The IRS Large Business and International Division (LB&I) has withdrawn its directive to examiners that provided instructions on transfer pricing issue selection related to stock based compensation (SBC) in cost sharing arrangements (CSAs).
U.S. taxpayers that are cost sharing participants must include SBC as intangible development costs (IDCs), under Reg. §1.482-7A(d)(2) and Reg. §1.482-7(d)(3) if these costs are directly identified with, or reasonably allocable to, the intangible development activity of the CSA. In 2015, the Tax Court invalidated Reg. §1.482-7A(d)(2) in Altera Corp., 145 TC 91, Dec. 60,354. The IRS appealed Alteraand issued Directive LB&I-04-0118-005 on January 12, 2018, directing examiners to stop opening new examinations for issues related to SBC included in CSA IDCs until the outcome of the Altera appeal was known.
On June 7, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the Tax Court’s opinion (Altera Corp., CA-9, 2019-1 ustc ¶50,231). Based on the Ninth Circuit’s decision, LB&I has formally withdrawn LB&I-04-0118-005.
LB&I has instructed examiners to continue applying Reg. §§1.482-7A(d)(2) and 1.482-7(d)(3), including opening new examinations of CSA SBC issues when appropriate. Because the issues may be factually intensive, LB&I states that transfer pricing teams should develop the facts to support their analyses and conclusions. Finally, LB&I instructs issue teams to consider consulting the Practice Network and Counsel where appropriate, for support in developing the most reliable analyses of this issue.
LB&I will continue to monitor further developments related to the Ninth Circuit’s decision.