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Guidance Issued on Nondeductible Portion of Parking Fringe Expenses and UBTI

The IRS has provided guidance and examples for calculating the nondeductible portion of parking expenses. In addition, the IRS has provided guidance to tax-exempt organizations to help such organizations determine how unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) will be increased by the nondeductible amount of such fringe benefit expenses paid or incurred.

The IRS also has provided transitional estimated tax penalty relief to tax-exempt organizations that offer qualified transportation fringe benefit expenses and were not required to file a Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, last filing season.

Parking Fringe Expenses
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97) added Code Sec. 274(a)(4) to preclude employers from deducting Code Sec. 132(f) qualified transportation fringe benefits expenses paid or incurred after December 31, 2017. Qualified transportation fringe benefits include van pools, transit passes, bicycle commuting, and qualified parking.

There are two types of calculations. The first is for cases where the employer pays a third party for the use of its parking lot for the employer’s employees. The second is for cases where the employer owns or leases the parking lot.

Employer contracts with third party. When an employer contracts with a third party for the use of the parking lot, the disallowance under Code Sec. 274(a)(4) is generally the amount that the employer pays to the third party. However, if that monthly amount exceeds $260 an employee, the employer must treat the excess as additional compensation. Thus, the monthly amount in excess of $260 is excluded from the disallowance amount.

For example, if Employer A pays $300 per month for each of the employer’s ten employees to park, $31,200 (($260 x 10) x 12) is disallowed under Code Sec. 274(a)(4). The remaining $4,800 (($40 x 10) x 12) is not subject to the Code Sec. 274(a)(4) and remains deductible.

Employer owns or leases the parking lot. According to the IRS, until it issues further guidance, employers may use any reasonable method to calculate the Code Sec. 274(a)(4) disallowance in cases where the employer owns or leases the parking lot. The IRS has provided a four-step reasonable method:

  • Calculate the disallowance for reserved employee spots.
  • Determine the primary use of the remaining spots (for the general public (over 50 percent) or for employees).
  • Calculate the allowance for reserved nonemployee spots.
  • Determine the remaining use and allocable expenses.

For example, an Employer E, owns a surface parking lot adjacent to its plant. E incurs $10,000 of total parking expenses. E’s parking lot has 500 spots that are used by its visitors and employees. E has 50 spots reserved for management and has approximately 400 employees parking in the lot in non-reserved spots during normal business hours on a typical business day. Additionally, E has 10 reserved nonemployee spots for visitors.

Step 1. Because E has 50 reserved spots for management, $1,000 ((50/500) x $10,000) is the amount of total parking expenses that is nondeductible for reserved employee spots.

Step 2. The primary use of the remainder of E’s parking lot is not to provide parking to the general public because 89% (400/450 = 89 percent) of the remaining parking spots in the lot are used by its employees. Therefore, expenses allocable to these spots are not excluded from the Code Sec. 274(a)(4)

Step 3. Because 2 percent (10/450) of E’s remaining parking lot spots are reserved nonemployee spots, the $200 allocable to those spots ($10,000 x 2 percent)) is not subject to the Code Sec. 274(a)(4) disallowance. That amount continues to be deductible.

Step 4. E must reasonably determine the employee use of the remaining parking spots during normal business hours on a typical business day and the expenses allocable to employee parking spots.

Further guidance will be issued on these and other issues in the form of proposed regulations at a later date.

Increase Unrelated Business Taxable Income

TCJA added Code Sec. 512(a)(7), which requires exempt organizations to increase UBTI by any amount for which a deduction is not allowable under Code Sec. 274 and which is paid or incurred after December 31, 2017, for any qualified transportation fringes and any parking facility used in connection with qualified parking.

The rules governing tax-exempt organizations mirror the rules for employers under Code Sec. 274(a)(4). Therefore, the expenses for a parking facility used in connection with qualified parking are treated as nondeductible qualified fringe benefit expenses. Thus, a tax-exempt organization must increase its UBTI under Code Sec. 512(a)(7) by the disallowed amount. In addition, until the IRS releases further guidance, a tax-exempt organization with only one unrelated trade or business can reduce the increase to UBTI under Code Sec. 512(a)(7) to the extent that the deductions directly connected with the carrying on of that unrelated trade or business exceed the gross income derived from such unrelated trade or business.

Estimated Tax Penalty Relief
An exempt organization may be subject to the unrelated business income tax under Code Sec. 511 at corporate rates. The organization reports its unrelated business income on Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, if its gross income from unrelated business is $1,000 or more. Further, the organization must make quarterly estimated tax installment payments under Code Sec. 6655 if its estimated tax is expected to be $500 or more.

Code Sec. 6655 imposes an addition to tax for failure to make a sufficient and timely estimated income tax payment. To avoid the underpayment penalty, each installment generally must equal at least 25 percent of the lesser of:

  • 100 percent of the tax shown on the current year’s tax return or of the actual tax if no return is filed (current-year safe harbor); or
  • 100 percent of the tax shown on the corporation’s return for the preceding tax year, provided a positive tax liability was shown and the preceding tax year consisted of 12 months (preceding-year safe harbor).

The IRS has recognized that Code Sec. 512(a)(7) may cause some exempt organizations to owe unrelated business income tax and have to pay estimated income tax for the first time. These organizations would not be able to use the preceding-year safe harbor, and may need more time to develop knowledge and processes to comply with estimated tax payment requirements.

In light of this, the IRS is waiving the addition to tax for failure to make estimated income tax payments for an exempt organization that:

  • provides qualified transportation fringes to an employee for which estimated income tax payments, affected by changes made by TCJA to Code Sec. 274 and Code Sec. 512, would otherwise be required to be made on or before December 17, 2018;
  • was not required to file a Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, for the tax year preceding the organization’s first tax year ending after December 31, 2017; and
  • timely pays the amount reported for the tax year for which relief is granted.

Taxpayers that do not qualify for this relief can avoid an addition to tax for underpayment of estimated income tax if they meet one of the statutory safe harbor or exception provisions under Code Sec. 6654 or Code Sec. 6655.

To claim the waiver, the exempt organization must write “Notice 2018-100” on the top of its Form 990-T.

Proposed Regs Address Foreign Tax Credit Changes

Highly anticipated foreign tax credit regulations have been issued that provide guidance on the significant changes made to the foreign tax credit rules by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( P.L. 115-97). The proposed regulations address:

  • allocation and apportionment of the deductions under Code Secs. 861 through 865, and adjustments to the foreign tax credit limitation under Code Sec. 904(b)(4);
  • transition rules for overall foreign loss, separate limitation loss, and overall domestic loss accounts under Code Sec. 904(f) and (g), and for the carryover and carryback of unused foreign taxes under Code Sec. 904(c);
  • addition of separate foreign tax credit limitation categories for foreign branch income and global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI), and other updates to the foreign tax credit limitation rules;
  • calculation of the high-tax income exception from subpart F income;
  • determination of the Code Sec. 960 deemed paid credits and the gross-up under Code Sec. 78; and
  • the election under Code Sec. 965(n) not to apply the net operating loss deduction when calculating the Code Sec. 965 transition tax.

Deduction Allocation and Apportionment
The proposed regulations generally apply the existing approach of the expense allocation rules to income in the new Code Sec. 951A (GILTI) and foreign branch categories. The proposed regulations also provide for exempt income and exempt asset treatment for income in the GILTI category that is offset by the Code Sec. 250 deduction. This will reduce the amount of expenses apportioned to the GILTI category.

Rules are provided for the allocation and apportionment of the Code Sec. 250 deduction. A new rule addresses loans to partnerships by certain partners and their affiliates to prevent abusive borrowing arrangements that artificially increase foreign source income. Under the proposed regulations, interest income attributable to borrowing through a partnership is allocated across the foreign tax credit separate categories in the same manner as the associated interest expense.

The proposed allocation and apportionment regulations also revise the netting rule for controlled foreign corporations (CFCs), and provide rules for: valuing assets, characterizing stock for elections related to research and experimentation (R&E) expenses, and applying the Code Sec. 904(b)(4) adjustment.

Because the existing expense allocation rules have not been updated since 1988, the Treasury Department and IRS expect to reexamine existing approaches to allocating and apportioning expenses, including for example the rules for allocating interest, R&E expenses, stewardship and general and administrative expenses.

The proposed regulations eliminate deadwood, and reflect statutory amendments made prior to the TCJA. New and transitional rules account for the separate categories for GILTI and foreign branch income. For example, foreign tax credit carryovers will by default remain in the general category, but taxpayers are allowed to allocate the transitional FTC carryovers to the foreign branch category. Also, the look-through rules are revised to clarify that nonpassive look-through payments cannot be assigned to a Code Sec. 951A category, and are generally assigned to the general category or the foreign branch category.

Additionally, changes are made to the rules relating to the passive category for high-taxed income, export financing income, and financial services income. Also addressed is the separate category for income resourced under a treaty, and rules for assigning the Code Sec. 78 gross-up and Code Sec. 986(c) gain or loss to a separate category.

Deemed Paid Tax Credits
The proposed regulations provide rules for determining a domestic corporation’s deemed paid taxes under Code Sec. 960, as revised by the TCJA. The proposed regulations treat a GILTI inclusion as a subpart F inclusion for purposes of Code Sec. 960(c). The proposed regulations also reflect the changes made by the TCJA to the Code Sec. 78 gross-up.

Safe Harbors Provided for Business Payments Made in Exchange for SALT Credits

The IRS has provided safe harbors for business entities to deduct certain payments made to a charitable organization in exchange for a state or local tax (SALT) credit. A business entity may deduct the payments as an ordinary and necessary business expenses under Code Sec. 162 if made for a business purpose. Proposed regulations that limit the charitable contribution deduction do not affect the deduction as a business expense.

Charitable Contributions and SALT Limit

An individual’s itemized deduction of SALT is limited to $10,000 ($5,000 if married filing separately). Some states and local governments have adopted or considered adopting laws that allowed individuals to receive a tax credit for contributions to funds controlled by the state and local government.

Under proposed regulations, however, an individual, estate, and trust generally must reduce the amount of any charitable contribution deduction by the amount of any SALT credit he or she receives or expects to receive for the transfer. A de minimis exception allows a taxpayer to disregard up to 15 percent of the payment or transfer to the charitable organization.

C Corporations

If a C corporation makes the charitable payment in exchange for a state and local tax credit, it may deduct the payment as an ordinary and necessary business expense to the extent of any SALT credit received or expected to receive.

Specified Pass-Through Entity

A specified pass-through entity may also deduct the payment as an ordinary and necessary business expense, but only if the SALT credit applies or is expected to apply to offset a SALT other than an income tax. A specified pass-through entity for this purpose is any business entity other than a C corporation that is regarded as separate from its owner for all federal income tax purposes (i.e., disregarded entity). The entity also must operate a trade or business within the meaning of Code Sec. 162 and be subject to SALT incurred in carrying on that trade or business that is imposed directly on the entity.

Effective Date

The safe harbors apply to any payments made to a charitable organization in exchange for a SALT credit paid on or after January 1, 2018.