Taxation of Foreign Investment in U. S. Real Estate (Classic Reprint)

Taxation of Foreign Investment in U. S. Real Estate (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Taxation of Foreign Investment in U. S. Real Estate

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Section 553 of Public Law No. 95-500, the "Revenue Act of 1978," required the Treasury Department to conduct a study and analysis of the appropriate tax treatment of income from, or gain on the sale of, interest in United States property held by nonresident aliens and foreign corporations. The Secretary is required to transmit a report of the results of this study, together with the recommendations of the Department, within six months of the date of enactment of the Act.

Pursuant to these provisions, I hereby submit a report entitled "Taxation of Foreign Investment in U.S. Real Estate."

Under present law, capital gains realized by nonresident aliens and foreign corporations are not subject to U.S. tax unless they are "effectively connected" with a U.S. trade or business. The Treasury Report finds that, while most real property holdings of foreign person is used in a U.S. trade or business, foreign persons rarely incur capital gains tax on the disposition of their U.S. property holdings. The Report identifies various ways in which the capital gains on real estate, which would ordinarily be taxable, can be converted into capital gain on some other asset, which would not. The principal means by which this is accomplished is through a real property holding company and converting gain realized on disposition of the "effectively connected" property into gain realized on disposition of the shares, which is not deemed "effectively connected."

The Treasury does not believe that taxing capital gain on the sale of corporate shares is desirable or practical. But to prevent unintended tax avoidance, the Treasury recommends modifying certain specific statutory provisions under which foreign taxpayers convert taxable gain on real estate into nontaxable gain.

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