On October 13, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an LB&I International Practice Unit (IPU), available here, providing guidance to IRS agents relating to the identification of foreign goodwill or going concern value (FGWGC) for purposes of Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 367. The IPU indicates that it was last updated on September 22, 2016.

The IPU focuses on the threshold question of whether, as a factual matter, FGWGC can exist in the first place in light of all the facts. As an example, the IPU states that because a business operation conducted outside the United States is a prerequisite for the existence of FGWGC, it is necessary to understand whether immediately before a transfer, the transferor of the property was engaged in a trade or business conducted outside the United States.

The IPU discusses the process of identifying foreign goodwill or going concern value, citing to authorities such as Newark Morning Ledger, TAM 200907024, the Bluebook and legislative history. It then discusses the steps that IRS agents should follow to identify FGWGC, with citations to various authorities as resources.

FGWGC is a hot topic right now. On September 14, 2015, the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the IRS issued proposed regulations that address the tax treatment under Code Sections 367(a) and (d) of certain transfers of property by United States persons to foreign corporations. As we have discussed here, the proposed regulations would change the law to tax all transfers to a foreign subsidiary of goodwill and going concern value for use in a trade or business outside the United States. These proposed regulations raise serious questions regarding whether Treasury and the IRS exceeded their authority on this point.