Hewlett-Packard Co. v. CIR, No. 14-73047 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the tax court's decision on a petition for redetermination of federal income tax deficiencies that turned on whether an investment by HP could be treated as equity for which HP could claim foreign tax credits. In this case, HP wanted its investment in a foreign entity to be treated as equity, so that HP would be entitled to the foreign tax credits that the entity—a so-called "FTC generator"—produces. FTC generators are entities that churn out foreign credits for U.S. multinationals, which companies typically desire if they pay foreign taxes at a lower average rate than domestic taxes. The panel held that its test was "primarily directed" at determining whether the parties subjectively intended to craft an instrument that is more debt-like or equity-like, and the tax court did not err in finding that HP's investment was best characterized as a debt. The panel also held that the tax court did not err in considering HP's put, purchased from ABN, as part of the "overall transaction" in characterizing HP's interest in the entity as debt or equity. Finally, the tax court's judgment—that HP's purported capital loss was really a fee paid for a tax shelter—was certainly based on a permissible view of the evidence.