We’re back from our coverage of Michigan’s medical cannabis licensing updates with more tax law changes that may benefit your cannabis business. As CPAs we want to help your small business understand the implications of the new 2018 tax plan and figure out how to get the most from your tax return. Today’s topic: corporate changes for international taxes. Of course, if you have specific questions, please reach out to an expert at California Cannabis CPAs.
Background on the Federal Income Tax
Before giving you an update on the changes, let’s first have a quick recap of how US taxpayers have traditionally reported their income tax. Current law mandates the US taxpayer report their worldwide income and offers a foreign tax credit for any taxes paid overseas. For example, if you went on a trip to Europe for three months and worked during that time, you will be taxed on that income by the US government. You may also have paid taxes on that income to the country in which you worked, in which case you would receive a credit from the US compensating you for that amount.
Historically, this rule has been applied to corporations as well. Foreign income earned by a foreign corporation that is owned by a US citizen was not subject to US taxes, unless the income was distributed in the form of a dividend.
Changes to the International Income Tax
The new law deploys a “territorial” income tax system. Under this system, companies are only taxed on their US earnings, meaning that any foreign income can be excluded from your income report. Why? The goal of the new law is to encourage companies to bring their profits back to the US.
The new provisions incentivize the repatriation of foreign income to the US with tax-free status. Cash repatriated back to the US will be untaxed when the transfer takes place, however no foreign tax credit is allowed for taxes paid overseas. Essentially, this is both a carrot and stick approach to bringing your profits stateside. If you bring your cash back to the US economy, you’re rewarded with tax-free status. If you don’t, the US will no longer be reimbursing international taxes.
International Income Tax: The Details
As with any tax law, the new bill includes many provisions to ensure that corporations do not have excess untaxed returns on earnings from low tax jurisdictions:
It’s also important to note that C-Corporations will get a 100% dividends-received deduction on the repatriation of foreign income in the future where the US Corporation owns 100% of the foreign company.
What does this mean for your cannabis business?
If you’re just starting to form a business and considering what business structure is right for your cannabis business, a C Corporation may look more appealing. In addition to being able to take advantage of the DRD, a C Corporation has many benefits if you’re looking to eventually expand internationally. And international expansion might be the next big move for cannabis companies: the California is in good company with 20 other countries that have legalized cannabis to some degree. Besides commonly known places like The Netherlands, Uruguay, Peru, and Jamaica all have cannabis legalization rules in the books. Likewise, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic are all weed-friendly communities well on their way to full legalization. If you’re looking to diversify your customer base, consider expanding outside of US borders.
Curious what other deductions the new tax law holds? Talk to one of our experts or sign up for our email newsletter for new updates each week.