US government delays Obama earnings-stripping rule deadline

White House, Washington DC

The U.S. government on Friday gave companies an extra year to comply with an Obama-era regulation meant to crack down on corporations that try to minimize their U.S. tax bills by shifting profits abroad to countries with lower tax rates.

The regulation, known in corporate tax circles as the "385 rule," is intended to combat a tax-avoidance technique called earnings-stripping, in which multinational corporations transfer taxable income from a U.S. subsidiary to a foreign affiliate in the guise of tax-deductible interest payments on internal debt.

The rule, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is now reviewing as part of the Trump administration's push for deregulation, seeks to eliminate the incentive for earnings-stripping by reclassifying certain loans as equity under Section 385 of the U.S. tax code.

The change converts tax-deductible interest payments employed by the schemes into taxable stock dividends.

Finalized last October, the regulation required corporations to file documentation on their internal loans with the IRS by a January 2018 deadline. In a public notice issued on Friday, the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service pushed the deadline back to January 2019.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Bernard Orr)