Chamber urges Treasury to withdraw rules on inversions, estate tax

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommended Monday that the Treasury Department withdraw several Obama administration-era tax rules, including controversial guidance issued last year concerning offshore tax deals and the estate tax.

The Chamber’s comments come after President Trump signed an executive order in April that directs Treasury to review all significant tax regulations issued in 2016.

One rule that the Chamber wants to see eliminated is a Treasury regulation that would redefine certain related-party debt as equity under section 385 of the Internal Revenue Code. 

The Obama administration finalized the rules in October in an effort to limit the tax benefits of “inversions” — transactions in which U.S. companies merge with foreign companies and reincorporate overseas in order to lower their tax burdens. But the Chamber expressed concerns that the rules would interfere with normal business transactions that have nothing to do with tax avoidance.

The Chamber said it “strongly recommends complete withdrawal of these rules.” The group said that, at a minimum, Treasury should ease the rule’s documentation requirements and resolve some uncertainties.

The Chamber also wants Treasury to withdraw guidance related to the estate tax.

Under rules the Obama administration proposed in August, discounts in the value of minority interests in family-owned businesses would effectively be denied for estate-tax purposes.

The Chamber said the proposed rules would institute “one of the most sweeping changes to estate tax regulations in 25 years.” The group added that the rules “simply complicate how families can pass businesses on to the next generation.”

The Chamber isn’t the only group that has suggested that debt-equity and estate tax rules be withdrawn. Other business groups have also taken issue with the rules, as well as House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-Texas).

“I appreciate the Trump Administration’s thorough review of all these regulations and encourage them to work to roll back the section 385 regulations and estate tax regulations that will hurt American workers and their families,” Brady said in a statement last month.

In addition to the inversion and estate tax rules, the Chamber asked Treasury to withdraw rules relating to the definition of a political subdivision that can issue tax-exempt bonds and when transactions qualify as tax-free spin-offs.

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