Insights > What the Treasury Green Book Means for Biden’s Tax Plan and the Private Equity Landscape

What the Treasury Green Book Means for Biden’s Tax Plan and the Private Equity Landscape

The Treasury Green Book was released in May, detailing the tax changes proposed this year by the Biden administration. Intentions to roll out many previously anticipated changes have been confirmed in the Treasury Green Book, and the book also provides details on additional items. Here is a summary of the latest updates and potential impacts to the private equity landscape.

The Treasury Green Book provides clarity on a number of tax matters which may have implications relevant for individual scenarios, and parties should work with qualified tax advisors to obtain pertinent guidance.

Tax rate increase

As anticipated, the Treasury Green Book confirmed the increased corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. The Treasury Green Book also confirmed an increase in the capital gains rate to 40.8%, assuming a taxpayer’s household adjusted gross income exceeds $1 million.

Changes with cross-border impacts

The Treasury Green Book proposes the repeal of the FDII deduction to domestic corporations regarding their tangible income earned from serving foreign markets. The deduction intends to be replaced with additional research and development credits. The repeal of the FDII deduction is proposed to apply to tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2021.

The Treasury Green Book proposes the replacement of base erosion anti-abuse tax (BEAT) with a new rule for “stopping harmful inversions and ending low-tax developments” (SHIELD). The SHIELD rule would deny US tax deductions for payments to foreign-related parties that are subject to a low effective tax rate. The replacement of BEAT with SHIELD is proposed to be effective for the tax years effective Dec. 31, 2022.

Other changes related to onshore production incentives

The Treasury Green Book confirms the creation of a new business credit equal to 10% of certain eligible expenses incurred in connection with an onshoring trade or business. The book defines “onshoring” as moving business to be conducted within the United States in cases where it had previously been conducted outside the country.

Timing of tax changes

Although timing is uncertain, the effective dates of the changes are expected to occur Jan. 1, 2022; however, certain provisions may have effective dates tied to announcements, committee actions, or the date of enactment. For example, the Treasury Green Book provides that the capital gains rate increase would apply to gains recognized “after the date of announcement,” and that announcement effective date could be considered April 2021. Although retroactively applying changes to tax law is allowable, for federal taxes in the United States, a capital gains rate increase being applied retroactively is arguably unprecedented. Many people might wonder whether an increase in tax rates to the beginning of a current tax year is constitutional. The Supreme Court has previously ruled in favor of Congress allowing it to make changes to the tax law retroactively, provided the statute is supported by a legitimate legislative purpose furthered by rational means. This means President Biden and Congress certainly can retroactively change the capital gains tax rate.

What the proposed changes mean for private equity

There are several likely impacts of the Treasury Green Book causing changes to businesses relying on private equity. More scrutiny may surround decisions related to capital gains occurs after the impacts of the April 2021 announcement, some companies may take advantage of incentives to move production onshore, and the new SHIELD rule will likely curb deductions where foreign parties are involved.

Individuals and private equity firms should continue to monitor the potential retroactive application of the capital gains rate increase as this could impact decisions to buy and sell businesses; specifically, this may impact gross up payments paid to sellers. The Treasury Green Book has provided clarity on a number of additional tax matters which may have implications relevant for individual scenarios, and parties should work with qualified tax advisors to understand the pertinent guidance and recommended actions.

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