Taxpayer Bill of Rights  

II. Explanation of the Bill

Title VI. Tax Technical Corrections
Title V. Revenue Offsets
E. Make Certain Trade Receivables Ineligible
for Mark-to-Market Treatment

(Sec. 5005 of the Bill and Sec. 475 of the Code)

Present Law

In general, dealers in securities are required to use a mark-to-market method of accounting for securities (Sec. 475). Exceptions to the mark-to-market rule are provided for securities held for investment, certain debt instruments and obligations to acquire debt instruments and certain securities that hedge securities. A dealer in securities is a taxpayer who regularly purchases securities from or sells securities to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business, or who regularly offers to enter into, assume, offset, assign, or otherwise terminate positions in certain types of securities with customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business. A security includes (1) a share of stock, (2) an interest in a widely held or publicly traded partnership or trust, (3) an evidence of indebtedness, (4) an interest rate, currency, or equity notional principal contract, (5) an evidence of an interest in, or derivative financial instrument in, any of the foregoing securities, or any currency, including any option, forward contract, short position, or similar financial instrument in such a security or currency, or (6) a position that is an identified hedge with respect to any of the foregoing securities.

Treasury regulations provide that if a taxpayer would be a dealer in securities only because of its purchases and sales of debt instruments that, at the time of purchase or sale, are customer paper with respect to either the taxpayer or a corporation that is a member of the same consolidated group, the taxpayer will not normally be treated as a dealer in securities. However, the regulations allow such a taxpayer to elect out of this exception to dealer status. For this purpose, a debt instrument is customer paper with respect to a person if: (1) the person's principal activity is selling nonfinancial goods or providing nonfinancial services; (2) the debt instrument was issued by the purchaser of the goods or services at the time of the purchase of those goods and services in order to finance the purchase; and (3) at all times since the debt instrument was issued, it has been held either by the person selling those goods or services or by a corporation that is a member of the same consolidated group as that person.

Reasons for Change

Congress enacted the mark-to-market rules of section 475 to provide a more accurate reflection of the income of securities dealers. The Committee does not believe that these provisions were intended to be used by taxpayers whose principal activity is selling goods and services to obtain a deduction for loss in value of their receivables at a time earlier than otherwise would be permitted.

Explanation of Provision

The provision provides that certain trade receivables are not eligible for mark-to-market treatment. A trade receivable is covered by the provision if it is a note, bond or debenture arising out of the sale of goods by a person the principal activity of which is selling or providing non financial goods and services and it is held by such person or a related person at all times since it was issued.

Under the provision, a receivable meeting the above definition is not treated as a security for purposes of the mark-to-market rules (Sec. 475). Thus, such receivables are not marked-to market, even if the taxpayer qualifies as a dealer in other securities. Because trade receivables cease to meet the above definition when they are disposed of (other than to a related person), a taxpayer who regularly sells trade receivables is treated as a dealer in securities as under present law, with the result that the taxpayer's other securities would be subject to mark-to-market treatment unless an exception to section 475 applies (such as that for securities identified as held for investment).

Effective Date

The provision generally is effective for taxable years ending after the date of enactment. Adjustments required under section 481 as a result of the change in method of accounting generally are required to be taken into account ratably over the four-year period beginning in the first taxable year for which the provision is in effect. However, where the taxpayer terminates its existence or ceases to engage in the trade or business that generated the receivables (except as a result of a tax free transfer), any remaining balance of the section 481 adjustment is taken into account entirely in the year of such cessation or termination (see Sec. 5.04(c) of Rev. Proc. 97-37, 1997-33 I.R.B. 18).

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