[August 2016] The IRS released its long expected proposed regulations in regards to Section 2704 on August 2. The substance of this proposal, according to the IRS, is to regulate treatment of entities for estate and gift tax purposes. According to the summary the proposal is:
“…concerning the valuation of interests in corporations and partnerships for estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax purposes. Specifically, these proposed regulations concern the treatment of certain lapsing rights and restrictions on liquidation in determining the value of the transferred interests. These proposed regulations affect certain transferors of interests in corporations and partnerships and are necessary to prevent the undervaluation of such transferred interests.”
Before we delve any deeper on this article, let’s clarify a few things up front:
With that said – what we hope to do in this post is to (i) give readers some context about the impetus of these proposed Section 2704 changes, (ii) share what these proposed changes are, and (iii) share what this might mean from a valuation standpoint.
According to the IRS, treatment by taxpayers in regards to certain rights and transfers, as well as rulings of the Tax Court in regards to these rights and transfers have allowed taxpayers to avoid application of Section 2704. Representative of this sentiment, Page 6 of the proposal puts it this way when referencing Section 2704(b):
“The Treasury Department and the IRS have determined that the current regulations have been rendered substantially ineffective in implementing the purpose and intent of the statute by changes in state laws and by other subsequent developments.”
The areas that the IRS cites as no longer ineffective fall into three primary areas:
In light of this perceived avoidance and ineffectiveness of certain provisions in 2704, the IRS has proposed a number of new regulations including:
The IRS is not proposing changing the definition of fair market value. However, when applying fair market value under the constructs as contemplated in the proposed 2704 changes, there would be a smaller (or perhaps no) value delineation for minority interests as compared to enterprise value of an entity. According to the IRS’s position, this would prevent taxpayers from “undervaluing” transferred interests among family members. This, of course, runs in stark contrast to the marketplace, of which fair market value is supposed to be a reflection. The marketplace’s long track record on this is abundantly clear – it differentiates for minority interests as compared to the value of entire enterprises. Thus the proposed regulations essentially circumvent the levels of value for family members as defined in a “controlled entity.”
If the proposal is adopted as contemplated, there will be a powerful incentive for families with businesses and investment holding entities to initiate or complete transfers before these regulations take effect (which is thought to be December 2016). If Mercer Capital can be of any assistance in light of this development, please contact us.