It looks like IBM’s tax lawyers are earning their keep. Just two days after they used a complex corporate tax loophole to save an estimated $1.6 billion, the IRS moved to close the loophole down. Here are stories from the WSJ and NYT.
On May 29, IBM said it had structured a $12.5 billion stock repurchase to take advantage of overseas earnings without making them subject to stiff U.S. corporate tax rates. Because they’re designed to make an end around IRS section 367(B) covering U.S. taxes on repatriated earnings, tax lawyers call these deals “Killer B” transactions.
Two days later, the IRS announced plans to issue regulations making companies pay U.S. taxes when they buy back their stock, even if the shares are purchased by an international subsidiary. It said the planned ban on the practice would take effect that day.
Stewart Lipeles, a tax attorney with Baker & McKenzie, told the WSJ it looked like the IRS rushed out a notice after it caught wind of IBM’s “Killer B.” The IRS won’t say.