Salem Fin., Inc. v. United States, No. 14-5027 (Fed. Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
In 2002, BB&T, a North Carolina financial holding company, entered into a transaction with Barclays, which is headquartered in the United Kingdom. The Structured Trust Advantaged Repackaged Securities transaction (STARS) was in effect for five years. The original version of STARS was marketed to enhance investment yield for cash-rich U.S. corporations by taking advantage of differences between the U.S. and the U.K tax systems by having a U.K. trustee and paying U.K. taxes. The U.S. participant would realize an economic benefit by claiming foreign tax credits for U.K. taxes paid by the trust. Combining the STARS structure with a loan component attracted banks and was marketed as a “low cost financing” program. When the IRS reviewed BB&T’s tax treatment of STARS, it disapproved benefits that BB&T had claimed based on the transaction: foreign tax credits ($498,161,951.00); interest deductions ($74,551,947.40); and certain transaction cost deductions ($2,630,125.05). It imposed taxes on certain payments from Barclays ($84,033,228.20) and imposed $112,766,901.80 in penalties. The Claims Court denied BB&T’s claim for a refund. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part and remanded, upholding imposition accuracy-related penalties on BB&T. The amount of the penalties requires reassessment, as BB&T is entitled to deductions for interest it paid on the STARS Loan.