The Treasury and IRS have issued final and proposed regulations under the global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) and subpart F provisions for the treatment of high-taxed income. The final regulations provide guidance on determining the type of high-taxed income that is eligible for the exclusion (the “GILTI high-tax exclusion” or GILTI HTE).

Proposed regulations generally conform the rules for the subpart F high-tax exception to the rules for the GILTI high-tax exclusion. A single election is provided under Code Sec. 954(b)(4) for purposes of subpart F and tested income.

Under the Code Sec. 954(b)(4) high tax exception, income received by a controlled foreign corporation (CFC) is excluded under subpart F, if the income is subject to an effective rate of foreign tax that is greater than 90 percent of the maximum U.S. corporate tax rate.

Final Regulations on the GILTI HTE

The final regulations:

  • provide that the GILTI HTE applies, on an elective basis, to high-taxed income of a CFC that is excluded from foreign base company (FBCI) ( Code Sec. 954) or insurance income ( Code Sec. 953) under Code Sec. 954(b)(4), regardless if the income would otherwise be FBCI or insurance income;
  • provide that the effective foreign tax rate is determined on a tested unit basis;
  • provide rules to determine the net amount of income (i.e., tentative tested income) and the foreign taxes paid or accrued with respect to such net amount of income that are used to compute the effective rate of tax;
  • indicate how to make a GILTI HTE election; and
  • do not provide rules that account for the use of foreign tax NOL carryforwards.

An exception under Code Sec. 954(b)(4) for purposes of the GILTI HTE applies to any item of income that is subject to an effective rate of tax greater than the maximum U.S. corporate tax rate, which is 18.9 percent based on a 21 percent tax. Controlling domestic shareholders of CFCs can elect to apply the exception to items of income that would not otherwise be FBCI or insurance income. An item of gross income is subject to a high-rate of foreign tax, if after taking into account properly allocable expenses, the net item of income is subject to an effective rate of tax above the statutory threshold.

The high-tax exception is applied on the basis of the items of gross income of a tested unit of a CFC, rather than the CFC as a whole. All tested units of a CFC in the same country are generally grouped together to determine the effective foreign tax rate for the purpose of applying the high-tax exclusion. The approach minimizes the blending of tax rates within a CFC and is thought to provide a more accurate idea of the income subject to a high-rate of foreign tax.

The election to exclude high-taxed income from gross tested income is generally made or revoked for a one-year period.

Proposed Regulations Single Election

The proposed regulations provide for a single election under Code Sec. 954(b)(4) for purposes of both subpart F and GILTI, based on the final GILTI high-tax exclusion regulations.

Under the proposed regulations:

  • the election is made with respect to all members of a CFC group (rather than on a CFC-by-CFC basis);
  • the determination of whether income is high taxed is made on a tested unit-by-unit basis;
  • the determination of high tax income is simplified by grouping certain income that would otherwise qualify as subpart F income with income that would otherwise qualify as tested income for purposes of determining the effective foreign tax rate, and for purposes of the high-tax exception; and
  • the method for allocating and apportioning deductions to items of gross income is modified for purposes of the high-tax exception.