax Excise tax of 2.3% imposed on manufacturer, producers and importers of medical devices. Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Repealed effective January 1, 2018.
Branded Prescription Drug Fee Manufacturers and importers of branded prescription drugs are subject to an annual fee. Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Repealed effective January 1, 2018.
Retiree Drug Subsidy Amount received under Retiree Drug Subsidy must be taken into consideration when determining prescription drug cost business deduction. Repealed effective January 1, 2017. Same as AHCA.

Marketplace

ACA AHCA

BCRA

Marketplace Structure

Individuals can purchase insurance coverage on risk-pooled Marketplace established by Federal or state government.   Individuals purchasing coverage on the Marketplace may be eligible for cost-sharing subsidies and premium assistance.  Plans available on Marketplace (“qualified health plans”) must meet certain cost-sharing and actuarial value levels (i.e., gold, silver, bronze plans).  Qualified health plans must cover essential health benefits.

Effective January 1, 2020, cost-sharing subsidies and premium assistance are repealed. Additionally, Marketplace plans are no longer required to meet cost-sharing and actuarial value requirements.  Limited-scope, or catastrophic plans would be available.

No structural changes from ACA.   Marketplaces, including cost-sharing subsidies and premium assistance, remain intact with modifications.

Cost-Sharing Subsidies and Premium Assistance Available to individuals with household income between 100% and 400% of federal poverty line. Age is not a factor in amount of subsidies or assistance available.

For plan years beginning in 2018 and 2019, basic structure remains the same except that age and income are factors in the amount of cost-sharing subsidies and premium assistance that is available.  No subsidies or assistance is available for qualified health plans that cover abortion.

Cost-sharing subsidies and premium assistance repealed for plan years beginning in 2020. Instead, advance tax credit available based solely on age.

Available to individuals with household income between 100% and 350% of federal poverty line. Age is a factor in amount of subsidies or assistance available.
Premium Rate Setting Small group and individual insurance markets may vary rates based only on certain factors, including individual or family coverage, community rating, age (3:1 ratio) and tobacco use.

Age ratio increases to 5:1 beginning January 1, 2018. States may apply to waive ACA requirements and base premiums on health factors.

Age ratio increases to 5:1 beginning January 1, 2018. State Innovation Waiver Program (ACA § 1332) requirements relaxed, giving states ability to waive many of the ACA’s market reforms.

This post was written by Damian A. Meyers and Steven D. Weinstein of Proskauer Rose LLP.